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book review: "A Thousand Splendid Suns"...

Thursday, June 30, 2016
... written by Khaled Hosseini, who is also the author of "The Kite Runner," (made into a well received movie). I read the one reviewed here after reading the other. "The Kite Runner" is about a couple of  young boys in Afghanistan, told in retrospect by a one who is now an adult. He shares the story of two children, one from a well to do father, raised in privilege, and the other from a poor single parent. Both books were written by a man who obviously knows the culture and circumstances of life in Kabul well, even though the author lives in California, according to the publisher's information.

The "Splendid Suns" book is about a pair of disparate young women who end up being married to the same misogynistic man. Living in a culture where women have little recognition, little value, little voice in society, and are considered less than second class. Though the women came from vastly different backgrounds, they soon discovered they had much in common.

During the Russian invasion/occupation, the second young woman, Lalia, was injured. She was rescued, and began living with the childless couple, Rasheed and Miriam. Lalia was homeless, her family all died, and she was desperate, felt she had no choice but to accept the proposal to become a second wife. The three began living together in a house with a man who was demanding and demeaning, especially in that environment where women are considered property, and can be readily disposed of with little or no consequence.

It is a tale of the struggles of daily life under difficult circumstances, relating how the women who began their life together at odds, filled with anger, hurt and resentment learned the value of friendship. In time they became devoted sister-wives, and accomplices in their efforts to survive, defend each other against the forceful aggression and humiliations of Rasheed. A man who was raised in a culture that taught him to believe women were worthless, and did not warrant respect.

As you read and see the relationship grow and blossom between the two women, struggling in that time of constantly feeling under the watchful eyes of first the Russian invaders, then the Taliban enforcers, you see the devotion they have for each other grow into a precious gift. Women who were in a hopeless situation struggling to cope with unbearable circumstances, horrific personal loss, unimaginable emotional pain and hardship. But learning to lean on each other for comfort, support, encouragement and the love that sisterhood brings.

Though you read of the hardship of life in difficult circumstances within a war zone, where there seems to be no end to bombings, paranoia, armed men looking for minor infractions walking the streets with impunity, there is a sense of hope. The characters are filled with optimism and a desire to be a small part of improving the lives of the citizens of the war torn city of Kabul. Even though it is filled with the horrors of war, a country in chaos, it is a story of optimism.

the little birdies....

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
...who were living in the nest in the hanging basket on the back porch in Decatur have flown. I had a report they were gone, and the nest, made of carefully scavenged mosses and lichens has one abandoned, unhatched egg. But babies fledged and flew away. Abandoning the tidy little nest neatly tucked in the pothos vine.

Hearing that made me wonder about the bluebird box mounted on a pole in my back yard. I have not noticed any activity, though I've been out there quite a bit lately, trying to keep things watered. Remembering reading you are supposed to clean the box out after the brood leaves, to make room for the next tenants or possibly the same pair again, if they decide to hatch another batch.

So I got my little step ladder (the same one that provided such amusement when pounding tomato stakes) and went out to inspect the box. I eased up close to the box, about eight feet off the ground, and didn't hear any little 'cheep, cheep,cheeping'. Nor was there a disturbed parent dive-bombing me as I balanced on the top of the step. Therefore, I assumed the season had passed, and it was unoccupied.

But when I opened up the side of the wooden box, and went to pull out the pine straw nest to discard, there were some fuzz covered little birdlets sleeping in there. At least I hope they were asleep. I will check tomorrow and maybe wiggle the post a bit to check for signs of life, possibly irate parents. Hopefully they were just out for a night on the town, before the onerous task of flight training begins.


...according to Webster's Dictionary: something that shows what is coming. The word has a very interesting provenance. Out of curiosity, I looked up the origin. Discovered the archaic use was to describe a person who is sent ahead to make arrangements, finding a place for those who follow to stay, eat, sleep. Sort of like an envoy, maybe?  Derived from Anglo-French word for 'lodgings'.

What it means here: putting readers on notice that travels are impending. I've asked for time off  from work, and received ample grief/guilt from management. But the tickets have been purchased, so the trip will happen, progress as planned. If I am not employed upon my return, so be it.

Daughters agreed to go with me (I do need supervision, possibly a chaperone or two) for a week to UK. They apparently enjoyed our travels last summer as much as I did, so we invited ourselves to go and spend a few days with a cousin who lives in southern England. Plus a couple of days gawking in London.

They reportedly find me and my country bumpkin-ness amusing, for which I am grateful. They could just roll their eyes, say 'oh, mom', and act like they do not know that person who is looking with awe and wonder at various landmarks, statues, natural wonders with mouth agape. Perhaps it makes them feel all "growed up', in a position to provide cautious guidance for the  goofy person they are shepherding around. What ever the reason, I am thankful they want to go, willing to keep an eye on me when I fail to pay attention crossing the street, or browsing through the museum.

Leaving Friday night ,July 1, to be gone a week. We will be in the place where there is no regard whatsoever for the Fourth of July.  Amongst those who have no reason to celebrate.  So I am thinking about smuggling in a box of sparklers, along with little flag pins for everyone to wear and flaunt Independence Day.

it was so amusing...

Monday, June 27, 2016
... I laughed at myself. Could not decide if it would be better to have witness, so there would be someone nearby who could take a photo to document the foolishness. Providing clear, irrefutable proof of a crazy person to add to the blog. Or not have any witnesses at all, so no one would be falling out of the chair from an overabundance of hilarity.

I wanted to stake up some tomato plants that have gotten too vine-y, and needed to be tied up. But the stakes were so long, probably eight feet, that I could not reach high enough to hammer them in the ground by the tomatoes. So I had to get the ladder to stand on for reaching the top of the stake to pound it in the dirt.

I stood there on the top of the little three step ladder and had a good laugh. Then proceeded to pound the stakes. Finally got them tied up, but still tickled to picture me: there on the top of the ladder reaching up with the hammer to the top of the wooden stake, pounding away.

waiting for...

...my resourceful friend, the Smartest Person I Know. Who is coming to help me with a little project that involves some figuring. Which I admittedly do very poorly. She is usually the person I recruit when I am baffled and bamboozled by numbers.

I've gotten the tax bill for homestead in Brooks County, and feel like it is excessive. I always feel like the amount the county wants to charge for property taxes is excessive, but refusing to pay is so absurd, foolhardy and pointless that is not an option. Trying to appeal the expense is probably equally pointless, but it is not my nature to sit quietly and do nothing. There is a small degree of  latent non-compliance in my personality, not much noticeable, but occasionally the spark comes in contact with tinder and will burst into flame.

(As evidenced in my months-long efforts to have my job class changed from one that is a dead-end to something marginally better. Where there is a tiny little crack for improving financial circumstances, as opposed to working till the building falls down with no possibility of a pay increase. Hope springs eternal, right?)

I need help in deciding if an appeal, putting forth the effort to ask that the value of the property be re-considered, and possibly reducing the appraised value to lower the taxes would be appropriate. I'm not at all knowldegeable about the appraised value of the surrounding property, what other homes nearby are worth. Which is where the help, guidance, moral support of the friend comes in. We did this some years ago, looking at other nearby pieces of real estate to determine if other homes had increased in value, and taxation. I'm hoping for the best, but when it comes to taxes, there is small possibility of relief, and very little likelihood of a decrease. Arggghhh....

walking wounded...

Friday, June 24, 2016
...on my person, both accidental, as well as painful. I was out in the woods and chased by a bear, but fortunately I escaped with only the slightest injury.. The claw marks on my leg are proof of my speed and agility, ability to out run a hungry bear. Fancy footwork! I'm sure you have heard the saying about how you really don't have to be all that fast to outrun a bear, just faster than the slowest person, right?

Pretty impressive, huh? The truth is much tamer and not nearly as awe-inspiring. I was working in the yard several days ago, and brushed up against a piece of hardware cloth attached to a fence post. Put there years ago when the Wonder Dog was small, little enough they thought she might wiggle through the gap between gate and post and escape. She is much too well fed for that now, but the dangerous ends of the stiff hardware cloth, still attached with zip ties to the post, silently waiting to poke the unsuspecting innocent who might get too close: which would be me...

The other injury happened this afternoon when I thought I could finish up the project for the county agent. The painting is done, with far too much time invested in applying colors to cardboard. All that remains is to cut the ovals out for the faces to go in. Where the photos will be taken when hordes of  kids come along to put a bright smiling countenance in the hole to give the appearance of human-oid features on ladybug, butterfly and sunflower.

I sliced my hand open, started a real gusher. So done with cutting.  Dripped all the way in the house, and across the kitchen tile till I could get to a paper towel to apply pressure. Remembering that I had purchased some of this miracle, newfangled product that is supposed to instantly stop bleeding. You just sprinkle the brown powder-y substance on an open wound, apply pressure. Today was the test: it works.

I'm all bandaged and taped and think I will probably survive. There is  not a photo of the knife-work done on my wrist. I discovered the sight of my own blood in such copious quantities makes me queasy. It is now apparent why I did not go into health services for a career - latent nausea, and the fact that I had one day of chemistry in high school and realized I was in the wrong place.

probably too hot...

... is what I may have got, when working in the yard this morning. It started off as a really pleasant day, with a nice breeze blowing, and moderate temp. By midday, and with several hours of exertion, my face looks like a real live action-packed firework. Bright red from the heat.

I feel really productive. On a roll with my wheelbarrow! (Get it?) The tree trash pick-up is an ongoing, never ending project. It should happen much more frequently than it does, but the seriously satisfying stacks of sticks and limbs up by the street after I dumped each load is well worth the effort. I am so pleased with my morning's work, I am (almost) reluctant to have the city come by with that big dump truck equipped with a monstrous 'grabber' to remove the trash.

We had a bad windstorm recently, with lots of people having large branches, limbs, and tree tops break off, resulting in big piles of trash yard debris. So the extra charge they usually require to pick up big stuff has been suspended for two weeks. Normally big things have to be cut into smaller slices, making tree trunks easily moved, loaded by the big grabber arm. So even though I am vainly pleased with my accomplishment, hopefully the city will come by and remove my evidence without extra fee.

Even though it's quite impressive, up there near my newly installed pallet flag, you will not see a picture of trash. Due to the nature of refuse looking so much like trash, it is virtually unnoticeable. And who wants to look at someone else's trash, right? Plenty of that along the right-of-way from litterbugs!

just a bit of FYI...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
...if you ever happen upon an opportunity to reproduce your own little homemade version of Old Glory. This is something I never paid much attention to, which is sort of surprising to discover, with me thinking I am such a patriotic glutton. Have you ever noticed the order in which the stripes on the flag are sequenced? Me neither...

Until I was a work and someone mentioned the display the Coca Cola guys had done. It's similar to the one that was up on display for weeks last summer. With boxes of twelve packs stacked in rows to look like the flag, with alternating varieties of their product, laid in rows of red and silver boxes lined up for the stripes. Then they added a big dark blue rectangle with a field of white stars attached to the upper left corner.  Pretty nifty whey you walk by and notice it is a huge American flag, about twelve feet high, by fifteen feet long.

But the guys who put the display up at work last year did not start with a red row of Coke boxes.In those thirteen stripes, there are more red than white, so the individual lines start and end with red, seven of red and six of white. Representing, as any good American history student knows, the number of the original thirteen colonies that fomented rebellion and started a Revolution. Gaining independence, celebrated on July 4, with brass bands, parades, tri-colored bunting and ample fireworks meant to remind us of cannon fire.

So don't go making a flag that starts with white. Even though my wooden pallet flag did not have the proper number of stripes, it was built with an uneven number of slats, so I was able to start with red and end with red. Maybe the 'flag police' won't come and drag me out of bed....

painting project...

...finished. Yay! That time consuming thing I was doing for the county agent to use at the Insectival in July. Thankful to not have that hanging over my head any longer. Now I need to cut the holes out for faces to smile and get it delivered uptown to the Extension office and out of  my life.

And completed the pallet I wanted to paint like an American Flag. Looked at a couple of samples on the internet, and find that people are (seriously!) selling them. Wow. I'm certainly not going into the flag/pallet business. One is more than enough.

I guess if the price was right, I would be willing to paint another. But honestly, it is such an easy project, I'm thinking that anyone who wanted one and could scrounge up a pallet, would do it oneself. Rather than pay the $35 or $50 or more the people who are selling them on Etsy are wanting. It would be entertaining to do several, though the stars are sort of tiresome. Mass producing would get tedious in short order - plus where are you gonna put them until someone wants to pay for it?

But now that I have completed the patriotic work, and loaded it onto the wheelbarrow to trundle up the driveway (three times, it fell off twice) I am concerned. Expecting some beer fueled teen-aged guy with a pick up truck will come along and think he likes it more than I do. I've found a length of chain and will run to the store to get a little padlock and secure it. I'm so pleased with my project, I can't think why everyone from the Atlantic to the Pacific would not want one propped up in their front yard. So keeping it safe from being heisted is a necessity.

painting project..

...in my carport will hopefully get completed today. There is a sense of urgency to get finished, as it is needed in early July. There is also a donated wooden pallet I would like to paint today, to have it looking like an American flag. I saw one in recent travels and thought it amusing, wanting one for myself, but at the best price ever: free.

I see the wooden pallets all the time in the stock room at work, but thought it likely I would get nailed for theft. Not specifically shoplifiting, but some form of dishonesty, as a co-worker is convinced management guys are wattching me like a hawk, awaiting any minor infraction. Though I did approach someone I work with who has a pickup truck about delivering a pallet to my house, we decided that absconding with shipping materials from the loading dock would indicate poor decision making skills.

After asking around, I found one, and someone who would bring it to my house, thinking it would not fit in the back of my little Toyo. It has been sitting in the carport for a week, awaiting my paint brush. The friend who came last week to help with the project for the county agent is coming back today to help get that done. So I am going to go, right now, and get a primer coat on the rough wood of the pallet slats, let it dry, and come back with red and blue to make it patriotic.

I'm so excited! When it is finished, my plan  is to prop up against a tree out by the driveway, so everyone - hundreds and hundreds of vehicles that pass my house every day - can see my wooden, homemade flag. Wondering if I should chain it to the tree to keep it in place? People will walk off with anything these days... Check back later for photo!

sitting in the parking lot at Sam's Club....

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
...thinking about my dad. After leaving work, I stopped at the Sonic Drive-in, out in the parking lot. To order a cherry lime-aid during the Sonic Happy Hour, which occurs between 2:00 and 4:00 every afternoon. My reward for working from 6 till 2 without lunch. (Had a lunch break but went to run an errand and didn't actually eat.)

So when you go to Sonic Happy Hour and order a drink, you get it for half price (and usually end up giving the full amount to the server as a tip). It might be a wee addiction, but it seems like the only thing I ever order is the cherry lime-aid. They actually use real, fresh limes, squeezing a half in each cup  pouring in the carbonation  and adding bright red maraschino cherries. The cherries still have their stems on them, with the lid being put on and deliberately catching the stem in the lid when they put the top on the Styrofoam cup.

When I finish the drink, I take the lid off, and eat the cherries out of the cup. Putting the whole thing in my mouth, stem as well as fruit. After the cherry is gone, it is necessary to use your tongue to tie a knot in the cherry stem. You cannot take it out of your mouth,  you cannot use your fingers, only accomplished within the bounds of your closed orifice.

I remember my dad doing it, and apparently with some degree of skill. He would have occasion to issue a challenge to see who could be the first to produce the stem with the knot tied. You can imagine the amusement, gyrations, odd expressions on various faces, getting so tickled in the process you really cannot accomplish the task. I think it is something that happened around the dinner table when he was a kid, with his family bemusedly attempting the knotting.

I just sat there, in the blistering hot parking lot, with the AC blasting, working  my mouth, pushing and pulling with my tongue. Getting the stem in the right position to tuck the end through the loop and complete my knot. Thinking about my dad, thoroughly amused. Cheap fun, and a highly entertaining parlor trick to occupy your spare time.

a bit of flag waving going on here...

Monday, June 20, 2016
... in the smallest way. I went to the 'just a buck' store recently and saw some little flag lapel pins at the check out for only: you guessed it! $1. Got lured right into buying one. And put in in a Father's Day Card before I ever got the chance to put it on my collar. (Sadly, it says 'Made in China' on the back of the little card that has the UPC code on it.)

Went back to the just a buck store today to buy all they had: seven. With plans to take them to work and give them to  anyone who will put it on their shirts or aprons and wear the colors. I'm pretty hard core. Listening to an oldies station on the radio recently, and heard that Lee Greenwood song: Proud to be an American. I am such a sap, have become so tender-hearted it made me weepy. Right there in the car, all alone, driving down the street. Tears streaming down my face.

If you have spent any time with me, and heard my phone chiming in my pocket, you know. The ring tone is 'Stars and Stripes Forever', a very stirring march written by John Philip Sousa. Rousing when played loudly by the Army Band with lots of brass and cymbals, excellent for parades and concerts on the Fourth of July.

Let me know if you want me to mail you an American flag lapel pin, but you have to promise to wear it.

a fun invite..

... came in the form of a phone call the end of last week. That same acquaintance who asked me to come to see her gardening efforts and stay for The Four Cs. She said we needed to celebrate the summer solstice. Which happens today, marking the northern most point of the sun rise in the northern hemisphere. I'm pretty sure we will enjoy the 'Four Cs'again this afternoon.

She reported looking forward to the idea of cooler weather, while I am diametrically opposed to the prospect of shorter days. Ironically the same thing: her enthusiasm for change of seasons and my desire to have summer last forever. (Which just might happen with global warming!?)  I am not at all excited about having the sun go down at six o'clock, and long chilly nights. But change it will, as surely as the sun and  moon.

I am very flattered to be asked, and sort of amused to think that she feels I might have some quality that would enhance the gathering. I do not think of my person a  being particularly entertaining, but am hoping that my wry, dry delightful sense of humor is part of the reason for being invited. If the opportunity should arise, I might even ask why I was fortunate enough to be among the chosen ones.

Hoping to go and enjoy meeting folks and not embarrass myself. I do believe I have enough propriety in my person to behave decently, in spite of the recent failure to control my tongue when it ran away. (The incident at work when I blurted out 'why do you need to know?' after someone asked a too personal question.) I will try to channel my sainted grandmothers who had such high regard for being polite, lady-like, proper, mannerly, including a check to be certain the seams on the nylons were straight on the backs of your legs.

I was recently in conversation with a friend and told her about a quote from years ago: something I read in a book, possibly a quote from Earnest Hemingway? "If you are not doing things for fun anymore, you might as well be dead".  So my goal current goal in life is pretty much just to enjoy it as much as possible. How's that for ambition?

we should expect...

...that there will be some degree of disapproval from the management, rather than accolades for being so diligent, hardworking and conscientious. I was recently 'counseled' for getting overtime, due to trying to finish tasks, in an effort to clean up after myself rather than leave stuff someone else has to deal with. Making it a certainty there will be repercussions for the latest infraction: working well past the scheduled time for leaving.

I worked over twelve hours on Saturday, getting the prep. area cleaned up and materials put away. Making ready for getting started on Sunday. And went in on Sunday morning to do it all over again. Working over eleven hours, including getting fresh flowers displayed in the floral area. No one else there to do it, with the 'Flower Man' taking a few days off. Freight piles up in the cooler, and needs to be prepped and put out on the sales floor: none of it will sell left in the stock room, where customers cannot access.

In looking at my time, I have put in over twenty four hours in two days. So it's probably going to come back to bite me on the behind at some point...I don't know if there is actually any way to do the right thing here: either do a shoddy job, with work left undone, or do it to the best of your ability and know management will still be critical, unwilling to say: "Great work! Thanks! Here's your little pat on the back!"

Trying to get it all done, so everything is ship-shape, meeting the high standards the company sets to be fully in business, prepared to sell. Seems like it never gets all done, you never finish, completely. I am reminded of living in a house with small children. You hope they will and sleep soundly to give you a chance to get all the clothes washed and put away. You deliberately put them to bed early to give yourself the opportunity to get all their flotsam and jetsam picked up and put away before it starts over.

Everything I deal with at work is 'dated', most with a pretty narrow window of sales opportunity. So if it is not purchased within the predetermined framework, it goes in the trash. Many times things can be salvaged to be donated to the local food bank, but much is too perishable and is removed from inventory and discarded. (Yes, I know: hungry people everywhere. But if it is  not safe to eat, it is not eaten.)  This means those things you assembled on Saturday are either sold or thrown away on Tuesday. Which in turn means, you have to make more on Monday... endless ....

book review: "Growing Up"...

... by well known writer  Russell Baker. This book was printed in 1984, so it's not new news. It was apparently a best seller, when published, and won a Pulitzer Prize for biography. Baker worked first for The Baltimore Sun, and then The New York Times, at one point covering the White House for the Times.

I went to the library last week, visited the resale shop run by 'Friends of', to find some easily portable, inexpensive reading material. Preparing to leave town for a few days and needing to know I will have printed matter readily available. I read myself to sleep every night, so am intentionally deliberate about not ever running out of books or magazines.

He starts the story telling about family history, sharing background about grandparents and how they met. He relates of how desperately his mother insisted he should 'make something of himself' from his earliest years. As a child, she pushed him into selling and delivering the Saturday Evening Post, from a canvas sack slung over his shoulder. Baker readily admits he met with limited success due to a marked lack of interest and enthusiasm for knocking on doors. His mother sent his younger sister out with him, when he came in reporting no one wanted to purchase the magazines.Whereupon small but highly aggressive Doris put his salesmanship to shame.

When he wrote a paper as a youngster, for an assignment in school that was well received and showed his mom, she began to encourage him into journalism. His mother, delighted to find  something he seemed to have a bent for, began to suggest he could 'make something of himself' writing as a profession. Which lead him down the path of wordsmithing. Apparently a good choice, as he has had a very successful career. I think I remember he has published other books?

I'm not very far into the book, only on page 135. But thoroughly entertained.

tired from...

Saturday, June 18, 2016
one end to the other. I went in to work at 6 am, and left there at 7:24 pm. It's been a long day. And I dont' much feel like I really got anything accomplished. But was on my feet and in motion the entire time, so I am certain I was productive.

Part of that time, four hours in the middle of the twelve was devoted to 'manning' the demo. Where I was giving away samples of fresh berries for the company wide promotion of the Berry Festival.  All the summer berries are on sale this week. While I was giving passersby little plastic cups with a tiny spoon and a bit of fresh strawberry shortcake, I made myself one of the most popular people in the store for several hours.

We all had to wear purple aprons  with Berry Bash stitched on the front today day. The guys hated it. Claiming it clashed with their ugly green shirts. Well, yeah, so what?

The most interesting piece of information/trivia I picked up from the printed matter we were  meant to absorb and share with customers is about blackberry juice. It seems the United States Department of Agriculture uses the juice to apply inspection stamps to meat as it is approved for public consumption. I was so surprised to learn this - then equally surprised that I never thought to wonder what they have been using all this time that would be organic, biodegradable and safe to apply to raw meats. Now you know....

painting project....

Thursday, June 16, 2016

... today, when I spent the morning working on a couple of big sheets of cardboard, probably salvaged/scavenged from a large appliance dealer. I'd guess the pieces of corrugated are five by six'ish. One a bit bigger than the other. I laid them out on the carport floor earlier in the week and used a bucket of left over interior latex paint, and a roller to give a primer/base coat. Just got the paint this week, and need to get it done before the end of the month, so I feel some urgency.

I propped them up against the wall this morning to start the sketching in designs and recruited a friend to help me get the painting done. Our county agent had put a generic email out at least a month ago, asking for someone to do some 'art.' I don't consider myself skilled, unless it is house painting, which I will readily volunteer to help with. Causing me to tell people I am a Trained Professional, with Limitations.

The two big paintings are to be used at the Insectival at Oxbow Meadows Nature Center in mid July, down on the south side of town. It is part of the Columbus State University campus, located near the Chattahoochee River. I've not ever attended the annual event, but it is well publicized and attended. Lots of bugs to inspect, hold, learn about, get up close and personal. Which explains why I've not ever wanted to attend.

My part is to paint the two big sheets of cardboard with something 'nature like', that people/kids can stand behind and put faces in ovals to have photos made. I started off thinking I would do a field of sunflowers, but soon decided that is way to detailed and time consuming. So, onto Plan B. A lady bug and a butterfly. Making pretty good progress. Worked on them for about five hours today, and probably half done.

although i am not a fan...(brownie recipe)...

... of all things Martha Stewart, someone is forever giving me her latest copy of the Martha magazine: 'Living". I willingly look at it, and generally find a medical office waiting room to leave it in. After not much more than a cursory thumbing-through. But this one, the May 2016 issue, had a recipe that caught my eye, so thought it worth trying.

Recipes have been scarce around here lately, not much going on, since I'm not in the Aprons cooking kiosk any more, no more food demo'ing. But this one was eye appealing, sounded easy and good. The only problem is you cook it in a non-stick, ovenproof skillet.

A bad combination to find in my kitchen. My only nonstick is probably not oven proof, thinking the plastic handle could not stand the heat of 350 degrees for twenty minutes. And the iron skillet is prone to having stuff get stuck on the bottom, though it has been seasoned on several occasions by
The Resident Cooking Expert.

A call to The Cooking Expert resulted in advice: Put the iron skillet in the oven and get it really hot. Then put some butter in it. I used some of the butter the recipe called for, which may have been the very best idea. When I put it all together and baked it, it sorta' kinda' stuck, not badly, just not releasing like it would have done in a teflon-type, coated, non-stick pan.

I have not tasted it, and won't because it is loaded with chocolate, that would have me wide-eyed at midnight, but think it will be very good. I will probably take it to work for the guys to eat tomorrow. This was just a test, to see how it would do.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Active time: 10 min.
Total time: 35 min.
Serves: 10-12

6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs. dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse  salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet choc. chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in egg and vanilla, then flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, blend well. Stir in choc. chips.
Spoon batter (it will be thick) into a 10 inch oven proof nonstick skillet. Smooth top. Bake until just set in center and pulling away from sides, 20-22 min. Let cool ten  minutes, then loosen edges. Turn out onto a wire rack, Re-invert onto a plate and slice.

that sweet wedding on 6-11-16...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

... last Saturday in Thomasville at the renovated train depot. They got married outside under the shed where people stood a hundred years ago and waited for arrivals, bringing family and friends. And chugging coal engines departing, taking folks to Tallahassee, Montgomery, Atlanta or Savannah, out into the world from the sheltered environment of the small country town in south Georgia. The building is brick, looking just exactly like you would expect a train station to look, with white trim, and exterior almost perfectly intact as it would have been when it was built in another century.

Chairs were set up under the shed, facing the brick building, with the bridal pair and the officiating dad framed in a boxwood swag made by the sister (who said her hedge needed trimming anyway.) Lots of family and friends in attendance, quietly profusely sweating in the humid, sticky June afternoon, while discreetly swatting at south GA gnats. Sitting in white folding chairs, witnessing the vows that I thought would be the last official act of the newly retired (cheerfully unemployed) pastor. He has apparently already scrounged up a part time job, filling a recently vacated pulpit at a church in his hometown. Just enough to keep him busy and out from underfoot a couple of days a week.

The interior of the depot was renovated to be a neat little restaurant, with a section of outdoor seating for eating under one end of the shed roof. Part of the space is designed for rental, to be an event venue for parties, receptions, meetings. That is where the reception for the wedding was held, with a full meal served after the ceremony, when the newly weds said 'I do.' Good comfort food on the menu: chicken breasts, green beans, twice-baked mashed potatoes, greens (this is the south, right?) and sweet iced tea.

book review: "The Muralist"...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
...by B.J. Shapiro. I did not realize until bringing it home from the library that I had read another of her books, also about art. The first one I read was "The Art Forger", about a young woman who was asked to duplicate a piece of art, then caught in a web in intrigue. As well as done wrong by a man she loved and thought she could trust.

The Muralist is fiction but based on a great deal of research from the era of the WPA and FPA during the FDR administration. The leading character is the great niece of a mystery woman. Alizee is the name of both women in the book, with the niece attempting to track down aunt who 'disappeared' during the WWII era when so many Jews were killed by Nazis.

If you are knowledgeable about art history, you would recognize a number names that appear in the story, people who were on the cutting edge of expressionistic abstract art in America in the '40's. Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner and others who were employed by the works projects invented and supported by the Roosevelts, painting murals that were hung in numerous public buildings across the nation. Our leading character was a member of the group, got involved with a group that attempted to assisinate a public figure and had to disappear.The story bounces between the forties time period, and the current day with the niece searching for clues that will provide more information about the unexplained disappearance of her aunt. References to Jews being herded into camps and jailed, put in box cars and vanishing.

Slow starting off, but an interesting story. Interesting how the author pulled a number of artists of that time period into her plot and built a story around them and the politics of the time. Pretty good, but only if you are also interested in the art history or politics of that time period in the war years.

what it might be...

Monday, June 13, 2016

... but not sure? I think it is a praying mantis, but if so, it is the healthiest I have ever seen. When I went out to get a lunch out of the freezer this morning before going to work, the bug was there on the door frame. Where I would go in the workshop to the auxillary fridge to get my little box of Smart One frozen food to take to nuke when I got a break.  That bug was only about six inches from my face as I opened the door in the semi-dark. Naturally, I said ' holy #@%&'. Thankful I noticed in time to avoid actually putting my hand on it.

I worked nearly twelve hours today, going in at 6:00, and leaving at about 5:50. So it was a very long day, but no longer than the similar hours on Sunday. I went in the workshop to get a little 'fix' from my chocolate stash hidden in the bottom drawer of that same fridge. (That isn't a secret stash any more, as I have observed the local diabetic enjoying my mini-peanut-butter cups.) Whereupon I nearly put my hand on that same bug again. As you might expect, said the same thing.

Decided to take photo to get confirmation. But the picture isn't really clear enough to determine what it is. Sadly you cannot even see that there are actually two of them there, just like they were this morning, when I was surprised for the first time. The little one is on the back of the bigger one, causing me to suspect they have been practicing reproduction all day. If I not mistaken in identifying the species, the female eats the male after consumation. I am  not planning to stick around for that.


Sunday, June 12, 2016
... really just a couple of little oddball things I have not had reason to think about before. But did on the trip to south GA for the wedding in Thomasville. I'll wager they will be things you too will now be including on your list.

Aren't you glad that was not you or your loved one, out there in the hot June sunshine, wearing a bright orange 'county property' jumpsuit, trudging along the median, picking up trash?

And when not out there in the fresh air and sunshine (still in your orange jumpsuit), incarcerated?

Plus there are so many others, we seldom take the time to appreciate: Aren't you thankful to live in a snug/warm or adequately ventilated house? With utilities you can pay regularly to insure that you are warm or cool as the seasons change? And  not living in a mobile home? Or a trailer park?

Are you sufficiently thankful for electricity? And the ability to pay for it so you can flip a switch at your convenience? To keep your refrigerator running, or lights going, or air conditioning/ceiling fans working, or providing hot water on demand?

Good health?

book review: "Fly By Wire"...

...with a subtitle of 'The Geese, The Glide, The Miracle on the Hudson'. Written by William Langewiesche, printed 'wwwaaaay back in 2009, by Thorndike Press. Something I have thought of occasionally and wanted to read when it first came out.

The reason it comes to mind is: a) I see a billboard on the Interstate highway with a photo of those people standing on the wings, waiting to be plucked off by passenger ferries that ply the river all day long. And b) my daughter recently told me about having heard the' first person' account from a woman who was on the flight, lives in TN, and continues to fly frequently on business. Which reminded me, again, about the book and what was surely a fascinating tale of amazing competency.

Capt. Sullenberger was apparently invited to be a guest at the White House, as well as appear on numerous talk shows, though from the reading is a pretty humble, taciturn guy who would not want to be fawned over. Just very capable, experienced and doing his job under some pretty stressful circumstances. He took off from LaGuardia in New York and ran into a flock of geese about three minutes after becoming airborne. The airliner, built in France, was designed to be run by a number of computers. Which as it turned out were a great help in keeping the plane aloft as well and as long as it did, despite engines being destroyed by the fowl impact and resulting debris.

 Sullenbereger was experienced, knowledgeable, well trained, and apparently very calm under stress. He learned to fly as a youth, and was one of the few in his class when he gained entry into the Air Force Academy. He flew fighter jets in the service for five years, then became a commercial pilot.

A couple of quotes from the book: "Sullenberger made the right decision. No matter what... Even if people had died because of landing in the Hudson." (Every other option would have had him crashing in densely populated areas or trying to reach an unreachable airport runway.)

"Sullenberger did not answer (the air traffic controller's) question. He was looking for better solutions, but beginning to set up for the Hudson. Talking on the radio is low on the list of chores. You fly the airplane first, you navigate second, you talk on the radio after that. Sullenberger was clear about the priorities. His silences were brilliant."

Apparently hitting water is just about as undesirable as hitting concrete, so unless you happen to be in a floatplane, designed to safely land on a body of water, that would be one of your least desirable choices. And apparently Sullenberger did a great job.The worst physical injury was to a flight attendant, who was badly cut on her leg. Several passengers were admitted to the hospital when they were taken ashore by nearby ferries, arriving in minutes after the landing.  Some went on to catch later flights to their destinations. Everyone eventually received all their sodden belongings.

As you might expect there was some PTSD, and people anxious about travel by air.Who of course received counseling courtesy of US Airways.  But still an amazing story. With a remarkably happy ending. Though it has been nearly twenty years, I would say it is a story well worth reading.

maybe it wasn't so funny after all...

...depending on whether she speaks to the store manager about my smart mouth and I get counseled for inappropriate remarks to a customer. And/or possibly canned. But it was pretty amusing at the time, and even later when I shared the incident with a co-worker.

I need to preface the telling with a small explanation. I have been reading the advice column syndicated in the newspaper for years. Either 'Dear Ann' or 'Dear Abby', depending on the location of the news publisher. And now, after the death of her twin sister, there is only Dear Abby left to give us the benefit of her wisdom. Which I continue to read and enjoy, probably the most enjoyable item in the daily news, other than several comic strips I regularly peruse.

The back story is: people have frequently written in over time and asked advice for the proper response when someone asks a personal question the recipient does not wish to answer. Often posed in a friendly, pleasant manner, but usually profoundly nosy and thoroughly inappropriate. Things like asking newly weds if they 'had to get married', or people who have been comfortably co-habitating, if they are planning a wedding now that they are expecting a child. Or people who have been married and focused on careers, 'when do you plan to start a family'? Something your mom might get away with asking but others: totally obnoxious and out of line.

Dear Abby has consistently responded to the various queries with something along the lines of: 'why do you ask?' or 'why do you need to know?'. Sounding polite enough on the surface, but also plainly implying it is not something you should be asking and I decline to answer. I guess you could just say: "I won't be answering your question." But Abby's response puts the ball back where it belongs. I've long thought the response to be spot-on, and wished for the gumption to use it, on an occasion when I might be tempted to blurt it out.

It happened today.

A former co-worker asked me when I was planning to retire. I said it. She was not at all amused. I expect repercussions. I am sure she will say something about how rude I was. She said I was 'mean' and she has always known I am a mean person. I should have not responded, but I did.

She has asked me this question before, at least once, maybe twice. And I think my response was something like: 'I really have not given it any thought', or maybe I just gave her a 'hummmm....'. But apparently she thinks if she repeats it enough, I will give the answer she wants.

rearanging things...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
... that flower bed across the front of the house. Continually thinking that relocating this or adding that will improve the looks of the place. Working at having various and sundry that will bloom all summer, from spring into the fall, which is actually three seasons rather than just 'all summer'. Hoping to have colorful and appealing things pollinators will find attractive to lure them into my yard. Wanting to have blooming things from the time the earliest things like hyacinth bulbs show up until the first frost comes along and turns it all brown.

I try so hard to resist buying plants that won't come back a second season, and generally able to control myself. Until the first humming bird comes whizzing past. Causing me to make a beeline to the nearest garden shop (sadly: wally world) to buy red blooming pentas and salvia. Anything to make the hummers happy. I can mostly control myself, but that first humming bird does me in every single time. Quick! Plant red things.!

Today I was rearranging the fox glove. Several plants that went into the bed a couple of years ago have surprised me by reproducing and making babies. They are right up against the front wall of the house, as they get tall and spike-y when they bloom. Other wise pretty nondescript plant-wise. I started them from seed, and admit to being pretty impressed with myself for having the patience (as well as unexpected success) of sprouting and growing in little pots. Then I surprised myself even  more, by keeping them watered so they would survive and thrive. They were not happy in their first location, probably not enough sun, but seem to be doing well now. So much so - that I divided some of the biggest plants to spread them all the way to the corner. Hope they will be happy.

Then I moved some gaura. Planted out near the fence, a little farther away from the house. I think I planted those a couple of years ago, and gave them attention, feeding and watering all last summer to get them started. But it  appears the deer have found them, and enjoyed some tasty morsels. If they are closer to the house, maybe they will get enough size on them to bloom, instead of being grazed down to a nub.

And finally, planted some penstemon that has been in containers since last summer. Bought at the greenhouse at Perimeter College in Decatur. I divided when I bought a couple of pots that had more than one plant, and now have six, that survived the winter and just got planted today. They are pretty hardy and with watering, will probably do well, though not sure they will get enough sun.

getting organized...

... to go to south GA on Friday and do flowers for a wedding. A family friend is getting married on Saturday, in Thomasville. I am thinking, planning, pondering, making a list of all the tools and oddments I might need to put some little hand held bouquets together for the bride and a couple of attendants. Plus flowers for moms, and the little pin on boutenniers for the men. All of whom will be there, showing love, devotion and support for the couple as they make a big commitment.

I think I have it all together, except for the fresh flowers I will pick up tomorrow. Going over to AL to the wholesale floral supply to get roses. The other major addition will be hydrangeas, that will hopefully come from the grocery store (in Thomasville) that surprisingly has the best cut flower prices in town. I would be buying what the bride wants at work, but cannot be certain of the colors. She was pretty specific about what she wanted, so I will make a run to the wholesaler to get the desired shade of pale pale pink roses.

I tell people all the time about a customer I met when I started working there. Sally would come in every week and buy what she needed to make two big church arrangements she had a contract for providing each Sunday. She told me she could not go anywhere else and get what she needed for the price. So  I could expect to see Sally on Friday, when she would get her bunches of fresh flowers to make the arrangements, to deliver each Saturday.

The bride wants: pale pink roses, white hydrangeas, a bit of greenery,stems wrapped with a wide, cream-colored satin ribbon. And lots of little casual arrangements on the tables for centerpieces with roses and hydrangeas, a bit of frou-frou and some fern tucked in. Pretty bride, happy couple, starting a new life together.

a multiplicity of millipedes...

... on the kitchen floor this morning. I had to get the broom out before I left to go to work. I picked up the first ones, bravely pinching them between my thumb and finger, and depositing in the trash. But when I turned around and saw at least six others, decided to get out the cleaning tools and make short work of the creepy crawling things.

Then before I could get the broom back to the pantry, there were more. I swept up over a dozen, still inching their way across the tiles. They were headed away from the pantry, so I still wonder if they are coming through some min-ute, nearly indiscernible crack in the wall. I will go get the bug spray and do an inspection on the outside to see if I might solve the problem and prevent them from inching their way inside.

How can something be completely harmless and such a major nuisance at the same time?

a shoe story...

...that requires a back story, sort of amusing now after all the intervening years. When they were very small, the responsible adult got to  make all the decision, about color and cost. Mostly evaluating for durability, sturdiness while wondering if the feets would outgrow the shoes before they wore them out.

Then they got to the age that Mom became a liability, while being a necessity due to being the holder of the financial resources. When the time came for making new purchases to cover the extremities, the final decision was sure to be an arduous compromise. She would want this, and I would only be willing to pay for that. The outcome would consist of me saying: "This is how much I will pay. I am sure you can find something within that range, but if you want to get the colorful, fashionable, name-brand, highly desired ones the peers have on - you will have to come up with the 'difference'." More often than not, there was a suitable shoe on sale for $49.99.

Now you see how my mindset is such that I think shoes should always cost less than fifty bucks. But my feets are a long way from my brain, and possibly too far from my wallet. The feets, when I put in long days at work, standing on the rock-hard concrete/tile floor, always hurt. I've gotten on first name basis with the podiatrist, and have some custom made supports/insoles that do help somewhat. Part of the problem is just age, as I am told the fatty cushioning on the bottoms, tends to thin out disperse. (I am thinking that, due to Murphy's Law, the fatty stuff has migrated to my midsection, in spite of what you would expect of gravity?)

But somehow my frugality would not allow me to buy expensive shoes that might make the long days of being upright for hours on end more tolerable. Fortunately I found someone who would persuade me otherwise. When I asked for advice - or  maybe just consent/approval - to invest in shoes that sell for over $100 plus shipping, I found: logic. What she said: 'Mom, if you find something that makes your feet happy, you need to buy it.' And furthermore: 'If you wear the shoes for one hundred days and you pay one hundred dollars for the shoes, you have actually only paid one dollar a day while making your day much more bearable.'  I have to agree, that is a good, reasonable investment.

And I like them so well, I have purchased a second pair. They even make them to be work shoes, meaning the non-skid kind I am supposed to be wearing, to be working on a floor that is often wet and slick. I  have not yet worked up my willingness to fork over the hard earned cash for such seriously ugly shoes.

the saga continues...

Sunday, June 5, 2016
...with that ongoing, periodic, sporadic millipede invasion. I had high hopes with the thought they would not return en masse this year. Having only seen the random, occasional, deceased little curled up insect, believing that the continual influx was not in the offing I thought we were largely bug-proof. Apparently it was a mistake for me to put the effort into having a clean kitchen floor several days ago. I've had to get the broom out each morning since. To sweep and deposit the wee wiggly things in the trash.

If there was only one or maybe two, I find myself surprisingly willing to just pick them up. Bend over and pinch them, gingerly, between finger and thumb and drop in the can. But with greater numbers I am far less amenable to that task - and will only eliminate with the broom and dustpan.

There is, thankfully, always a light on over the sink, so you would not acciddently step on one and smoosh it. I don't walk around, even in the house, barefooted. Always have on socks, and sometimes clogs, but usually shoes. So readily nix the idea of putting bare soles down on one and making a disgusting sound to accompany the disgusting mess. Not fond of surprises, especially the squished bug sort.

Still completely baffled as to where they come from, how they get in the house, but thankful the problem is mostly limited to the kitchen. I am wondering if their life span is so short that when they come through some heretofore unnoticed crack they use for entry, creeping across the tiles is a far as they can get before the natural end of life. Whereupon they come to a demise, and slowly curl up into a little comma and decease. There is the occasional wanderer in other parts of the house. (It sounds like a chronic problem, or that I am a poor housekeeper - both of which have some measure of truth.) But generally confined to the tiles on the kitchen floor.

In an effort to be environmentally friendly, I do not often interrupt the food chain. Admitting to giving those little black grasshoppers a good squirt to keep them from reproducing in my spider lily bulb plants. And occasionally discovering I have sliced an earthworm in half, thereby doubling the population. I am certainly willing to make a deliberate exception for the millipedes, and plan to spray inside and out, hoping to end the current invasion.

party crasher...

Saturday, June 4, 2016
... as a result of having invited myself to the third birthday celebration in the past week. You will recall my attendance of two children's cake-and-ice cream events last Saturday. When a cousin planned to enjoy margaritas today, I proceeded to volunteer as available for joining in the celebrating.

My daughter in Decatur had been invited to meet mid-afternoon on Saturday for the celebrating, so I thought I should make an appearance as well. We went to a taco restaurant in south Atlanta, where they had already started on a big icy pitcher of liquid refreshment. I declined, knowing I would be driving myself back home before bed time. But did enjoy the company, and visiting with amusing young people.

But before the adult beverages, we went to the plant sale at the Perimeter college greenhouse, just to see what might be tempting. Hopeful of finding more perennials that would bloom all summer to lure more pollinators, I ended up with a couple of pots of a low growing plant that has tiny purple blooms that might be a successful ground cover. I have a couple of places in the yard I would like to fill in, and wondering what might work well in those spots, so hope the blue moneywort (lindernia) will be happy there. I saw some gaura that blooms for  months, and was tempted, but think the wildlife that roam through our neighborhood would probably find it tasty. There are a couple of them planted here already, but they have never bloomed, due to to being constantly nibbled. Thinking to relocate them so they will be inside the fenced area, though I've seen deer hoofprints there too.

garden party...

... was a charming event. And since I did not know what to expect, I went prepared for most anything. She did say when the off-hand invite was issued that it would be the '4 C's: crackers, cheese, champagne and conversation. We have gardening in common, so I assumed it would be out in the world, as she has worked to landscape in her personal space. I know she she has enjoyed 'therapy' of hole digging and planting things, and recently moved into house that needed lots of exterior attention.

I accidentally encountered C. when she was shopping and I was on the job. We had such a good time talking a co-worker told me to get back to work. In the course of our (abbreviated) conversation she asked if I would like to come and see her on-going project and participate in a little party fare. I admitted I do not have a social life, and was delighted to be invited. So, putting on a clean shirt (having left work only an hour prior to the arrival time) I went to see all those beautifully blooming variegated hostas, gorgeous ferns, prolific hydrangeas, lush ground covers, hardy day lilies and drool with envy.

Some of which she reported as having transplanted from a relative's house when they were relocating, so they were good sized healthy plants when she put them in. And some that got rearranged from other places in the landscaping when she bought the house. All beautiful, obviously well tended, with some mature plants while others were more recently planted and just getting acclimated to their new environment.

After walking around and getting the tour of the landscaping, we went in the house for the Four Cs. I declined an adult beverage, as I would be driving myself home, but did enjoy the other three. Had a good time with C. and her other guest, enjoyed tasty cheeses and crackers as well as adult conversation. They both love books. Yay! People who read and like to talk about things they enjoyed enough to recommend.

'surviving the unthinkable'....

...is the title of the workshop I attended earlier in the week. About what you need to know and how you need to be prepared for a situation in which you would encounter a crazy person. Millions of whom are loose on the streets, looking to the unschooled like perfectly normal rational humans. But crazy nonetheless, unexpectedly flying off the handle and blowing people away in schools, hospitals and movie theaters.

The event was sponsored by a local counseling center, The Pastoral Institute and offered lots suggestions for things we should be aware of, how to better defend or protect family and coworkers. But most especially how to survive, how to do the smartest things to be prepared to live through some crisis. I have long said that 'there are crazy people out there, walking around loose, on the streets, looking perfectly normal'. It's so true: we have them living amongst us, and the scare-y part is how until they start blasting away, or turn  into suicide bombers, they really do Look Perfectly Normal.

The workshop has been offered a couple of times before, and I meant to go, but had some sort of conflict and didn't get there. So I finally did, along with maybe twenty others, some from churches, who have concerns about shooters/lunatics showing up in their house of worship, blowing away the congregation. Some from local businesses, and others just interested in becoming more aware and self-reliant. The instructor did not recommend we should all get handguns and carry permits, but did put in a plug for a program the local sheriffs' department runs teaching handgun skills and safety.

The survival training for civilians was filled with statistics, factual information, advice on how to handle unexpected and highly charged situations. Being more aware of your surroundings - always on the alert, scanning for potential problems. Always, always have an exit strategy, any time, any place you go, shopping, movies, eating out: know where the exits are. There was a recent shooting at the local mall - a place where you would normally consider yourself fairly safe. It happens in movie theaters, schools, federal buildings, anywhere. Mostly unexpected. And we are talking about right here, not in a war zone, or third world country.

You have to wonder how much of the craziness is due to the US Constitution? Is that 'right to bear arms' part of the problem? There does not seem to be so much risk associated with air transport any more, making me wonder if there are still security/marshals/law enforcement secreted on domestic flights? Air liners still 'disappear', like Malaysia and EgyptAir flights, but there is certainly not much in the news about in flight disturbances.

If someone really wants to get firearms and create havoc it's not likely anything or anyone can dissuade from malicious intent.  I would like to believe I am fairly optimistic, but these bizarre incidents happen with alarming frequency. Or maybe just due to media attention?

There are things we can do to be proactive, and better prepared to react in a high risk situation. Escape if you can safely, easily get away.
Make yourself as small a target possible, if you cannot get away.
Use anything available as a weapon to defend yourself as a last resort, chairs, fire extinguishers, etc.
Basically: Run, Hide, Fight.

book reveiw: "Cormac"...

...by Sonny Brewer.  Read by the author, who tells of his family life in a wee little town in the hot humid, gloriously fragrant South. You can be assured the accent you will hear if you choose the 'talking book' version will lift your spirits, as you hear him drawl out the words of his story. About 'a boy and his dog', except for the fact that Sonny is a grown man, with two young sons and a business in beautiful downtown tiny Fairhope, Alabama.

As you might expect, in order for the book to be named for the dog, and have a plot, the canine goes on a walk-about and Sonny spends hours, days, weeks, months, hundreds of dollars and untold anguish in pursuit. You know before you get started that this loving, happy family needs to have a good outcome at the end of the book. It's really just a matter of waiting for the dog to be reunited with his anxious family.

The story unfolds as Brewer tells of the search, as he comes to realize Cormac is not the family pet, but truly a 'one-man' dog. Cormac loves the entire family, but his devotion is obviously focused on Sonny. Brewer tells of the thoughtful encouraging support he finds, in the devoted concern of friends, people who willingly get involved in the process.

Light reading, something just randomly come across in the library, but a sweet enjoyable read. Good for taking on vacation, sitting on the back deck with a lemonade, or on the sand chair under the shade of the big beach umbrella. You will be rooting for a happy ending from page one, and will not be disappointed.

it's raining...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
...right here, right now. Something we have been hoping for and needing for a couple of weeks. I guess I can be appreciative of the fact that Memorial Day was clear, bright and sunny around here, with no rain clouds to put a damper on all the picnicking and bar-b-que-ing that goes on over a holiday weekend. But honestly, I was hoping for some of that weather the south Carolina coast got from the tropical storm that rained on their celebrating.

I have planted some things in the past couple of days that I have watered copiously with the garden hose. Bloomers deliberately purchased that would be attractive to butterflies and humming birds, and will hopefully keep them coming around for another snack all summer long. I start off with good intentions, and great determination to only purchase perennials that will come back and bloom year after year. Then I catch a glimpse of the first humming bird of the season - zipping around, searching for things those little needle-like beaks can probe into and withdraw nectar. So I planted some seasonal red saliva recently - and immediately discovered several I had planted last summer that have survived and nearly ready to bloom again.

Just put a bright red penta in the bed near the driveway to attract more pollinators. And finally got that red verbena I found in a garden shop put in some planters/pots, for more long lasting summer blooms. I hope to be diligent about watering until they get established. That good drenching rain we are having will refresh all those things that have been drooping in the ninety-plus heat this week. As well as give the thirsty tomatoes planted out in the garden a welcome drink.

And now that it has soaked everything, I can get some other plants in pots squared away. I (accidently) bought a couple of native azaleas, and a large pot with several small flowering almond trees. Things I have been trying to keep saturated for a couple of months, with plans to put in the ground. But it has been too dry to try to dig holes in the rock-like solid clay soil around here. Now that it has been soaked, and softened, I will get those things in some holes in the next couple of days. I know they stand a better chance of surviving the summer if they are planted in good (homemade) dirt and mulched well.

So. Thankful for Rain, drenching everything that has been thirsty and needing refreshing.