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Friday, October 31, 2014
...through the Virginia countryside. We'd talked about going to a place down on the James River where there are a number of old plantation houses. Really Old. Like 1600's. History lesson: the first English Thanksgiving actually occurred here, on the banks of the James. When the first boat load of Anglos came ashore and did as they had been instructed: had prayer meeting and gave thanks for a safe trip across the ocean into the unknown. This according to the tour guide on the Berkeley Plantation.

He also said that it was a 'working plantation' that had been reassembled after being sold off piece meal over the years, and was back to nearly one thousand acres, where a variety of crops are currently planted. We saw large fields where corn and cotton had been harvested, as well as several fields of soybeans that had dried on the plants.

There are five plantations in a row, still with the huge, brick homes intact, facing onto the James along the north bank of the river. Situated on rolling farm land between Williamsburg and Jamestown. At Berkeley you can stand on the brick steps on the 'riverside' entrance and look down a series of terraces to see the flowing water. Our tour guide said that the grounds, down towards the water are available as a rental venue. Neither of us had the gumption to ask about the price: we assumed thousands. Which would be a nice source of additional income in the spring and summer.

We talked as we drove about how many people it would take to successfully operate a business of that size. And although slavery is an anathema would have been the only way to be successful in such a huge farming operation from year to year. Especially when you consider that every required manual labor, hands-on physical effort. Amazing to think of the size of the buildings, made from handmade brick, right there on the grounds, and built over a number of years, with every thing done by hand. All the ornamentation on the house, every piece of wood from trees grown on the property, cut, milled on the property. Every piece of furniture made by hand. Much of the upholstery done on location.

Too much information, too many fascinating details to take in and remember. We were told the  Berkeley Plantation was owned at one time by the Harrison Family, who produced Benjamin Harrison, one our Presidents. The Plantation also celebrates the First Thanksgiving on the first Sunday in November each year. With lots of good eats, costumed re-enactors to commemorate the arrival of the first Anglos, Native Americans, games, music, more good stuff to eat, vendors selling trinkets.


....has, oddly enough, meant sleeping better in 'strange place' than I do in my own little space. Really unusual for me to sleep until 6:30 or seven o'clock in the morning. But it has happened twice.

The familyhere is very involved, committed to their home church. And spend a lot of time in a variety of activities that support programs and ministries the Baptist church organizes. My sis-in-law, E. was getting stuff organized to fill boxes for the Christmas Child Ministry of Samaritan's Purse Ministry of Franklin Graham. Came upon the idea of painting some little wooden cubes (left over from long deceased crafting project) to put in zipper bags for shipping off as games the kids could play, matching colors, learning numbers. So we spent the morning painting cubes to add to the shoeboxes. Went to have lunch with her dad.

And the afternoon volunteering at a middle school adjacent to the church. Where members of the church offer their time one day each week to assist with copying needed by teachers. If it had been me doing the multiplicity of copies, on a machine that constantly had paper jams, I would have been saying some unprintable words. But the sis-in-law was remarkably patient, constantly opening the door to the innards, fishing in the mechanical parts to pull out crimped up sheets of paper - starting again, only to repeat the process. This copier was born smarter than I am: copies front and back, can punch holes to go in binders, and staple  multiple pages together. But also profoundly aggravating when it would constantly jam and bring the whole process to a screeching halt. I was not dealing with the frustrating machine, and I was grinding my teeth: so I know she was thoroughly annoyed by the constant endless jamming up.

Then I went for a walk down the street, admiring colors of leaves on trees on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

travelin'... (Wednesday)

...meant that I got up on Wednesday morning, early enough to tag along on a short walk with the dogs. Then on to the airport to sit around and wait for the 10:30 take off. If the flight was leaving from Columbus, I could get to the airport and on the plane in under twenty minutes. But taking a flight leaving Hartsfield is not so simple or fast .It can take fifteen minutes to find a parking slot and get across the street from the deck to the terminal, taking your life in your hands. The processing through TSA can take twenty minutes or more, depending on the number of people going someplace and length of lines.

 Then you have to get from the terminal to a particular concourse. Underground, after descending on the world's longest escalator, and get onto the train. You can expect that the gate  number you are looking for will invariably (Murphy's Law) be at the far end from where you get of the people mover and back up the escalator into the concourse.  And the foot traffic on the concourse, with people from all over the world in a mad dash, hurriedly on their way to connecting flights, more than willing to run over your toes.

It was an uneventful flight. And the seats were half-empty, so no one had assigned places. Got to Richmond about noon, and had to wait for my luggage. I was transporting goods that I knew would create problems as a carry-on, so had checked my bag on the sidewalk at ATL. Naturally we were waiting at the wrong end of the terminal at RIC at carousels that would never disgorge my suitcase. But with help, we found my luggage as well as lunch at Panera and came on to the house.


...on a little trip I have been planning for months. To Virginia to see my brother. I know he does  not have any reason to want to make a trip to GA, so decided if I want to see him - only sibling- I will just have to take the mountain to Mohammed. So I started back early in the summer suggesting I would like to visit for a few days.

I had to work on Tuesday: from noon till 8 p.m. Meaning I could not start my trip until after I got off work. I had tickets to leave Atlanta on Wed. at 10:30, and wanted to Not drive up there on Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning. But my plans to go up on Tuesday afternoon went totally awry when I discovered myself doing the cooking demo. all afternoon. I finished the clean up about 8:15, and got in the road to drive to Decatur.

Arriving  hours later than I had intended, and actually just in time to flop into bed. But thankful that I would not be having to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get on the road trying to avoid all the going-into-town traffic headed towards work in the city.

my day got away...

Monday, October 27, 2014
... and I did not do any of the stuff I had planned to get accomplished. I went across town early this  morning, to go with TP to a dr. appt. By the time I got there, it was fifteen minutes before the actual appointment time, and it was nearly over. He had a little place on the side of his head that he brought to the dermatologist' attention. And it was taken care of, they were just being chatty by the time I was delivered back to the little cubicle.

My phone rang shortly after I left the dr. office, and it was someone on the staff of a school on the south side of town, desperate for a substitute teacher. I agreed I could get down there, but said it would take me an hour to get there. Knowing I wanted to get home first and find some lunch to take along. I got to the school about ten o'clock, went in the office to sign in and was told/reminded that the way the GA pre-K program is set up, the guidelines specify there will always be two adults in the classroom. I can think of lots of reasons for this - and honestly: think it is not a bad idea, for all teachers to have a back up. Like every parent needs someone to be part of a tag-team: someone is on duty, while the other is resting, preparing for the next shift.

The admin. assistant who called me, and was so happy to see me come in the door, thanked me four times before I could get out and down the hall to the classroom. She said that if it was discovered they did not have two adults per room, the state could shut the program down - which I assume means withholding funding. I remember talking to a pre-K teacher some years ago, who said that the program requires one adult per ten kids. So if there are eleven children in the class, there has to be two adults, and if there are twenty one, they would have to put three adults in the room. I don't expect any teacher would agree to dealing with twenty-plus four-year-olds, no matter how many para-pros there were available for crowd control.

Anyway: spent most of my day with four year olds. Pretty well behaved, and a good teacher that seemed to have mastered the ability to manage/control her students.  It's the nature of four year olds to be distractible and bouncy, but they were a good class.

And left there to go by the church and do a bit of paper-cutting to make a decoration for that Sunday School class I have been creating illustrations for to help the teacher with demonstrating her Bible verse for the month. This coming month, in November, the verse is Psalms 111:1, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.  All the teacher wanted for illustration purpose was a big tree, with no leaves. I assume she will either make hand-prints to put on the tree for colored fall leaves, or give them cut outs to color and stick up on the leaf-less tree.

a good citizen...

Saturday, October 25, 2014
if that is the same thing as a conscientious volunteer. I have been doing some of that today. Went to walk down town, as a participant in a fundraiser. 'Hopegivers International' was promoting the event to try to raise money to provide for orphans in India. I had asked several people at work to make donations to help me towards a goal of $150. I fully intended to write a check, and did. On considering this project more, I think there are lots of people nearby who are hungry, so don't know that raising money to feed people on the other side of the globe is such a wonderful idea. And as always, wonder how much of funding actually end up being used for the intended purpose.

I don't know if they were pleased to see me, or just happy to see the money I handed over, but they gave me a really loud, lime-green T-shirt to help advertise their cause. Which I will probably not wear, as I do so much griping about having to wear my un-favorite color when I go to work in the Publix green knit polo-type shirt I am required to wear. A really awful shade the company decided on: almost an olive drab, military issue color.

And after I walked a bit downtown, I had agreed to help with a thing the Girl Scouts were doing at the Columbus Museum. I did not really know what to expect, other than the fact that they would be 'painting without brushes'. As it turned out, the instructor, a staff member in the Education Dept., took them on a short tour, talked a bit about art, then turned them loose with paint and: cotton swabs. Then later they had a go at painting with feathers, and finally just using their fingers. Not something I would care to turn a dozen 8 and 9 year olds loose with - but I was only the 'helper'. Thankfully, I am also not the person trying to get tempera paint out of their clothes.

After spending  much longer than expected in the painting experience, I went by the hardware store to buy some cabbage plants. And accidently bought some cauliflower and parsley too. Got them all planted this afternoon.

a funny story about the funny stories...

Thursday, October 23, 2014
... happened today when I was substitute teaching in a second grade classroom. I'd gotten the call several weeks ago, and agreed to go and spend the day at a magnet school. Thinking that when I had done this type thing in past years, the teachers were all in a grade-level workshop, in the media center. Not even leaving the building, but devoting their day to some sort of in-service training. Not true this time, as I understand they were all at Columbus State attending a training.

When I got there, we began the day at 8:00. With me not knowing the kids, or their routine, or what to do about little details that are an important part of the early morning drill: taking roll (has to be done on the teacher's personal, school issued computer) and lunch count (you first have to find out what the menu for the day would be prior to asking who wants what) .Then various other things that happen right off the bat: pledge, singing, announcements that won't happen without the Smartboard, that can't happen without the computer. Which is not all bad, as I would not know how to start it anyway due to being technically challenged.

As you might know, from time spent with small people around this size and age, they still enjoy telling everything they know, and love to be able to inform adults when they appear to blunder around, floundering due to lack of knowledge. So I had plenty of guidance throughout the day, correcting my every mistake, as I would attempt to proceed to do tasks out of order, or 'not the way Ms. T does'.  But all in all, it was a good day, with pleasant, well manner youngsters who were for the most part agreeable and cooperative.

Something made me think about the recent blogs about fishing fiascoes, so I told them about my blog, and the stories I shared here. I think it came up when someone said: you sure do like to use big words. I agreed that I could get wordy, and admitted that I do enjoy writing and using a varied vocabulary.  And told of recent writings, reminiscing about the time Papa got hooked and how desperately I did not want to skewer the worm, but did it anyway. They enjoyed my stories, but of course, had their own to tell, in an effort to get completely off track/task, and wandering out into space on unrelated tangents.

another funny fishing story...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
...that involves my dad and both daughters. Many years ago, I loaded up daughters and went to south GA to visit the grandparents. There is a nice sized private pond across the highway from their house, that my dad was allowed to fish in. The granddaughters were jumping up-and-down, begging to go over and fish. So he went out in the back yard to his favorite place to dig earthworms and found them: ready to be sacrificed (though blissfully unaware as earthworms with practically no brain can be.)

We got poles and walked through the pasture and pecan orchard to the edge of the water. My dad was putting worms on hooks and everyone was having a great time. Little people can be neither still nor quiet as required for good fishing... but somehow they caught little hand-sized fishes anyway. I am so ill-informed, I don't know what type, but hardly big enough to be worth cleaning. Plus I doubt they would have eaten, so I suppose they eventually went back in the water.

As we were fishing, and my dad was steadily applying bait to one hook and then the other, while the fish were nibbling them off, they actually caught enough to put on the stringer my dad had brought along in his tackle box. Several small fishes threaded on the stringer, flopping around in the shallow water near the bank, where he had tied it to a little willow tree. We turned around when someone one noticed: a snake was trying to eat one of the fish. The fish was quite obviously too large.

I have been led to believe snakes can actually physically 'un-hinge' their jaws in order to swallow prey. So when they catch something that is too big to fit, they can still consume it. This snake had a fish stuck. Halfway in: and 'way to big too swallow. Sort of at the crossroads of: can't go forward and can't go back. Sadly I don't recall how this scenario played out.  But I do recall small children jumping up and down on the bank, making lots noise in a complete panic. Which, as you might guess, was the end of the Fishing Expedition.

Until one of them, swinging the cane pole around wildly: caught Papa. He got hooked in the upper arm. And told me I would have to take the hook out. It was, of course, still attached to the line and pole, so it had to be done. I thought I was just along for the ride. But after he demanded I remove the hook, I squeamishly pushed it back through his skin. End of fun. We went back to the house for first aid treatment. I assume he cleaned all the worm, fish, pond-water gunk out, as he survived. I don't know what happened to the stringer of fish or the snake. Sorry.

a funny fishing story...

...that will prove to you I am a tough, resilient individual. But not by any stretch of the imagination one who enjoys fishing. I guess if I had been taken as a kid, and learned to do all the icky things it requires before I got old enough to think them 'icky', I would feel differently. But I don't recall ever going fishing with my dad as a child, so was never exposed to the cold hard facts of being a fisherman: skewering living things with hooks.

The youngest daughter, P. was maybe ten years old. She was invited to go to a schoolmates' house with a group of classmates. They were going to fish in the private pond on the family property, and maybe have lunch? or swim? This house was located a pretty good distance from school, so I knew I would not be making two trips, and planned on staying for the duration. Which meant I would also be assisting with the fishing expedition.

I have never claimed to have a strong constitution, or been a person who would jump in responding to some blood-letting event. I would definitely be willing to help in an emergency situation, but would gladly step aside for a more trained,  knowledgeable, experienced individual to take charge: applying tourniquets, bandaging, comforting the injured. I have taken CPR/emergency training on a number of occasions, and would not stand by and watch someone in distress, but provide the help with my limited skills, until the experts arrive on the scene.

On this occasion we drowned a number of worms. I don't recall that we caught anything, but if she did, I assume someone else freed it from the hook. I do remember putting a number of sticky, oozing, icky worms on that hook at the end of the cane pole. I would not reveal I was such a wuss I had never done this before, and really did not want to be doing it that day. So I gathered up my gumption and applied bait to hook a number of times: as the fishes would nibble the bait, and the worm would be dismembered, reapplying more as necessary. 

You can imagine how ready I was to wash my hands several times when we got back to the house...

about that weekend...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
...I feel like it got away from me. I had requested to not be scheduled to work at my 'real' job, in order to have it free to donate my time to working behind the scenes at a Christian retreat up in Harris County. I try to make myself available each spring and fall when these events are planned, and have been doing it for a number of years. The area I volunteer in is not labor intensive, and not even particularly time consuming. But due to being there, I don't get anything done here at  home.

It is always a neat experience, to go and devote the time to making the weekend run smoothly, be a small cog in the running of a machine that requires dozens of people doing their part to make it appear to be effortless. The people who are attending, spend much time in study, listening to speakers, eating well and often - with every need and necessity provided for from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon.  They are always very moved, when, at the end of the event, after they are served lunch on the last day, the 'behind the scenes' people who have devotedly done the cooking, cleaning, set up and assorted preparations through out the time, seem to magically appear. Letting them see the faces of all the previously 'invisible' folks who put in the legwork to make the weekend so meaningful.

Most of those worker bees pack to go and stay for the weekend in a staff dorm. I drive back and forth. Only about a thirty minute drive: but done in the dark, both ways - leaving before daylight and returning home well after dark. I know I would not sleep well in a room full of noisy women, getting up all night long, letting the bathroom door bang shut. So though I loose an hour driving to-and-fro, I think my sleeping will be of a better quality, more restful than what would (not) happen if I were to stay up there in the woods the entire weekend.

Got home Sunday night and fell into bed, wore down to a nubbin. Knowing I would get up and drive to Valdosta and back on Monday. Due to having to go to work today. Feeling sort of jet-lagged.... I am glad I could make myself available for the Emmaus walk over the weekend, but it will probably take me a week or so to get fully caught up on home chores as well as sleep!

a body in motion....

Monday, October 20, 2014
stays in motion, right? That would be me, over the last five days.

Let me tell you about it backwards/sdrawkcab:  I got up this morning at 4:30, which was not hard to do, since I was to tired yesterday, it was not hard to go to bed at 9:00, and immediately fall asleep. I did it deliberately, knowing I would have to get up really early if I was going to get to south GA by 8:00. It went according to plan. I have been doing a whole lotta driving in the dark in recent days - which might be totally out of your comfort zone. But I don't think about it. Like Nike: 'Just Do It.'

And got back to town before it got too dark to see. Which was really nice, since I was driving north, back across south Georgia in the daylight and seeing fields full of cotton. Mostly defoliated, and ready to be picked to roll up in big bales and cover with plastic. Until time to take to the gin and process, turn into bales that will be turned into The Fabric of Our Lives. I'm partial to this time of year. I don't think there are all that many people who would say that Fall is their favorite season - most would likely prefer Spring. But, for me, it's always been Fall.

drinking beer for supper, part 2...

Thursday, October 16, 2014
.... along with a bowl of Cheerios and milk with a sliced banana. Not something I would recommend, but it worked. I went in at 3, and cooked that same recipe three times before quitting at 8, and leaving there at about 8:15. I got it all cleaned up, and put away, and was Very Ready to go home.

The recipe, which I will  not repeat here (I assume it is trademarked or registered or something) was for chicken and rice. But not that same chicken/rice you had as a kid that grandma used to make when you were sick, and she claimed it would cure all your ails. This one had lots of good stuff added to make it into a meal for adults. Likely not something that would appeal to the younger set, but I got lots of compliments, so think it was pretty tasty. I didn't try it, even though at one point I guess I could have instead of throwing extra in the trash that was not dished out to customers in the thirty minute period they allow before you have to toss it.

In the recipe with the chicken was chicken broth, ginger, red pepper flakes, sliced spring/green onions, soy sauce, honey, asparagus and mushrooms. If you wanted to look it up at publix.com, and go to the Aprons meals tab, it's called Asparagus Shitake Chicken. There was some brown rice that went along with it, that had sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, juice of a fresh lime and diced green onions. If I was to make it at my house, which I won't, I would be leaving out the mushrooms... just personal preference.

So once again, I cooked and cooked and cooked. And feel like I have looked at, stirred up, and served that recipe so many times, I should be able to recite it in my sleep. I won't be back in the store until there is a new recipe on Tuesday. (There is a calendar the company prints for the  month, telling the names of recipes from week to week, but it was all I could do to keep it all going - so don't know what's up next.) You might remember the variety shows from years ago, where the guys would come on with dogs, or bird,s or monkeys trained to do amazing tricks? And ventriloquists? Other guys would come on for the next act and be doing this thing where they would balance plates on dowels and keep 'em all spinning. I feel like I've been doing that all day!

drinking beer for supper...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
...again. Does it sound like I might have a problem? Too tired to even think about finding something to eat. I will likely be in bed by 9:00 again.

I cooked and cooked and cooked and cooked. Meaning I did the same recipe four times. Which sounds pretty impressive to me. But in a perfect Publix world, it should have been cooked, and sampled five times in the course of the day. I know that is what they expect, but I was pretty dang impressed to put it together and serve to customers/passers-by the four times they enjoyed free food today. Lots of people commented, reported how good it was.

I did not taste it. I was told I am supposed to give it a taste, but I could  not figure out any way to do that and not be standing there, in front of customers, forking food in my mouth. Then by the time it was gone, it was gone. So it was time to go wash everything, sanitize and start over. I've gotten the ingredients pretty much memorized. Can't tell you the amounts of different things, but could certainly recite the list of what goes in the Shitake Asparagus Chicken dish, as well as the Sesame Rice.

Even though I never actually put any in my mouth, the consumers told me that it was very good, and it smelled wonderful, so I'm pretty sure it was a success. The sauce for the chicken had ginger, low sodium soy sauce and honey in it. My mouth was watering the whole time. It smelled wonderful. I have to go back tomorrow and make it three more times.

the third day...

...of my training to un-learn everything I know(about cooking) , and practice my newly indoctrinated skills as an Apron's food demonstration/serving/sales person. Will be challenging and anxiety inducing. I actually cooked and served yesterday afternoon, under the supervision of my trainer and another young girl who is experienced, came in from another store. A recipe that I never in a bazillion years would have cooked otherwise. Salmon - something I do not eat, and would not prepare unless I was well paid for the experience. It's just too fishy.  I suspect the recipe had enough stuff added to the pan to make it palatable even for those of us who are not seafood afficiandos, but I didn't taste it so don't know for sure.

So I came home with another headache, took drugs, got a cold beer and went to bed before 9:00. Needless to say, I was awake at 12:30, wandering around the house, doing things that are recommended for sleep, trying to turn my brain off. Today I will be thrown in to see if I can swim. It is not just without supervision/moral support, but a new recipe as well.

I have already taken a double dose of Tylenol and will think positive thoughts. I am currently trying to convince myself that the lack of anyone who will stand around and offer suggestions and encouragement is to my advantage. I clearly remember my early years as a floral person, when there really was not anyone who knew what I was supposed to be doing. Over time I discovered as long as I could keep myself busy and looked like I knew what I was doing, management people pretty much left me alone.  Which will likely happen today, though I am sure they will stroll by and check on me - especially if I am cooking up something that catches the attention of their noses.

While I fumble through the learning process, figuring out what and how, the sequence of events to make everything ready to serve at the same time. I guess it will be good that there is no one standing there watching, observing as I  muddle through. Making  notes on the ensuing confusion. And I am sure there will be plenty of that!

yesterday was not...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
... something I would add to my list of most fun ever. Probably not even in the top twenty. It was so....something... that by the end of the day, when I got home I had a miserable headache. I never, ever have headaches. Something I will attribute to leading a life of little stress and very little anxiety. Just don't do things that would bring on the stuff that causes pain in the head. But it hurt on Monday. So much, that I wondered if I needed something to eat, as you know you can get something of this sort from low blood sugar. So I medicated with a Snicker bar.

Now I am thinking the problem was due to spending the day in a small room with a man who was trying to crash-course me on everything one needs to know to do the cooking demo. for the famished public. Sort of like when you are not even remotely thinking about food, never considering you might want something to eat: then you smell the fried chicken. You can be out in the parking lot, and have it invade your senses from the exhaust fans on top of the store, wafting across the neighborhood - and find yourself floating into the store, like some cartoon character, without feet touching the ground. Following your nose to the deli, demanding to be fed.

Or you can be in the store, industriously being industrious, doing your job, and someone will pass by with a box of hot, freshly cooked chicken pieces: whereupon you ask if you can go home with them to help with the consumption. Never even thinking you are hungry until that odor assails your nose. Then suddenly ravenous.

I'm going to start cooking today. Another few hours of being cooped up in the training room, with the man reading to me from the big training binder. Then we will put on our hair nets and gloves, go out in the store, start practicing how to smile and chop at the same time. I think I will go ahead and take some more Tylenol before I leave the house... and maybe put a few in my pocket for emergency use.

after the nap...

Sunday, October 12, 2014
...rarely occurring on a Sunday afternoon as I am usually found plugging away at work, with no time to waste. But I did take one today. And had a really productive day after I got up. I've been wanting or possibly threatening to get some plants in the ground. To make the likelihood of surviving cold weather better, even though trying to plant them during such a desperately dry fall is not wise. I hope I can keep them watered and they will adapt, grow roots while appearing dormant over the winter.

I planted some stuff that has been lingering on the floor of the carport for weeks, dug up at the home of a generous friend. Who will hopefully not read this and know that those plants laid around getting crisp and crispier for so long before finally getting in the ground today. Also the two milkweed plants I got from the guy at the Day Center yesterday. He gave host plants to all the participants of the Monarch workshop, and let me take home the two that were leftovers/extra.

Dug up some foxglove to relocate, replace some along the back edge of the bed in front of the house that did not survive the blistering hot summer. Something else to try to keep watered during this dry, dry, dry season. Put a lantana that has been sitting around getting pot-bound for months, in the edge of the woods, where it will get lots of sun, and hopefully attract the nosey attention of hummers, bees and butterflies. I'll be happy to see them put their little snouts down in those colorful blooms. Took a couple of forget-me-nots I had started from seeds out of the pot and put them in the ground, to water for the next few weeks.  Trying to get everything in the ground, so I won't have to keep watering, dragging hoses around, coiling them up again before the mow'n'blow guys come along...

One lantana, two forget-me-nots, two butterfly weed, three ornamental, yummy smelling ginger, four foxgloves - and a partridge in a pear tree.

next week...

...is best described as a one filled with opportunities. I usually work on Sunday. I went in a week ago, on Sunday morning, after early church, arriving shortly before 11:00. There was a notice posted on the wall near the time clock, positioned so it was hard to miss when you stand there waiting to clock in. Asking for interested parties to notify the store manager if they would be interested in getting trained to work the food demonstration. I peeped around the corner looking into the store manger's office to see if he was there, and told him I thought I might, possibly would be interested in doing that sort of thing. Never expecting that I would start learning that new job on Monday morning: bright and early tomorrow.

I have a lot of cooking experience, and know I am capable. I fed a family for years, and they all turned out pretty much ok. But I am sure my home cooking experience is not at all what the test kitchen recipes at Publix require, so it's most likely that I will be expected to un-learn all I know.To start with a blank slate, and learn how to do everything 'the Publix way'. For several years I accidently found myself the chief cook and bottle washer at that little Presbyterian church we attended on the north side of town. Doing the menu, shopping, prep. work, cooking and cleaning to serve Wednesday Night Fellowship dinners for thirty to sixty people each week. So I know I am capable, but will likely have problems with doing it in a manner that carefully, deliberately, conscientiously follows the recipe. I'm much too prone to add random food/spices/stuff to 'improve' the end product. I guess my spontaneous days are over?

I don't know what the schedule is for the demo., but expect that the corporate requirements are for hot food to be ready to sample in the afternoons, and early evenings when there is the maximum amount of customer/foot traffic in the store. I am most definitely not looking forward to working late in the day. It has been so very long since staying late has been a job requirement, I don't know if I know how to do that anymore. It was a big surprise to find myself on the schedule for nearly thirty hours this week. All cooking. I know some part of that is training, being indoctrinated to learn to do things the Publix way: careful sanitation, careful measuring, careful of safety procedures when 'performing' right out there in the public eye.

 I need to start practicing a good attitude, and should probably get underway with that very soon. I think I will go take a nap first: it is such a novelty not being at work on a Sunday afternoon, a snooze is the first order of business.  Then I will consider the 'adjustment'...

last week...

the work schedule at Publix, generated by a computer, based on labor needs for any given day/hour throughout the week, allowed me less than ten hours. Included in that was one day when I was supposed to arrive at 5:45 a.m., get finished/clock out at 10:00 a.m, and somewhere in there take a one hour lunch break. Needless to say I did not take the required lunch. So though my paycheck will be unusually skimpy (as in pared down to underwear, and probably a thong at that!), at least I squeezed ten hours out of the schedule that had me working even less. (And accidently backed into a sub. teaching job on one of the days when I was not working that will be a little financial boost.
Although it takes so long to get paid that I will have forgotten about that stressful day in fourth grade,  and find a little surprise on my bank statement when I get paid weeks from now.)

Which is mostly crazy. But as I have alluded to in the past, when grumbling about employ, it's pretty obvious that is the sort of stunt management pulls when they are trying to part with under-performing associates. There is considerable print and media accorded to the fact that even in the most difficult financial times, the company (employee owned, not publically traded on the stock market) has never let an employee go. They don't have to: it's remarkably easy to make a person's life so frustratingly annoying that the individual will quit in a fit of pique, no need for management to 'give notice'.

There is one guy who has, at turtle speed, been working in the produce department for many years, usually coming in early afternoon, to be the produce department 'closer', putting out fresh items as needed. As well as pulling most of the wet items, fresh lettuces, green products in tubs in the walk in cooler at night. Sort of 'putting in all to bed', for the store closing at 10:00 p.m.

I do not know how this all came to a head, but I understand he is leaving. Tired of the 'rat on treadmill' situation. I know he has done the studying, and taken the test to apply for a management position, which in his case, would be assistant produce department head. But not sure he has even qualified/scored well enough to get in the pipeline. So understandably weary of working all that time, with no hope of advancement. His suitability for moving up in the company is debatable at best, for a number of reasons. But the fact that his superiors have let him hope, believe, dream of that possibility for years is distressing.

a day at Callaway....

Saturday, October 11, 2014
...donating my time. I had signed up to 'assist' (term very loosely applied, as there was actually nothing to do) with the workshop on Monarch butterflies. As it turned out, when I walked in the room where the workshop was to be held, the guy who was doing the program said:' You did this last year.' And I responded with: 'You did this last year too!' Michael is the director or manager or boss or whatever of the Day Butterfly Center on the Callaway property. A very smart, personable guy. He talked and shared information to about ten people who had signed up for the workshop - spent about a hour showing a power-point and video, plus providing much factual stuff about the insect world. Did you know Monarch butterflies migrate - flying from Canada to their overwintering location south of Mexico City - a greater distance than any other animal on the planet? Me neither!

We adjourned to go to the butterfly gardens outside the Day center, to attempt to net some of the traveling Monarchs, to tag and release. One of the younger members of our group actually caught two: a male and a female. They were tagged, with numbers being recorded and released. The wee small labels that are affixed to wings are about half the size of your pinky nail, with tiny numbers in sequence printed on each. Numbers are recorded, along with date, gender, location and whether they are wild caught or raised indoors and released.

Lots and lots of things blooming around the butterfly center, all designed, as you would expect to attract a variety of different insects and provide shelter, food in the form of nectar from flowers, or a place  for eggs. Some of the plants serve as 'host', meaning they are the particular plants certain ones will exclusively deposit their eggs on, for the caterpillar to eat, after it hatches out. For the monarch, nothing but milkweed will do and for the Gulf Fritillary, it is the passion vine. Both of which are planted in abundance in the beds around the glassed-in Day Center. Inside: only tropical butterflies. But out in the fresh air, sunshine, soft breezes of the gardens: glorious, beautifully colored butterflies and fat, humming bumblebees industriously doing what they were designed to do.

giant chocolate chip cookie recipe...

... even though it is not the recipe that is available commercially, at the Cookie Company store in the mall, it's really good. I think I would like it better if you left the chocolate chips out, and put in extra nuts. But what do I know?

I'm glad I (accidently) had the foresight to buy several boxes of cake mix when I last thought of making one, so had a box on hand when I realized Birthday Cake was in order for the drive to TN on Friday. I hope my pizza pan comes back home. It has a story to tell... in addition to being well traveled, it was once a 'gong' for a church musical production. I used a nail to make two small holes along the curved edge, for hanging up on a stand, to be used in whatever musical the kids were doing, about twenty years ago. Holy cow! Has it been that long? Wow!

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 box cake mix: whatever is on sale,(I have never used a chocolate mix, always yellow or white)
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 Tbs. water (I generally use milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 to 1 cup choc. chips (yesterday's had half choc. and half peanut butter)

Mix the oil, water, eggs well, stir in dry cake mix. Add choc. chips. and chopped nuts if desired. Spread with fingers onto greased pizza pan. Bake 350 for 20-25 min, until lightly browned. It the mix is 'stiff', wet fingers to spread. Slice into wedges with knife or pizza cutter. It's soft, rather than hard and crunchy, like choc. chip cookies often are. It will seriously stick to the pan if you don't spray it before you put the cookie on.

not at all suprising...

...is how the Birthday Surprise went. In recent years her sister and I have conspired to unexpectedly appear for celebrating. But this time there was no surprise involved. Not by any stretch due to my lack of effort, but mostly due to constraints of employment.

Over recent years, we have been able to plot getting to Chattanooga prior to the actual date. But F. could not get there before Friday. Which was a day after the actual birthday... not all bad, as I was busy convincing myself she would never, ever suspect us of appearing well after when she would suspect us of appearing as part of the well-plotted surprise. She is a remarkably good sport about being surprised, and has tolerated any number of marginally amusing pranks over the years with a large helping of good humor.

This year circumstances prevented us from popping out of a huge, wrapped in-birthday-paper box wearing party hats. Or jumping out of the closet, with great enthusiasm shouting 'Happy Birthday!!!' Or just casually wandering into the work place, conveniently at lunch time, to ask if she would like to join us, while humming the tune to the Birthday Song.

 I choose to believe she has not wised up to our sneaky ways. So there is hope (though narrowly defined, due to history of underhandedness occurring, with friends and family roped in to collude on craftiness, with amusing conspiring) we might pull something off in the future. This one was inadvertently above-board. We had to involve the Birthday Girl in the plans to assure her availability. But it was a sweet time of getting together. Family. Yep: that's it.

C.'s uncle, J., always up for good fun, was along for the burgers and fries at the eatery downtown. We arrived just before the rains, and enjoyed a good meal together. Eating outside, under a canopy in a café/sports bar, converted from a former life as a service station, so we ate outdoors under the awning, where the pumps aren't. It rained heavily while we were there, but other than a steady stream of water running across the concrete apron, we remained dry.

P. showed us that she still knows how to ride a bicycle when we got back to the house: her birthday present was a bright pink bike. Riding up and down the street, in great circles, hoping to not unbalance, crash, embarrass herself or have need of health insurance. Reminding me of (for those of you who are old enough to have seen the movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) Paul Newman, singing and biking, riding around the house in circles, with Robert Redford and Kathrine Ross inside.

I woke up Friday morning, realizing I did not have a birthday cake to take, plus no flour in the house with which to bake. But did have the ingredients for a giant chocolate chip cookie. Which I have made dozens of times over the years when they were young, still at home. I would make it on a pizza pan, from a cake mix. And take to school for them to share with friends over lunch. Nothing quite like being the center of attention on one's birthday: and having something as tasty as a big cookie to make every one circle around in hopes of a wedge!

We had a bite or two of cookie, then got back in the car to drive back to Decatur. Stopping before we got on the highway to buy gas: $2.95/gallon. Fell into bed about 9:30.

the thing is...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
... probably not at all worth the effort invested. Me going to substitute teach today. If it were not such a frustrating, discouraging, aggravating endeavor, it would be laughable. If kids minds, future and our way of life did not hang in the balance due to failure in public education, it would be a great comedy routine.

I accepted the job yesterday afternoon, when I got a call, and knew I had nothing else on my calendar for the day. I'd made an effort to find one on Monday but all that were available were positions for subbing in special education classrooms. I accidently did that a couple of times, and know it is not something I am suited for. I am sure there are people that do that work well, but I'm sure it's not for me. So though there were several unfilled slots open, available and in need of bodies in the classrooms to provide support, I didn't do any on Monday.

But my phone keeps ringing, and if I am available/interested/have the day free, I am semi-likely to take an occasional job. I declined the first offer on Tuesday afternoon, for working today (it was special ed.), but took the second. Which was working as a para-professional/glorified teacher's aide at the Downtown Elementary school. Generally the para jobs are in pre-K, kindergarten or first grade, so that is what I had expected to be doing today. Little did I know....

When I got to the school, and walked in the office to sign in (otherwise you don't get paid), I was informed I would be working in a fourth grade class. Along with a young woman who was doing her student teaching. I'll have to say it mostly all worked out, but it was a very stressful day. Lots of kids with lots of problems that need help, and attention, discipline, evaluations, remediation, support, encouragement, sympathy, affection, supervision. That young woman who is trying to finish up her classes to get her degree was nearly at the end of her rope. I don't know what either of us would have done if the other had not been there. I am glad she was there, and I feel like she would not have been able to do it on her own. Plus the state requires a certified teacher be present, so if I had not appeared, I'll continue to wonder what would have happened.

Today was Ms. L's third day in that class: I am thankful for her, glad she knew most of them by name, and could call out the names to help manage twenty-odd students, milling around, asking questions, needing guidance. But she was really stressed, due to feeling the weight of responsibility for doing well in the position. Probably having some serious doubts about 'what in the world have I gotten myself into?'

volunteering again...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
...helping with a Tea Party at the Columbus Botanical Garden. There is a volunteer who has been really involved in lots of things at the Gardens over the years who has a little catering business she runs out of her home. She had agreed to make party fare for a reception at the Gardens following the big-deal Garden Gala luncheon at the country club. I offered to help when I discovered the demand for my knife skills had greatly diminished at my paying job. (Meaning I am working a great big whopping nine hours this week.)

But that surprising news at work allowed me to be helpful with the prep. for the Tea Party and do a bit of quality control testing all the yummy finger foods being prepared for the event. Tasty, densely chocolate-y brownies with nuts, most excellent lemon bars topped with raspberries. Tiny little round, open-faced cucumber sandwiches. Delicious looking rounds topped with smoked salmon slivers. Neat little squares of bread that would deposit swoon-inducing bruschetta on your taste buds. All very attractively plated and laid out on a beautiful sheer hand-painted table cloth for guests to pick, choose, enjoy.

The person who was the speaker for the luncheon came and talked to a smaller crowd, apparently showing a power point of more ideas that could be adapted for decorating. I missed both the luncheon (at $50 a plate) and the Tea Party talk, due to being a worker-bee in the kitchen. But there was a good crowd for the After Party. And I understand the luncheon was sold out of tickets before the invitations were mailed out. So I would have to assume it was a roaring success, with a goodly amount of funding raised to continue the programs and development of the local Botanical Garden.

sold it...

Started driving the new'ish Toyota nearly a month ago. Finally sold the old/gold one yesterday. It has been sitting around waiting for a new home all this time. Got lots of nibbles but no bites, except for this one guy who said he wanted to get it for a son who was about to have a birthday. If anyone had asked my opinion, I would have given it on that score, about what happens when you provide a sixteen year old a free ride. But no one asked, so I kept it to myself.

The old/gold one sat out on the street near the house with For Sale written on the windows for a couple of weeks, generating quite a few calls, but none that had any seriousness to their tone. My spouse told me more than once that I had it priced too high. I didn't disagree. But when people would call and have questions, I would say: 'I am asking $6500'. They did not say 'will you come down?' or 'will you consider less?' or 'can we negotiate?', so they were obviously not really interested.  There were two people who did ask, and I sold it to one of them. The other guy said, 'if I pay cash would you accept less', and I didn't say: 'cash is the only option', but he didn't call back.

So I moved it into town, and parked in front of a State Farm agent's office, where I often see vehicles for sale. With thousands of passers-by every day, causing me to be hopeful that the right person would come along and make the call, want to drive, and own. It finally happened last week, and we made the deal on Monday.

My friend P., who I refer to as the smartest person I know, wanted me to believe it was not my responsibility to warn potential buyers about the imminent possibility of having to replace the very expensive energy-storage batteries. I did not mention it to all the people who called, because their interest cooled as soon as they heard the numbers. P. seemed to think that anyone who was serious about purchasing a vehicle of this type was responsible for doing the due diligence to discover that on their own. And felt like I was under no obligation to share that information with anyone. Which sounds like a good idea, especially when telling them how much the new battery array would cost.

So I didn't precisely tell the buyer what they were getting. But did provide a nice rebate for them to use towards the price of having the storage batteries replaced. And told them about the mechanics in Decatur who reported they could order some that were rebuilt or refurbished for considerably less than the dealer/service dept. would charge. But what they do now, that the title is no longer mine, and the vehicle is in someone else's hands/name is up to the new owner.

I told the buyer, when she met me to get the key, and handed over the cashier's check: that was the first time I had sold a vehicle on my own, and it made me feel like an 'adult'... My conscience would not allow me to feel like I was withholding information. And I know I did the right thing as I slept really well last night.

an interesting discovery about human nature...

Monday, October 6, 2014
..is that we tend to assign the same character traits to other people that have been ingrained into our own little personalities. Things like being reliable, or trustworthy. I am continually amazed by co-workers who fail to show up when they are on the schedule to be on the job. I am confounded by people who sign on to work and then just don't appear when there is work to be done. Or even worse: show up and spend as much time as possible avoiding doing what they have been trained to do. Is there such a thing as a professional slacker? Is this the type person who historically was known to prey on others, using the naive and gullible for nefarious means?

I won't mention any names, but came to the surprising conclusion that there are people who will sign on for the task, when all they wanted was the pay, and had no intention of investing the actual labor necessary to accomplish the job. Some don't even bother to show up. Some come in consistently late. Some work at such a slow pace, it's a wonder they don't get strangled by management, or run over by customers pushing grocery carts.

I started the above several months ago, and found it in 'drafts'. In a remarkably timely manner, since I am sitting a home today, pecking away instead of working/being productive.  Still wondering about those people who make the effort to apply for the job, and complete the training process, appear to be willing to work, anxious to develop the job skills and interested in putting forth the required effort to be gainfully employed: then slack off.

I am willing, and somewhat trained: but finding limited demand for my skill-set/time.  I am working a total of nine hours at my job this week. Pretty disturbing. But not too sad, as I have a number of plants sitting in pots awaiting hole digging. I have considered doing some of that for months, but have apparently become very adept at avoidance: hence a startling similarity to the people I was harping about in the first paragraph. So I think I will devote some time this afternoon to puttering around in the yard, getting some of those things planted and settled in before cold weather arrives.

Thought last night that I should attempt to find a sub. teaching job for today, but all the absences that create work opportunities are for people who work in special education classes - sadly, not something I am comfortable taking on. But happily - a day with nothing else on the calendar, so fairly likely that I will actually get some holes dug and plants inserted.

Saturday afternoon... (GFT story)

...indicating that going to the GA National Fair was not all the amusement that occurred over the weekend. We did find the car, with remarkable ease, hidden in plain sight out in the parking area, along with several thousand other vehicles. Got back on the interstate to return to Decatur. North of Macon, I noticed a sign directing travelers for the exit to Juliette, GA. If you are from the south, and familiar with southern cooking, you are likely a fan of Green Fried Tomatoes. And probably aware of a movie made some years ago, in which this particular item played a starring role.

I believe the movie was based on a book by Fannie Flagg, with a good portion based on local lore, family history, and anecdotes. I'm not sure of the title of either book or  movie, but think that 'Whistle Stop Café' played a part in the story. I'd been suggesting to likely co-horts/co-consiprators the necessity of making a pilgrimage to the Whistle Stop Café for a goodly portion of that historically artery-clogging un-vegetable vegetable. When I saw the sign for the Juliette exit, I said: 'we should go', meaning we should start planning another road trip. But she said: 'Yes'.

The wonders of Google informed us that the café was open until 3:00, causing us to expect to not get in. But just going would be interesting, so we drove down a little two lane country road, with signs periodically directing us on toward Juliette, GA. Crisp clear day, with leaves falling from the trees, and whirling in the backdraft of passing cars. Arriving at a little town, about the size of Boston, GA. With a block long business district.  Consisting  of a row of mostly of ancient, sagging buildings filled with antiques/junque and collectibles, little trinket/gift shops.  I expect the primary attraction, the reason people veer off the interstate is remembering the book/movie and thinking: 'Oh, let's go to Juliette'. Us too!

The café was open. We had the tomatoes. Of course. They were fried. Extremely fresh: so hot they were steaming when you cut into bite size. And just exactly what my taste buds had expected. In the interest of creating a well balanced meal, we also had fried chicken nuggets and potato chips, along with a garlicky pickle spear. That's my fat quota for the month. It was worth every bite.

it's a mess...report on 'C.'

... though I could use several other words to describe the situation with my auntie. I'm understandably reluctant to provide details, as it is difficult to judge how much information, published, would be considered 'too much'. Often finding myself the recipient of what I consider 'too much information', I have become very conscious, over time, when people are wanting to share facts and personal news that does not need to become common knowledge.

It's probably not uncommon to realize that as we age, we all tend to be both more tender-hearted and more squeamish. When people I care for receive discouraging news related to health or problems of family members, I find  myself trying to look at life challenges from their perspective, and wanting   to be both objective and sympathetic.  She's received some really undesired, unpleasant news that will affect her lifestyle, requiring major changes. But also oddly not 'traumatic' in a medical way, in the sense that it was not really health related, as you often do receive hugely distressing info. when you go for the 'follow up' office visit to get result of testing/scans/labs. Hers was related to changes the doctor feels that she needs to make to maintain health and safe living conditions.

My cousin and I are profoundly thankful that it came out of his mouth. As difficult as these statements were to hear, I am so grateful the doctor was the 'bearer of bad news' instead of the relatives (almost exclusively my cousin and myself) who will be the recipients of the fallout when she has to make the necessary changes in her life. I remember hearing another cousin telling an amusing story of taking her dad and aunt to get driving licenses renewed, when both had poor eyesight. With vision failing so badly neither should have been behind the wheel of a two-thousand pound vehicle, they sat in the waiting area, trying to memorize the series of letters as other patrons read them out. Hoping to recall with sufficient accuracy to be awarded another five year permit that would allow them to endanger the lives of everyone on the road.

My auntie claims good health, though she has had several back surgeries, both hip joints replaced and other surgeries to repair injured limbs. None of which would be considered unusual or excessive for someone her age. She reports that her 'organs' do not have any medical problems, though lab work tells otherwise. She is understandably reluctant to make changes: aren't we all? Especially when forced upon us, not of our timing, preference, choosing? But circumstances dictate that changes will have to be made - for her own safety as well as others around her, if she continues to insist upon driving. More to come as this unfolds over time...

all in all...(a day at the Fair)

...I'd have to say it was a pretty amusing day. And a pretty day, just to be alive, even without all the amusing part.  Bright sunshine, clear cloudless sky, amazingly cool weather. Here in middle GA, summer heat often drags on until well into November. We can have short-pants weather until nearly Christmas. But Saturday was perfect. Here in the land of rabid football fans who live for Saturday games in the SEC, we'd call it perfect tail-gating weather.  I predict everyone in all those college stadiums across the southern states got sunburned while cheering on their favorite team.

F. and I had been thinking, talking occasionally for several years of the entertainment value of going to the GA National Fair: primarily to see the agricultural exhibits. Located in central GA, at the state owned fairgrounds, adjacent to I-75 in Perry, GA. We were hoping for lots of high school 4-H and FFA projects: cows and chickens, goats and sheeps. And a goodly number of cheesy exhibits that looked like something you would see at a middle school science fair. Only less well done, and more hurriedly put together, as generally occurs on the night before the teacher requires it to be at school. 

And it pretty much all happened. The overpriced concession stand food: corndogs for $7, giant pretzels for $5, fresh roasted corn for $3 an ear, along with things that never occurred to you could be deep fried.(Would you believe pop tarts? Me neither -it makes me queasy to even write about it!)  But were there available for consumption before getting on those rides that cause you to loose everything you have eaten all week.

Lots of beautiful hand crafts: gorgeous quilts by people who obviously had years of experience with design, piecing, and assembly. Handmade beaded jewelry. Hand wrought/turned wood bowls and decorative pieces. Professional quality photography. Plus lots of those same crafts that were obviously done by students who were not so skilled and experienced but obviously willing to invest their time.  All assigned varying degrees of accomplishment through judging, and ribbons of various colors awarded for levels of skill and competency, as well as just amazing products. Oh - and jars of preserved vegetables and fruits: jam, jellies, beans, pickles, apples, corn, herbs - and some things I would never think to preserve, 'put by' in canning jars.

We walked through all the exhibits, saw hundreds of beef and dairy cows, in various stages of readiness, being prepared by student owners for competition judging. Lots of goats, all saying what goats say. Dozens of sheep, neatly sheared, all telling us what they thought about the crowds, confusion, unfamiliar environment. We did  not spend much time looking at the middle and high school educational exhibits, but there were hundreds of those. We were disappointed to not see the poultry out in force. I reminded her about going to the fair when they were small and seeing chickens in cages with feathered feet, and hundreds of pigeons. There was an educational area about the value of the poultry industry in GA, and how chickens are grown, and some eggs in an incubator that were hatching out wee little fuzzy biddies, no birds for judging/competition. Lots of rabbits though, in all sizes and colors, and a surprising number of guinea pigs, also called 'cavy'. I know rabbits can be a food source, but not sure why one would raise the cavy.

We walked the length of the midway, observed people screaming on rides they had paid good money and deliberately let themselves be secured  on, then yelling 'bloody murder' for the duration. That does not appeal to me at all. As we were heading toward the exit, hoping we could find the car in those thousands parked in the open field, we stopped for a pig race. You had to pay close attention or miss it entirely. It was amusing, but happened so fast - it was over in a blink. They ran around a 150 foot track with an oreo as the prize for the winner. Mr. Robinson, the propreitor of' Robinson's Racing Pigs' had them run three times, so I guess he realized some of us, sitting right there on the bleachers, didn't see it happen.

We spent about four hours there - walking for miles, but pretty much saw all the exhibits, which was the reason I wanted to go. Not for the rides that make you urp, or the concession stand food that is soaked in grease, but mostly to see all the 'made in Georgia' stuff. And remarkably found our car to depart with amazing ease.

a little painting project...

Friday, October 3, 2014

... distracted me for several hours this morning. I had taken paints and a little 8x8 canvas along on the mercy mission to south GA, but it did not even get out of my car. And there was a definite window for getting the project finished. I got the canvas from someone who had asked members of the Artist's Guild to paint the little canvas for selling as a fund-raiser. Part of the big once-a-year event the Botanical Gardens puts on every October.

Botanical Gardens invites (likely paying an exorbitant fee) a well known personality: author of note, floral designer with cachet, gardening person who has lots of experience in high-profile landscaping, to appear as the featured speaker at a luncheon. Advertising to garden clubbers and country club-types, locals who willingly pay to hear as they share anecdotes, talk about their work, lives, or demonstrate some remarkable gardening-related skill.

For the past couple of years, I've been a volunteer, helping with a silent auction, and serving as a cashier for sales of table centerpieces and auction items. So when I discovered the artists from the guild have been painting little canvas, donating their skills to help with the fundraiser, I wanted some of that. The Gardens provides the 8x8 canvas, gives them to anyone who wants to paint, and then sells them for (I think) $50 each. You can pay extra for a frame if you want.

I wanted to paint, even though I have not done any painting (other than faces at carnivals) since I finished at CSU. I actually used the craft/acrylic paints in little bottles (like you can find at craft stores) to paint my canvas. Wishing I had started sooner and allowed more time, so I would have been better pleased with the end product. But feeling the pressure to get it done, I spent a couple of hours this morning on it, and delivered it to the admin. assistant at the Botanical Gardens to get it out of my life. I'm not particularly impressed with the results, which makes me know that I need to be willing to invest more time in the future.

a worser bug invasion...

...all this time of sweeping up and picking up and disposing of millipedes. I only thought that was a huge annoyance. When I went to bed last night I discovered: fleas. Holy cow. How can that even be possible when we don't even have any animals in the house any more? Where would fleas come from? What does one do about a flea infestation? Is it a sign of terrible sanitation? Isn't this little nearly invisible creature the thing that spread the Plague? Holy cow!

I was getting myself ready to go to bed, and looked down at my white socks and thought: hmmm, wonder where I was to get those tiny black grass seeds on my socks. Then the tiny black grass seeds starting jumping off my socks and onto the bed. It was quite obviously fleas, but I was in such a state of total denial, it took me a while to believe I was seeing what I was actually seeing. I remember hearing that they can only jump about twelve or fifteen inches, and my bed is at least three feet off the floor, so I went to sleep. And wanted to believe it was a bad dream when I woke up, but of course, they were still there, ready for another ride when they jumped back on my socks.

So I looked up the number for the Do-it-yourself pest supply store, and put it in my phone, Waiting for the store to open and have someone who would give advice at 8:30. I was in the store buying a $27 can of spray by 8:50. With instructions to vacuum, then spray all the carpet. I went straight home and got started. Picking things up on the floor that have been sitting in the same spot, making long-term dents in the carpet for years. Hoping to start the flea-free process. I am supposed to vacuum again, every couple of days, and spray again in ten days: which is how long it takes infants to hatch from eggs laid in carpet. I cleaned out the vacuum filter and parked it out in the storage room, to keep any hatchlings from repopulating.

I am freaked out. My cuzzin' recommends a 'bomb' or several that you set off in the house, and leave. So it can permeate everything and poison the hoppers. As well as the remnants of the millipede invasion if there are any left? Which is, I guess, why the instructions say to leave the house while you can, and before you are so overwhelmed with fumes that you can't. Reminding me of the bugs in the Men In Black movies....

I'm feeling like I don't clean house very well, to have such a miserable nasty, icky, unsanitary problem. I associate people who live with fleas as someone one who is not Me. Truth is: I don't do much cleaning, but it does not really get dirty with just us there, and we're not there for much more than going to bed, the occasional meal and showering, washing clothes as needed and leaving again.

I still have not figured out where they could have come from. The last cat wore a flea collar until the day before she deceased, and has been in the Cat Cemetery for over two weeks. There has been a stray/feral around for months. A neighbor was reportedly planning to try and trap to take and get neutered, between litters of kittens. So I don't know if that mama cat is the source of the problem. But I am mostly truly baffled as to where the aggravating little piss-ants could have come from...