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good news...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
...or not, depending on how it all evolves. I was so frustrated, angry, distraught, confused, and generally all round miserable by the time I got home last night, it was time to do something different. After cursing and swearing all the way home, venting when there was no one around to hear all my @#$% and &*+?, I felt like I had run out of expletives.

So I went today to apply for another job. I've been thinking about it for months, and finally decided it's time to make a change. Partially due to the people who have been hearing me say all these years: Life Is Too Short To Be Miserable. When they start quoting it back to me, it's pretty obvious: 1) they retained the message, and 2) they understand it's something I need to hear/apply/take to heart. Funny how we can get to the point of one day suddenly realizing: 'I sound like my mother'... and now here I am hearing my long-lived quote coming out of my daughters' mouths. Even funnier, or ironic, is that I have had this particular job app. in my car for a couple of months, when someone gave it to me at church, and I was not yet ready to foment change. I got to the front door of the store, and realized I already had what I was going in there for, so sat in my car in the parking lot and filled it out.

I told someone I know there is great danger in using the 'h' word in reference to employment. And I know it is not truly appropriate, that if that were my only complaint/concern, I have to admit that the things I have been counseled about are all legitimate. But I do feel 'hounded'. And I do feel like I am continually in the sights/crosshairs. Like I am the one getting continually bashed in 'whack-a-mole'. So though I cannot use the 'b' word, this situation is untenable.

No reason to expect anyone else to change, so it has become obvious I am the one who needs to make a change. For the several references required, as you would expect, I named names of people who love me. Why would anyone give contact information for someone who would have disparaging comments to make about reliability, trustworthiness, timeliness? So...we'll see...

too stressssed...

Monday, June 29, 2015
...to keep doing what I am doing. It's been a rough day at my place of employment. Though the work itself was not difficult. I was cooking in the Aprons' food demo. booth making a salad with shrimp. It was, according to all the people who tasted it, pretty good. I am not a shrimp or seafood eater, so I did not try it myself, but all those passers-by who said they were shrimp lovers reported it to be really good. A number of people commented on the fact that the shrimp were tender, and tasty, so apparently they have had some experience with eating some that have been likely overcooked and tough to chew.

It's a pretty simple recipe with the salad being romaine lettuce, topped with diced up avocado and mango. Which would make a great salad in my opinion. But then you add the shrimp that has been cooked under the broiler for about five minutes after you sprinkle on some seafood seasoning. And mix up dressing that is mostly Cesar, with some honey and hot-wing sauce. I tried to tell everyone who got a sample on a little plate, that I reduced the amount of spicy stuff by one half: adding only one tablespoon of hot sauce instead of two that is listed on the recipe.

There are so many elderly people with digestive problems who come in and like to try new recipes, as well as moms with small children who want to see what we're cooking. So I generally will only include half the amount of spicy ingredients instead of deliberately following the recipe. Trying to remember to tell people: If you want yours at home to taste just like what you are eating, you need to know I only used half the quantity the recipe calls for, of the tear-inducing, fire-breathing stuff.

I guess it was good, most people had positive comments. A number of people said they did not eat shrimp, and several reported they were allergic, with one guy saying he would take the recipe and substitute chicken for the seafood. Which would be a good, tasty idea, but if I were doing it you can rest assured I would be leaving out the hot-wing sauce entirely.

another armadillo sighting...

...or possibly the same one who has established residency in the neighborhood. Scooting along with remarkable speed through the vines, leaf mulch, undergrowth. Looking like it might possibly be the same one I saw a  couple of weeks ago, with great curiosity. And much alarm due to thinking: nocturnal creatures in the brightness of mid-day?

Health and safety warnings say "Beware". It could be suffering from some type disease that would cause an animal that we rarely see nosing around, out for a morning stroll. So though I am fascinated by them, and exceptionally curious about the little armored things, I am torn between chasing through woods and keeping my distance. Like those dogs that perpetually chase motor vehicles: what would they do if they actually caught one?

This little guy was apparently resting under P's vehicle, parked out under the trees. She called me when she made startling noise, opening the door, and it came scooting out. We watched it dash off towards the neighbor's yard. A whole lot faster than you think they could move. Mostly due to the fact that we only see them deceased along the right-of-way on their armored backs with legs up in the air. Not moving at all. I think I read someplace they have an unusual 'startle reflex' that causes them to jump straight up in air when frightened. Which explains how they die so often on road ways, hitting the underside of a vehicle.

He/she/it was about the same size as the one I saw recently, so it might be the same. Which would be an indication of those little oddities thinking (do they think or is it all instinct?) this is a relatively safe environment. Maybe establishing a colony? To reproduce and have another generation of armadillos to perpetually plow up the entire neighborhood?

the most recent road trip...

Sunday, June 28, 2015
...took me to Decatur on Friday. And on to SC on Saturday. And back to west GA on Saturday night, to flop into bed so I could get up and be at work on Sunday morning. From 7 am to 4 :15 pm.

On Saturday, we went to this very difficult place to find that has hundreds and hundreds of daylily plants and dozens and dozens of hostas. I was able to be very conservative: did not buy a single plant at the daylily farm. But did buy a little moss fern plant when we stopped by a garden shop, though I did not let all those annuals and perennials tempt me into buying a load of stuff I would have to find a place to plant when I got home.

It was raining on me when I left Decatur Saturday before daylight, and most of the way back across the state when I got home about dark. Good, now I wont' have to water everything for several days.

lunch at SAE...

Friday, June 26, 2015
... was 'bird dogs'. When F. went in the kitchen she immediately started heating up the fryer. And when the grease got hot enough, started cooking chicken nuggets. That she cut in half, while I was lining up dozens of hot dog buns in the big metal pans. Then filled each bun with nuggets, squeezed honey-mustard salad dressing over, and sprinkled grated cheese. The hotel/buffet sized pans filled with buns and chicken nuggets went in the oven just long enough to heat up and get the cheese good and melt-y. Bird Dogs.

I cannot provide nutrition information, but suspect you don't want to know. I ate one nugget, with a squirt of honey mustard and two fries.

this is an amusing story...

...that I probably will not be able to retell with nearly as much hilarity as when I heard it.

I got up this morning (this in not yet to the funny part) early to drive up to Decatur to spend the day. Having loaded up my car last night (does this sound like "Ground Hog Day" movie? Since I did the same thing last weekend?) with stuff for donating to the yard sale that will occur in the morning from 8 am till 2 pm. Good Luck With That. I can guarantee the shoppers will be here long before the appointed hour, looking for the best stuff, rooting through carefully sorted and arranged goods, demanding bargain.

Forgot F. had to go to work for several hours this morning. When we made the plan for me to come and spend the day, it was due to this Friday being an off day, which happens every other week. But me being sadly math impaired, I obviously got my weeks mis-counted and mis-laid the one where she did not have to go across town to prepare lunch for the hung-over, unappreciative crew at SAE frat. house.

The story is about an adventure the SAE guys had one day this week. They are as unclean and unkempt as you would expect unsupervised teenaged boys to be. Having never been taught some of what many in our society would consider basic survival skills. The sort of things usually taught young girls when they are in the early teens: sorting laundry before you throw it in the washer, how to operate the appliances, clean a bathroom, basic food prep. and 'clean up after yourself' skills. This group of privileged guys, probably never put their own dishes in the sink, much less loaded into the dishwasher, completely in the dark about life-skills, headed towards highly paid engineering positions in leading firms nation-wide.

They saw a rat, creeping out of a hole where there were several bricks missing in a retaining wall, just outside the dining room window. The door to the dining area does not completely close: constantly leaking cooled air to the great outdoors, never totally closed. Anything that is out there and wants to come in merely walks through the opening: squirrels, skinks, any creeping thing.

So naturally the rat can stand up on his hind legs, put on his bow-tie and bowler hat and stroll in at his leisure. The report I heard was when she came in to work the day after the rat incident is that the room looked like there had been a fire drill and everyone dashed out the door: turning over tables, chairs, drinks, couches, futons, cushions flying through the air. Total Chaos. Or possibly a tornado had touched down in the dining room.

The guys, when they finally showed up for lunch, said they noticed the rat creeping in the door and tried to stop it. I say: it's a wonder it was not trying to escape as nasty as a group of several dozen frat. guy can be in their personal hygiene skills. They chased it around the room a couple of times. Someone thought to go upstairs to the living quarters and get the two dogs that live in the house. While the guys down in the dining area were chasing the rat with an assortment of golf clubs, turning over chairs, couches, tossing cushions with abandon. I am surprised the dogs did not dash for the door when they had a chance. But they eventually caught the rat for the bumbling gold-club wielding guys. Do you have a mental image, looking like a cartoon: a dozen guys, wearing shorts, ratty T-shirts and flip-flops, hopping around the room, yelling and flailing about!

travelin' Georgia...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
... on those back roads over the weekend, including all those U turns when I would realize that I was getting farther away, rather than closer, to where I wanted to be. Lots of farm land, with neat rows of planted crops stretching out to the horizon with tall pines in the distance.  Dark green healthy fields of corn standing tall, vast acres of soybeans with leaves rustling in the summer breeze, growing in the bright sunshine.

Tidy little country churches, with cemeteries close by holding devoted generations of members. Sitting along country roads, peacefully awaiting occupying members to appear each Sunday morning. One congregation somewhere in my driving to and fro had chosen the name of: "Exceedingly Grateful Ministry."

pondering....

Monday, June 22, 2015
...after listening to excessively long discussion at the family gathering on Saturday afternoon. As to why it seems the crowd shrinks each year. Some won't be back because they are underground, but there are lots that could and don't. Wondering why attendance has tapered off over the years, and relations do not (for any number of reasons) make the effort to get to the assembly each June.

When there was conversation about possibly scheduling in the fall instead of summer, with kids out of school, and families more likely to travel, the response was mixed with comments like VBS, family vacations, summer camp commitments, desire to have unscheduled time without obligations.Well, then: What about Spring Break? Noooooo, that won't do at all! How about Thanksgiving, like the clan used to do years ago, and celebrate at the old home place (now underwater)?  Nooo, not that! We always get together with in-laws, church family, etc. Well, what then?

No conclusion was reached, but as I have thought about this, it seems to me like people have to get to a certain age, a particular place in life to want to make the effort to drive, meet, gather year after year. The first couple of years were hard for me, and could understandably be difficult to really want to participate - not knowing people and feeling awkward, fifth-wheel'ish. But now: I'm going, you can come along if you want, or not. But I am going.

I believe that young people are not interested, unless their parents have kept close connections with cousins that provide a reason for the younger generation to want to spend time with each other. It is unlikely that young people will want to go, devote their time to family reunions, listening to the elders, parents, aunties, uncles, grands, telling stories about history, dead people, events that happened long ago. This lack of interest is due, I am convinced, to the fact that young people do not have the ability to look in two directions. They are young, anticipating, looking forward, and have no thought for what happened in the past. Not the first shred of desire to hear oft-told-tales about Uncle Joe wearing the lampshade on his head, or Aunt Jane sliding down the bannister. Or the time the fishing boat tipped over and Uncle Henry nearly drowned because he would not take his good hunting boots off and let them sink to the bottom, saving himself while loosing the boots in order to swim to shore.

They only look towards the future. And cannot realize that those people in the pas, as well as the ones telling the stories from history, are the ones who hold the lanterns, light the path, keeping history alive, contain the DNA that makes them who they are. Whereas, the older generations, people with adult children and antsy grandchildren who show up year after year, with the stories to tell, and embellish with each retelling: these people can look in both directions. Forward into the coming years, they expect to enjoy with much leisure time. And backwards into our collective past, as husbands of the history, and stories that make us who we are.

I don't believe the younger ones can have the vision. I think you have to have the years accumulate, to loose those you cherish (often to loose before you  realize their value) and have that empty space within that makes you long for things unretrievable. Live through the pain of grief and that loss of love that helps you to understand the importance of that which is forever gone. Beyond the reach. On the far side of the gap we mortals will not attain, though we can wish, dream, long for the presence of those who await.

I fear the younger generations will not be interested soon enough in carrying that flame, keeping the unity kindled to continue forward. They are not sufficiently aware of the value of the stories and amazing lives of the story tellers. They can only think of these elders as uncles or grandmothers, without seeing the irreplaceable worth of the memories they carry in their hearts. Unable to grasp the true value of that often oral history, that disappears from memory each time someone dies and takes the volumes of their lives with them.

occasionally driving...

... cancer patients to treatment. I have done this maybe half a dozen times. One last week was what I presume from the pick up location/information to be homeless. I was sort of anxious about this man. But he had requested a ride, so I went to get him and deliver to his appointment at the cancer center. It was uneventful. I had a little errand to run, and put him out at the door, saying I would come back and wait in the designated area for him to be finished. He was waiting for me when I returned in about fifteen minutes.

I offered to take him anyplace he wanted to go, and he requested a ride downtown. So I drove to the place he wanted to go and let him out. Hard to imagine being rootless, not knowing where you can safely lay down you head when you get tired. Uncertain of where the next meal might be found. And to pile the need for medical assistance/treatments on top of that. A life so foreign to mine I cannot begin to grasp what it must be like.

I assume he grew up being loved, cared for, fed, clothed, needs met within a family environment. I did not ask a lot of questions, and don't know anything about him. But know the smallest activities of daily life that many of us routinely do, take for granted, can be challenging for people who have no place to sleep, shower, eat regularly, store valuables. Time to be thankful for lots of blessings we don't often stop to realize we are taking for granted: reliable income, frequent meals, clean clothing, durable footwear, comfortable beds in safe homes.

turtle rescue...

...when I was on the road yesterday after, searching for highway numbers on signs. While working my way south and west. Avoiding traffic mess on I-20, and hoping to get home on unfamiliar roads. Observing on coming and turning traffic ahead of me. Paying attention to lanes merging and diverging, often designated as turning  and occasionally disappearing. Trying to see around trucks or utility poles or trees or business signs to find the signs that direct turns for following a particular highway through a town.

There is so much debris in the roads that seems to be turtle sized. Discarded take out/fast food boxes and crumpled drink cups. Plastic shopping bags half filled with trash. Clothing mysteriously scattered along the right of way. Shoes that find their way off feet and into the traffic lanes. Boxes that apparently fly off trucks and get half-flattened by vehicles. A great assortment of items our 'disposable society' intentionally or inadvertently lets go while in transit.

I'm forever keeping a sharp eye out for turtles, in their foolish progress across paved thoroughfares. Have been helping them across the street for many years. Reminding me of the old joke about the Boy Scout who was trying to do his good deed and help an elderly person across the intersection. The reason the Elder was so difficult to get across the road is that she didn't want to go!

I often see the turtles stalled out on the double yellow line, apparently having become hesitant or indecisive about continuing. There must be something in their navigational systems that causes the risky behavior, installed long before Henry Ford and asphalt came into being. Causing them to head in a certain direction without caution for two thousand pound vehicles.

This particular little box turtle, with an already damaged shell (obviously did not learn of  the dangers of motorized creatures higher on the food chain from a previous encounter) was half way across. I made a U turn, and went back to pull over on the right of way. Jumped out and picked it up. And moved it safely across the street, in the direction it was headed. Neither the turtle nor I were hit by oncoming traffic.

The turtle could have easily turned around 180 degrees and tempted fate again. But I did my part assisting in what I believed was the goal. It had disappeared into the weeds by the time I made another U turn and resumed my driving. I made it safely home, and hope the turtle did not get smooshed.

the next next U turn...

Sunday, June 21, 2015
... was actually several, as they  began to multiply when I was driving and trying to read the road map at the same time. Once again, elucidating the value of a navigator/companion to help with directions as well as road sign observation. Though I think printed DOT maps are more reliable than GPS as tried and true methods for finding one's way in unfamiliar terrain, multitasking while driving is not recommended.

I think I made at least four U turns this afternoon, when I got off the interstate to drive through the countryside. Seeing that traffic had come to a complete standstill, with map in hand, I knew I would eventually get home, by heading west. Lost my highway number in Covington, in Jackson and in Barnesville, and sort of in Thomaston. But eventually figured it all out, after taking the scenic route on several occasions.

So here I am. Home again.

the next U turn...

occurred this morning, when I was roaming out in the woods again. With some pretty explicit, precise written directions, from reliable sources for helping me find the turn off for the Smith cemetery. On a wooded hill overlooking the Little River, a tributary that, after the dam was built, flooded family land and covered the spot where the Old Homestead was located. The Corp of Engineers dam has created a big beautiful lake that is much enjoyed by locals for fishing and recreation as well as contributing to the water supply and general economy. But in the process, covered lots of land previously owned by families that had been there for generations.

Like the Smiths, who buried their loved ones on that hill overlooking the family land. And we'uns, several generations later, go out on a Sunday once a year to commune with nature, as well as each other in the peace and tranquility of the forested hill.  I missed the turn off for Holiday Park Road. I knew it was there, had it written on my paper, read the sign that said: Wilkes County Recreation Area, Holiday Park. And drove right past it. Ending up at the intersection of the Greenwood Church Road and the highway to Lincolnton. Not the place I wanted to be. So I said: hmmmm.... and called the number Henry had given me for when I needed to be rescued. Not really expecting to have cell service out there at the corner of I don't know and I don't care. The call went through. He did not answer.

I knew I could go back and start over. After I made a U turn in the middle of the intersection. So I did, and got it there, making all the 'lefts' and 'rights' in the correct sequence to get to the little hill out in the woods where the forefathers and foremothers are resting. I generally walk down to the edge of the water, and gather up a handful of fresh water mussel shells, bleached white by the sun. And put them in my pocket to take with me on my next trip to the family cemetery when I go to south GA to see my own set of forebears, and leave the shells on marble markers as a memento of my journey to visit the elders in there native soil.

about that raffle and dessert contest at the park...

... I would have to say: fifty-fifty. I was able to get rid of most of the stuff I took for the raffle. And the stuff that no one wanted, plant-wise, I left with my cousin in South Carolina. Who lives out in the country just on the east side of the Savannah River with enough acres to plant things and turn them loose. I'd invited myself to go on over to SC and visit, spend the night. Always a Joy to spend time with, but so far away I don't see her nearly as often as I would like.

Not since the last family gathering a year ago, when I was up near Augusta, and drove over for a short visit after the meeting at the state park. I had written driving instructions down on a note card, stuck in the glove box, and handy to help me navigate to her house out in the woods. But somehow, tooling along, missed the turn off for the road that leads to her house. And as I gradually realized I had driven much too far, and not seeing the right street sign, or anything that looked even vaguely familiar, I: made a U turn. And found them at home, with three excitable dogs, and the biggest tomato plants I have ever seen in my life.  Her grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. And my mom was especially fond of her grandma (who would have been my mother's aunt), though she lived up near Augusta, too far away to see frequently.

And the dessert contest: I made this cardiac-inviting recipe that I was certain would be a winner. And it came in third. After a very unremarkable, ordinary coconut pie, that placed second. And an especially common lemon bar recipe that the judges thought to be First Class. So I said: 'Stick a fork in me, I'm done'. Completely finished with participating in a rigged, biased, highly questionable dessert contest. And gave the leftovers to the cousin in SC who will be much more appreciative of good eats that those men who were thoroughly unqualified as Judges.

a multiplicity of U turns...

... has occurred in the past two days, most of them in the past twelve hours. I consider myself a qualified expert at going back and starting over. Who will, without hesitation, to pull off the road/street and accost total strangers for directional information as I realize I have no idea where I am at any given time, other than not where I meant to be.

I started doing that early on Saturday afternoon, when I realized I had missed the turn off to go to the state park where the family was gathering. The official name of the event is Smith Family, but there are so many of us who are a sub-set, I generally refer to the gathering by a name that came along a generation later. From men who married into the family of four Smith daughters, back in the early 1800's, prior to the war of civil disobedience. So there are cousins all in the woods in east Georgia, where I have been for the past two days.

I've been several times in recent years, and thought I knew where I was going. Having actually made the trip alone a couple of times, with no one along as the navigator, guiding me with semi-somewhat marginally reliable GPS. But tooling along, listening to my talking book on the CD player, I completely missed the sign for the turn off, and continued to wander along, down the road, through the woods of McDuffie, Wilkes and ...........counties. Coming to a crossroads that made me know how  much I didn't know. So I stopped in a little store: hardware converted from a curb store at the very rural intersection of three roads in the dead center of Nowhere.

First U-turn: back to the state park. Where I unloaded a truck load of stuff (out of the back of my car) I was profoundly hopeful to not bring back home. Only marginally successful. I had over a dozen plants, all manner of potted stuff. Things I had been cultivating for weeks in anticipation of taking to the raffle. And a few that I had just dug up on Thursday, and unceremoniously dumped into pots to take and donate, looking pretty limp and road weary from travels. Along with a vast assortment of flotsam and jetsam I found that I thought: 'what a great thing to take and foist on the raffle crowd!' (with only marginal success.) About a third of it got loaded up again, and will likely be recycled for next year.

horry-fing...

Friday, June 19, 2015
...experience, when I went to vacuum out my car earlier today. I went up to Harris county on Thurs. morning to salvage some plastic containers to put the plants in that I dug up yesterday. Had put out an email to fellow gardening fanatics hoping someone would have some empty pots to give away. I'd recently gotten in the right frame of mind to say: Begone! and put a big stack of stuff in the recycling bin. And, as you would expect, Murphey's Law (along with gravity) is still in effect. So as soon as the truck came and took all the stuff I wanted out of my life, I began wishing I had not been so ruthless.

On the way back to the house from the early morning trip up to get containers, I stopped in the road to pick up a small box turtle meandering across from the back side of the golf course towards a subdivision. Thinking I was doing a good deed, and saving the small reptile from certain smooshing. With the intention of taking it down the hill, into the wooded area behind our house and setting it out where it would be safe, and hopefully enjoy a long, pleasant, fecund life, with all the others I have rescued over the years.

But I promptly forgot about the rescue job when I got home and started digging, planting, repotting. So the turtle spent the night in my car.  As in completely totally forgotten. Fortunately, there seem to be no ill effects to due neglect.

Even More Fortuitous: My inclination, out of the blue, to decide I should vacuum out my car this morning. Where upon I found the accidently MIA turtle. What would have likely occurred had I not been rooting around under the seats and found the forgotten guest? Yeah - 'something really bad, like unexpected demise. And seriously bad odor.

As it turned out, I had vacuumed inside 3/4 before I got to the drivers ' door, where I went to poke the hose down between the seat and door-sill, and said: Hmmm... what is that? And then I said: 'Yikes' and 'Eeeeeck' and possibly '$#!+'. Before realizing it was the turtle I had accidently let spend the night in my car.

Hopefully with no lasting trauma or ill effects. When I got over my shocked surprise, I went to get a flashlight to figure out which end to pick up, and got it out to take into the woods and set free. Thankful, thankful, thankful I had this random notion to clean out the car and found the little critter before some unfortunate, untimely end occurred when I would leave  my car sitting in a hot parking lot for hours, baking in the sun. A very important lesson learned for future reference by the Turtle Rescue Squad.

diggin'...

Thursday, June 18, 2015
...holes: best therapy ever. I had such an awful day at work yesterday, I came home and went to bed in tears. That is not a good way to live. Not a good working situation. Not good for one's mental health. Not the kind of job that provides any sort of satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment. Not something that would inspire a person to want to go back and do that over and over again, and get the same response. (I am thinking that is pretty close to the definition of stupidity.)

But I have spent the day out in the yard, digging and planting. Had several things in pots that I really wanted to get in the ground. Gaura, that I bought back in the spring and nearly let die. And several clumps of purple coneflowers that were in too much shade under butterfly bushes that needed relocating to get more sun and bloom better. So I have been rearranging plants most of the day. In addition to making homemade dirt, with compost, vermiculite, potting soil and time-release fertilizer, to give all those things I planted a good start. Which has been very gratifying and an excellent distraction from the anxiety I have been feeling about a miserable work situation.

I am going to a family reunion this weekend, and wanted to take some plants in pots. They do this amusing thing where people bring stuff to donate, and everyone buys raffle tickets for items they want. I have taken art in past years: those papier mache frames I made years ago, and hand painted, added calligraphy and then inserted mirrors in the center. Thinking they would sell at craft fairs: didn't happen.  But they turned out to be very popular items as donations at the family gathering for raffling. Some of the plants I relocated out of the flower bed are things I put in pots to haul across the state for adding to the assortment of the raffle fun on Saturday. If you want to have any to put out in your yard: butterfly bush, pineapple sage (you don't want- terribly invasive), coleus, coneflower: now's the time.

lamb's ear plants...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
...are what came as a bonus when I went to dig the susan plants yesterday. I had been up to get some from this same gardening buddy a couple of years ago. They obviously did not like the location I had chosen the first go-round, as only a couple survived. Surprising since I have seen then growing in remarkably undesirable, un-fertile locations, where they established under far less than perfect circumstances. I'd put them in good dirt, watered fairly often, and even talked to occasionally, hoping to boost their spirits and confidence to ensure success and longevity.

So, I will try again, in a different place, with vastly different light and soil amendments. I like fuzzy things, as well as variegated leaves. The lamb's ear is really fuzzy foliage, with oval shaped leaves. It makes a tall stalk when it blooms and goes to seed, about 18 inches in height. I need to get it in the ground, but not today as I am due at work in an hour.

Thinking about some place where it will be sufficiently neglected, as that seems to be the key to success. A place in the back yard where nothing, literally Not A Thing grows. Though we have lived in this location for decades, there are still places where the red clays shows, and nothing has been able to take root over the years. Most of these places are just covered with leaf mulch. But the blow-and-go guys come through, and think they are being helpful by using the blower to push the leaves back, thereby exposing bare earth, with nothing to help hold it in place. I'm hoping the fuzzy lamb's ear will like it there, with quite a bit of brutal mid-day sunshine, and a bit of filtered shared early and late in the day. For the price of the plants, certainly worth digging and giving it a go.

planting...

...things that are/can be passed along from one plant lover to another.  I went up to the south edge of Harris county late yesterday to get some perennials a fellow gardener was giving away. She put a notice up for anyone who wanted to come and get. I did not expect I would be the one digging, and also failed to take a bucket to put the plants in. Which is not all bad, as they were so big, they would not have fit in the bucket. I did have a big piece of heavy duty plastic I put down to sit dirty thing on when I use my car as a truck, so put the two big clumps with dirt on the plastic and in the back.

Still didn't know how to 'containerize' the oversized greenery once I got home. So: lined black plastic milk crates with trash bags, and put them in the crates. Which makes them fairly portable, with hand holds to pick up and move. And not leaking, spreading dirt every where, plus I can water them a bit, to help stay alive and prevent shock from being so rudely uprooted.

Still: I didn't know what I would do with them. Wondering during the drive home: 'what was I thinking?' due to not really having anyplace I wanted to put the healthy, hearty, larger-than-I-expected clumps of plants. The donor, E., had called them 'black eyed susan', but from the size it's likely they are rudbeckia, which is a large daisy shape, with yellow petals surrounding a black or dark brown center. I am thinking I will plant a few of the smaller ones I can peel off the clump, but don't really have any place to put such a generous offering.

Happily I called the next generation of plant lovers and offered a plan. So I can keep them watered and take to Decatur to relocate. To a nice little plot of dirt that will be the perfect spot for the smiling faces of the susan plants to grow for years to come.

that rental vehicle...

Monday, June 15, 2015
... was not what I was expecting at all. I thought I would get a van that is the size you see hauling kids to day-camp or VBS. The one that has bench seats and theoretically holds fifteen adults or two dozen bouncing, hysterical, screaming kids. Headed out to the pool or park, or taking the senior citizens on a field trip to the grocery store.

But this one was definitely of the delivery variety. It was a Dodge, and much bigger than I anticipated.  When I had to get in it, at the rental store, I had a hard time climbing up onto the seat. Pulling myself in by the steering wheel. And then feeling like I was responsible for maneuvering the Space Station when I started it up. I'd searched for vans, desperate to avoid driving those boxy things that U Haul rents, and hoping something more manageable. Even the cargo-sized vans feel like driving a school bus, as I remember from my years of delivering flowers, as well as teenagers in youth group, but much smaller and easier to handle than the boxes on wheels from Penske.

If I had known I was getting so much space for my rental fee, I think I would have planned to bring more furniture back here to try to sell. I already have more furniture in my house than I want.  I don't know where I would have put it once I got back, as the living/dining area still looks like all I need for Musical Chairs is a dozen people to chase around from one seat to the next.

Feeling like I need to be moving forward with emptying the space to make it available for renting, I am ready to find someone who will want that stuff. Hoping I can sell, as it is good, well made quality furniture. Not having any success thus far with sending out photos and calling used furniture shops in south GA. Not quite to the point of giving it away, but edging closer all the time, beginning to feel a sense of necessity, or maybe urgency, ready to let it all go.

The vehicle was big enough that I probably could have filled it with all the upholstered furniture as well  the tables I wanted, but it just did not occur to me to add more pieces. Mostly because: where would I put it, and where could I find someone who would take it off my hands? Musical Chairs, anyone?

dog sitting again...

Sunday, June 14, 2015
...the little fuzzy thing that belongs to a friend. She brought the mutt over this morning, for us to keep until she gets back from FL mid-week. I need to put the collar and leash on and take the pup for a walk. Which will be good for both of us, as I have not been walking on a regular basis for a couple of months, due to the 'trick' knee. That can randomly hurt, then suddenly not, without explanation.

the current population, part 2...

... has increased exponentially. To the point that I had to resort to the broom and dust pan this morning. In recent days, I have been able to count the number of creepy-crawlers on one hand, but this morning they got completely out of control. I don't know how long it takes a millipede to find a mate and reproduce, but they were obviously up all night partying.

P. reported when she came in late last night that they were all around the front door when she left earlier in the day. And after eye-balling the floor in the pantry became convinced they were coming into the kitchen through a (literally) worm-hole in the corner. I found some bug spray and she gave the farthest corner of the pantry a good squirt, then went out and coated the area around the front door. I cannot explain why there were several dozen of the little wigglers inching their way along on the kitchen floor this morning. But I swept them up, several times, and deposited the lot in the trash.

I am surprised there were no more, lying around, curled up and crispy when I came in from work this afternoon. I was convinced after this  morning's efforts that the bug spray was actually some sort of reproductive enhancement that caused them to be especially amorous, and create several new generations overnight. But after coming home, weary and in no mood to wrangle millipedes, I was pleasantly surprised to find: none.

Speaking of exponentially: you would never expect someone who admits to being chronically math impaired to have brought home a book from the library about 'Finding Zero'. It was pretty interesting, but somewhat over my head, there being parts where the author felt compelled to explain things I would never, ever grasp. But over all the story of trips to the far east, searching in Cambodia and Thailand, plowing through temples covered in rainforest type growth, was a good read. He found what he believes is the first usage of zero, that was actually a dot, as a  place holder in a carved piece of stone, likely taken from a temple around the sixth century.  The author is Amir Aczel, who also wrote 'Fermat's Last Theorem'.

an amusing housecleaning incident...

Saturday, June 13, 2015
...occurred a couple of days ago. When I decided I should run the vacuum before P. came back to town. Sadly, the person who finds housework so distasteful the floor has not been cleaned since there was a dog here several weeks ago, let the dog hair/guilt pile up to the point that a bit of cleaning was necessary. The vacuum had been sitting there in that room where the dog resided for weeks, patiently awaiting inspiration and motivation to collide or collude. So I plugged it in and did a quick job of the room where the dog was spontaneously shooting out hundreds of hairs from her double coat of fur.

But it just did not seem to me like it was looking much better. So I peered down in the flexible tube on the back of the machine that goes from the bottom, where the brushes pick up trash, to deposit in the container that you have to empty when it gets full of stuff you did not even know was there making your house, car, life nasty. And could not believe how clogged up the tube was: obviously not able to send what it had picked up on down the line to the reservoir to be emptied into garbage can. Looking like a giant hairball, full of dust, skin particles, lots and lots of unique frizzly dog hairs, cat hair (from the cat that has been deceased since last year), cosmic fallout. Plus the stuff that has been accumulating on the window screens for some time (about five years?) since I last cleaned the screens and washed windows.

Screens on the inside of the windows. That I vacuum when I have a notion to clean the glass. I've taken them outside and hosed down a time or two over the years, but not feeling nearly that energetic, or desiring that level of sanitation - thinking the vacuum brush is more than sufficient. But due to the fact that I don't think I have cleaned glass since we had the inside walls painted over five years ago, it was looking pretty rough. Partially due to the mow-and-blow guys and all the dust they stir up when they cut the grass at forty mph, then blow like maniacs to get finished and move on to the next job.

Some of that monster clog in the vacuum hose was all the stuff that had accumulated on the screens, some from my periodic cleaning of the carpet in my car. I can ignore the outside fairly well, when it looks like it has changed color from all dirt and road grime. But drag the vacuum out to the carport and clean the  carpet and seats often, as I occasionally feel like I live there instead of in a house. So there was also dirt, leaves, straw from a bale of hay, paper, misc. living in the vacuum hose, clogging up the works.... which explains why, when I didn't think I was having much success with the vacuuming of the carpet, I was right.

I took a coat hanger apart, and fished all the clumpy/gunky/hair-ball-looking stuff out, but did not think it wise to try to vacuum all that nasty up. So took all the icky stuff to put in trash, and cleaned the filter, hoping that would resolve the problem. It seems to be working much better, but I am still sort of freaked out by all the stuff that had accumulated/congregated/clogged-up in there. And believe it would have eventually mutated into a new life form if left long enough.

not the record...

Friday, June 12, 2015
... for number of hours worked in one day, but not too far off. I went in to work last Sunday morning at 7:00 and left at 5:15.And squeezed in a thirty minute  break, just to keep from getting in more hot water over not taking lunch. Which makes nine and a half hours.

Not like last Sunday when I was there for over eleven, trying to get finished. Which is pointless, as well as without merit. As well as thoroughly under-appreciated, and more likely to get criticism than thanks. You never get finished. You do what you can, then you walk out the door. I am convinced that working in this industry, and probably retail in general, is like living in a house with small children who never grow up. You are continually picking up, cleaning up, tidying up after them, in a never ending process.

My goal here is to consistently get more hours working in the produce department than in the cooking demo. I am hoping that having worked more time doing the prep. work with salads and fruit will cause my 'job class' to revert to produce.

Which will mean the payroll system will (hopefully) give back the income I lost when transferred to customer service department. It would be really nice to get all that back pay, for these months in the cooing demo., but that's not going to happen. What I do hope for is to so endear myself to the manager of the produce department that I will go back on his payroll and get back to the pay level I was before the job change earlier in the year.

Sadly, I could work at the food demo. until the end of time and never receive a raise. The pay level I was reduced to when my 'job class' changed is the top for this work, so I am stuck here in a catch-22 situation. But hopeful that will change in the near future.

possibly a limited editon/local version...

...of what is commonly known as jet lag, otherwise referred to as travelers' fatigue. That does not transverse time zones, but does travel south and back north again. Which would, I think, be considered as moving vertically on the planet while still bound by gravity? 

I rented a van and drove to south GA. Got up really early and headed south on Thursday morning. I recruited a friend to go along, for company and good advice. P. is the smartest person I know, and always a good source for looking a quandry from a different angle, pondering solutions. She is remarkably resourceful and an excellent problem solver, someone I often go to for wisdom and putting things in perspective.  P. was 'game' for spending over six hours riding in the rental van with me to go down and back, but is probably not yet fully recovered. Me too. It will be another day or so before normal, whatever that might be.

I have promised myself any number of times in recent years I would not attempt to make that drive in one day. And have to keep making that promise as I continue with foolish behavior: spending more time in the going and coming than the being there. As a body ages, that sort of foolishness seems more like abuse than amusement. And the things I would have historically classified as entertainment are edging over towards the mistreatment end of the scale.

There were a couple of pieces of really nice, handmade furniture I wanted to get and it seemed like the only way to relocate was to take the bull by the horns. I did, it's done, and I am thankful I was not the one who was doing the bull  moving. A friend in south GA had recruited another strong back to help with the loading. I had asked a couple of people who often get drafted to help with local moves to come out to do the heavy lifting for unloading.

Everything needs wiping down. Covered with mildew and dust.

But the thing that is funny from where I am sitting is it looks like we are ready to play party games. The dining table that was already here, a large rectangle, big enough to comfortably seat at a minimum of six, possibly ten, has eight chairs. Then I brought in six more, along with a smaller round table. Plus, already here in the living room: a XL recliner, a rocking chair, a love seat, a large three or four person sofa. Seating for twenty plus.

So the room now looks like it's time for a rollicking round of Musical Chairs. We just need some peppy music and party hats. A mob of squabbling, sugar-hyped, quarreling, over-tired children is all I need to have more fun than a barrel of squabbling, sugar-hyped, quarreling, over-tired monkeys.

a strange occurance occured...

...on Wednesday morning. I have mentioned going, usually once a week, with a list to shop at Sam's Club for church. Getting mostly food/consumable items. Assorted coffee accoutrements to supply the needs of hundreds of coffee and tea drinkers who have been trained to expect a variety available for their convenience when they arrive on Sunday mornings. Creamers, sweeteners, tea bags, cups, stirring sticks, napkins.

I got up early, to shower and get up on the  north side of town to do my shopping before the store got crowded and check out lines backed up. Uneventful trip. I came back home, with the plan to wait and deliver before I had to be a work at eleven. So, there I was, turning into the driveway to putter around at the house for a couple of hours prior to leaving again.

When I turned off the street, headed down the little hill, on the asphalt leading to the house, I saw: an armadillo. A live one, actually on it's feet, in motion is pretty unusual. Often seen alongside the road, on the verge, with feet up in the air, deceased. Or smooshed in the travel lanes. But actually travelling? Pretty odd. It looked to be about half grown. Not a baby, but not the size of the adults you would likely see killed along the right-of-way. Really strange, to see one toddling along, following it's pointy little nose, plowing through the leaf mulch, looking for tasty morsels.

After I recovered from my amazement, I got out my phone and took photos. I knew you would not believe I had seen an armadillo casually going for a stroll in the underbrush. But he was pretty much camera shy. So the pictures are almost cartoon like, with this woodland creature standing stock still, immobile behind a tiny little trunk of a pine tree. If it had really been a cartoon, there would have been a thought bubble above his silly little head, with a comment like 'invisible', or 'betcha' can't see me! 'which was obviously a falsehood.

Then it occurred to me that you rarely see nocturnal animals in the day time unless they have a problem. Something causing them to behave abnormally. Like rabies. Holy cow! I was still so surprised by this creature, I followed it down the driveway, hoping for a better photo op. But decided: 'you need to back off, let it go to do whatever armadillos do'. Though it was probably not as big as my shoe-shod foot, I don't know how I would have responded to an armadillo attack. Speaking of cartoons/amusing mental pictures....

Come back later to see the photos, when I have someone who can put them here... it was amazing, strange, remarkable, baffling, weird....

the current population...

...of millipedes in the kitchen is: 2. Both of which are in the trash. I got over being squeamish last summer when they were so bad, I wanted to get them in the trash before they wandered off, so would just pinch and pick them up. In past years, I would dash for the broom and dustpan to sweep them all together and deposit, but now I'm more prone to just pinch them and drop into the can. Begone!

I never did make any effort to figure out how they get in the house, where they all come from, what causes them to 'swarm', with dozens scooting across the floor. As well as various other small insects that can creep through miniscule cracks to enter where they are not welcome. Along with the millipedes there are always a few balled up, deceased rolly-pollies, ready to be swept up and given a short-shrift disposal. In corners and along the edges of the cabinet bottom, where they run into a roadblock and do not have the brain power to figure out the next move, so unlike bumper-cars, they just curl up and die where they got stuck.

The ones I have been relocating into the feeding trough which is the kitchen trash can are likely deceased before they go out for pick-up on trash truck day. And compared to the numbers I have swept up on a daily basis when they were swarming in years past, the two or three that have been creeping across the floor each morning recently are negligible. But I did not want you to think that the lack of reporting was due to not having visitors. They are either industriously making their way across the tiles, as fast a dozens of miniscule legs can go, or already deceased, curled up into little crescent shapes, already crispy.

Totally out of character, I used the vacuum one day earlier in the week, wanting to clean carpeted areas long neglected. And found numerous apostrophe shaped millipedes along the edges of the carpet near baseboards, curled up and crunchy. So some have obviously made their way into other areas of the house before kicking the bucket. Wondering how they get in, or if they are multiplying inside. But thankful the population explosion is not as dramatic as in years past.

not recommended....

Monday, June 8, 2015
...this depressing book I have been reading. I do read a lot. Partially due to not watching TV, which I try my best to avoid - though when I am in a place, like Dr. office waiting room, where it is on, seeing the news scrolling by, it can be really mesmerizing. Which is part of the reason I deliberately avoid: it can consume so much time.

This book, on CD, from the library, is so depressing, I don't know why I am still listening. And have decided to return it unfinished. When I got, to check out reading material, I will usually get two or three 'talking books' as well as several hardbacks. This particular book: "True Sisters" by Sandra Dallas is such a heart-wrenching story I'm sure she did not make it up - but so distressing I am not sure it needed to be told long after it actually occurred.

Like someone unearthing a mystery from the past and trying to research enough to put the puzzle pieces together. Resolving some confounding unsolved crime... without the crime part. These people are Mormon converts, from Scotland and England, who have been persuaded to travel to Utah, where they have been lead to believe that a marvelous future awaits those who will uproot and go to live in the Salt Lake Valley. But first you have to get there: selling everything you own, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, traveling across the continent to the Land of Zion. They are pulling handcarts with their few earthly possessions, dragging their undernourished selves, poorly clad, worn out shoes, inadequate clothing, bread and water rations across the plains. Then the seasons change, and here they go, expecting to get over the mountains as winter approaches.

The elders, leaders of groups of one hundred families, are constantly telling them to lighten their loads in the carts and setting the discards on fire to keep them from going back to retrieve treasured mementoes or valuable items. The elders are also responsible for seeing that the groups is fed, but the supplies they are expecting are either nonexistent or inadequate. Women are giving birth in the dirt, to babies they don't have the resources to nurse. The men are digging mass graves every night. It's starting to snow, and they trudge on.

This is so distressing, I am not finishing it. So if you want to know how it ends, if any survive to get to the Salt Lake Valley, you are on your own. If it were a movie, I would be so disturbed, I will get up and walk out, ask for my money back. I don't see any hope for a happy ending, so I am quitting...

most of us....

Saturday, June 6, 2015
... too young to remember anything about The War to End All Wars, but I have been thinking about it all day. Due to it being June 6, which was the day of the humongous landing of allied troops on the northern coast of France. And, of course, of my dad. I have been wondering where he was on that day when the troops were crawling through the sand and hundreds of dead infantrymen on the beaches of Omaha and Normandy. I think he was probably still in some facet of training prior to being shipped to Europe, via England.

But I have spent the day thinking of him, and my friend/pen pal, Homer. As young men of the age to think they were bulletproof and impervious, they probably spent their free time laughing, horse-playing, joking around, when not being terrified of the idea of artillery and bullets, mortal injury and death. I have spent today: wondering where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news reports of the massive undertaking that began to turn the tide of the fighting in France. I think he spent a couple of years in France and Austria before being shipped back to the states, where he was discharged at Ft. Bragg. NC.

After my dad came safely home from Europe, separated from active duty Army and settled back into small town life, he began working with his dad in family business. Then married and started a family, with me being born after a brother who is year and a half older than me. I noticed in recent years his discharge paperwork was finalized/dated after he got married, so I think he was likely in his Army uniform rather than a dress suit. I cannot say, as there seem to be no photos of that day, and no one survives to ask about memories of that time in June of 1946.

leavin'... part 2...

Thursday, June 4, 2015
... to get to TN by 8 o'clock in the morning. To go to the county courthouse for the once a year real estate sale of property that the city or county will assume ownership of for unpaid taxes. Individuals have the opportunity to bid on these pieces of land, most with improvements, for the payment of taxes owed. If it is a very desirable piece, with some reason to be of high value, like a condominium, or a water access on a big TVA lake, it would naturally be worth more, and likely induce a number of potential buyers to show up.

There are any number of reasons the property would show up listed at this event. Several were listed, but withdrawn at the very last  minute, like this morning, when the property owner filed for bankruptcy the day before. The little bit of real estate we were interested in has a small brick building right across the street from my peeps.  Designed to be a duplex, it been empty for several years. They have been keeping the grass cut, and would be tending to the landscaping, except there is not anything besides grass/weeds growing in the yard.

We were supposed to be in the council-meeting room at 9:00, to register our persons, and get a number to hold up when we got ready to bid. We must have been pretty early getting in the line, as our number was 10. But we never got to use it. Though we sat through, literally, hours of bid-letting, we never stood a chance.

The bidding was started promptly at 10.  We were read instructions as a formality about what would and would not happen, what we could and could not do. Including the line about: if you bid and did not get to the clerks' office to pay your obligation by 4:00 closing time, you would get a subpoena. And when you did show yourself up to answer the contempt of court charge, you had best bring your toothbrush, and plan to stay a while.

Lots of the properties drew no interest, so are  now owned by the City of Chattanooga or Hamilton County. And will I guess be sold, buildings demolished, turned into empty lots to attract vermin and vagrants? I don't know. I am slightly wondering if those things that no one expressed even a smidgen of interest in could now be bought from the city/county for even less than the accumulated back taxes, just to get them back in circulation? Into private ownership and on the tax rolls again?

So, What, you may ask, happened with the duplex? There was much more interest than I had anticipated. There were several guys who must be renovators, and some competition for the little brick house and tiny lot. The bidding got up over $30,000, which was considerably more than I was prepared to write a check for. I'm kinda sad. but will definitely get over it. Now thinking that the new owner has so much invested in his new property he'll have to clean it up, and rent to reliable, dependable people with the hope of getting his investment back.

leavin'....

...home this morning at 4:00 a.m. to get to TN by 9 o'clock. Which put me just getting to the intersection/merging part of I-85 running into the perimeter around Atlanta at 5:13 a.m. Interestingly, it was not nearly as stressful as usual.  I generally find myself becoming hyper anxious, turning off the radio/talking book, ending all distractions. Deliberately focusing on traffic, land-changes, observing other vehicles, watching the lighted informational signs. Being hyper vigilant.

As I passed under that sign that pointed: this way to downtown Atlanta and this way to Birmingham and Chattanooga, at 5:13, I was surprised the traffic was not awful. Wondering if there was holiday no one had told me about. Thinking there was some sort of national celebration I was missing out on  .But then realized it was nearly two hours earlier than my usual time for getting into the thick of traffic. I'd left home so early, that the chaos that usually occurs when thousands of cars merging into traffic heading north were still silently, quietly waiting for owners to awaken. Those people who head into the city to work early each morning were not even out of bed when I was merging on to I-285.

I'd set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 3 o'clock, to insure I would be on the road heading north by 4:00. When it alarmed, I had to wonder to myself: what was I thinking. All I had to do was put on my clothes and brush teeth, get in the car and go. So I reset the alarm for 3:30 and went back to sleep about thirty seconds before it went off again. But did get up and properly attired, on my way before 4.  Demonstrating that if you can motivate to get up and underway early enough, you really can avoid the most worst of the dreaded snarling, speeding city traffic.

As I get close to that point, nearing the intersection of 'Bedlam and Chaos', I grit my teeth and start thinking: "Not for the faint hearted." Certainly "not for the meek", who are supposed to inherit the earth. "No place here for the mild-mannered" unassuming, non-aggressive soul who hopes to walk through the fire unscathed. Bite it and charge right in.