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literacy tutoring again...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
...at the elementary school on the south side of town. The same two little four year olds from pre-K class who are in need of a little boost to help them with developing reading skills. One was absent, so I retrieved the second and went to sit in the lunchroom and read with her. The book is 'Silly Sally', and yes, it is sincerely silly. The little girl had been reading with other tutors for the past two days, and remembered a lot about the story, even though it is mostly illustrations/pictures with a minimum of words, lots of repetition. She was very talkative and wanted to tell me all about the  book before we even sat down to get started. We read, did the little work sheet and read it again.

I thought I would be finished in record time. But when I took #1 back to her class, the second one came in, late, so we got her binder, with her very own copy of 'Silly Sally' book and read. She seems to be more hesitant, maybe just shy. But hopefully with volunteers reading a series of books five days in a row, she will catch on, with repeated exposure to the illustrations and printed words. Gradually begin to absorb the basics, with a bit of one-on-one attention. Have experience with interpreting pictures, catch on to sight words, develop needed skills and begin a love of reading, and explore the world of books. Learn what wonderful things await those who delve into literature.

the marshmallow study...

...is something you probably read about. It came up on public radio this morning, with someone telling how children are tested by tempting them with marshmallows. (Which would be a no-brainer for me, as marshmallows are on my list of things I hope to never put in my mouth again.) Someone did a test/research project where small children are given the option of eating the marshmallow right now, or postponing the eating. If they can resist the temptation to grab and gobble, they will get two marshmallows after fifteen minutes. Some did, some didn't. Some ate it immediately, while some were able to restrain themselves long enough to double the pleasure.

You would, of course, have to know about marshmallows - and I am sure there are lots of places in the world where little people do not have the marshmallow experience. And then you would have to have the self control to be able to wait, which is generally not a strong suit for youngsters. Plus and abundance of patience. Able to sit and fidget for what would seem like forever when you were looking at the temptation, right there before your eyes and feeling like the clock was running backwards, interminable seconds slowly ticking by.

The study was mentioned in reference to how people can make financial decisions. The kids who were able to wait out the timer, and double their pleasure by receiving the second, after the allotted time were more likely to be 'savers'. Better able to discipline themselves as they mature to set funds aside for some large goal that would not be instantly available. Postponing fun today, in the effort to gain some greater desired object in the future.

This made me think about the people I raised, who are financially independent, fully functioning adults. I've had conversations recently about 'rainy day funds' and the importance of setting aside a portion of income to invest/grow/accumulate interest over time. Hopefully to start now,  with the idea of interest making interest, compounding over time to create a decent nest egg for retirement years. Much of the investment advice for those of middle age or later is directed at looking out for oneself, rather than being pressured into supporting the next generation. So the 'interest' you take in savings or investing should be focused on assuring the next generation you will not be dependent on them.

Years and generations ago, it was not uncommon for homes to be multi-generational within one dwelling, with grandparents, aunts/uncles/extended family to live under the same roof as a younger couple with children. Not always the perfect situation, but often a necessity.  I've let my family know of a long term health care plan that will cover aging issues should I not be able to live independently. We all hope that never happens, but like a Good Scout: better to Be Prepared.

drivin' in the rain...

Saturday, September 26, 2015
...on Friday morning. Leaving home about 5 a.m., hoping to get around the edge of Atlanta before traffic got bad, but after it got light enough to see and be on the defensive. As well as noting the appropriate signs and exit to get off the chaotic perimeter highway head north to TN.

To spend the weekend with some of my fave-o-rite people who live at the base of Lookout Mountain in the little community of St. Elmo. Along with the barking-est dog in the world, a schizoid cat and rabbits in a back yard hutch. The baby bunnies have gotten old/big enough to look like rabbits, instead of naked little things you don't want to touch - so we spent some time petting and handling to try to domesticate. They hide their little faces, squinch up their little pink eyes, flatten their little grey ears in an effort to become invisible. Apparently not realizing their fur is bed-sheet white, and hoping to disappear from sight: if they can't see you, a large toothy predator,you cannot see them.

We went out to eat at a local restaurant: very noisy, good food (though I only ordered a dinner salad and a dish of mac-n-cheese) and good company. Met the in-laws who were celebrating their wedding anniversary. And found themselves thoroughly amused by the fact that they bought each other identical 'happy anniversary' cards. Now we can start wondering how much longer before they start looking alike? Becoming mirror images/identical twins.

my mom would say:

..." a day late and a dollar short". She would also say: "the rich gets richer and the poor gets chillun' (children, ie: more mouths to feed)", which could likely be a subset of Murphy's Law. Meaning that people who are blessed with good fortune continue to come up smelling like roses and those who seem to struggle with finding the right/simple/easy path in life always encounter road blocks and detours/diversions that result in poorly thought-out choices.

The reference to' a day late and a dollar short' is due to my not writing anything on yesterday/Friday. When I had all day to ponder and type the perfect thing to say:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Abby who?
Abby Birthday to You.

literacy tutoring...

Thursday, September 24, 2015
..yesterday morning at an elementary school across town. I'd signed up, but not sure about the day. Had to go to an introduction/training last week, and discover I am on the list to be a tutor on Wed. So I took a long 'lunch break' from work to go 'way across town and spent more time going and coming than actually being there. Worked with two little four year olds, about twenty minutes with each and read the book "Have You Seen My Duckling?" which is mostly illustrations, with a few words for them to begin to recognize.  A cute sweet story, about a little duck who leaves the nest chasing a butterfly. More picture reading, interpreting the illustrations than actual words. And repetitive, for them to begin the process of recognizing simple sight words.

One of the little people could not really count to eight (the number of ducks in the nest) or write her name, but the other seemed to be much better with basic skills. We read the book, talked about the pictures and counted the ducklings on each page, searching for the missing one that was semi-hidden in the illustrations. I am amazed to think that there are four year olds who do not have anyone in their lives who reads to them. Sad to think they have not experienced books. Saddened even more to think there are so many who will not ever learn to read, never go to school, have to opportunity of being literate and the resulting liberation that learning to decipher those strung together letters brings. Hard to imagine not having that ability.

So today: we can all be thankful for the people who taught us how to read, the community of book lovers who shared that love with us Taking us by the hand, leading us gently through the door into the world of being literate, and loving literature: books, magazines, writing, reading, postcards, stationary, postage stamps.Can you imagine what your life would be like if you could not decipher the confusing letters found on the cereal box or street signs?

ant invasion...

Monday, September 21, 2015
...possibly partially my fault: due to stirring them up yesterday. I went out in the late afternoon to water things that were looking desperately limp and thirsty - you could almost hear them panting for a drink. When moving  the hose as I walked around the perimeter of the beds, I pulled it up and dislodged lots of highly agitated ants. Probably the mean, vicious, biting variety.

I've started to water, after letting nature do the work, as things have gotten dry in recent weeks. Remembering years ago, this was the rainy season, Dog Days, when as I child, it rained every day for weeks on end. Plus possible hurricanes blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico across the Florida panhandle. But since humans in our blissful self-centeredness have tilted the balance of the environment, no longer wet, steamy sticky summers awash with daily rain showers across GA.

When I walked into the kitchen before first light this morning, I saw at least ten thousand busy ants, swarming across the floor, up the cupboard wall and across the counter top. Having a feast on a dirty plate 'Someone' left sitting out overnight. Proving that Nature wins in the end? I am generally reluctant to spray bug killer in the house, mostly due to the greasy residue it leaves wherever you point the aerosol can.

So I went out to get the plastic bottle of Fire Ant Poison and sprinkled ant killer powder all along the trail they were industriously making under the door and across the porch. Sprinkling all around the plate and watching them scatter in distress. Went out in the yard to put some down where they were nesting and disturbed when the hose got moved. And hope the invasion has been halted.

But the powder is 'slippery as owl s**t', and now the floor needs to be mopped. I've cleaned it off the counter top. But left the used plate full of ants and white poison for the person who chose to deposit it on the counter top immediately above the dish-washing machine, instead of putting it in.  I'd actually set myself the goal of getting the kitchen floor cleaned this morning before I have to leave for work at 11:00. But there is, of course, a big difference in doing something because you want to as opposed to Doing It Because You Have To.

PS: I do not like to clean up after other people. If WE ALL did it, cleaned up after our dirty, sloppy, lazy, sorry selves - there would not be a mess left for someone else to have to take care of. From trash, cups, butts, cans tossed out the car window, to empty plastic water bottles dropped on the school playground, to waxed squares of paper given with free cookies at the bakery and casually discarded on the floor of the store, to old tires and appliances disposed of in the ditch, woods or river. Your mama does not work here.

it was a looonnng day...

Sunday, September 20, 2015
...going in to work at 6:00 a.m. and leaving just after 5:00 p.m. But not quite as bad as it sounds, since there
was a two hour break when I went to church. And also not so bad as it would have been had I spent the whole day doing produce prep.

Co-worker who usually mans the floral department is out of town for several days so I was doing that. Putting out fresh cut flowers, that come tightly packed in bunches, in flat boxes, shipped from growers in south America. They need to have stems cut, and placed in buckets of fresh water to drink and revive/freshen upon arrival. Plus watering lots of plants that looked desperately dry and thirsty. And making some cut arrangements to go in reach in cooler for cash/carry sales.

So it was not such a bad day, as I was able to putter in the flowers and spend about half the day doing something I really enjoy. And take a long two hour break to go to church:  that rarely happens due to either travel or work schedule  I'd asked the dept.manager about coming in early, since I know he always makes a point of going with his family on Sunday mornings. He knows I will get my work done before leaving, so it's not a problem.

But after nine hours of standing on that hard floor on my poor tired feets, I was worn out. Plus in an effort to be completely honest, I will admit all I had to eat during that time was two Snicker bars. Nothing 'well balanced' about that!

crafting at camp...

Saturday, September 19, 2015
...all day long. Got up at six a.m. to get all the crafting supplies loaded in my car and leave home by 7:00. Drive about forty five minutes to get up to the Scout camp in Harris County. Where there were about 120 girls, with mos m, troop leaders and the folks who were the organizers for the event. My assignment was to do crafts all day long, with groups rotating in and out of a variety of different programs in 45 minutes segments.

In addition to make-and-do, the girls were learning the basics of archery, canoeing/paddle boarding, knot-tying, low-ropes course, camp fire building. A group of girls were preparing lunch for the whole crowd in order to complete requirements for a badge. I did not eat any of the lunch, though I think it was pretty good for camp food. (I am sure the recipe came from a cook book or someone with lots of experience, but don't think I missed much as the main-est ingredient I noticed when I passed through as they were stirring was ramen noodles.)

The crafts included making the dream catcher which was a total bust. Only one girl of all that crowd actually had the patience to complete the project. I'm thinking if I had several samples/examples to show and had exhibited much more enthusiasm, there would have been a better response. It's too tedious for the little ones to stick with, plus they really don't have the eye-hand coordination/fine motor skills to do it like it should be done.

They did enjoy making the para-cord bracelets once they got the hang of the knotting process. Very repetitious, but if you don't do it right, it looks like a jumbled mess. And younger girls had a good day making a God's Eye from craft sticks and colored yard, along with friendship bracelets they all seemed to really enjoy. I thought the yarn bracelets were seriously cheezy - the yarn will get so dirty, nappy, frizzy, ugly after a couple of days it will soon go in the trash - but it was easy and they had a grand time producing something they could immediately put on and wear.

Long day of demonstrating the same thing over and over to different groups, but good to be out in the world. I tried to tell all those adults there as leaders and moms what a wonderful thing they were doing for those kids. Saying those girls would remember this weekend for years to come, even if they might not remember the names of the adults who make it possible. The experience of being out in the woods, fresh air, sleeping in cabins with friends and fellow scouts, will stick with them for the rest of their lives. And those women (and a couple of dads) who were willing to set their lives aside for two days to make it happen will have lots of stars in their crowns when they get to the Pearly Gates.

#2 sub. teaching day...

Friday, September 18, 2015
...at the elementary school just down the street from our house. It was as a replacement for a para.pro/aide in a pre-K classroom. A whirling bustling chaotic day of continual activity. From the time they walked in the classroom at 7:45, depositing lunch boxes and book bags at the door until the carpool came and picked them up at 2:30. Plenty of time on the playground in the early morning to run, swing, jump, bounce, shout - that seemed to have no visible effect on the general bedlam of the rest of the day. The teacher was more than capable, had them in hand throughout the day, and seemed to fully able to manage two dozen energetic little people.

When I did a sub. job a couple of weeks ago, at another elementary school up on the north side of town, the same age group, different school, they also went out to run off steam early in the morning. I walked around that play area picking up trash while they were dashing to and fro for thirty minutes. No one seemed to notice me policing the area - teachers probably thought I was pretty strange. When I started picking up trash: styrofoam cups, bottle caps, flattened plastic bottles, odd bits of paper, candy wrappers - several of the kids started picking up trash with me. I picked up a plastic shopping bag, and we filled it up before I made them stop and go play, run around with classmates.

I left there about 2:45, and stopped by the house then went to work, to my 'real' job, for three hours. My cohort in floral dept. is out of town for several days, and left some things I needed to get done for pick up on the weekend. I made several corsages and boutonnieres, some bows of silk ribbons, two cut arrangements to put in the cooler for walk-up sale, plus two more that were for orders for Saturday.

I was invited to come to work tomorrow, but had already requested the day off to do some volunteering for Girl Scouts.

so impressed with myself...

Thursday, September 17, 2015
...and my cooking at work on Wednesday, I made the cheeze grits for supper at my house tonight. Had to run to the store for the cheeze, since that is what makes the grit so wonderful, but it was well worth a trip. Plus there will be leftovers for breakfast. Did I mention I like cold grits? Straight out of the pot is good for me.

There are some who swear by putting left overs in a loaf pan, chill overnight, and slice to put in skillet and fry for breakfast. Personally I think that unpatriotic and possibly sacreligious, nearly an immoral thing to do with something as classically, traditionally southern as grits. But what do I know?  Only born and bred in the deep south...

Smoked gouda cheese is a wonderful thing in it's own right, and if you were raised on grits you will feel the same way about that ground corn product. So combining two things as wonderful as the cheeze and the grits into one mouthful: oh-my-goodness! You can almost hear Aunt Bee calling us in to wash up for dinner....

4 hands +1 mouth = woe is me...

...second dental appointment in two weeks.  I was happily munching away on something that I now no loner care to eat and broke a tooth a week ago. Enjoying a snack last Wednesday that I will never put in my mouth again. Creating the need for the second new tooth. Now is a good time to be thankful for the supplemental dental insurance policy that comes out of my dinky little paycheck each week.

Surprisingly, amazingly, thankfully it did not hurt during the time between when it happened and when I got a new tooth. It could have easily been sensitive to hot or cold, or the process of breathing a thousand times each day. But there was no pain involved. You know how you have something odd going on in there, your tongue keeps wandering over to see what is going on, and poking around in a spot where it should not be.

I had to be at the dentist's office at eight o'clock this morning, so I left home much too early. Other wise I would have been late, due to traffic piling up at the end of the driveway, keeping me from getting out onto the street. So I got up at 6, to start dreading the hours I would spend sitting in the chair with numerous hands in my mouth. If there is any good news in all this it would be my deductible was paid from the hours I spent sitting in that same spot a couple of weeks ago, and my insurance paid half of what he normally charges.

During one of the lulls when there were no hands in my mouth, I thanked him for saving my tooth. Talking about all the people I see everyday in the workplace with gaps in their mouth, or bad teeth and think to myself: 'why don't you get that fixed?' I am thankful to still have mine, though some are courtesy of the marvels of computer technology that can make a remarkable facsimile of what's no longer there.

I think one of my co-workers will never move up the ladder from his present job due largely to appearance. A long history of neglecting dental hygiene. Which I surmise no one has had the gumption to tell him he needs to do something about, or else he cannot afford the expense.

You would like to believe that in this day and age of 'inclusion' and diversity, it would not really matter. But, in reality, there will always be people we see and have to force 'politeness', act as if there is nothing out of the ordinary, ignore that glaring and very apparent problem. Disregard the Elephant in the Living Room.

little plumbing crisis...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
 ...that will require professional attention: meaning $50 service call, plus what ever labor and parts are actually put into use. The toilet has been leaking for a couple of days. I open the lid, jiggle things and it will quiet down. But every time you flush, it forgets and goes back into leaky mode.

It has been  misbehaving for months, and I will periodically go in there with my wire and pliers and apply a new piece of wire to the little lever that creates 'flush'. Part of it broke off, rusted away, and it would not extend out long enough to make the connection to lift the plunger that causes the water to drain from the tank. Nothing professional about my repair job, but the price was most affordable: wire cutters and a short piece of wire to re-make the connection

I just had a call reporting the man who likes to be' in charge of problem solving' has called a plumber. And the service guy is on the way. I will remove all my rubber bands, baling wire and duct tape before he arrives, so he won't hurt himself when he falls in the floor laughing at my 'jury-rigged' fix. You know, as in: 'I fixed it', when the problem has not actually been solved, but enough duct tape has been applied to make a prom dress/completely cover the original issue.

cookin' at work...(including smoked gouda cheeze grits)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
...today meant preparing the same recipe for the thirteenth time by the end of the work day. The feed back was consistently good, though several thought it might be equally tasty made with chicken instead of beef. I could probably quote it, chapter and verse, listing ingredients and measurements, after preparing the beef and broccoli with rice dish over and over and over since Monday. Thankful that a new recipe will be on the agenda for tomorrow. Not particularly excited over the prospect of making a dish that has two different forms of pork: chops and sausage.

But seriously looking forward to the accompaniment of cheese grits. If you are not from the south, you are thinking: 'what?' or possibly 'yuck!' But if you are a lover of that thing that is a mush of cooked cornmeal, you will likely be really happy with this version that has apple-flavored gouda cheese. Oh, yum!

readin' while drivin'...

Monday, September 14, 2015
...not to worry: a Talking Book.

"Cripple Creek" by James Sallis. It was so well written, easy to listen to, I will look for more stories about this character by this author, at the library.

"...as we porched ourselves in conversation"... (he lives in a cabin on a lake in the woods)

The main character, ex-cop, ex-con, ex-shrink John Turner:
"... I heard the voice of a pork chop saying: 'come unto me and rest'."

"Never trust a man, or a woman, without a sense of humor. That's the first rule... and the other first rule is: never trust anyone who tells you who to trust."

cookin' at work...

... a pretty easy recipe that seems to be a roaring success with customers. I made it five times yesterday. And will make it another five times today. Plus three more on Tuesday afternoon.

I never did taste it: a cow is involved. Not much interested in eating beef, though I will scarf down a Wendy burger after I give a pint of blood every eight weeks - only time I even remotely have a craving for red meat.

This one also has 'fried rice', after a fashion. Using the quick/minute version of brown rice, cooked in chicken stock with soy sauce and diced garlic added. When it gets about half-done, you add diced red bell pepper, diced green/spring onion and a cup of frozen green peas. The texture, due to the instant-ness of the par-boiled rice is a bit different, but under the meat and sauce is a passable version of what you would get in an oriental/asian eatery. Plus it's ready in about ten minutes. Hard to beat!

The meat 'stir fry' starts off with bite size pieces of beef, sauteed in oil with garlic and ginger. Then you add some flavorings, mixed with chicken stock and cornstarch to make a sauce.  You will have to look up the ingredients and amounts, as I forgot to bring the recipe home. Serve over the rice that was sitting absorbing the liquid while you were getting the beef part ready. I did taste the rice: pretty good. But though it smelled wonderful, and lured customers in with a delightful aroma as soon as they walked in the door, following their noses to the cooking demo., I could not make myself put the cow in my mouth.

According to instructions, the entire prep time is 25 minutes. I have probably written here that the premise for the cooking demo is 'bring your family back to the table'. And nearly all of the recipes I've seen are things you can have ready to serve in half an hour.

In talking to a customer recently, I found that this idea of recipe/demonstration/sampling was happening years ago at a grocery chain in FL. I'd been wondering about the origin. And think that the corporation I work for bought some of those other stores and converted them. So apparently adapted the idea of developing and sampling a full meal. It is a great marketing idea/strategy: everything you need to make a complete meal,right there in one convenient place. Home made rather than take out/fast food. Or hotdogs again. Or frozen pizza again. For a harried, stressed, frazzled parent to feed the family, have it ready to sit at the table and eat in about thirty minutes.

let this be a lesson.....

...to you. Learn from my mistakes. I thought I was too wise? Shrewd? Smart? Clever? Well-informed? Too well-read about gimmicks, traps, sneak-thieves, to fall for a trickster. But I fell, and still paying for being so naive and gullible.

Scam Alert: I was innocently typing away, emailing, blogging, pondering the world through google, and a screen came up on my computer that was alarming. An alert that there was a problem with the windows program. Mistake number uno: I had imported the updated Windows 10, then heard a rumor that it had lots of problems, glitches, weaknesses. I thought I was stuck with a faulty program. And, foolish me, seeking help in my blissful ignorance: called the number listed on the screen.

Ending up with major problems. It all seemed so 'legit'. Like I am sure scammers do. The guys who want to spread pine straw in your yard, or pressure wash your house, or replace your old roof, or have a check they want you to deposit and keep half of it for yourself.

I ended up with taking it to the shop, paying to have virus removed, and a computer I cannot use due to everything having been wiped clean, to get the bad bugs out. I have the attitude that it was useless the way it was when the bad stuff came in, so it can't be any more useless now. Sadly I just need tech support to get it up and running again.

I have the long held theory that God gives everybody gifts. I feel like I know more about what mine aren't than what they are. But I know for sure none of my 'giftings' are related to anything having to do with math or technology, or anything mechanical. I am forced to find other people with such skills, to provide the things I can't manage. Would you take a batch of cookies in exchange for helping me out with re-establishing my computer communications?

Saturday night...

...in Atlanta at the Lantern Parade. Daughter and I did it last year, and found ourselves so amused we thought to go again, a little better prepared. Meaning more planning invested in creating some type lighted/glow in the dark device to be 'lantern like'. It  was entertaining, but also chaotic and general, all-purpose bedlam. If there were someway to eliminate any of a number of factors, I would do it again. But the combination of kids, dogs, alcohol, tens of thousands of on-lookers all added up to Too Much Fun.

I'd thought about what would be a good idea, and planned it out, just failed to act in a timely manner. I could probably give Lessons in Procrastination. My little papier mache lanterns turned out ok. But if F. had not provided some wee lights to insert, dangle on the string that would hold the lantern onto the umbrella frame, it would have been a bust. My plan was to put glow sticks in the papier mache globes, but they would not have provided enough light, been bright enough to be effective. I only made five of the translucent globes, putting squares of tissue paper on the slightly inflated balloons, to make a sphere about 5ive inches in diameter. Wished I had started the project sooner, and made enough to be able to have a dozen dangling from the spokes of the umbrella.

We popped the balloons, poked holes in the solid end (without the knot from the balloon) and threaded the string/dental floss through with teeny battery operated lights tied on the end. Tied them to the ends of the ribs of the now undressed umbrella. I debated about taping the umbrella handle onto a long pole (tomato stake) but thought it would not fit into the car. But later, after walking a couple of miles with twenty thousand of my close-est friends, got so tired of holding the umbrella overhead I wished I had used the duct tape, after leaving the pole at the house.

It was amusing. But I think I'm done.

over the weekend...

... due to a good tail-wind, I visited South and North Carolina. More South than North. Left home much too early in Friday morning, hoping to get on the far side of Atlanta before traffic got snarled, at the peak of chaos in the rush to work/school.

I try to get up to SC about once a month to visit/spend the day with my pen pal. The letter-writing, pen and paper part of our relationship pretty much one-sided, as he claims his handwriting has gotten so shaky he does not correspond any more than necessary. We had a nice day, ate tomato sandwiches for lunch. I walked in the door with my road map, asking him about the best way to get from Greenville to Brevard. So he took me on a tour, showing me the best route, working our way across town, around by Bob Jones U., because you know we all navigate by landmarks before searching for street signs and highway numbers.

I spent the night in Simpsonville, just south of Greenville with my cousin. We had a good visit, but fell into bed pretty early due to plans for early-rising on Saturday morning. I only had to make two U-turns to get out of town and on my way north on Saturday... a pretty good average in my opinion.

He said it would take me about 90 minutes to get to Brevard, and I allowed another half hour, to get waylaid, traverse winding mountain roads, detour for sightseeing. A pretty drive up through the Blue Ridge Mountains on twisting two lane highways. I passed a place where there were several cars pulled off, parked in a graveled area. Slowing, and looking out to the right, I could see a wide, treeless area, fairly smooth, rocky overlook, that I guess would be called a 'bald'. Possibly rock-climbers, or just sightseers who came with blankets and coffee for early morning view. I should have allotted much more time for stopping to gawk.

Passed a sign that said 'Asbury Retreat', and had to make a U-turn (#3) for that. Could not get into the Retreat area due to a locked gate. So I turned around and took the other arm of the 'Y' in the road. A pretty little isolated community of cottages, reminding me of Montreat houses, places that have been sitting there so long in the woods and weeds they look like they have 'taken root'. Under low-hanging trees, surrounded by undergrowth and ferns, with moss growing on the roofing, almost an 'enchanted' air about them.Wide screened-in porches to catch cool breezes, for kids to play board games, adults to sit late at night conversing sugar-sweetened iced tea from a glass dripping condensation, in an era long before television, electronics, internet. Twisting narrow, gravelled roads, with houses up on the hillside, back ends dug into the mountain, or hanging over on pilings at precarious angles. At the lowest point of this grouping was a small clear lake, obviously much frequented by summer residents,when they would 'resort' to the mountains.

Got over the mountains, and upon crossing from South to North Carolina, I discover I just passed over the Eastern Continental Divide. And into Transylvania County. I'd planned to meet my friend from north North Carolina at 9:00 and visit a bit, maybe find a coffee shop. We did all that, plus a craft show in the Masonic Lodge, and farmer's market in the parking lot. Roamed the streets, ate at Mayberry Sandwich Shop.

I was hoping to be back in Decatur by 2:00, not allowing for late-leaving in NC, or  twisting roads coming down out of mountains with top speed of 25 mph. So it was right at 4:00 before I got to Atlanta. But safe and sound nonetheless.

you may have heard...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
... the expression: 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic'? Indicating someone performing a pointless, useless, worthless, hopeless, fruitless task. I have spent several hours covering slightly inflated balloons with squares of tissue paper, painting on watered-down glue to secure the paper to the curved surface of the balloon. Making papier mache balloons.

As I was sitting Tuesday afternoon and again today, covering my five balloons with white tissue, the expression came to mind. Anyone who saw me diligently at work, trying to add another layer would surely think: crazie person. But there is a method to my madness. Involving a plan I hatched nearly a year ago, and procrastinated so perfectly, I am just now putting my thoughts into action.

Going to the Lantern Parade on the Beltway in Atlanta on Saturday night. And had this brilliant idea that I would hang some lights from the framework of an umbrella. And make some little papier mache things that would look like jelly fish, suspended from the edges of the umbrella frame, also lit up with glow sticks inside.

Waiting for the paper to dry, and me to feel like there are enough layers for the mache to hold it's shape without the balloon on the interior for support. I plan to poke a hole in the smooth curved end, and stick a string in, tie on a toothpick to hold it in place. And suspend the mache form from the spokes of the umbrella frame. Glue on some curling ribbons to look like those long languid floating streamers you see on jelly fish, and insert a glow necklace through the little hole in the bottom, where the balloon was tied.

If the paper collapses when I pop the balloon, due to not having enough layers to be stable/firm, I guess I will try again next year. As well as wish I had gotten started sooner....

dessert pizza..

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
...made five times each day, over two days when I was cooking on Sunday and Monday. I would not consider making it unless someone was paying me to do it. What my peeps would call a 'hot mess'. I was telling customers all day long as I was serving the hamburger with pimento cheese and bacon and the "s'mores pizza" when they would stop for a taste: they really did not need a fork, as the plate held nothing but finger food,: but would definitely need napkins.

1 can refrigerated thin pizza crust dough
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
2 whole cinnamon graham crackers, finely crushed
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 400. Unroll pizza dough and spread on round pizza pan or cookie sheet. Cook for about 10 min. until it just begins to brown. Remove from oven. Spread nutella evenly over crust. Crush crackers and sprinkle over, top with marshmallows and choc. morsels. Return to oven for 4 or 5 min. until marshmallows start to brown and puff. Slice immediately. Marshmallows get super sticky if you don't cut it right away. I have yet to figure out the best way to slice. Pizza cutter would not cut all the way to the edge, so I had to use a knife to get the squares separated, Sticky mess.

You need to make it when you can give it away, like take to a pot luck dinner, so you will not make yourself sick eating all that gooey stuff, rich, sugary chocolate gunk.

balloon trivia..

..found in a printed handout when volunteering at the fest at Callaway.

Weather is everything. The best times for ballooning are early and late: an hour after sunrise and two hours before sunset. Winds pick up as the sun heats up the earth and atmosphere, making it not so safe for floating. You can't really steer, though it's pretty easy to go up and down, depending on how often you heat the air inside the envleope with the butane burner. But the average size basket will hold four propane tanks, with about forty gallons. Which means the average flight will be about four hours, then you really need to be looking for a safe place to land: no trees, buildings, power lines,or traffic  An open grassy area like a pasture or field is best, where you chase vehicle with trailer in tow can come and get your equipment.

Average cost of a balloon is between $15,000 and $100,000. The guys I was with on Friday night on teh beach did not say what that one cost, but I heard someone say $30,000. Pretty sure that does not include the trailer to haul it all, and certainly not the truck to use for pulling.

It takes about twenty to thirty minutes to fully inflate, have it ready to travel. First thing you do, before you even turn on your turbo-charged fan is be sure your balloon is tied to a truck.He said he usually travels with sandbags in his trailer, that provide ballast to keep it on the ground. But can you imagine: a horrible You-tube, cartoon gone wrong, when your balloon floats away with you looking up with your mouth agape. Stunned to see it leaving you on the ground...

You open the canopy up: spread the balloon fabric out flat, then have some one hold the bottom opening wide, like going to the dentist. The heavy duty powerful fan is started, filling the envelope with air. Once it is nearly inflated, held down by the weight of the basket, the pilot will start adding heat, turning propane burner off and on, careful to not set his expensive balloon on fire.

Balloons typically fly/float five to seven miles from liftoff to landing. You don't land in a place that as a 'large white sheet painted with a red X, indicating the landowner does not want his property to be trespassed. Or in a pasture with a large angry bull.

scouting around...

Saturday, September 5, 2015
...in my back yard. Looking for some sort of vining thing that would be long enough as well as flexible to twist into a circle. Some type plant: I was hoping for some wild grape vine/muscadine or honeysuckle that always shows up where you don't want it. Needing to make small hoops, relatively round to take to scout camp in a couple of weeks for crafting.

One of the projects we've talked about doing with older girls who have registered to be at camp over a weekend is something similar to dream catchers. The things you see in shops and catalogs full of Native American crafts advertised as made to hang over a cradle board to keep evil spirits away. I will definitely need to do some research to get more info., history/background and try to not include the part about 'evil spirits' but not sure about actual facts.

I did not find the vine-y stuff I had hoped for (and hope I do not find myself consumed with red bugs at bed time). But did trim the forsythia that has long arc-ing branches to see if that might work for the frame on which the girls will tie threads/string/beads to make the dream catcher. I snipped about thirty pieces and sat in the back yard, unintentionally feeding the mosquitos, bending the branches into sorta-kinda-mostly round'ish loops to see how that will do. I actually made one with some heavy string to remind myself how to do it. It looks pretty good, for not having done it in years. Found a few cheesy beads to add, and wishing for some tacky colored feathers to finish it off.

Have to give them a few days/week and see if they will be satisfactory when they dry. I noticed several places nearby where kudzu drapes on trees along right-of-way, so I might go whack some of that and possibly find a decent purpose for the bane of the south.  Let's find something useful for kudzu besides feeding goats. Remember back in the sixties when people were smoking it?

balloons, part 2...

...occurred this morning when I got up at five o'clock to drive back up to Harris County. Serving as a volunteer to be useful at Callaway Gardens: for day two of the weekend long Balloon Fest. Where balloonists, maybe a dozen or so, would tether their wicker baskets to several vehicles (three seems to work well) and offer pedestrians rides up in the air as far as the rope would allow. Hang suspended for several minutes as the air in the canopy slowly cools, then gently drift into the arms of gravity. Ten dollars for adults, five dollars for anyone under age ten, including babies and dogs.

I got there in the dark.. It was about 7:30 before the first of the balloons inflated ,(having learned last night to never use the term 'blow up!) It had a big REMax sign on the side so was obviously there as advertising/commercial for real estate sales. Probably half a dozen were inflated and offering rides, when the wind picked up, and pilots began to feel it was unsafe to lift off. So though there were possibly well over a hundred people waiting in line to make a five minute tethered ride, the balloonists began to deflate and let the balloons slowly settle back into the grassy field.

It's not an instant process, takes time and manpower to accomplish. The basket has to be safely anchored before you can open the top of the canopy and let the air escape to collapse the balloon. In an open area without buildings or trees that otherwise might cause damage to the very expensive synthetic material. Otherwise the envelope will come down on top of the pilot in the basket, or other passers-by, possibly tearing holes in the balloon. A co-volunteer was telling me that one of the balloons on the beach last night was damaged by the propane burner, causing the balloonist and crew to not be able to inflate. They just loaded it back up into the trailer. Maybe left instead of devoting their weekend to wasteful occupation of observing.

I was there until around 9 a.m., when the pilots concluded the wind was sufficient for the balloons to be risky. Even though the passengers were required to sign a release/waiver before getting into the basket, there is, I suppose, more than enough liability to go around, and the risk of damage to life and limb, as well as high-priced equipment not worth taking a chance as the weather changes.

hot air balloons...

Friday, September 4, 2015
...were really amazing. I'm saying Wow and Holy Cow and Wow again. The sort of thing that even after you see it, you keep thinking: did I really see that?

Every Labor Day weekend for as long as I can recall, there has been a Hot Air Balloon Fest at Callaway Gardens. The people with (very expensive) balloons will come and spend their time inflating and deflating, unpacking and packing up the huge balloon envelopes (as big as a house when full of hot air). I know they offer 'tethered' rides', where the balloon is attached to a large vehicle so it won't float away, and visitors can pay to get in the basket and ride up to the end of the rope and back down again. Probably for about $15.

In the past there has been a planned event/chase, called the Hare and the Hounds, where one balloonist will leave ahead of the group, and the others try to catch it, landing as close as possible to the first one. There are, as you might imagine, many variables when you are completely dependent on the wind for getting from point A to point B. So each balloon needs a 'chase team' who can come to the rescue where ever the balloon comes down. And load all the hundreds of pounds of balloon shroud, basket with gas canisters and accoutrements back into the trailer for transport.

I forgot to take my camera. Rats. So was only able to snap a couple of photos with my old school phone, while adding my weight to the basket of the people I was assigned to assist. The balloonist guy was continually adding heat, by way of propane burner to the air in the canopy, causing the wicker basket to want to rise off the ground. And though it was securely attached to a large truck, and would not fly away, it did act sort of weightless, and needed the extra volume of bodies to keep it grounded.

It was really neat. There were seventeen balloons there, on the beach around Robin Lake. Colorful, huge, amazing. Well worth the trip. I know you have seen them on TV or calendars, so just imagine how neat it is to see them up close and personal. Wow.Holy Cow. And wow again.

kinda' morose..

...from going through a box of moldy papers, exhuming lots of pieces of the past, with my dad's handwriting and signature. Lots of cancelled checks with my mom's impeccable name written on the signature line.

Spent several hours yesterday afternoon going through a box of papers that came from my parents' house. There was a file cabinet my methodical dad kept all his important papers in. I emptied the whole thing into a box to go through and be certain I was not putting anything important in the trash. Wanting to shred stuff that might have financial significance, though he has been gone for fifteen years.

I found dozens of cancelled checks with my mom's beautiful handwriting: her signature perfectly formed. I found lots of yellowed, ancient (from the early and mid 1940s) paperwork my dad kept from his active duty military service. As well as lots of documentation about his retirement benefits. Hundreds of pages of statements illustrating his careful husbandry of invested funds, diligently earned and methodically, wisely socked away for their golden years.

Amusing and bittersweet original receipts and invoices from equipment he purchased thirty years ago. Tidily typed letters he sent requesting information about replacement parts/operating manuals for ceiling fans, roto-tiller, home heating system/thermostat, electric hand tools, chain-saw. He was from the Christopher Columbus School of Typing: 'find the keys and land'. A two-fingered typist who could type rings around me, even after my two years of typing class. And his signature on all those letters and forms. Hard to let it go. There won't be any more.

I actually got tired (and hot and cranky sitting out in the carport going through musty, moldy papers) of the shredding.  Putting four or five sheets at a time - I'd still be doing it, if I had not completely lost interest.  And decided to take them to my friendly neighborhood State Farm agent to put in the big bin they send off to a commercial shredder. Still anxious about just putting the paperwork in the trash, so want to know it has been shredded, turned it into mulch. Wish I could get it back to put in my garden!

in addition to dirty towels...

...included in the laundry I do most every week for church are the little white square fabric communion covers. Theoretically keeping the bits of bread we dip in the grape juice sanitary and germ free for about an hour until it is time to dunk your bread square and consume the 'host'. My friend P. made the white cloth covers. Some are done with cross-stitching, red thread that says: 'in remembrance', and some are just neat little hemmed white squares that she did some fancy needle work on. She said the plain ones were some fabric I gave her that were part of a 'stash' of cloth from my mom. So that's pretty neat, to think that my mom had a hand in providing them as we partake each week.

I bring the nasty, smelly towels home each week, wash, bleach to get as clean as possible, though they look like some one has been mopping the floor or parking lot with them. Dry, fold and return to the kitchen to be reused.

When I went by the middle of the week, found some of the communion squares in with the wet dirty towels and brought them home to wash. They soaked in a bit of bleach for a while (grape juice stains) and I ironed them yesterday afternoon when I got home. I am most decidedly, definitely not one for ironing. Thankful for the advent of 'wrinkle free' (though not a fan of synthetic fabrics) and things that can come out of the dryer, get hung up right away and be passable without needing to be pressed. 

But saying that, I will also admit that every time I get my iron out to do the communion covers, I think of my mom: who taught me how to iron by starting me off on my dad's handkerchiefs and pillow cases. Now wondering if that is how her mom taught her to iron?  I don't even own an ironing board, so have to lay a towel down on the kitchen counter to do the little white squares, about the size of a man's pocket hankie. And every time I do, I think of my mom.

P.S.: I'm nearly certain she did not feel the necessity of teaching my brother how to iron. And absolutely certain the weekends he would come home from college with a laundry bag full of dirty clothes, she spent the whole weekend washing and ironing his shirts for him to return looking sharp on Sunday night.

first time...

...for this school year. I have a sub. teaching job, sort of. I think there should be a different word to use when it is semi-legitimate, in the sense that I am not actually the teacher. Today I will fill a position as the person who is replacing what used to be known as 'teacher's aide' and is now called 'para-pro.' (sounding only marginally capable/professional?)

You may have read the blog about going to the required training session mid-summer, where all potential replacements were informed we should plan to accept a minimum of ten jobs per semester. Or be dropped from the list of approved substitutes. I've laid in bed in the early mornings, pondering this and concluded that doing it two days each month would provide those minimum requirements. But we got into be Sept. and I had not started. Went to the website that is set up to show openings/daily needs on Wed. night and found me a little jobette for Friday. Going to an elementary school on the north side of town, to spend the day in a Kindergarten class as the assistant/aide.

I've been getting calls occasionally from the computer driven system offering jobs. The phone will ring at 6:00 in the morning, waking me, or in the evenings, startling me so I jump in alarm. Due to other things in  my life, like work and travel, assorted prior commitments, I've not accepted any of the substituting work. So naturally after I had already committed for today, I had a call from the office staffer that occasionally calls, thinking I might be available on short notice. Sadly, I had already agreed to this other position up on the north side. Hopefully I will not be pulling my hair out before it is over at 2:30.

I am definitely keeping score - it's such a thankless job I certainly do not want to do any more than the minimum. Plus: filling in for the aide doesn't pay enough to make it worth the stress that accumulates in the course of the day. Fortunately I can walk away at the end of the day, knowing I don't have to do it all day every day, five days a week for nine months. Teachers: whatever they are getting paid - it's not enough for what they do!

when we went west...

Thursday, September 3, 2015
...on our excursion to Washington in early August, one of the mildly amusing things that accidently occurred was finding one of those machines that will make an imprint on a penny. It was located at 'Ye Olde Curosity Shoppe', which is worth a trip all by itself. Sort of creepy in a 'Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum' sense, but pretty much un-explainable and indescribable, so you have to actually witness it to know what is before your disbelieving eyes: Stuff like the two headed calf, and the preserved 'merman' that appears to be half fish and half monkey skeleton. Creepers.

The 'Smash a Penny' machine, found in random places anywhere tourist traps might lure you in. It requires 51 cents:  put your penny in the machine, pick the design you want, and insert two quarters. Turn the handle and out falls your flattened penny, now in an oval shape, with a design of some local attraction. I have been carrying my Seattle penny since it came clinking out of the machine full of gears and levers. So it has been riding around in my pocket with change for nearly a month.

I have at least a dozen other ones that I have accumulated over the years from a variety of places we have traveled. Family vacations, trips to places of historic note or just tourist-ing.

Myrtle Beach State Park, SC.
National Zoo (it has an elephant on it)
Children's Museum, Washington DC (looks like it has a figure from the 'cootie' game)
Biloxi, Mississippi (lighthouse that sits in the middle of the street)
Wakulla State Park, near Tallahassee FL
USS Alabama, retired aircraft carrier
Aquarium of the Americas, NO, LA
Blue Ridge, GA,
McCaysville, GA
Frontier Land, Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Orlando, FL
and the one that has been in my pocketa for a month: Seattle, WA, an image of the Space Needle,a well-known  local landmark left over from when the town hosted a World's Fair years ago.

second appt....

...at the chiropractic office yesterday. He told me about some exercises I need to be doing, and wiggled my knee some more. Charged me $30 and sent me on my way, after about ten minutes of his time - good pay if you can get it!  I laid in bed last night and did what I was instructed to do.

When I got up this morning about 5:15 to get to dressed and on to work, I was very surprised to discover I: a) slept all night without getting up to take a pain pill in the wee hours, and b) did not hurt at all. Sadly, it was not long before a dull ache took over, and I concluded I needed to continue to take the OTC meds I have been taking all day long for weeks and weeks. Sort of like a below ground storm shelter: hoping against hope you won't actually have a reason to need it, but you want to be prepared when the tornado blows through and you find yourself unexpectedly in the Land of Oz. Along the same lines: auto or health insurance, which we pay for every month with the optimistic thought of never needing.

I'll try to do the exercises and go back next week, see how this goes. I was amazed to get up and walk from one end of the house to the other- then suddenly think: my knee does not hurt!


... for the second time. Trying to figure out something that will resolve the problem I have been having with my knee. I had a random chance encounter with a customer at work recently that caused me to think this might be a way to get better/find someone who can help without having a knife in hand. I saw a woman who was walking through the store with one of those big knee support things that looks very mechanical. Probably Velcro on the straps on her thigh and calf, with metal in-between and a hinged joint to provide mobility.

Much more 'serious' than the brace I used for a while. And quit wearing when I concluded that the brace would bring about another set of problems when I would loose muscle mass and tone as I became dependent on that artificial support to provide stability. I told this woman who passed by my food demo. 'stand', that I could be sympathetic to knee problems, and hoped hers was getting better. She stopped and said:' let me tell you about my chiropractor', reporting that he had really been helpful. So I wrote down the info. and called several weeks ago.

And had to change the appt. so many times due to work, the last time I called to reschedule, I told the receptionist she was probably starting to think I did not really exist. I finally went the end of last week. I had been lead to believe my insurance would cover but when I got there, they told me it would not pay for adjustments to 'extremities'. And they sort of wanted me to write a check before I even got in to see the man. Which was, as you might expect, somewhat 'off-putting', causing me to question whether I should even be there?

But I answered the questions, and took my little disc of photos.  X-ray and MRI the orthopedic clinic copied for me, and I picked up last week. Surprised to get to the window and hear: have you paid for your disc yet? Whereupon I fork over $10 to get the photos my insurance had already paid for!!! And  him wiggle my knee. Made another appt. to return this week, and hope that I will get some positive results.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015
...might represent the 'idea' of fall, but it will still be summer here until late November, when we will skip over autumn and possibly start into winter. Meaning it will be time to dig out the wool socks, and start layering up.

I was up at 5:10 to be at work by six o'clock in the produce dept. today with Alice. We get along really well. She tells me what to do and I do it. Except when I don't and she sets me straight. I work on a table facing a blank tile wall, and hardly see anyone all day long except co-workers, and lots of vendors who come in to put out sodas and bread/baked goods from the stock room. She looks out over the store, and greets customers as they walk up.

She was talking to someone today, while cutting up cubes of fruit. And I was facing the tile wall, working the slicer, preparing squash, onions, bell peppers to package. I don't recall the conversation, but I was so amused when she told her friend who had stopped by to speak with her that her mama always said: "At the end of the day, the pot rests on it's own bottom." I am still pondering what that  might mean? If you have any ideas, feel free to speak up, comment and provide your opinion.

I'm thinking what her mama was trying to help her understand is that we are all ultimately responsible and held accountable for our actions and daily activities. You might think you can persuade someone to believe an explanation for unacceptable behavior, but when all is said and done: It's Yours. You created the problem, situation, crisis, hot mess - so you will be the one who has to come up with resolution, clean up after your own self.

Some people will try to justify, make excuses, place blame due to not fully being able to grasp the necessity for accepting responsibility. But when you make poor decisions, there are generally repercussions, requiring accountability. You spilled it: you mop it.

At the end of the day: The Pot Rests On It's Own Bottom.