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but the driving back...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
...from Greenville to Decatur was surely one of the Low Points of my life. Making the time invested seem like the longest three hours in the history of the world. And interesting counterpoint to the Great Solar Eclipse event. So this is the Rest of the Story:

I laughed heartily when the cousin who lives within that area designated as the 'totality' zone warned me to stay away. Totality is that area in which there would be complete eclipse viewed from a narrow band across the US in a diagonal line from Seattle,WA to Charleston SC. I thought her concerns overwrought. Discounting reports from local news sources.

Thinking: 'Really?' Reminding myself there is so much bogus information presented as factual by media sources not always doing the research to assure there facts are truly true. I choose to believe that thousands or millions of people would surely not be so foolish as to travel hundreds of miles in order to be within that zone, and participate in the viewing of the Total Eclipse of the Heart, or Sun. One (me?)maybe, but certainly not thousands upon thousands: enough to cause a major traffic problem.

And they didn't. At least not prior to the disappearing. But afterward is an entirely different story. It was so awful, I am still not sure it happened. I left Greenville soon after the show was over. Actually had a such a good view on the local news that I could have stayed in and watched it all on the tube. Except then I would not be able to say: "I saw it." When what you really saw, standing out there, leaning back, staring overhead in your dark glasses, looking like a simpleton was mostly: nothing.

I planned to get on the road heading back to Decatur by 3:30, hoping that would allow me to avoid most the worst of the traffic leaving the city returning to the suburbs. I noticed as I got in my car to start out that it was 3:37 pm. I had excellent speed and smooth travels for about ten miles. Then came to a complete halt. I never did figure out why traffic slowed to a crawl for one hundred miles. But that is the cold hard truth.  I inched along for hours and hours at times driving three mph on the interstate. For hours. And hours.

I looked at my GPS thinking maybe I could get it to divert me, take me on a detour that would circumvent the worst of the stalled crawling vehicles. Still unsure why we were all going so slow. Assuming there must be a wreck someplace down the highway towards Atlanta. I did get off the four lane for a while, but even that was clogged, slowmoving, barelyinchingalong.

It is about 120 miles, taking not much over two hours, if you do not stop several times as I am prone to do. Which means it took me about seven hours to complete what would normally be a two hour drive. I got to Decatur at 10:37 pm. Averaging about 19 miles per hour for seven hours. Un-believe-able! Frustrating, aggravating, irirtating, baffling, and exhausting.

I would have to say that it was worth going, after the first three hours, then went rapidly downhill from there.  If I had known what the return trip to Atlanta would entail, I think I would have invited myself to spend the night in SC. I did not even have solar eclipse on my bucket list to be able to mark it off!

veered off the interstate...

... to visit the Georgia Guidestones, just killing time, trying to not arrive in Greenville while my pal was still in his pajamas. Surprised to see so many people hanging around. Maybe a dozen or so, just milling around the little grassy area around the stones. Some appeared to have been there for quie a while: a couple of small tents had been set up, where they spent the night.Waiting for the eclipse.

Even more surprised to see the sign out on a little stake by the highway, offering to sell the dark-tinted glasses for viewing for $60. I don't know the specifics, but would never consider spending that much cash on a street corner, for anything. Much less cardboard and plastic glasses to wear for 2.7minutes.

I had two of the cheap-o ones from Amazon, and was gave one away to a couple of guys who were hanging around waiting for a friend. Up on top of the hill in a cowpasture on a rural highway, surrounded by woods, pastures, countryside in the middle of nearly Nowhere. Leaving me with one to put on my face, looking like an escapee from a 3-D movie theater, while viewing the eclipse. I was prepared to feel really foolish standing out in the yard, looking straight up in the sky, but decided that all those millions of people who were doing the same thing at the same time would  not notice me - so why bother to feel like a goofball?

driving to see...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
...the Great Eclipse in totality in South Carolina on Monday, August 21, 2017. Which also conveniently happened to be Grandparents Day, so it was a true pleasure to spend it with my pen pal who lives in Greenville. He is 93 years old, and sharp, amusing, remarkably spry for a geezer... and would probably be delighted to be called that!

I'd read about the 'GE' in his farmers' almanac back early in the year, and told him I wanted to come and visit, to be a witness to the event on that day. So we marked our calendars and planned to observe. All those months ago, I had not the first inkling it would be such a well publicized occasion, with people coming from all over the world to view the disappearance of the sun. Lots of media coverage: we started looking at the television soon after noon, watching as the shadow of the moon covered the sun from Seattle, Washington to Charleston, South Carolina and and out into the Atlantic Ocean.

I had the proper eye wear, with darkly shaded lens for viewing, and would periodically get up and trot out into the yard to gaze up at the solar disc as it was gradually covered by the lunar shadow. For some reason, as I would tilt my head back to look nearly directly overhead, I would find myself having the sense of loosing my balance, nearly tipping over backwards. After doing this a couple of times, I learned to hold onto the fence, a tree, something to help maintain an even keel, and keep my footing.

My cousin, who lives in SC, within the area that was designated as 'totality' warned me to stay away. Saying the crowds and traffic would be such that I would not care to be in the midst of certain chaos. I had been planning to go for months, and not easily dissuaded. Surprisingly there was not an excessive amount of traffic when I was driving north on the interstate. I generally want to get up early, and leave the congested streets and highways of the metro. area before there is a high volume of traffic. So I was up and driving at 5:30, anxious to be out of town, and well past the dense, high-speed traffic.

I had to stop and buy gas. Wishing I had done that before I left home, as it is always high in the metro, usually twenty cents or more than I would pay closer to home. But anxious to get on the road, and desperate to feel like I was making progress towards my goal. I pulled up to the pump at the curb store, and inserted my plastic card: it was declined. I thought: 'hmmm... maybe me? I will try again', and reinserted the card to have it denied a second time. I went in the store, pulled out cash, and paid for $10 worth of gas. Quickly accessed the interstate, heading north, and made my way towards Carolina. There was really not much traffic that early in the day: hardly anyone up and driving the streets of Decatur. A strange experience to be cruising major thoroughfares that are usually very congested, and not see another vehicle in either direction.

An hour up the road, after the sun came up, I stopped and called the credit card company to see what the problem could be. The response is the computer deciding to put  a hold on a card is not unusual, when the cardholder travels outside the normal circuit. If you go someplace beyond your normal activities, they assume your card has been heisted, and will stop it from being used to protect the cardholder. Well... thanks for that. But it is surely inconvenient to not be able to use the card I am so diligent about paying in full each billing cycle. Problem resolved after I answered several questions to the satisfaction of the fraud protection people, telling all the appropriate secrets to a total stranger.

I made a couple of stops, to prevent arriving before my friend was up and ready for guests. Planned to get there around 10, which is the usual time for me to get to his house. Uneventful travels, and surprisingly little traffic. There were a lot of people out there, sitting at the rest area, welcome center after crossing the state line, under the trees, in their folding camp chairs: waiting for something to happen.

a little funnie...

...for your amusement. I read it somewhere, and have enjoyed sharing it with several people who rewarded me with a smile. Feel free to pass it along...

A man had a followup appointment with his doctor, and the doctor asked if he had been doing as instructed. The man replied that, yes, he had been eating  more fruit and vegetables and had actually eaten eight apples the preceding day. The doctor congratulated him, thinking that was most remarkable, and asked how he managed to consume eight entire apples in one day. The patient responded with: 'that's how many it takes to make a pie'.

plotting and planning...

Saturday, August 19, 2017
...for weeks to go to South Carolina to be there when the solar eclipse occurs. I read about it early in the year, in the Farmer's Almanac, and told my pen pal in Greenville I was planning to come and visit to be there for the complete eclipse that will occur in the upstate. And looking forward to the trip.

Until I talked with my cousin after I got home tonight, who said there it is going to be chaos there. The news reports that thousands and more thousands of people will be swarming into the area to view the oddity. She was warning me to stay away, and stay at home. Keep away as far away as possible.

It is always my plan when I am traveling to SC to spend the night in Decatur and get up really early to get out of town before traffic gets bad. I dislike that high speed, crazy-ness so much I do every thing I can to avoid as much as possible. Like keep to surface streets until absolutely necessary to get on that twelve-lane-wide-screaming-banshee mess. Which is what I had planned to do on Monday. But I am having second thoughts....

The cousin laughed at me when I said: "Wow!" and "Really?" Making her think I am a hopeless bumpkin. Ignorant and completely naive. The kind of person who thinks like a chicken when a solar eclipse occurs and goes right to bed/roost for two and one-half minutes. I have not listened to the radio, or seen any news with reports of those thousands and thousands of people who are flocking to the area of total darkness. I was thoroughly amazed to hear that it will be bedlam in Carolina while the sun disappears in a shadow. For 2 1/2 minutes.

sitting here typing...

...looked up and out the window. Saw a beautiful sunset, over towards the golf course that is across the street from our house. Sky streaked with clouds that were a gorgeous shade of orange, with the sun lighting them from beneath, so the color was almost golden. It was so striking, brilliantly colored, I hit the save button, immediately got up and walked out into the yard, up to the street to see the end of the day. It is now completely dark. Only nine o'clock. Days ago it would be almost fully daylight until nearly 9:30, so it is obvious the days are getting shorter, and summer is drawing to a close.

When I went in to work this morning, I had to be there at 7:00. I usually go in at 5 or 6 a.m., when it is still pitch black dark. So do not often seen the sunrise, unless I am traveling, on the road and seeing the sky gradually lighten out in the woods, trees slowly become visible across fields of cotton, corn or soybeans. But I did see the early morning sky today: beautifully colored clouds of pink and palest orange, almost looking like watercolor paintings, just a faint wash of color. Pale blue sky, with fluffy clouds up high enough to catch the early rays of the sun, and be an enticing shade of cotton candy pink.

Sadly, I spent the entire day inside, and did not see the world until I left the store at 5 p.m. But I did see the end of the day, with streaked shades of gold and brilliant orange, as the sky faded into gray and black. Thankful for the beauty of creation.

sounds just like...

...something I would do, so not at all surprising to hear this hilarious tale from the daughter who gave me a good laugh today. I knew she had been in the right frame of mind to do some housecleaning during a break from work. Having heard about sorting through closets and bins of seasonal clothing to decide what to keep and what to donate. The story is about going through a bin of things she was contemplating taking to the thrift store.

She decided to put the dress on one last time to enjoy before adding it to the assortment that she was willing to part with. They were going out to eat, and she slipped it on over a tank top and leggings, before walking out the door to go to the cafe. When they got to their destination, the young woman who was taking the order commented on how much she liked that colorful, flower-strewn dress. Not knowing it was headed for the donations box. When they finished eating, and the woman returned to give them the check for their meal, she was asked if she would like to have the dress. Whereupon the wearer immediately took it off and gave it away. What fun!

I've taken off scarves or hats or pins and given them to someone who admired them, but never a complete outfit. How much fun would that be to make someone's day, have them thrilled with an unexpected gift and smile the rest of the day with delight? Tons! The daughter who gave the dress away is not the one in the photo. But that is the dress - or actually one just like it, that her sister had on when she went to breakfast and left it there in the restaurant with the server.

perverse, yet strangely gratifying...

... stomping on big black grasshoppers that are just asking for death by sitting out on the driveway when I come home. I know it sounds absolutely disgusting and repulsive. I apologize, most sincerely  sorry if your sensitivities are cringing at the thought. But chasing them across the concrete apron and finally giving them a good stomp is very satisfying.

Also probably quite amusing to watch if you are standing in the house gazing out the window. Seeing me hopping about in the drive, jumping around as the insects industriously try to escape certain death. I often get tickled myself, thinking of how comical it would be to an onlooker: hop, stomp, hop-stomp, hopstomp.

There are lots of dessicated crispy shells of large insects scattered across the paving and grassy lawn in front of the house. I think they are one of those creatures that have an exoskeleton, so that part you see on the outside is what holds it all together? The most gratifying part of knowing they are deceased is the assurance of preventing their children from hatching next spring to devour plants and flowering things. They are voracious, in a Biblical sense, can completely clean every leaf off a plant in a matter of hours when there are enough of them at work. Plus, when they munch their way through blooms, they are consuming the food I deliberately planted to attract pollinators.

I honestly believe I have stomped upon one or more every single day for the past month. There have been times when I have gotten a double: stomping on a pair as they were mating. So got the guy, who was on the girl (he likely promised to respect as much tomorrow as he did before he talked her into letting him in her pants). Whereupon they met their demise long before she could plant her eggs that would hatch and turn into an eating machine, gobbling my plants next spring. Very satisfying.

book review: "Miller's Valley"...

Sunday, August 13, 2017
...by Anna Quindlen. I read it on seven Cds while driving. The story is told from the point of view of Mary Margaret, called Mimi by her family. Starting when she is a young girl of about ten years of age, throughout her life as she grows, leaves home, starts a career and a family. I enjoyed hearing the tale of a community that changes over time,and of her family as she matures and becomes an adult.

The place she grows up in is a valley that the federal government wants to flood, to use as a reservoir. There is a dam in place as the story begins, though the community is resistant to the idea that their lands will eventually be covered by a lake as the water rises. People age, die, move on over time,  homes and land is sold, giving the government an edge to apply more pressure to the families that are still holdouts with land they have farmed for generations. Mimi's family is resistant, but times and people change.

A sweet tale of a young woman learning some of life's hard lessons, as she interacts with family and friends in her community. A few surprises pop up in the course of the story, unexpected plot twists. The reader spends so much time with Mimi, it is difficult to get to the end and let her go, even though she has had a long, full, happy life. At the end it is gratifying to have shared her experiences as you hear her reflect on her history, and successful career as a family practice doctor.

'rest of the story'...

Friday, August 11, 2017
...as things evolved with the deceased battery in the Toyota belonging to the auntie. I did get a key with the chip that was 'original' delivered to the dealership.  One that I assume was given to the auntie when it was purchased. The service guy ( if you recall: 'Bubba'?) said that the battery was so thoroughly dead that the computer could not read the chip in that key that was given the new owner when she purchased the vehicle. Making the root of the problem appear to be nothing more serious than a completely dead battery. Which would, as you might guess, cost twice as much when purchased and installed by the service department at the dealership than anyplace else in town.

But: they had the car, sitting there, awaiting service. I would have had to call to get a tow to take it elsewhere. So they did install a brand new battery at twice the price. Which seems to have solved the problem.

Bubba reported that the duplicate key would not communicate with the computer, and seemed to want me to believe it had somehow mysteriously 'de-programmed' itself. Something he wanted me to think was not impossible. When I told him I thought the dealer would be responsible for that problem, he said only if it was under warranty. Then, after more research, he agreed that the duplicate the auntie bought came with a twelve month warranty. Admitting if the unlikely deprogramming had occurred, the dealer would make it good, replace the suspiciously non-working key.

After all that, I am no longer thinking ill of the service department. Provided I receive two working keys when I go to pay for the new battery. And find someone who will drive it back to the house for me next week, to avoid paying for shuttle service.

book reveiw: "In Sunlight or in Shadow"...

... randomly taken off the shelf at the local library. Edited by Lawrence Block, copyright 2016. A collection of short stories written by well known American authors, based on paintings by Edward Hopper. Block reported he has long been an admirer of Hopper's art, and requested a number of writers use specific pieces of Hopper's work as inspiration to provide an accompanying tale to be included in the collection.

The authors of the words in the collection have some standing in American literature, and will be household names. Including people like Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffery Deaver, and a dozen others. I am not a fan of King's style/subject matter, and not even aware of some of the others. We should assume they are all successful writers, in the sense of well paid for their efforts in popular literature. Some of the stories were better than others, and a couple I merely skimmed, in order to move on to the next.

Hopper's works often have a moody, melodramatic feel. Most depict people as if caught in a snapshot, but the lighting is somehow subdued, to give a feel of impending storm or awaiting some unexpected disaster. There is an edginess, a sense of doom, when viewing many of his carefully planned, meticulously arranged paintings. Each short story from the successful professionals, invited to pen words to accompany the illustrations is well-suited to the preceding painting.  The tales from these wordsmiths, using their imaginations to generate stories, are as often as unsettling as the scenes Hopper's brushed portrayed.

I have long been an admirer of Hopper's style, and think the idea of dreaming up a 'back story' for a particular piece of art work a great way to develop appreciation for art. Something that would be useful for a teacher in a classroom, as a way to generate interest in fine art and hone writing skills.

book reveiw: "The Orphan Mother"...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
...written by Robert Hicks, a resident of Tennessee. The story takes place shortly after the Civil War, in Franklin, a small town in TN. The character referred to in the title is Mariah Reddick, who is a mid-wife, respected for her birthing skills by all the women in the community, and thoroughly disliked by the white doctor practicing 'modern' medicine in that post-war village. Mariah has one son, who is a cobbler, self-employed maker of shoes. The son desires to give a speech at a political rally, and is beset by angry white men when he begins to speak. Theo. is severely beaten, then killed, so the story tells of the efforts of Mariah to find the truth: who killed her son, and why it happened.

Before the war, Mariah as a young girl, was given as a wedding gift to Carrie, who appears in this book, and is the subject of another book by the same author: "The Widow of the South." Mariah came with Carrie when she married and moved to her husband's home near Franklin, and was thus freed after the end of the war. She continued to live there, and provide birthing services to any who needed her help.

No happy ending here. Just some things to ponder. Think about how life was like for Negroes, after they were uprooted from their culture in Africa,forcibly brought to the US, living in subservience, both before and after the divisive war. Consider the monumental hardships they faced, when they were suddenly 'freed', and had few skills for survival in the society they entered post-war.

The author lives in TN, and apparently does a great deal of research for his books. Another tome, based on the life of Gen. Hood after the war, set in New Orleans is also based on some degree of factual southern history. Titled "A Separate Country", it tells of Hood's struggles to adjust and accept the circumstances of his military failures when the conflict ended.

the other reason for going...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
... to Valdosta last week: check on the auntie's car and find someone to jump off a dead battery. It has not been started in months, and does not need to sit and sit and sit without being driven occasionally. I was pretty sure the basic problem would not be complicated, not need any more assistance than someone with a charger to give some juice to get it going. Wrong.

I tried to find that person who would come and plug it in, to get it started, but my few scattered contacts were not helpful. Then I had a light bulb moment: The auntie has a membership in AAA , which is the perfect source for 'roadside service' (or residential, as the case may be.) Then I thought: not only does she pay for membership in Triple A, but she has emergency service with her car insurance. Good ole' State Farm Auto.

I called the toll free number on the insurance card, and the people who have the response contract were very helpful, taking my info. and asking for the best time to come and facilitate starting. I thought it was going to be pretty simple and straight forward. Murphy's Law was invoked instead.

The guy driving the tow truck showed up on time, and tried his best, but it would not start. Using a charger, then with the charger plugged into household current, then trying to jump it with cables attached to his truck: nothing. Not even a peep. I said: Just tow it in to the dealer. He loaded it up and hauled it across town.

I went to the Toyota dealer and gave them my contact info., so they could call me and I could pay for whatever it takes to get it running. Assuming it would include a new starter battery, as I suspect the one under the hood is original, and needs replacing due to age. I went by to see the auntie, then left town.

Before I could get twenty miles away, the service department guy, Roy (more commonly known as Bubba) called. Reporting the 'chip' in the key did not work, so the diagnostics could not be run. Their computer could not read the chip, meaning there is no way to tell what the problem is, and therefore offer no solution. Bubba said the service guys could reprogram the chip in the key for a mere $147. I said: 'Oh? Hmmmm.... I thought she bought the replacement key you have there with the car, from the parts department, so it should be already programmed?' He said: 'Oh,.hmmmm... Yes, you are right. Do you want me to reprogram it for $147?' I said: 'No'.

I think I know where one of the original keys can be found. I told him I would get the key that came with the vehicle to the dealership and see if that will solve the communication problem. Why would I pay them to do something  again that they should have already done?

the reason for going...

Monday, August 7, 2017
... to Valdosta last week. There were actually two, other than to go and check on the auntie. Who was packed up and ready to go. Where? Any place but there. She did not know where she wanted to go, only that she was ready to leave. Sadly, I did not 'spring' her from the Big House, only offered to look at my work schedule, and get back with her later.

I have been concerned about the fact that the front door on her house would not lock properly. In reality, it has not worked like it should in all the time she has owned and lived in that house. There are, as with most exterior doors, two locks: one on the door knob, and then a dead bolt. The dead bolt does not align with the small hole cut in the wooden door frame, and surrounded by a little brass plate (that I am sure has a name?), designed to cover the edges of the wee rectangle cut out of the wood. It never has worked properly. And has always bothered me. But apparently not enough to get it fixed.

I am sure it concerned my auntie, but like me, she did not resolve the problem. Well, it has been squared away. I called a friend, who is very handy, and told him what I needed, thinking it would be about a ten minute project. I was right, he got it done and was on his way in no time at all. He said he had to get a little device to grind down the edge of the metal plate to make the dead bolt seat properly into the door frame. In reality, I know that having that additional lock will not keep the house secure. If someone wants in, they will gain entry. Locks only stop honest people, right?

But I do feel better about her house, without someone living there, now that I know the door is really locked. Those flimsy little locks that operated with a button on the inside of the door knob are only a slight improvement over the latch on a screen door. Hardly worth installing, and certainly nothing that would keep anyone interested in entering out. A couple of friends have keys, and will hopefully take the time to occasionally check to be sure the property has not been looted. Doing the best I can.

if it is not yet...

...included someplace in all the mishaps that are part of Murphey's Law, it should be. Came in the mail on a newsletter from an organization I occasionally volunteer with. It was so true and applicable to how life goes, I thought it was worth sharing.

"The shortest measurable interval of time is the time between the moment I put a little extra aside for  sudden emergency and the arrival of that emergency."

Like the old joke about the thermos. When the guys were talking about what they thought was the most remarkable invention, one said microwaves, one said automobiles and the third said 'thermos bottles.' When asked what was so special about a thermos, he said: It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. How do it know?'

So when I have squirreled away some extra funds, there always seems to be an unexpected crisis that will rear it's ugly head. How do it know?

one hatched...

... but not while I was paying attention, so I missed seeing the butterfly come out of the tidy little house it made on the parsley plant. I noticed yesterday that one of the two chrysalis had come open. Looked like a paper thin little scrap, sort of tube-shaped with a small hole on one end where the new creation escaped the confines of the temporary shelter. You can see the two tiny filaments that hold the little sack to the twig of the parsley (leafless as they devoured all the leaves on the plant.)

It is so interesting to look at. I've seen empty cocoons over the years, found on the ground, with a small aperture in one end, where the hatchling came out. They sort of look like felt, a non-woven type of cloth, but appear to be made of some fiber, which could easily just be webbing wound round and round and round, as in rolling a skein of yarn into a ball. But the thing here, on the parsley twig, gives the appearance of a husk, thin like tissue paper, but does not look like fiber as does other cocoons found in the woods.

The second one, that is still intact, seems to be lighter in color than it was originally when first noticed. And might be thinner, with the tissue-like covering not as thick as it was when the caterpillar first made it. I noticed them at the same time, when there were still fat, yellow and black striped worms on the plant, industriously munching along. I am guessing that in the next day or so the chrysalis not yet hatched will produce another butterfly.  Hopefully I will witness the birth.

wishing for....

Sunday, August 6, 2017
...a bumper sticker that has the wording: "I brake for Boiled Peanuts". Daughter who loves them was laughing when she told me she would happily attach a sticker with those words on the back of her car. Accompanying the dozen or so others that express her philosophy/opinions as she travels. She reports often seeing perplexed expressions on faces of people behind her, when she looks in the rear view mirror as people ponder the hatchback of her car.

My dad taught my daughter to love boiled peanuts. He also took them out in the field, and showed them how the grow, pulled some up (with permission) that belonged to a friend and brought the plants home. Taught them how to sit on the tailgate of the pickup truck and pull the little goobers off the roots of the plant. When your bucket gets full, then you go in the house and wash them in the kitchen sink. Put them in a pot, with water and salt, and wait. When they are done, you drain the dirty, salty water off and sit in the back yard and eat, eat, eat. Where you can throw all the shells on the ground and no one cares.

I guess it is a 'southern thing?' My brother recently emailed to say he had been on a Saturday to a farmers market and bought a bag of goodness, enjoyed every one. I clearly remember one summer when I was in my early teens and ate so many my mom made me go on a diet. I believe the weight gain was due to consumption of the wonderfully fatty, high sodium peanuts, but it lazy could have been a contributing factor. I just recall my mom as the enforcer for some weeks applying discipline to my eating habits. And you know how whine-y a teen can be when pushed into doing some activity not of her choosing... I probably made everyone in the house miserable as I begrudged every ounce.

Yes, they are good. Especially when fresh, cooked in a big pot, under a little shelter on the edge of the road. Where the guy who runs the farm stand also has fresh local peaches, and maybe some home grown tomatoes to sell. But be prepared to pack on the pounds if you get addicted.

leaving work...

Saturday, August 5, 2017
...  this morning, after five hours. I was headed east on Macon Road, ready to get back home. I knew before I even got to work I was going to desperately need a nap at the earliest possible opportunity. They do some pretty strange stuff to me as far as scheduling goes - the biggest hazard of being a part-timer is that my work is completely random, and could be a four hour shift if the manager so chooses.

I got my work space cleaned up and headed home about 10:30, and passed a man who really caught my eye. He was on a very small bike, one that could possibly be designed for a six year old, with tires of a very small diameter. The frame was so dimunative, it looked like he must have taken it from a kid and just recently removed the training wheels. This was a full grown man.

And he was wearing a black crash helmet. Not a bike helmet, a crash helmet. Like someone riding a motorcycle would wear. With a full face snap on, plexiglass shield protector.  So his head was completely covered. Furiously peddling down the street, as fast as his feet would go and the tires would turn. If he had not been a full size adult on a very small child's bicycle, I probably would not have even glanced his way, to notice the black motorcycle helmet. But it was pretty funny, as well as odd.

domestic bliss...

Friday, August 4, 2017
... is what we like to think when we look back on our mothers' lives when it was so common to find them all as 'stay at home' moms. Well before the term was even invented, when women were  expected to be the people who ran the household. The ones who did all the shopping and preparing meals, keeping the place sparkling, washing, ironing, mopping the kitchen floor every single day of her life. That's not me.

But I did quite a bit of housework today, enough to make up for several months of benign neglect. Cleaning floors, washing and drying and putting away, standing on my head cleaning the toilets and bathroom maintenance. Running that dratted vacuum. Finding a several generations of dust bunnies that snuck in and multiplied while unsupervised.

Then sucking up that scattering of feathers that leaked out of the comforter when people came to camp out on the futon.So many bits of fluff found their way out of the covering, it looks like the fox has been in the hen house. Indicating I should be motivated enough to find the hole and do some repair work to keep the rest of the stuffing corralled inside. The down is so warm and snugly when the winter winds blow, but so aggravating when the teeny tiny little bits of fluff organize an insurrection and try to break free.

Thankful for that dratted vacuum, as I am aware of how fruitless and frustrating the process of trying to sweep up feathers can be. I do hate to vacuum, probably due to forced labor as a kid, but thankful for modern appliances, electricity and living here in a civilized society. Thankful too that I have filled my quota of housecleaning for several months...

book review: "Windigo Island"...

... was the reason I nearly ran out of gas and found myself afoot on the way home in the downpour. Listening to the Cds had me so on edge, anxious for a good outcome, I was not paying attention to my gas gauge. I'm not sure if it qualifies as 'distracted driving', for which I could be stopped and ticketed, but I was certainly immersed in the tale. Written by William Kent Krueger, (copyright 2014), who is obviously very knowledgeable about native culture/history of the Lake Superior area. The title comes from a story in Ojibwa tribal legends about an evil spirit. Pure, undiluted evil: a windigo.

One of the main characters in the book is a "healer", someone our culture would likely term as a 'medicine man': Henry. He is ancient, no one knows his age, but obviously highly respected by his family and friends, all who encounter him. Henry seems to have some internal power, ability to draw on spiritual energy, that we in our highly superficial, trivial culture might compare to a Jedi warrior. As in: "Those are not the droids you are looking for."

A story Henry told based on the legends of his people, natives that were here long before the European invasion, in an effort to remind his friends of their own inner strength: We all have two wolves that live within us. One is love, the other is fear. The strongest one will be the one we feed. If we feed the one the thrives on love, we will be  more compassionate and caring, empathetic to others. If we feed the wolf that gains strength from our fears and anxieties, we will become that person, filled with rage and hate, bent on destruction of ourselves and others.

The story line is fast paced, easy to follow, people you feel like you have met, actually know. While the plot is heart-wrenching, about sex trafficking of young girls from the reservation. We all know how teenagers are never satisfied, always at odds with their elders, determined and head-strong. The two under-age girls left with an older female and ended up as prostitutes. The family that wanted them back would stop at nothing to get them away from the pimps/handlers who controlled every facet of their lives. Fiction but embedded with horrible truths.

Great story, fascinating characters, excellent read. I had times when I found myself, just sitting, parked, unwilling to turn the car off. What the folk at NPR call 'driveway moments', where you get to your destination, but don't want to stop. Driving around the block, or sitting in a parking lot, waiting for what a certain age-group will refer to as "Paul Harvey's: 'The Rest of the Story'."

there is another ...

...story to tell about hitting things in the highway that are too memorable. Heading  south from Atlanta towards home on the interstate, this time in the dark. Maybe seven or eight years ago. I was tooling along at a reasonable speed, probably just over 70 mph, and hit something that could have really messed up my car. But at that speed, and on the highway surrounded by other vehicles whizzing past as if you were at a complete stop, it is not possible to pull over and examine the problem.

You have to make an instantaneous decision. If you choose to stop, you are well past the actual scene of the problem, plus in the dark, on a busy interstate. Not likely you will be able to get out of traffic, off the road, find what you hit, and remain alive. So I did what the average red-blooded American motorist would do: hope for the best, and keep driving.

The sound that object made when it hit the underside of my low-slung Toyota made was seriously alarming. It also knocked loose a panel that protects the underside of the engine, and damaged the inner covering of the wheel well. Plus being really scare-y. A person stranded on a dark highway can always find cause for alarm, anxiety and concern: knowing how often bizarre behavior is headline news.

I honestly believe that 'news' is part of the reason they are out there, doing more and more creepy stuff. The publicity puts ideas in their unbalanced brains, whereupon they seek the attention and notoriety.  'Bad' news always sells, right? I am well known for sharing my opinion that 'there are crazy people out there, walking around on the streets, looking perfectly normal.' We just don't know to notice them until they suddenly surprise us by Going Postal.

I got safely home, not knowing what I had encountered. Found someone who would look under there and ascertain  no serious damage. Years later - just recently - I conclude that was another incident of big semi-trailers or cargo container trucks loosing tires. The driver often does not know he is missing an entire tire until miles down the road when he gets low on gas. Thereby leaving hazards in the lanes for other motorists to encounter, attempt to avoid. We have all been en route and had to suddenly swerve to avoid furniture, shrubbery, deceased animals abandoned in the lane. And we are all driving 'way too fast....

stupid, stu-pid, stoopid...

Thursday, August 3, 2017
...or maybe stupid dumb and dangerous. Foolish, lame-brained, and dimwitted. None of those things appeal to me in the least, though I was saying them all about myself today. I was driving back from Florida in the pouring rain, immersed in a story on Cds from the library. When I let my gas gauge get down to the place where the last little bar was blinking furiously, warning me I was running on fumes. Or as the cheesy robot in the "Lost in Space" series would announce: "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!!"

Several times along the road, traveling where there are very few residences and vast open fields of cotton, peanuts, soybeans for mile after lonely mile, I passed through rain showers so heavy I could not see. And randomly happened to look at the gas gauge and realized I was in serious trouble. Undecided as to whether to back track or plunge ahead.

I didn't know how far away the next, best, close-est curb store was but felt I would not make it. So I stopped at a house, where there were vehicles parked in front, a little ATV on the porch, and John Deere lawn mower in the carport. Asking if I could buy a couple of gallons of gas out of the can they use for the mower. The people who answered the door did not kill and dismember me. But also did not help with the gas crisis.

Saying the little town of  Blakely was only five miles up the road. I was hoping I could limp along on the electric storage batteries for five miles if necessary. It was only about 3 miles. I arrived in the driving rain, beside myself with joy to be sitting in line at the pump, not caring one whit about the price.

Realizing that this is probably the first time I have ever not even looked at the price before pulling up to the pump. And then my credit card was refused. Well, @#$%. I had six one dollar bills in my pocket. Probably enough to get me home, in the little (undernourished) toyo. I pumped all six bucks would get me, and safely back at home. Lived to tell the tale.

So here I am. Confessing. And presently determined to never let that happen again. What was I thinking?  Crazy and scarey...

while driving for hours...

... today when I went half way across the state, then halfway up the state, I was thinking about something that happened years ago. I was driving with my parents and little people from south GA to Tallahassee. We were motoring along a well known road, but one that is seldom traveled due to convenience and high speeds of four lane interstate highways. Out in the country, a good distance from any towns or rural residences. Right-of-way grown up with knee high grass in need of mowing.

I hit something along the edge of the road that seemed to sort of flip off into the overgrown underbrush. I immediately convinced myself it absolutely, positively had to be a small alligator. Swore that the bulky black thing I barely saw must have been an alligator. The kind with big teeth.

Idiot me, stopped, backed up, got out of the car to go back and look. A fully functioning, perfectly capable adult male got out with me, along with two small children that apparently could hardly wait to become the reptiles' lunch. What was I thinking? Why would you chase an alligator after you had just run over his tail?

Looking back, I now conclude it was not hungry or toothy, but only a black re-tread from a blown tire,yet I am thankful we all survived. After recently viewing some hopelessly stupid youtube videos of crazy people dangling food over the mouth of a gaping alligator, I am amazed and thankful we walked away with all our body parts. Glad it was probably a curled up piece of black rubber instead of a very irate 'gator.

the people who...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
... come to my house and sleep will be much better satisfied with overnight accommodations now.  A recent guest reportedly described the bed she was in as 'like sleeping in a canoe'. And her sister said she would rather spend the night on the couch than try to rest on the futon. No one reported it to me, and I never ever sleep there, so how was I to know?

I called someone who I thought would be handy enough to look at it, and just conveniently have the right tools in his truck to resolve the 'canoe' problem. It took several calls over several days, but he came this afternoon. And as I suspected, had everything necessary to provide a quick fix right out there on the driveway. He was in and out in less than an hour.

The futon is back together, and ready for testing. I hope someone will visit soon and take up the challenge: canoe sleeping? Which might not be all that bad anyway, as I know people on boats did it for years when on extended sea voyages. I know the futon is not perfect, and certainly not the same as one's own personal space. But I am guessing probably a better experience than the bouncy-ness of  tandem sleeping on an air mattress

about the auntie...

Monday, July 31, 2017
... if you were wondering, and thinking it is time for an update on the status of things in south GA. She has been calling me over the past several days, as confused as usual. Reporting that she is expecting to be 'getting out', and hoping I can come down to give her a ride. She cannot say where she is, to be able to tell where she is 'getting out' of. Or when this 'getting out' might occur.

Tonight she relayed that the information came from the 'Main Man'. But not able to say who the Man is. I asked her to get me a phone number so I could call and get specifics. But sadly, the Man is no longer there. I am nearly certain there is not actually a man who is providing her with information (which would be completely unreliable if it comes from her.) She was remarkably pleasant and unusually civil as she asked me about getting there to provide her with transportation. I was most willing to play along, after receiving so many calls when she was hurtful and hostile.

I have not talked to staff in the assisted living facility, so cannot provide any factual information about her status as far as settling into her present environment. I have been hopeful she would acclimate, adjust to being there, surrounded by staff who can comfort her when she gets confused, and be present when she thinks she is alone. In a place where she has meals provided, and basic care she could not manage on her own.

In the words of my cousin, 'more will be revealed'....

pulling weeds...

... is one of my most satisfying forms of therapy. I think pulling undesirables as well as digging holes is a great way to work off stress. Productive and harmless. A hard combination to beat. Gratifyingly destructive without actually doing any serious damage.

I've done more 'yard work' in the past two hours than I have accomplished in the past  month. Partially due to feeling like I pretty much lost the entire month of July, having spent all my loose time (like loose change) in medical facilities of one sort or another. With The Man who was admitted, though he would not actually admit that he was having a problem of the magnitude worthy of admission as an inpatient. Between hospital and rehab, that was about three weeks devoted to sitting and observing, when I was not using employment as a distraction.

So nothing got done on the home front in the past month. Late this afternoon, I put  my shovel and work gloves in the wheelbarrow and tooled across the street to pull weeds in the area around the sign at the golf course. I have not taken the time in weeks to get any maintenance done on my little planting project. Weeds have taken over, due to plentiful rainfall, plus consistent watering from the irrigation system.

It was mulched when I planted back in the spring, but lots of stuff was in the area before the guys spread the wood chips.Growing there in the mulch: sprouted weed seeds, crab grass, acorns that think they can become mighty oak trees, grass that has crept into the bed.  I took my shovel, gardening gloves and pulled up the wee oak trees, briers, grass, smilax, privet, assorted mystery weeds. Had to quit when it got too dark to see, but feel like it was very productive.

The things I planted, most of which came from my yard, are doing pretty well. Yellow rose of Texas I got from my mom years ago. Stokes aster from a friend. Roses that have been blooming for weeks, though I expected them to die, when I rescued from trash at work. Some butterfly bush that has bloomed and done really well. Several crepe myrtle I did not expect to survive transplanting when they were unceremoniously jerked out of the ground. Colorful lantana I bought for pocket change on the discount table at wallyworld. Looking good, due to plenteous watering and a good dose of time-release fertilizer when they went in the ground..

volunteering vs employment...

... not suprisingly, the non-paying jobs won out over the gainful employ. I went in to work this morning at 5 a.m. To leave at 9:30 and go pick up a man who needed a ride to get to his cancer treatment appointment at 10:15. My understanding was that his allotted time for transfusion would be thirty minutes, meaning he would be finished at 10:45, when I would drive him back home. Not enough time to do anything else so I planned to take my book and sit in the lobby, wait for him to finish.

I waited and waited and waited. He didn't come out, and didn't come out, and didn't come out. I finally went to ask the security guard to go and check on him, thinking: 'maybe he is sitting in the rolling chair and expecting me to come and pick him up at a different door?' After the guard left to try to track him down, he finally appeared: at 1130. I was pretty annoyed. But what can you say? Nothing at all to a  man who is struggling with a death sentence, trying to delay the inevitable. Hoping to postpone his own funeral. He apologized when he finally got finished, and came out to the car at 11:45. What could I possibly say in response? "Oh, not a problem."

So that was my morning. Then someone who I know from master gardener program called to remind me I had agreed to help her with flower arranging at botanical gardens. Oh. Ratz. I got my patient delivered back home, and went to the gardens to spend two more hours volunteering putting flowers in vases, to decorate the house/homestead at the gardens. By the time I got back to my actual work, it was over.  There I was, ready to get back to being employed, expecting to work several more hours. So I sat on the bench and had a visit with my pal, M., while he was on his lunch break.

A residual effect of getting up at 4 a.m., is the necessity of a nap in the afternoon. Just long enough to get me through until bed time. I came home from all that not-working/volunteering and had a little quality time with the couch.

"choose joy"...

Sunday, July 30, 2017
...is the wording on my bracelet. Narrow little strip of silver, with the letters in black. Telling me that it is a deliberate decision, reminding me to decide again, every day. A gift from someone near and dear, who saw it and reported it spoke to her, saying my name.

You can look at the beautiful, un-lived opportunity that is a fresh start as a gift, for you to see as a either bright and sunny or dark and dismal. You can see the hours unfurling before you as a road to be explored and path to new experiences, or a swamp of murky water, filled with quick sand, alligators, things that want to drag you under.

"Happiness is what happens out there, Joy is what happens in your heart."

there is evil in the world...

...that is very alarming. I have been thinking about this all day long, while I was at work from 5 a.m. until about 3:30. I read a short article in the paper last night, which caused me to check with one of the daughters who keeps up with acquaintances via internet. I don't need to participate in facebook as I have people who will tell me all I need to know.

The news was several days old, so it has been out there a while. The story in the paper was about someone my family has a slight acquaintance with, who has been arrested for molesting young girls. Sadly, this is a man they know from years ago when they were in high school. He is several years older than my girls. He came out of an environment I would never have thought would produce a person who has such unpardonable impulses that he cannot control. I cannot even begin to fathom what would make a man do this. He has changed a lot of lives, and altered his forever.

I cannot understand. This is not something that took place in eastern Europe or central Africa where the news reports tales of men acting like animals. This did not occur in a third world country, but here in a place I thought was relatively civilized. I am so distressed in the knowing of this, and saddened by men who you would have thought to be capable, mature, responsible adults deliberately making amazingly poor choices. A man who let some bizarre desires take over his life and destroy his family.

Occasionally I will see something in the newspaper about a full grown man who has been arrested, jailed for attempting to connect with underage girls, and find he has been lured into meeting with an undercover law-enforcement agent. It is so tragic that there seems to be a constant necessity for 'stings', public safety personnel continuously making an effort to protect our young people from predators. All the while, I am so thankful they are there: monitoring, watching, defending and protecting.

these are the ones...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

... that are industriously plowing through my parsley plants. I did not know how to take photos to post, and just now, with handy-dandy tech. support able to show you the big fat, well-fed caterpillars.
I admit that I deliberately planted the parsley in the little planters by the front door for them to enjoy. And try very hard not to notice the nasty, disgusting quality of the hugely ugly insects while they are gnawing their way through this preferred meal.

I am not sure what sort of wonderfully beautiful butterfly will happen when the life cycle continues. If you notice on one of the photos, where the striped-y worm is headed back down the stalk, there in a little green chrysalis that is nearly the same color as the plant stalk. First time I have noticed this, and assume if I can keep a close watch I will see a butterfly. Not likely I can be vigilant enough to be there when it happens, but still, it's a pretty neat thing.

lost time...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
... is irreplaceable. But we are not philosophizing today: rather talking about me causing the alarm clock on the phone to vanish. Which created excessive concern about getting to work on time. So very aggravating. It happened several weeks ago when I accidentally, unintentionally but yet very cleverly, somehow deleted the alarm function on the new confusing phone.

You know they persuaded me to go to the phone store and 'helped' me pick out a new phone that has about a gazillion functions on it I don't want, can't figure out, will not use. Then they left town, with me struggling to answer the phone when someone called. You recall my comment about it taking three days to figure out how to answer incoming calls? Very frustrating and stressful for the tech. impaired.

Then after I had figured out how to set the alarm to wake me up at some ungodly hour like 5 am or 6 o'clock in the morning. I went to set it to get me up in time for going to work and could not figure out where??? After  more than several minutes of getting thoroughly irritated, I decided I could just go back and get the old phone, which I knew how to operate. So, of course, the battery was dead. And it is only good for 'emergency calls'. Which is pretty much how I felt at that point-exhausted and long past ready for bed, but unwilling to hit the pillow without certainty of waking in a timely manner.

I did find the old-school flip phone, plugged it in, and continue to use it for getting up on the days I am expected to punch the clock. Plus I asked someone at work to find the clock on the new phone. It all worked out - until the alarm on the new phone goes off at six o'clock every morning and I cannot figure out how to turn it off!

finally sprung...

Monday, July 24, 2017
... so The Man Who Lives Here is actually here again. He was paroled on Sunday morning, and came right home to take a nap. I had wondered if he would sleep well in his own bed, after being incarcerated in the hospital and then rehab. facility for over three weeks. Awakened so often during the course of a night, with people constantly checking on you, doing what they paid to do. Asking if he needs anything: my response would have been 'a good night's sleep'? Or checking his vitals, as if something completely unexpected would occur when you are peacefully resting.

He reported he did not really sleep all that soundly, but it was quite a treat to be in his bed, showering in the privacy of his own bathroom, knowing total strangers would not poke in, unannounced. Things are getting back to normal, or perhaps our 'new normal' is more accurate. He was told he could not shower for six months, but has figured a way around that. And had not been able to wash his hair in weeks, so has been hanging over the sink for a good head scratching/washing. Things are looking up...

book review: "The Old West Collection"...

...which was, as you might now expect from the traveler, on discs. Found at the library, a set of eight Cds, probably actually made to be heard on the radio. The kind of interesting, sort of off-center article you would hear on public broadcasting. Really good information, lots of historical research and fact-finding went into the writing.

A subtitle is "History on the Move," copyright in 2003 by Topics Entertainment. There were a number of different subjects covered, on a wide variety of topics. Stories about what pioneers went through when they began to move into uncharged territory in the mid and late 1800's. Excerpts from diaries of men, women and children who traveled west from well established  towns and lives, to California or Oregon with all their worldly goods Conestoga wagons. Trekking over the Rocky Mountains,  often caught by early winter storms, walking every step of the way.

Tales of the gold miners and boom towns. What life was really like when buffalo covered the plains, and Natives lived in peace, without whites pushing them onto reservations, and stealing their homeland.  Hunters, trappers, explorers who spent months in solitude living off the land, seldom seeing another human being. Ranchers and cowboys who spent most of their lives in the saddle, herding stock and the long drives to get to market towns. Railroads and the men who laid the track, working in the harshest of conditions over the mountains an inch at the time.Women who were the backbone of their families, making do in soddy homes built of dirt on the plains, that gradually grew into settlements, towns as they grew from nothing more than a trading post to cities like Sacramento and Seattle.

The kinds of story lines so many of the movies about the west were based on. History of how we came to be a country from sea to shining sea. Well written, and beautifully told, thoroughly enjoyed.

book review: "Island of Lost Girls"...

... written by Jennifer McMahon, published in 2008. It took me a week to read, because it was on a set of six Cd's. If it had been a printed book, I would have been up all night trying to finish- it was that good, and hard to stop when I would get to my destination while driving.

I went to the library to find actual books and got a couple of talking books as well. There was something vaguely familiar about the blurb on the back of the case, and I wondered if it was one I had already read. After starting, I decided I had, but could not remember enough, so went ahead. As it turned out - pretty sure I failed to finish the story. What might have happened is that I got to a point that I knew things would end badly and could not make myself finish. Surprisingly I decided I would rather not knot than get any sense of closure with those fictional people I had so connected with.

The story is told from the point of view of one character named Rhonda, but continually moves back and forth in time, from her childhood with friends, to some of the same people as adults. There is a missing child from an abduction, done by someone in a rabbit costume. Rhonda reminisces about her younger days, spending time with a neighboring family that had two children about her age: Lizzy and Peter.  When they were in their early teens, Lizzy disappeared, as did her dad.

You gradually get a really bad feeling about the person in the rabbit costume, thinking this might be someone who has a history of doing evil. Not sure who this incognito person is, but over time it is easy to  make several assumptions as to who and why. The story often reverts to happy memories of childhood, when these three friends spent summers producing plays on a home-made stage in a wooded area between their homes. Recruiting neighboring children whose parents are vacationing in cabins at a near-by lake to fill out the parts of the supporting roles.

A really good tale. The sort of story that would make an excellent movie plot, with a cast of young people we would then see for years to come as they aged into adult roles. Recommended reading, whether you get a real printed book, or listen to the discs.

now that it is...

Saturday, July 22, 2017
... too late for you to enjoy, is a good time to make a comment on the wondefulness of fresh, locally grown southern peaches. Oh, yes. When the daughter came to visit her dad, she stopped at a farm stand and bought a bag of ripe juicy local peaches. He did not want one, so I sat right there, peeled and ate one right out of the paper bag. They were delicious.

I always think of my grandmother every time I peel a fresh peach. They are so juicy and drippy you have to stand over the sink, to keep it from dripping everywhere. When at the peak of ripe, the fuzzy skin will easily just slip off the meaty part, with only the slightest encouragement. Leaving that yummy drippy mess in your hand for your taste buds to dance with delight. Making me pull up that mental picture of grandmother standing over her kitchen sink, dripping peach juice, and peeling a fresh ripe peach just for me.

more insect reporting...

Thursday, July 20, 2017
... on a more disgusting note: all those big fat crunchy black grasshoppers I have chased and stomped in recent weeks. It is the season for reproducing. Most of the disgusting things I have seen, been able to 'out hop', jumping along, chasing them across the driveway or through the the pine-straw mulch in the flower beds. Doing the 'two-step', to get ahead enough to give a speedy stomp. In an effort to catch and eliminate from the planet. Most of the ones that have deceased with a very satisfying 'crunch'  have been minutes away from looking for the perfect spot to distribute their nasty little eggs.

I know I have sent at least two dozen in the past couple of weeks to where ever grasshopper souls go after their exoskeletons get flattened. My dad was convinced they deposit there eggs in the dead leaf litter around bulb plants, giving the young ones a great place to start gnawing to fulfill their voracious appetites. Sadly you can smoosh 98 but if you leave one him and one her alive, you have not solved the problem of another plague the following year.

The really satisfying crunch occurs when you see the male atop the female and step on the two of them as they are enjoying themselves. Is this perverse? Probably. Is it gratifying? Most definitely.

random bug reports...

... about things that I see during the few minutes I have been at home in recent days. There has been very little time when I have had the opportunity to roam around and look, see what's growing, blooming or disappearing as a result of being consumed by insects. That would be the parsley in a couple of large concrete planters near the front door. When I noticed the first of the week, it was nearly non-existent. Nothing but stems. Almost completely consumed by those little striped-y caterpillars that eventually become beautiful butterflies.

I had actually expected those wee little bugs would come along, and gorge on the decorative plantings, and mow the parsley, before becoming cocoons and completing the life cycle. This is the real reason I planted the herbs there, as I never ever use it in the kitchen, though it does make an eye-catching garnish. Plus high in iron, if you can tolerate the bitter taste on your tongue when you chew before you swallow.

Pretty sure I have taken photos and put them here in the past, but with the learning curve associated with the new phone, you cannot expect to see any pictures of fat little caterpillars here now. I guess the ones that are still tiny, barely bigger around that pencil lead got a late start, as some are as big as your finger. Wish I could remember what sort of butterfly/pollinator they will become, but that is what google is for, right?

report on a bumper sticker...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
... that is funny and worth repeating. I accidentally might have started myself on a new addiction, harmless enough: watching Youtube videos well past my normal bedtime. There is more than one video that has nothing but photos from around the world of silly, stupid, crazy, baffling and/or dumb sayings people put on their vehicles.

Disclaimer: I am related to someone who has the entire bottom half of her back hatch-back covered with bumper stickers expressing various, often inappropriate, opinions. Some statements are some moderately harmless, some that might cause fellow irritated motorists to take potshots  on the interstate at 90 mph. I currently do not have any social commentary plastered on the back of my car whatsoever, but if I did it would be another one that says: "Wag more, bark less".

The one she read to me recently while stopped at a traffic light: "Make cornbread, not war". And the one she said she would like to have, to apply to her car, if it were not already covered in stickers and slogans: "I brake for Boiled Peanuts".

on the move...

... with a quick trip SC and back to middle GA. I had planned to go to Greenville on Tuesday to visit my pen pal, but when my life devolved into chaos for a couple of weeks, not sure it was feasible to leave town. When it seemed like having The Man Who Lives Here as a captive in the rehab facility, I felt it would be safe to disappear for forty eight hours.

Drove up to Decatur on Monday evening, to spend the night in solitude of the attic on Eleanor St. A great place to get a good night's sleep, although I am lead to believe some of her dependents have been begging to transform that space into their clubhouse. She reports that at least two of the feline residents occasionally demand to be allowed to relocate there for surreptitious activities, so she has assumed that the guys are making it into their private space. If they only had opposable thumbs that would allow them to open the door at their convenience, they would have taken over. Fortunately the cats still have to ask for permission as they cannot turn the doorknob on their own, so there is no immediate danger of insurrection. I did sleep remarkably well, but had set my alarm to wake early, and get out of town before traffic got awful.

Had a good visit with Homer, but he has had a small crisis that was really upsetting. He is 93, lives alone, and seems to do a fairly adept job of taking care of himself. Though he has lots of family nearby, he manages his life remarkably well. He had a driving incident on Monday, so the guy from the claims dept.was there filling out a form when I arrived. It was obvious that the accident had really had a profound affect on Homer - probably leading him to lose confidence, and have some doubts about his continued ability to drive and remain independent. He was not hurt at all but his car, a 2002 in excellent condition, was pretty banged up. I hope this does not turn into a big deal with his family.

After lunch and conversation I had planned to visit a cousin who lives nearby in SC, and spend the night, return to GA on Wed. All went as planned and I am now back in my own little space, washer running, ready to crash after driving all day: there was a bad wreck on the interstate, so I have been around by both elbows to get home. Hours later than intended, but without incident.

As I was leaving Atlanta, the lighted signs above the highway warned of a 'major accident' on the southbound lanes, blocking the entire road way. I decided to take off into the unknown, rather than sit in traffic for hours - meaning those same hours were consumed by taking two lane country roads, meandering through suburbia, farm land, places I have never been before. With my trusty paper state road map, and a GPS I ignored for miles and miles, it was definitely the scenic route. Safely back at home.

a pithy quote...

Monday, July 17, 2017
...read someplace and thought it worth saving and sharing:

"Don't educate your children to be rich - educate them to be happy.
So when they grow up, they will know the value of things, not the price."

I've been pondering this in relation to the man who resides at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. and the appearance of wealth, how that family seems to be so focused on acquiring and accumulating. Well... no... not so much appearance: he is actually wealthy if you are judging material things. Lots of close family, who are very much involved in all his activities. Plenty of property that provides a considerable income. More than he could likely spend in several lifetimes. Many underlings standing by to fulfill his every need and want.

Giving the impression to many that their primary goal is getting as much in the way of material goods at they possibly can, with no regard to the possibility of negative effects on others. The adult children and relations seem to have learned the lessons well. Quite capable of  useing the many business and political connections to their advantage.

So many people in the world seem to feel that ownership of material possessions will create joy. The desire to have goods and financial resources appears to dominate our society, and the world in general. Stuff and more stuff. Just a matter of priorities, right?

driving around town...

Friday, July 14, 2017
...in the past couple of days, listening to the radio. My usual choice is public radio, unless I am so immersed in a talking book, I am desperate to finish, find out 'who done it' or if they actually do 'live happily ever after'. But I got so weary of talk radio recently I tuned on down the dial and found a country music station to amuse myself. Only problem is that the commercial interruptions are incessant.

But this one adv. for I-forgot-what had lots of people providing hints for being financially sound. Sound bites of different voices, as if being interviewed as passers-by in the streets. Suggesting numerous ways to be a wise/frugal money manager. Rounding up and tucking the extra into savings. Getting in a company sponsored retirement plan where the money goes directly into savings before you get your grubby hands on it to fritter away. Having a set amount deducted from checking to divert to savings account each payday or once a month.

 Then this one guy came on and his method of frugality was: "I try to live below my knees." What? Huh? How do you do that, and how can it be helpful for looking forward to your sunset years? Oh, wait. Maybe he said he lives below his 'means'? As in trying to be careful with expenditures, and n ot spending all his paycheck? Oh, riiiight.

the trip to chik-fil-a...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
... was only marginally successful. I went to get food for The Man Who Lives Here, when he was incarcerated in the Cardiac Care unit of the hospital. I will not attempt to understand or explain why his tray for dietary dept. failed to materialize. Most of the meals thus far had been whatever they wanted to send. He is not hard to please with food, and will eat almost anything. But he asked me to look at the menu, call and place an order, so I told them chicken strips. Which has not yet come.

The tech. kept saying poking her head in the door to say: 'it's coming, it's coming.' 'It's on the way.' After a interminable wait, I stood up and said: "That's it. Do you want your sandwich from Arby's or Chic-fil-A?" He said he thought a chic'n sandwich would be a good idea.

I went to my car, drove to the store a block from the hosp. and placed my order, as the drive through line would have taken until breakfast. Got my two items and hoped I would get back to feed The Man before the belated meal from the hosp. kitchen arrived. That meal I ordered on Sunday afternoon has still not come on Wednesday night.

When I opened the bag, I found his sandwich and my: not sandwich. I like the chicken wrap, and love the packet of avocado-ranch dressing. I got the dressing but not the wrap. In the same box where you can usually find the delicious, vegetable filled chicken wrap, I found a side salad. I was so hungry, even that was very good. But it was not what my mouth expected. So when I left there headed home, I went back by the Chic-fil-A store and said: "Can I pleeze have my chicken wrap sandwich now?"

Took it with me to work today to eat for lunch. It was good, even four days late. Which is still far better than the dietary dept. at the hospital is doing, if we were still there waiting for chicken strips.

the other amusing thing...

Sunday, July 9, 2017
... that has kept me smiling for several days was something one of the daughters self-reported. After their Dad was rolled off down the hall one morning, we all met in the parking lot of the local Sam's Club. I had to go and get some stuff to satisfy the Sunday morning coffee gluttons at church, where droves of people show up and expect their favorite ingredients to be ready for consumption.

We shopped and went through the check out, they pushed the goods in the cart out to the parking lot. While I stopped at customer service to re-load my wally-world gift card that I use at the pump to get a discount on gas. The cashier made a mess, and took fifteen minutes to get it resolved, while I was trying to look calm and patient. Making a concerted effort to not sigh repeatedly or roll my eyes in frustration.

Spent so long waiting for supervisor to come and resolve the problem, one of the daughters came back in the store to rescue me. Thinking I had been abducted by aliens, hoping to grab onto my toe and pull me back out of the black hole. What she said made me hoot with laughter. I chuckled about it all the way across the parking lot. And still thoroughly amused when I think about it three days later.

She came back to check on me and said: "We've been standing out there waiting on you so long, we were starting to bicker, so I knew it was time for me to come and get you." Thankfully she did not say they were in need of a referee, as I sincerely hope my days of having to intervene and be the negotiator are over. But, still pretty funny that she would recognize, admit, and be able to make a joke about it... Or maybe it was not a joke?

the floors here...

... don't line up properly. Probably not uncommon with additions to buildings when more space is needed over time. But annoying to be continually going up 1/2 a flight or down six steps to get to the next level. The older/original part of the building is maybe three floors plus basement space, and the parking deck has ramps and slanted floors to semi-match up providing access. The new addition (the part where the hospital mysteriously lost 30 million dollars when they added all the expenses from contractors) is not in sync with the other parts of the facility. Remarkably poor planning on the part of the architecture firm that was probably paid millions for design.

Every time I come over, I drive into the lower floors of the deck to be in the shade. Then walk down half a flight of stairs, enter the stair well and troop up  an entire flight to get to the place I need to be. When this adventure started, early on in the event daughter and I got on an elevator, but then could not decide whether we should go up or down.

Bafflement compounded by the elevators buttons being labeled as :A, B, C. As well as 1, 2 and 3. So when we ended up in the wrong place, I commented that I was confused by all this, and did not know which direction we wanted to go to get to the right level in the parking deck. She said: "It's not confusing, Mom. The elevator only goes up or down." Pretty profound, huh?

they were really insistent...

Saturday, July 8, 2017
...and I was getting thoroughly annoyed at the exceptionally poor service I was getting on my cell phone. Plus everyone who saw it seemed to find great amusement at the antiquity of the 'old school' quality of something that was so rare. I recently read about a museum of technology that had the earliest versions of home computers and those huge twenty pound bag-type mobile telephones in it as examples of how far we have advanced.

The lack of service at home was so irritating, I guess I convinced  myself. Partially due to no one else being persuasive enough to make me be willing to upgrade. I literally could not be in the house and successfully make calls - there was simply no service to be had indoors. Having to get up, go outside, and stand in the yard to make outgoing calls must have been The Last Straw. You know: the one that broke the camel's back, right?

When I grudgingly surrendered, and agreed to be dragged into the AT&T store, daughters took me in, and decided for me. If they were expecting me to be able to make an informed decision we would still be there. After talking to the service rep, they choose one they felt would be appropriate for the hopelessly tech-impaired  mom. All my info. was magically, mysteriously transferred to the new Samsung phone.Even though there was much hand holding, cajoling, encouragement, positive talk, it was a difficult process. When they left town to go home, and I was holding this new improved version I did not want or know how to manage, it was 'me vs the machine', with Me feeling woefully unprepared for the challenge.

This happened several weeks ago, when the daughters were here for Father's Day. I am still struggling with operating this complicated item. It took me three days after they left me here unsupervised to find out how to answer calls when it demands attention.  It has been up hill all the way, and a constant worry, not feeling fully trained and capable with this foreign device in my pocket/hand.

I was using the old school phone as an alarm clock, to get me up for being at work at 5 or 6 or 7 as needed. And after plenty of assistance in setting the alarm on the Samsung, I still did not fully trust it. After several days when it proved to be reliable, I accidentally deleted the app. so there was no alarm at all when I tried to set it before going to bed. In a panic mode, I scrambled around and found the old phone (the one designed for the simple-minded!), hoping to use it for getting up and out the door on time. As you might expect, the battery was very dead. But I plugged it in, and it worked. The screen says, every time I go to set the alarm: For Emergency Calls Only. Which suits me perfectly - my emergency was not having a reliable wake up call, when it vanished from the Samsung.

I am more than willing to ask young people for assistance with things that confound me. Have taken my computer into work more than once to ask kids to help me resolve a problem. Knowing they were born with technology in their hands, and take the ability to work with the mystery of micro-chips in stride. So I asked someone half my age at work to find my alarm clock, and he was handing it back in less than a minute. I still don't trust it completely, so will continue to keep the wee little flip phone at my bedside to chirp at me in the mornings.

You have no idea how impressed I was with myself when I found the calculator yesterday, giving me the ability to add and multiply. I am the one who readily confessed to be hopelessly math-impaired. Even with a device that does the figuring for me, I can add a column of numbers three times and get four different sums. In all honesty, I don't know how I found the calculator on the Samsung, and could only hope to find it again, if needed  - but I am gaining confidence, and learning to adapt.

a productive day...

Friday, July 7, 2017
...wherein, thanks to my BFF, I got the huge onus of an oncoming deadline dealt with, removed from my life. My smart friend, who worked for years in civil service, as well as in the private sector has also been tax prep. volunteer for AARP. So very knowledgeable about financial stuff, and remarkably good with numbers, with a brain that seems to be wired vastly differently from mine that is acutely and chronically math impaired.

In accepting responsibility for the auntie, I found I had agreed to provide a great deal of information about her financial status. She has been profoundly unwilling to share personal information with family members when we have offered assistance. Quite adept at changing the topic of conversation, as well as very secretive. Fully capable over her life of managing her own affairs, until suddenly: she wasn't.

As a result of being named as guardian, who is responsible for her general physical care, health, well being, I am charged with reporting to the court periodically providing assessments for her condition and living arrangements. Another facet is being accountable for her resources: various incomes, property management, and dispensing funds to cover expenses. It has been a challenge to get information together, but most people have been willing to provide necessary documentation after receiving a copy of the probate court order.

The BFF, PC, had offered to help, willing to wade through the legal terminology and help me decipher the language to complete paperwork required by the courts. We spent hours today filling in the blanks, completing the forms to submit. I finally got to the point that I called the attorney and said: "I am sending all this to you. I will complete all I can, but I need for you to take over, put it together and submit".

Made copies, stuffed it in the envelope, and went to stand in line at the PO. Sent it off, and felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.  Thank You, PC.  I could not have possibly done it without you.

how's the patient...

...you may ask? Much improved would be the answer, from observers as well as the person who is actually incarcerated, tied to the IV pole. It has truly been an experience. I don't think I know anyone who has, with good health, deliberately chosen to be admitted to the hospital and subjected to all the poking and prodding, waking up throughout the night to be checked on. Obviously only happens out of necessity.

This guy has a multiplicity of health issues, all affecting and compounding other problems that did not need any additional complicating factors. In this case, having doctors recommending increasing dosage of diuretic to reduce fluid levels,while also dealing with markedly poor kidney function that could not keep up with demand for greater production. The kind of thing you see in science fiction movies about space travel when the red lights are flashing and bells start dinging, warning about 'systems failure'. Decreased function of one affects ability of others to perform, resulting in the entire balance getting out of whack and being overwhelmed.

The subject in question was badgered, oh, sorry 'persuaded' under duress to go to the ER. We all knew if he would just agree to go, they would insist  on admitting him, realizing there was a true crisis occurring. Sure enough, the PA said: 'you are having a emergency', and started the process to get him into an air conditioned gown. That was a week ago: last Friday, and here we are at Friday again.

He is really doing much better. But it has taken three days of dialysis to get here. And another scheduled for tomorrow. Which, according to the multiple experts who have been through over the days, is pretty unusual: four days in a row. Obviously needed to try to get him back as close to normal as possible. Thereby easing the stress on various organs that have been overworked trying to compensate for excess fluids that had accumulated. Much better, thankyouverymuch....

book review: "flight patterns"...

... by Karen White, published by New American Library, in 2016. Another of those randomly chosen from the stacks in the public library. I was desperate for some reading material and grabbed four when I made a dash into the branch to feed my need to read.

A story of interest to anyone who is familiar with the Gulf coast of the Florida panhandle, where the story takes place in Apalachicola. Or anyone who has knowledge or love of honeybees or other pollinators. Meaning people who like honey in their tea and/or others who love the good stuff on their pancakes, that is all of us, right? My personal knowledge of beekeeping is a result of my brother deciding that tending bee hives would be his choice of project when he was itchy to participate in a club in junior high that required developing animal husbandry skills.

Our family lived in a small rural community that was very much dependent on agriculture as a major source of income, 'industry' if you will. But we were not actually farm people, so the prospect of raising livestock like pigs or a calf,  a goat or sheep was not an option. I am not at all sure how he landed on the bee-keeping idea, but did create numerous opportunities for family togetherness during those years, extracting honey from the hives. My definition of a high risk occupation. Fortunately our house had a very large screened  in back porch, perfect for protection from very angry bees.

The title: "flight patterns" becomes more understandable,. as you learn about bees, as well as the lengths alienated sisters will go to avoid confrontation .The story was interesting, well written, with characters you felt like you knew - and felt great affection for, as the dysfunctional family (aren't we all?!?!) learns to forgive, accept and move on with their lives, overcoming their antagonistic history. The patriarch of the family was the knowledgeable keeper of the apiaries, but he had taught two more generations in the patient ways of observing and caring for communities of bees. Lots of tid-bits of bee lore tossed in along with a really sweet story of people who learn what is really important: family.

lookit this...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
...and enjoy the music. I am really a patriotic sap. Love to put on my flag-waving colors and celebrate federal holidays, with parades, marching bands, John Philip Sousa music: the ring tone for the phone in my pocket is "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Someone forwarded this video to me. I knew as soon as I opened it, the song would end in a patriotic wash of tears. It is likely the favorite of a daughter, who played it so often when it first came out we thought we might have to destroy the little cassette tape it was on. We all survived, and over time the novelty wore off, long after we had all committed the words into our permanent memory banks.


happy independence day...

... normally, here in the great wide country, from sea to shining sea. Where we are industriously buying things to set on fire, for our great amusement. Along with various items of edibles to also set on fire, when we put them on the grill to cook as friends and family gather to watch as we provide the entertainment of lighting all those things we bought to burn up.

Thankful to be living in a country where that can happen? Yeah, me too. I am often reminded, as I travel of the amazing freedom to get in my car and go places without having to provide documentation. Not worried I will be stopped at the county line, or city limit sign to produce papers that permit entry. No fear when I drive to neighboring states that I will be denied permission to enter. Or questioned endlessly, and placed in a barred room until I can satisfactorily provide the right responses.

I can go to the store and purchase anything I choose: here in the Land of Plenty. Even if all I want to do with it is set it on fire. It is right there available to be paid for, taken home and burned to a crisp. Yay! for the Constitution of the United States of America. Yay! for founding fathers. Yay! for democracy and revolutionary war.

Did you see the story, or perhaps the Youtube about the people who set fire to the fireworks display in the grocery store in south Atlanta? I knew about it when it happened weeks ago, shortly before Memorial Day in late May. So it was just a matter of time before it popped up on youtube. But when I went looking for it, discovered any number of similar pyro-events. A Walmart in Arizona, among others. People just casually walking by with their goods to purchase, as the fireworks explode, and sparklers sparkle, clouds of smoke billowing up into the ceiling. Amazing: just a reminder that people will never fail to astound you...

we have all heard stories...

... about people with multiple personality disorders, along the lines of the story 'The Three Faces of Eve'. I think the movie based on the book had Joanne Woodward as the leading character, who  struggled with some serious mental issues, lots of different personalities teased out by the psychiatrist who wrote the book. It was based on his actual office notes of a patient, who of course remained anonymous for many years. A really fascinating story of an individual who seemed to be, over the time the doctor and woman met, living with a disordered brain occupied by many different individulas, as she struggled to regain her sense of self. I don't recall the details, but I think the determination was that her illness was a response to some history of abuse: physical, sexual, mental maybe?

I read the book years ago, and thought of it recently. I have had moments of feeling like I have been leading lives for three different people. Not actually inhabiting the persona of another, rather feeling overwhelmed by the necessity of wearing so many different 'hats' to meet the needs of all the people in my life that require attention. An auntie who is (thankfully) in assisted living, being cared for by a willing staff, rather than living a life of fear, doubt, chaos when she was at home alone. A man who is in declining health, and often in denial about his needs. Thankfully, temporarily, in a place where all the problems in his life are being attended to by trained healthcare professionals.

And me: feeling like I don't have a life, due to being so amenable in allowing others' needs to supercede. I would like to believe I am coping remarkably well, consoling myself with the hope that all this is only temporary. And the knowledge that these other people have needs that are greater than my own - plus I do believe my health is pretty good, and far more stable than those family members who are currently feeling they are incarcerated.

even though ....

... you have likely had your fill of updates on the auntie in her full crisis mode, there is more to tell. Should you not care to know anymore about how this are progressing, devolving might be more accurate, skip over this one. I am Very Thankful she is someplace where she is getting round the clock care, with people available to provide attention and words of encouragement at all hours of the day and night.

Sadly, she is completely lost to herself. So the questions she dreams up are random, and often not related to anything the staff there at the facility know about or have the ability to provide answers to her satisfaction. Fortunately, they are familiar with the 'forgetting disease', and skilled at methods to help those so afflicted in dealing with the inevitable decline and confusion. My assumption is that the staff accepts the people they care for who are always questioning, and in a constant state of never retaining the answers to they receive. You learn to provide assurance, along with the same answers over and over and over...

She called me yesterday to ask why I was not there bringing her the shampoo and clothing we had talked about. I replied that I was not there because I had to work, and we had not had any conversation about things she reported needing. Then she wanted to know when she was going home. It was not a pleasant conversation. When she heard that she was staying right where she is, she got very angry and called me bad things. I am currently the title holder of Meanest Person in the World. And she was so furious with not getting the answer she wanted, she said she did not want to be related to me anymore, so she hung up on me. I can only hope that ending the conversation with a resounding bang of the phone receiver solved her problem...

when you discover you are an adult...

Saturday, July 1, 2017
..usually catches you by surprise, as you are blissfully unaware of actually and unintentionally becoming a grown up. I still have, on occasion, difficulty thinking of myself as being one of those.  You know, as in that old saying from the sixties of how you should' never trust anyone over 30'? Sadly, I am so far beyond that I don't have adequate words to describe how it feels...

When my daughter came to town on Friday, unexpectedly, showed up to try to do something to help her dad, they reached an unlikely compromise. He has been really having a hard time for weeks, maybe a month or so. struggling with COPD and associated difficulties. The ultimatum I issued last weekend did not provide much success: either get an appt. to see the doctor or go the the ER. He actually took himself to family practice, but admitted afterward he was disappointed with what happened when he saw the PA. Possibly due expecting a miracle.

They did make a referral, but it was not productive/successful. So the daughter said: If you cannot get into the see the specialist on Friday, you will need to go the Emergency Room. He apparently did not feel like the inability to breathe qualified as an 'emergency'. But when he got there, the PA thought differently, and told him she hoped he brought his toothbrush.

When the daughter called me at work to say he was in the pipeline to be admitted, I was reminded of my experience from twenty odd years ago. And told her the story, to ask if she felt like she was now officially an 'adult'. She laughed, and said "I thought you became an adult when you gave birth?" No, not necessarily.

When I had two small children, about ages 3 and 5, I planned to go to south GA to visit my parents. I knew my dad was in the hospital, expecting to have knee replacement surgery. I wanted to go and visit him, planning to smuggle kids in due to a very lax visitation policy at the the hospital in Thomasville. But when I got to my parents' house, I discovered my mom in the bed with excruciating back pain. I called her doctor, who came to the house and provided meds. to help her endure the trip to the hospital. Remember house calls? He came with his little black bag and a large hypodermic needle and made a remarkable improvement in her disposition.  Then I called EMS and got her a ride to the same hospital where my dad was awaiting surgery. I followed the transport, with two small children, who I seem to recall having a great time cleaning out all the snacks in the vending machine while I was distractedly giving my mom's vital statistics to the admitting clerk.

I cannot provide the outcome of her medical problems, but it obviously resolved for her to get back on her feet and be the worlds' best grandmother for a number of years afterward. And my dad survived knee replacement, though I do not recall if this one was a replacement for a replacement, as  he had a total of three over the years. Pretty remarkable for a human who was only issued two knees at birth.

The above scenario was a matter of Sometimes You Do What You Wanna, and Sometimes You Do What You Gotta. An important lesson we all need to remember as we muddle through life, often learned years too late, but still it sticks with you when it takes you by surprise. I asked her if she felt like she was an adult when she badgered her dad into going to the hospital, and stood by providing information when he was admitted. She just laughed.