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tryin' to get it all done...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
...even though it is not possible to do the laundry and water the plants in advance. Doing my best to get everything organized in preparation to leave town for several days. Remembering how years ago, I thought I had to clean house before I left... and now it's all I can do to be relatively sure I am not packing dirty clothes. Thinking of how people thought if you were going to be away from home for an extended period you need to have everything perfectly in order: floors mopped, bathrooms spotless, laundry baskets completely empty before you walk out the door.

Not a dirty dish left anywhere. In the event you returned to an emergency, or worse: did not return at all. You did not want other people to walk into your house and see dirt or dust or less than sparkling bathroom sinks. Perish the thought that something untoward might occur. That you or a family member not actually return, but if this unimaginable situation occurred, your mother and grandmother insisted that the house be immaculate, ready to receive guests.

Well, sadly, those days are over. I am leaving dust, dirty showers and some questionable miscellanea in the fridge. Hoping that the guy who will be left here (unsupervised) might be motivated to heat and eat the leftovers. Though it is  more likely he will get in the car and drive five miles to BK than take something from the fridge and put in in the micro., for consumption. And I will find it right where I left it, to go in the trash when I return. And a big pile of laundry generated while I am away.

yard workin'...

Monday, July 27, 2015
...confessing about how I invited the English ivy to come to my house, and have been spraying it for about ten years with brush killer. This comes under the heading of: 'Things my mom warned me about'. Though it is definitely not one of the usual items you would expect to see on that list. She said you think you want it, and hope it will grow, but when it does, you will wish you had not given it a toe-hold. Right again, Mom.

I think the most annoying part is how stuff grows up in it, and so many undesirables will 'volunteer', get out of control. Perhaps the actual ivy is not all that difficult to manage, but all those other things, little oak and pine trees, various and sundry, dozens of small trees hoping to be ignored. Things that will make you grind your teeth in the never-ending battle of keeping them pulled up and the ivy bed pristine. There are probably people who love it, and have big beds of it growing in places where nothing else will in dense shade, no other ground cover does well, and it is a boon to preventing erosion. But it is almost certain that those same people go out in the ivy bed, fearing creepy crawlies, cursing and swearing the whole time, pulling up all that unwanted stuff.

I've been out spraying trying to kill it. Except for that place near the drive way where I had an encounter with Mr. No Shoulders several weeks ago. I am very wary of that area, though I know the belly crawler could be miles away by now. And admit to actually casting a side-ways glance over into the ivy bed every time I drive in and out.  But don't want to spray the industrial strength brush killer there, as that is the only place where the late blooming yellow daisies live. I would love for the ivy to be history, but not at the expense of the wild-flowers.

When I see people buying hanging baskets or little potted plants, talking about how much they love ivy and hope it will do well at their homes - I tell them my story: it turns into kudzu when you aren't looking.

do not like sprinklers...

...or the idea of wasting water on lawns. But sadly, have bought two sprinklers for keeping the grass green in recent weeks.  The guy who lives here decided he would pay to get a small area in front of the house sodded. So we have been diligent about keeping that sufficiently wet when it has not rained in a timely manner. I am not sure why he decided to wait until it got blistering  hot to talk to the lawn guy about putting down sod, but it's been a challenge to keep it well-watered over recent weeks.

Plus the doofus who was sent to cut it last week decided it was too long/tall and cut it so short it looked scalped. Which means, that though those grass blades are pretty narrow and not what you might consider 'shade', there is even less now that the grass is so short, requiring even more water to keep it alive. I'm so totally opposed to watering to keep lawns green. More of the 'just let it go' persuasion.

That same doofus is the reason I had to go back to K-mart last week and buy another sprinkler. He moved the one that has been out on the little patch of new sod, left it lying in the middle of the drive way when he 'scalped' the new grass.   I totally forgot about that, until I heard the little plastic connection where you attach the hose go 'crunch', when I ran over it with my car. And said: well, $#@&!  It's my fault, so I did not hesitate to pay for another one, but called the guy who runs the lawn service and blistered his ears.

I've been running sprinklers all morning. And for hours overnight. To try to save it, since it was so expensive and really does look so nice, out there being lush and healthy. I drag the hoses around all the time, aiming for specific things, trying to keep stuff I have planted alive when it is so blistering hot and unbelievably dry. But as far as having a nice green 'carpet' to look at for eye-appeal: I really don't care.

the impatient patient...

Thursday, July 23, 2015
...seems to be doing fairly well. He made me look at the bandage on his chest last night. I'm not sure if it looks like it is supposed to. There has been some leakage, but I am guessing that a bit is not abnormal. He says he feels 'washed out', which is to be expected from the stress of the surgery. I know the doctor probably thinks this procedure so routine, she would not even call it 'surgery'. But I am pretty sure anytime you get sliced open it counts as something more than 'routine'. Certainly not part of my daily/run-of-the-mill activities!

I had to work yesterday, so not sure if he was 100% compliant with the instructions to stay at home, keep quiet and don't do anything more strenuous than an occasional trip to the bathroom. I'd like to believe he will do as told, and think that just the process has made him lethargic enough that he has no interest in much activity. But also know how prone he is to not abide by advice that he pays medical personnel a pile of money to give.

So, we will see how this goes...

dull, only marginally interesting...

...will be what you will find here. If you continue, and see that you are reading about my aggravating annoying trials in the world of Rx drugs. I have spent hours and hours on the phone with customer service people, many of whom speak English as a second language. So you can imagine how frustrating it is to have to ask people to repeat things or explain it in a different way, over and over and over. The people at the other end of my quandary often have such heavy accents I can't even understand what they tell me their anglicized names are, so they have to spell that, just for us to start the conversation.

I wish I had started keeping tabs on the amount of time I have spent on the phone, just in the past month, talking to CSR people in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As well as the fulfillment people with CVS/Caremark that sadly cannot do anything without approval of the Wellcare group. Just trying to get the prescription drugs I have been taking for years, now that my provider has changed, due to age-ing out of the program I was enrolled in.

But the other side of this irritating experience, is that I probably don't want to know how much of my life I have invested to this highly frustrating endeavor. The interesting, or possibly not, part of all this is that most of the Rx are actually free, according to the way the ACA has decided to 'tier' the meds. Based, I assume, on cost, and the exorbitant prices the pharmaceutical industry changes for name-brand, patented meds. But the one I have been struggling with, devoting 'way too much time talking to people in the Philipines, will cost me $455 for ninety days. Yes, I am sure we all agree, that sounds a little steep.

They have suggested to me, so I am certain it is written into their 'script': ask for assistance. Which I have not seriously considered, due to the other meds. being provided at nearly no cost. Other than the monthly fee I pay for prescription service. But I am taking my library book and going, prepared to sit and wait it out, to have a turn talking to the people who might (not likely) be willing to consider my plight. And provide some financial support for a prescription that, if filled as written, would cost over Five Freakin' Dollars a Day.

pierogies...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
...are in the latest recipe from Aprons. I think it was pretty good, but I did not eat it, because it also involves sausage. Which I do not want to put in my mouth. Even though it is made from chicken instead of pork. It's just the flavor, and the idea of 'sausage' (remembering that old bad joke about how you really don't want to know the particulars of how they make sausage or laws). And that thin, membrane casing the ground up meat is forced into. The last time we made a  recipe that had some form of sausage in it, we had to take the casing off, using just the meat, loose. I won't even say what that casing looked like when I peeled it off the meat before putting in the pan to brown. Ick.

This one had onions and bell pepper, sautéed in the pan with the sausage. When this gets done, (you should be sure meat is thoroughly cooked, check that internal temp is 165), take it out of the pan. Wipe the pan, and put in a bit more oil, then add the package of frozen pierogies. Cook about five min on each side, then add the sliced sausage and vegetables back in, along with a tasty sauce consisting of spicy brown mustard and vinegar.

People would come by and peer into the skillet and say: 'what is that?' And I would say: 'sausage, peppers and onions with ravioli-type pasta filled with cheese.' How would you describe a pierogie?

The recipe was actually designed to be cooked on a grill. Which, of course, did not happen in the store. The tasters said it was really good. I did not try it, due to the fact that it was much too reminiscent of sausage. Even though it was chicken and not pork. As a result of my superb, outstanding skills,  lots of people left the store with sausage and pierogies, planning to cook the recipe for their family tonight. I wish I was making a commission.

a man who is...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
...hard to buy gifts for. When he wants something, he will in all likelihood buy it for himself. I am probably the same way, meaning if there is something I think I really want, I am not likely to say: 'you can put this on that list of things you want to remember when gift-giving time comes around, and instead of asking me or wondering, you will know I'm wishing I had a _ _ _ _.' I am pretty good at making mental notes about other people, and remembering their wishes, when they are thinking out loud or mumbling about something they don't think they deserve.

I was doing the laundry today, for the guy who apparently continues to believe in the Clean Underwear Fairy. Doing the basket of white things that did not get taken care of on Monday. And found some handkerchiefs. You don't often see men who put one in their pocket every morning when they get dressed. Just not in common usage these days. But this guy always tucks one in his back pocket. The ones I was folding after they came out of the dryer have something stitched on a corner. Some have a little blue heart. Some have his initials, some just say 'Dad'.

Every time I fold a clean one to put back in the drawer, I think of the daughter who took the time to stitch on the corner of each white square of fabric. Who took the time with a needle and thread to personalize a whole box of hankies before she gave them to him as a Christmas gift. I doubt he gives it a thought when it tucks it in his hip pocket, but I always think of her when I am folding them into tidy little squares.

My granddad died in 1981, living in a nursing  home in south GA. He had dementia and was not aware of his circumstances, his family or much of anything about life. When I asked my grandmother, who devotedly went to see him each day to help him with lunch, she suggested he could use some new handkerchiefs for a Christmas gift.

The staff at the nursing  home would dress their residents in an assortment of clothing, whatever was at hand, whether it belonged to that particular patient or not. Though she would write his last name in each article of clothing,  my grandmother could expect to find her husband of sixty-plus years dressed in anyone's pants and shirt. Though she never knew whose clothing he might be wearing, he would always have a hanky in his pocket that has his last name neatly stitched on a corner in bright red thread.

about monday...

...which was a day devoted to sitting and waiting. With a lot of time spent observing the cohorts looking at their cell phones, browsing through Facebook or checking emails. Looking like the duck, in the joke who is looking so calm and unruffled on the surface, while paddling like crazy where no one can see.

TP was scheduled to get the electronic device in his chest replaced. The heart doc. he has been seeing for several years, after the first one died of a heart attack :( said the battery was getting low enough that it should be changed. I have always wondered out loud why they cannot recharge externally.  I guess the idea of replacing is a great way to have to opportunity to sell and install more?

It was a mostly uneventful event for the people who were sitting around waiting all day long. He was appointed to arrive at 9:00, which told me that it would be an all day project. If he had been scheduled to show up before first light, we'd have been the first in line for the procedure. To be home by lunchtime, rather than cooling our heels as the que got behinder and behinder as the day progressed, like the landing pattern circling over Hartsfield International Airport.

He is Mr. OnTime, so if the appt. is for nine, he will be there at 8:15. Which does not get you any points in the medical community. Better have something good to read when you walk in the door.

I had a National Geographic, with a cover story about medical weed, that was very interesting. I am the one who wrote the essay in high school. Promoting, supporting pot, and received lots of suspicious questions and doubting looks from principal and teachers in the small rural community where we lived.

He was released around five o'clock, sent home with instructions that he was not allowed to drive, or take a shower for a week. The way the discharging nurse described it was to say that he has 'bathroom privileges. Which she explained to mean he should not be doing anything that causes more exertion than walking the distance from the recliner to the toilet and back. We'll see how that works out...

cookin' today...

Sunday, July 19, 2015
...making this dish I kept referring to as Chicken and Rice. But the official name was something about 'imperial rice', which I assume means it has something delightful added to it. Sadly, the only thing on the plate besides rice and chicken were the peas and carrots that the recipe instructs to add at the last minute.

You cook the chicken strips in broth, then take them out to cool. While that happens, you put a 10 oz. bag of yellow rice in the broth, and some diced veg., onions, celery, peppers. When this  is done, stir in the chicken that has cooled off enough to shred. Then you mix in a bit of stuff that makes a sort of sauce: mayo, sour cream and grated cheese, along with a spoonful of cumin. Fluff it up and serve.

The version of the recipe we were given, with some helpful hints you can share with the consumers, says to tell the tasters they could start with a chicken from the deli, one of the RTU rotisserie birds, and cut the prep time in half. You just shred it and stir the chicken into the rice. And if you have left overs, use it to make burritos with flour tortillas. Add some lettuce, tomato, avocado - whatever you people like when you let them serve their self around the table.

The man who just ate the little bit of leftover I brought home said it was really good. Repeating himself at least five times. Then admitted he ate two sandwiches a couple of hours ago.

cookin' yesterday...

...at work, still making the salmon that people said was so good. So tasty, in fact, that when I was at work today, cooking something entirely different, a customer came by and asked where to find the jars of pesto so she could make that yummy recipe she had a sample of several days ago.

While I was cooking I was observing, minding my own little business, but watching the store manager doing a little 'sort of' building project. I had noticed earlier,  he was in the stock room, putting some shelving together. When he got them all assembled, he loaded them on a cart and took them out on the sales floor, to install them in a little space between end caps on each aisle and the shelving that starts the different departments. They are made of grid work, with the wires spaced so pegs can be installed in a series, and items that are designed to hang on the pegs can be displayed for random, impulse shopping. The only ones I noticed today had some bags of peppermint candy hanging from the pegs.

Yesterday, while they were hanging the units on the ends of each aisle, there was one person holding the unit, and the store manager with his electric drill, forcing the screws into the aisle shelving upright to hold it in place. He obviously did not think to be aware of what was behind the upright, and did not realize the screws were going all the way through the metal upright and out the other side. There on the other side was some plastic bottles of some sort of drink, like Gatorade. It comes in a variety of flavors and colors now, including a bright yellow that looks remarkably like Mountain Dew or possibly urine. He hit two of those bottles with his drill forcing that blistering hot screw into the plastic and out spouted a long stream of bright yellow liquid.

I am sad to say I was highly amused. They dashed over to my area, and grabbed handfuls of paper towels to mop up the mess. I was laughing so hard I was no help whatsoever. Making me think of little boys standing around the campfire playing at seeing who can pee the greatest distance.

just wondering...

... if anyone else has ever thought: 'why did God  not put another joint in our arms?' It is impossible to wash that place in the middle of your back. It never, ever gets cleaned, unless you have purchased one of those brushes with a long handle that will allow you to scrub that place no one can reach.

We don't need that extra joint often, but if we had it I am thinking there would be other times when it would be a great convenience, and occasions when it would come in handy, for reaching into the otherwise odd spot. Just thinking how there is a place on everyone that is impossible to reach. Never getting clean since your mom stopped giving your a bath.

travelin'...

to and fro. Drove up to Decatur on Thursday, after having llunch with a friend. Really good chunky chicken salad at a local café, that is, I think only open for the mid-day meal. Apparently doing enough business, with a steady clientele that supports their good home cookin' eats to serve lunch and keep the operation operating.

My plan was to spend the night in Decatur and drive over to SC on Friday, visit some of my favorite people and get back to Decatur before it dark. Most of that worked out according to my plan. Had a good visit with my pen pal, a ninety-three year old man who lives in Greenville. We went to do some shopping, and I helped him with wrapping some bridal gifts he purchased. He is such a sweet, thoughtful guy. A pair of young couples in the church he attends were being feted with bridal showers, and he wanted to go, take gifts to each of the brides-to-be. They had registered some kitchen items at the Bed and Bath store, so we went across town, picked up things that will be very useful for young people starting out as newlyweds, furnishing their first home. I wrapped them for him, and he will take gifts to present to the young couples when he attends the bridal showers at his neighborhood church.

We had yummy juicy tomato sandwiches for lunch. Grown by a neighbor who left them on his doorstep. Lots of bad-for-you mayonnaise and plain old white bread, salt and pepper. Oh, my goodness.  And delicious, perfectly ripe cantaloupe.

Then I went to visit a cousin, who lives nearby. We always amuse ourselves well, looked at photos on grandkids, and laughed at antics of little people. Went to eat, then I started back to GA. And immediately got stuck in Friday afternoon traffic. Before I could even get back on the interstate to head towards Atlanta. Vehicles were backed up for miles along the access road leading to I-85. People had pulled over, sitting along the right of way, waiting for the parking lot to clear. I asked a semi-truck driver what was going on, and he reported a five car wreck several miles ahead. I guess five tow trucks resolved the mess, and it finally sorted out. I was after ten o'clock getting back into town, and flopping into bed.

Had to get up early to get back to work at ten o'clock on Saturday. And again today.

the school district...

Thursday, July 16, 2015
...requires everyone who thinks they would like to have the thankless job of being a substitute teacher to attend a training session in the middle of summer. I went today, along with about 799 other people who seem to think they would like to have an opportunity to take on the thankless position as well. We were actually divided alphabetically, with A-L meeting early in the morning, and M-Z coming in after the first half left.

It was an absolutely-positively-required meeting, as the email a couple of weeks ago stated. You had to print forms to sign and turn in, as well as put your signature on a sheet to document attendance. Then spend nearly two hours going over policy and procedures, as well as get a lesson in how the new program that finds classroom replacements will work when schools start up in a few weeks. The old program is obsolete, discontinued by the company that bought it out, and updated, to the program we will have to acclimate ourselves to. Technology will drag us into the future kicking and screaming, but plopped down in that electronics-generated world regardless of our tantrums.

I am profoundly ambivalent (is that an oxymoron?) about sub. teaching. I don't know if I want to do it, and find that when I do accept a job, by mid-morning I am wondering: why? I often think it does not pay enough to make it worth the time/effort. But today we were told that the pay in our local school district is higher than average for the state, and surprisingly more than is found in some bigger systems, with greater populations. Plus I expect that inner city schools have a serious problem with finding day labor/substitutes for replacing teachers who call out due to mental exhaustion/frayed nerves. No amount of money would  lure me into that type situation, in a place where I would think I should be wearing body armor to work.

But I did attend the meeting, mostly thinking, in the same vein as one believing 'it is easier to seek forgiveness than ask permission'. That it is easier to stay on the list than it would be to get on the list.
Pretty much the same theory I was apparently using when I sent in my $20 money order to apply for teaching re-certification. Knowing it is a whole lot easier to keep in good standing than to go through the process of searching out, paying for continuing ed., attending classes and re-applying if it should lapse. But sadly not sufficiently motivated to aggressively seek out the teaching positions that would provide the maximum pay rate for sub. work in the classroom. It does not seem worth the effort....

today i cooked...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
...about nine pounds of salmon. It was the really expensive kind but since it is on sale for nearly half-price in the newspaper adv. this week, I think I did my part to sell quite a bit. I did not eat it, could not make myself insert even a taste in my mouth. It has such a strong fishy smell, when I would unwrap another package to lay it out in the pan, it was all I could do to control myself.

All the passers-by who tasted reported it was very good. I kind of suspect that the topping was so interesting, it really didn't taste like salmon, so it might have been tolerable. A remarkably simple recipe - you don't even need a recipe to do it. Just lay the skinned salmon on the pay (or on foil if you want to keep dish washing to a minimum), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix up basil pesto sauce, Dijon mustard and the juice from half of a lemon. Spread it on the fish, and bake at 375 for about fifteen  minutes. Total time: less than twenty minutes from opening the package till you are sitting down to eat.

You should take your salmon back to the meat guys and ask them to skin if for you. They will, if you ask, and then you don't have to do it yourself. Saves time, prevents a whopping big mess in your kitchen, and makes it so easy to just flop the fillets in the pan, season, bake, eat.

The other thing on the recipe card was a quinoa salad with kale. I could have eaten the whole bowl by myself. That good. Leave off the cheese, and pass me a spoon.

holy (hot) cow...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
... is what I was thinking when I was painting at the shelter this morning. I have been doing some yard work in recent weeks, and it gets pretty dang hot out there... but I can come in and flop down on the cool kitchen tile floor and soon recover from potential heat stroke.  Generally speaking, I am not a sweaty person, and rarely get to the point of 'smelly', but I confessed to the young girls who were painting walls in that small room with me today, that it was pretty obvious that my deodorant had already quit for the day. It was unbelievably hot and sticky, with the strong aroma of paint, lots of dust roiling through the building from the people using belt sanders.

That building, at least a hundred years old, with probably twenty coats of paint in places, made of brick, with mortar coming off the walls in chunks, was miserable. Apparently there has been so much dry-walling, putting up sheetrock to divide a big space into smaller rooms, along with mudding the joints/seams and sanding it all smooth, the AC has taken a hit. The manager called the HVAC guy who said: 'of course it isn't cooling, you have all the windows and doors open.' But we did that for survival: it must have been 95 degrees in there when we arrived at 9:00 a.m.

Lots of floor fans, lots of window/box fans, stirring up the dust as well as a semi-breeze, making the paint dry faster, if not actually cooling the worker-bees off. I never meant to devote my whole day to it, but have already volunteered to go back another day. I don't mind doing more of the tedious small stuff, painting around edges, trimming out woodwork, door frames, corners that won't get done with rollers. The building was a warehouse of sorts, storage for Habitat for Humanity, so probably would not ever be really habitable by picky standards, but as my mom loved to say: "You can cover up a multitude of sins with a bucket of paint". When you roller and brush on enough layers of fresh new paint, it will do well to provide a safe haven for women and families in distress.

volunteering...

...today. A group of co-workers are going to do some work with United Way. I'm not sure what the actual work will be, but has to do with a shelter that needs some free labor. I have my paint brush ready, and hope I am remembering the need is for some walls and trim to be painted. I will tell them I am a Trained Professional, and they will look at me with a 'huh?' expression.

I called the person who is doing the recruiting/coordination for the workers who are going to meet at 8:30, hoping to get  more info. about what we will be doing. I'm definitely going to be an inside worker. If there is a need for hole digging or planting or anything to do with landscaping, I will try my best to keep my mouth shut. Plenty of that to do right here, at my house, plus too dang hot to be out there in the miserable heat, sweating and rooting around in the dirt.

yesterday...

... I drove to south GA. And loaded my car up with boxes full of kitchen furnishings. All the things a person would acquire over sixty years of living in the same place, cooking for a family, making a welcoming home. I actually could not get all the boxes in my car, and will have to make another trip to get the rest of the stuff. Pots and pans, place mats and napkin holders, plates and bowls. Drinking glasses and coffee mugs. Coffee pots and pitchers. Refrigerator containers and wooden salad bowls. Paring knives and wooden spoons. Can openers and a vast assortment of flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in the course of living in one place for over fifty years.

It's still in my car. Loaded to the gills. I might be able to squeeze a toothpick in there sideways. But otherwise, it is jam-packed full. I am going to start calling around this morning to try to find a place to unload it. So desperate to get it out of  my life, I already have the numbers written down and ready to call as soon as the hour gets decent enough  to be pestering people about taking it off my hands and out of my life.

This stuff has been weighing me down for quite some time, I know I need to move on, let it go. I just don't know precisely what to do with it. The kind of stuff you wish someone would walk up, appear from thin air and say: Let me help you with that. So I am sincerely hoping that one of the places I plan to call, a women's shelter, and a place that helps recently released inmates get on their feet again, will be interested in the kinds of things I have to offer. The little things you acquire over time, that individually don't take up any space at all, but cumulatively can fill up a dozen boxes in a matter of minutes.

I spent about the same amount of time driving there and back, as I spent loading. I made a list of all the stuff, as it went into boxes, to use when I donate, get a receipt. Otherwise it would have been one of those days when I devoted more time to the going and coming than the being there. Foolish me, I had also loaded up my weed spraying goods, expecting to have time to do a bit of yard work while I was there. But it was easily 99 degrees in the shade by early afternoon, so that was not an option. Just going and coming, and listening to public radio...

google'd snake...

Saturday, July 11, 2015
.. to try to get an id..makes me think that the one I saw out in the yard is a rat snake. Or it could be a Queen snake, though I have never even heard of that one before. Both of which are classified as 'helpful' or 'friendly'.  I don't believe it was deadly, in the sense that if I had been bit, I would be dead instead of typing. I do not think it was one that is venomous. And likely about 95% harmless, as they serve a definite purpose in the food chain. But there is that other 5%, which would mean there is a chance it could be out there waiting, lurking, looking for me to consume.

According to googling there are only six in the state that are venomous. And I know this one did not have the little noisemakers on the back end. So I am pretty sure the one that was scootching around in the leaf mulch was part of the 95%. That his job is specifically to keep the smaller undesirables under control. I am led to believe if that one I backed away from had been dispensed with, the one that would likely jump into that gap in the food chain might not be so 'friendly', in a manner of speaking. My grandpa, a believer in various old wives' tales and superstitions passed down from one generation to the next: would likely decapitate with a hoe and hang on the fence, hoping it would bring rain on his corn field.

when I was out puttering...

... in the yard, earlier in the week, I was approached by a humming bird. Trimming the blooms on the butterfly bush, to encourage it to make more flowers, long draping blooms with lots of tiny individual flowers on the end of each stem. Something that would obviously be attractive to pollinators with lots of opportunities for a tiny little probe to be inserted, to draw out nectar. Bees, butterflies and hummers with needle-like beak all love it. I was cutting lots of spent blooms off to encourage the plants to make more and continue to invite the wildlife until frost.

I've seen photos of people who hold hummingbird feeders and the birds come up and literally eat out of their hands. But I had never been so close to one of the birds, except on the opposite side of a window. I was out there with my clippers, trimming every other lavender bloom, and a hummer came whizzing up. Hovering about two feet away from me. It was an amazing encounter. Me, barely breathing, and the wee little bird with wings beating so fast you could hear the 'hum', waiting for my next move.

So I immediately went to the garden shop and bought a dozen red salvia plants. I have been planting them around the house for years, and know the hummers find them Very Attractive. But I was trying to not buy/plant annuals, making my investment/focus on things that would re-bloom once established and come back year after year. But when that little bird stared me down: I knew I was remiss in not planting salvia for them to enjoy until cold weather. So I am going out, right now, to plant the salvia, along the edge of the driveway. Putting them in the ground near the butterfly bush and wait for the hummingbirds to find it and squeak out a 'thank you'.

the friend...

...I met yesterday when I went to spend the day in Decatur goes back a long way. Her husband was in the Army, which is how they found themselves in the steamy, humid climate of central GA. He was a Captain when I met them, they were living in post housing - with all the odd, often unreasonable requirements that the military imposes on those can make demands on.  No heat or cooling until the Army says you are hot or cold enough to need the temperature inside adjusted. No painting or marking on the walls without the Army telling you a change is required. Mow the grass when the Army says it needs cutting.

We were pregnant together. Which sounds sort of odd, like something that might occur in situations with multiple wives. Somehow, I had not been able to get into a class that would make me a bit better prepared for the inevitable: childbirth. Only one way in, only one way out. And I was so unbelievably naïve, though I had read stuff, and knew the basics - as in the previous sentence. So I found myself in a 'prepared childbirth' class with this other couple, E. and the prospective dad, M., offered to military families in the base hospital. She delivered on post, and my first baby arrived at a hospital in town. In January, during an ice storm. Several weeks after the 'due date', which was a good thing, as it gave me enough time to finish the classes and  be as 'prepared' as I was ever gonna get. M. was in the Army for some years, they relocated several times, then they moved back to WA where they had both grown up.

E. was in Atlanta a couple of years ago, coming to the metro to attend the wedding of an adult child of a cousin. We had a good visit, roaming the streets of downtown Decatur, talking and reminiscing, sitting on benches on the courthouse square, filling in the gaps that occur over the years. She was in town yesterday for the same reason - another wedding of another adult child of that same cousin. So we got together to do some more remembering, and spent the day talking about families, history and reconnecting.

s-word story...

Thursday, July 9, 2015
... about how they thoroughlytotallycompletely freaked my mother out. She was so un-nerved by them, she would not even say the word 'snake', but would only say 's-word' in reference to the reptiles. I don't know why - but she was undone by snakes. Don't start Freud-ing on me. I never understood her, and certainly can't begin to explain her now.

Over the years, when I was till living in the house they built and I grew up in, there were a number of times Mr. No-Shoulders would be an uninvited visitor. The last one I recall getting out of the house was in the room where the TV was, where they spent lots of time sitting, viewing or reading, resting or relaxing. An addition to their home they loved and lived in. I got the broom and swept it out the door.

Another one was in the bathroom. I got a shoe box, and the broom and swept it into the box, clapped the lid on and called my cousin, the snake lover, to come and get it. (He had snakes deliberately living in their house - I am still astounded his mom allowed that.) And the very last one that I remember being in that house was one my brother exorcised. He said mom told him she would see it scooching across the floor and just pull her feet up onto the couch to be safe. He found it wrapped around the warm, cozy tube in the innards of the TV. I assume got it uncoiled from it's nesting place and took it outside for release. Creepers!!!!

I don't like 'em and certainly don't want to live in the house with them, but I know that in their place in creation, they have a purpose.  Designed to be beneficial predators, as well as a vital part of the food chain higher up. But I do get along much better when I don't have encounters, up close and personal.

bad word, well applied...

... was said when I was out with my wheelbarrow loading up tree trash. Picking up sticks and limbs that fall from dozens of trees when we have a hard blow. I would like to believe I am pretty conscientious about looking twice before I reach to pick anything up off the ground. With years and years accumulation of leaf mulch, sticks often get buried when the deciduous trees shed in the fall. And it is easy when not being careful to mistake a 'something' for 'something else'.

It did not happen today, the 'mistaking' and accidently reaching for a stick that suddenly moved. But I did say 's#%t' when I looked over and saw that s-word in the patch of ivy.  Out where my little flock of pink plastic flamingos graze. There are some late summer blooming yellow daises, wildflowers that come up in that spot, which is the only reason I have not applied the weed killer I continually spray to keep undergrowth at bay. Apparently a large reptile (at least three feet, so not a youngster) has established residency in the ivy. After I said the s-word several times, I took out my cheesy little old school phone and tried to get a photo. But there is so much stuff on the ground, amongst the dead leaves and green ivy, I am not sure anyone could identify the uninvited guest.

It is actually the first one I have seen in a long time. Maybe because I don't do much work out there in the summer heat, to run up on Mr. No Shoulders. I used to think we didn't see them because there were always cats around. Not that this is reason enough to want to have pets to maintain. There are felines in the neighborhood - I am forever looking out a window and seeing them casually strolling by, establishing ownership, looking confident and proprietary. No, thank you, I'm fine without any.

I was just having a conversation with the guys who do the mow-and-blow earlier this week, asking how frequently they encounter surprises. And saying how I try to be aware, out there in the wooded area, where skinks, spider webs and chiggers await the unwary. I am thankful I did not extend my gloved hand, thinking I would add that 'stick' to the wheelbarrow loaded with branches. And very curious to know just how 'friendly' the experts think this sneaking, sliding, slithering thing is.

nothing on...

my calendar today except a hair cut. Some plans to go to lunch and a movie with friends, but that is not even something I write down. I don't have any problem at all remembering Fun, anticipating being amused or spending time with people I care about. On the other hand: if it pertains to being employed and under constant stress/supervision, I have to write it down in several places, constantly consult my sticky notes, and continually remind myself to put on work clothes when I get up and dressed.

I've been needing to get out in the yard and pull some weeds before they go to seed and become a bigger problem. So will try to get that done this morning before it gets too steamy hot. And hope I will find the motivation to stake and tie up those tomato plants that are roaming, uncontained all over the garden plot in the corner of the yard. I've picked a couple of tomatoes that have been unusual. I planted one variety that was a 'heirloom' and would produce purple fruit. They really did. The ones I have brought in the house, have been only about half-way ripe, but a combination of purple and green. And have actually been purple, when compared to the image you would normally have of what a tomato is supposed to look like. I didn't get to taste it, so cannot report on the flavor. But the man who did eat it, adds so much superfluous stuff: mayo, pepper, salt, you don't actually know there is a tomato in there anyway, except for the juicy part.

The best intentions: to drive the stakes in the ground when I planted them, for the eventual need to tie the wandering vines up as they grew, went awry. So that project has been neglected far too long. I will coat my person with insect repellant, then armored with Skin-So-Soft, sally forth to battle the bugs, and steam in sauna-like humidity, work till it's too hot to do any more.

barely working...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
... not really on a soapbox about my employment, but beginning to wonder what is going on. I am torn between trying to stay below the radar, be unnoticed, as invisible as possible, and asking questions. Like: the thought process behind my working a total of eight hours for the week?

I was actually prepared to ask, then looked at the schedule for the upcoming week, and find that I have twice as much for the week that starts on Saturday. I've been able to wheedle and finagle some more hours out of the produce dept. guys for several weeks, but think that might be coming to an end. So I either need to step up and get more assertive (not likely) or practice being content with just working two days a week. The theory of contentment looks more and more appealing all the time.

Along with going tomorrow to ask the people where I applied for another part time job last week when they might be likely to start interviewing. I'm in a quandary about what I would do if they do make an offer. Wondering about the likelihood of doing both, and still having time to ramble at will all over the state, visiting people I would much rather see than spending time with co-workers.

The upside of only working four hours today is that I can go to meet with community group folks tonight. I have been on the work schedule Wednesdays for weeks and weeks, and thus missing getting together with those people who have become a second family, loving, caring, supporting, doing life together. So it will be nice to have the time available to go and see/meet with those people in my church/community/fellowship group.

hours and hours....

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
...on the phone. With the pharmaceutical people who decide about my scripts. Hours and hours on hold, or trying to decipher the conversation with people who live in the Phillipines, and ESOL. Likely one of the most aggravating and frustrating experiences in recent memory. I can get this medication for 90 days for only $450.  The other three (generics) on my drug plan are free, no co-pay at all. And the best part is that I'll have covered my deductible ($320) for the year - I'm so excited. :-(

drivin' to Decatur...

Monday, July 6, 2015
... and back today, to spend the day with funny little boys. My cousin has family from India visiting for a few weeks: her son, his wife and two little amusing kids. They have lived in Moscow, Bejing China and now Delhi, India over the past eight years. And come to the states to visit family for a month or so each summer.

The auntie and I left about eight to drive up and visit for the day. Little guys actually spent a couple of hours re-charging after lunch, taking naps, so we had a nice visit with adults as well. Their parents decided the little ones needed to burn off some excess energy, so we walked a couple of blocks to a neighborhood elementary school to jump and run around on a really nice playground. Lots of climbing things, slides, suspended walk-ways to entertain little people: but oddly enough, not a single swing, which I would consider a playground staple. Plenty of picnic tables and benches for those amongst us who were less inclined to dash to-and-fro and fling ourselves around.

I had intended to leave the city mid-afternoon to get out of town before traffic got bad, but it was nearly five before we got on the road. I am glad I have been in the area enough to learn some routes that would keep me off the interstate as much as possible, so I wove through some surface streets, working my way south to avoid congestion. There was a place on I-85 northbound, as we were headed south, where there was a snarl, with traffic coming to a complete standstill for ten miles or more. I offered a little silent prayer of thanks that I was not in that mess, swearing, steaming and needing to pee while no one was moving.

finally ....

Sunday, July 5, 2015
...she got here, probably taking about six or seven hours for the three hour trip. And saying that she has been places she has never been before. Along with thinking that the next time she makes the drive, she will just stay on I-75 all the way up to Ft. Valley, or Byron. Which is twice as far north as you really need to go before turning more west. But if you do drive halfway to Atlanta before getting off the interstate, it is pretty much a straight drive due west to get to the Chattahoochee.

For some who is as directionally impaired, as well as forgetful (when she does ask for driving directions, she tends to not follow the instructions she is given, meaning there was actually no point in her asking) as the Auntie, it is truly a wonder she arrived at all.  So if there was only one turn involved in the trip, there is a good likelihood it might actually work.

She sits here and reads the Sunday paper. Reminding of how my mom would read the newspaper every day, and not retain anything. Which had me thinking, crassly, that we could cancel the subscription, and just give her the same paper under the ink faded, leading her to believe it was new news every day. With memory loss, you might as well laugh as cry....

expecting company...

...I have invited my Auntie from south GA to come up for a visit. With the idea that we will go up to Decatur on Monday and visit family members who are in the states from India. I am always anxious to think of the Auntie driving, roaming around the by-ways without any sense of where she is going or how to get there. She claims to have a great sense of direction, but can consistently get herself completely lost and have no idea of how to get where is wants to be.

The last time Auntie was planning to come up to middle GA, it took her six hours to make the three hour drive. I did not ask, and don't think she could have clearly reported, where she had been all that time, making a massive number of U-turns, and stopping every few miles asking for directional info. But she did eventually get herself to the right place.

She was not sure about how to get back on the right road when she was ready to head back to south GA., so I tried to draw her a map. And after conversation, realized that the map was not really helpful. So said: 'I will drive and you can follow me, to the point that you know where you are and I will just pull over and wave, let you go on your merry way.' She did follow, up to a point, but then chose to not take the proper exit to get onto 520 to head south. I took the exit, and pulled over, hoping that she, the maker of numerous U-turns, would get to the end of I-185, where it comes to a dead end on Ft. Benning, and know to turn around. It all worked out, she saw the sign that directed her south, and obliviously passed me, standing along the edge of the road, frantically waving.

Called me several hours later, to say she had gotten home.

And now she is coming back again.

4th of July after dark...

Saturday, July 4, 2015
...is when the fireworks happen. But it's raining and I am wondering if it all came to pass. I called a friend who used to go with me downtown to see the fireworks on all the Appropriate Fireworks Occasions. We went several times, for New Years' Eve, or Independence Day or some other worthy holiday. But she had plans, so I was debating taking myself, thinking I could just drive downtown and park in the lot of the Civic Center, a couple of miles away from the actual event. Assuming the show would be set up on a bridge crossing the river, where there is plenty of good viewing from either side. Knowing that when the show got fired up, all the rockets would be pointed straight up and be visible for several miles if you were in the right place for viewing.

I nearly did, but then it started raining, with thunder rolling in (that I first though was just more celebratory noise), that might have caused a postponement, and the Playing With Fire event to fizzle out before it got started. Making me think about getting in the car and driving down to Golden Park to arrive at the beginning of the ninth inning. To get there just in time for the glorious explosions. Not caring a thing about the baseball game, but always ready to make a run for fireworks. Arriving just before they turned out all the lights in the stadium and started blowing things up.

The air would eventually be filled with wafting clouds of grey smoke, smelling of gunpowder, after all the sparkling and explosions were done. And as a result of being the last people to come into the parking lot, we would be the first out... just showing up for the brilliantly festive celebratory star-spangled end of the holiday.

oh, my goodness...4th of July....

...do I love living in America? Do I love the flag? Do I love everything about the constitution? Do I even love those cranky old people in black robes who have far too much influence and impact on our measly little lives from such a highly placed position? Yes to all of that, and the process of electing officials with whom I don't necessarily agree.

I recently read an editorial about what it was like in the Early Days: when the forefathers signed the document but the war was not won. How the colonists struggled, often cold, hungry, insufficiently clothed and shod, and under-armed to beat back the British invaders. One of the earliest recorded stories of the use of guerilla warfare. Young men, who were accustomed to life in the untamed wildness of the forest, and the necessity for careful aim in bringing home meat to provide for their families. Snipers, that the red-coated army, orderly, properly drilled and marching in tidy lines, were not prepared for.

According to the article I read, by a political science prof. at a nearby college, and based on David McCullough's "1776", the fight went on for a long time. Through all kinds of weather, for nearly two more years before the Brits finally capitulated.  Washington orders his men to leave their coats behind, while the Brits continue to maintain a 'uniform' appearance in the June 1778 heat. As the temperature rises to 100 degrees, those heavy wool coats cause the English army to loose many men to heat stroke, while the colonists, who have been diligently drilling over the winter, gain the upper hand. General Cornwallis admits defeat.

Though we celebrate the fourth day in July as one of independence, it took months and years more of difficult, dirty, lonely, hungry effort on the part of the colonists to make it Truth. I am so thankful for the people today who make the decision to enforce the laws and amendments that keep us safe. Public safety men and women on the streets. Military men and women in service to our country. And those long gone men and women who would rather die than live in a colony with a monarch making their decisions for them.

didja' miss me?

Friday, July 3, 2015
... when I did something to make the blog disappear?  I was, in my complete ignorance, trying to get rid of this little thing that pops up in the middle of the screen every time I open, that says: whoops. And did something to make it vanish from my screen, so I could not log in. I was really sad, and I hope that you missed me ranting about work, interesting cooking experiences, funny family tales?

I went to my best tech support, who could not resolve my crisis from a distance. So thought I would go to the library and talk to their useful, knowledgable tech support person. But they are apparently closed to celebrate our Independence. So when they would not answer the phone, my next choice was my BFF. Who always surprises me with her smarts. Which in itself is surprising, as I am long convinced she is the smartest person I know.

She has some experience with technology, from years of workplace experience. And she figured it out, fixed it. So I am back in business, with lots of things to rant about, along with ample amusing anecdotes from foolish family foibles.

single tomato harvest....

..is the sum total of what I have gotten thus far When I plant tomatoes, or anything really, and do not follow through with nurturing, like I used to do, I know I do not deserve to be rewarded. Like those tomato plants that have started roaming as the grow and vine all over the garden plot, unsupervised and untamed. I picked one a couple of days ago, that was about 60% red, and brought it in the house, to keep bugs and birds from destroying. And have watched it slowly get ripe. The problem is that I can't even say which of the three varieties I planted this one came from. So I don't know which gets credit for success.

I planted them in some really good, improved dirt, and put the names on each one so I would know what's what when they started producing. But did not cage when they were small and easy to manage. And did not hammer in stakes to provide support as they grew. So now, I guess we should call them 'free range' tomatoes? They are all healthy, and growing, and sending out vines, tumbling into each other and flopping on other varieties, so I don't know which this one successful tomato belongs to.

I decided to plant several different kinds as a sort of test, to see which would be the most productive and which would provide the best flavor... and now: surprise, surprise... I have no idea what I have picked.  So, between the value of the fertilizer, dirt, the plants and the sweat equity, I think I might have twenty bucks invested in this one tomato....it better be good!!

not really thinking...

...that the un-workable situation at work has changed in any significant way. So it must be all those people I have recruited to pray. I've been a supplicant for quite a while, asking, hoping that I could be granted an 'attitude adjustment', that I would have a change of heart and be more open to the barrage of stuff that has me so fearful. That I could somehow accept the reprimands as merely points for improvement, those things that have been so consistently and frequently been sore spots, when pointed out in a negative manner, would be things that I could accept with good grace and move on.

While in reality I have been so overwhelmed, so intimidated by the barrage, it would seem the best choice would be for me to be amongst the 'formerly known as'. So I finally gathered up my cojones and spoke to the store manager about my overwhelming anxiety. To get the response: He is just doing his job. This individual is charged with seeing that safety regulations are followed, that all the employees are always in compliance. His position is one of constant oversight, to prevent injuries in the workplace, and keep compensation claims low, and therefore profits steadily increasing.

Not surprising, as co-workers I have spoken with who have been there for years, see the incremental/ gradual changes that have taken place on a corporate level. There does not seem to be much desire to retain employees. To invest in training, and provide the encouragement and support to keep that investment. Just a different attitude at a corporate level. Not one that makes employees feel valued.

It is remotely, vaguely possible I feel a wee bit better as result of being able to vent, have an opportunity to express my concerns, fears and all-encompassing anxiety. But really? Did I expect anything to be any different? No. I realize the manager's position will always be one of backing up those directly under his purview. And I readily accept that the management position is simply put: get the job done. With little concern for who is doing the work, as long as it is done in a timely manner.

What I do know has changed: instead of asking people to pray for me, I am requesting prayer for others.