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Gardens and Groundhogs

May 30, 2009

Before we get to the garden photos, I want to share something that made me laugh.  As I mentioned in Mary’s comments in reference to her entry about spelling bees, I came across a doozy of a spelling error while looking over a paper written by a high school junior – “alls timers” for Alzheimer’s.  I just love that.

On to the garden gazing.  If these wild roses didn’t smell so delightful, I’d get rid of them because their sprawling growth tends to be rather riotous in an area that doesn’t work well for that.

This giant allium is my current pride and joy.


The huge purple globe amazes me every time I look at it, which I do quite often, from a rocking chair on the front porch.

The blooming iris are few but spectacular.

Last year, this plant didn’t bloom, and I had no idea what it was.  My Neighbor has informed me that it is called Jacob’s Ladder.  It’s probably something she gave me, because I know I didn’t buy it.

These coral bells are another donation from My Neighbor.

I planted this lupine a few weeks ago, and am very happy to see it come into bloom.


I’ve always wanted foxgloves, and am thrilled with this one, planted the same time as the lupine.

Does anyone know what this is?  I haven’t had a chance to ask My Neighbor.

All the news from my outdoor world is not as good as the fruits of my garden labor, thanks to a couple of dastardly groundhogs.  LA very thoughtfully sent me a tutorial on groundhog elimination that involves blocking tunnel entrances/exits.   Our groundhogs have tunnels that pop up all over My Neighbor’s yard, as well as mine.  I’ll have to talk to her about joining forces.   If all else fails, I might have to hire a hit man.

This pile of rocks under the rhododendron in my back yard (a loooooong time ago, it was part of an elaborate rock garden complete with lighted fountain) is now the portal to a tunnel.  My Neighbor calls it the Groundhog Condo.  Let the eviction process begin.

Song of the Day:  Garden Party by Ricky Nelson

Reading:  The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Simba the Diabetic Cat

February 9, 2009

Originally, I mentioned this experience in the previous entry.  Then I decided that it deserved an entry of its own, so I removed it from the list of Twenty Five Random Things.  Stefani saw it before I deleted it, and made reference to it in the comments section.   Hence, this explanation.  Anyway, here’s the story.

When Leigh was working at a local veterinary clinic, she adopted a diabetic cat.  He is currently living at The Ex’s place while Leigh is away at school.  The Ex was visiting his brother in Chicago, and Leigh’s boyfriend was in NYC at the time, so there was no one who could give Simba his insulin shot on Saturday.

I didn’t think I could do it, but I did.  (I am so afraid of inflicting pain, I couldn’t even turn the key to Leigh’s palate expander when she was going through the braces stage.)   Leigh talked me through the procedure over the phone.

First, I had to roll the insulin bottle in my hands.  Then I stuck the syringe into the bottle and withdrew four units of insulin.  Next, I pinched and lifted the flesh on Simba’s thigh, inserted the needle and pushed the plunger.

Rebecca was there (she’s too squeamish to do the deed herself), and she said this was the first time she saw Simmy get his shot without making a sound.  Even Leigh was impressed.  She said that Simba always yowls a bit during the injection.   It was such a relief to know that I didn’t hurt him.  In fact, he was actually purring!

While we’re on the subject of animals, you have to check out this video clip.

Amazing.

Song of the Day:  At the Zoo by Simon and Garfunkel

Twenty Five Random Things

February 8, 2009

Sasha and Stefani did this  (on Facebook), and so did Mary.

Here are the directions:
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. (I don’t do tags, but if the spirit moves you, go for it.)

1. I have never taken a picture with my cell phone.  Truth be told, I hardly use my cell phone at all.
2. I enjoy games like Taboo, Pictionary and Scattergories, but I’m not much of a card player.
3. I rarely remember my dreams.
4. I love shoes.  Unfortunately, I can’t wear pretty shoes or boots (not for long, anyway) because I have hammertoes.  I had surgery (one of the most painful experiences of my life) to correct the problem back in the eighties, but it was a flop.
5. I hate to cook.  I used to enjoy it, but after forty years in the kitchen, I’d love to hang up my apron (metaphorically speaking; I don’t actually wear an apron).
6. I prefer dogs over cats.
7. I count when I’m brushing my teeth – 15 seconds for each quadrant, inner and outer.
8. I blush easily.  It’s a curse.
9. I’m part Polish (on my mother’s side) but identify far more strongly with my Italian heritage.
10. I am a ravenous reader.
11. Music has always been a big part of my life, and my tastes are rather eclectic.
12. I am a crybaby.  Seriously, it doesn’t take much to get the tears flowing.  Being an empath doesn’t help.  (See more below.)
13. I have a potty mouth.
14. I am addicted to Kitsch in Art jewelry.
15. I don’t like flavored coffee, and I drink my coffee black, no sugar.
16. Watermelon is my favorite fruit.
17. Red is my favorite color.
18. During my pregnancies, I craved sour things, like green olives, lemons and vinegar (which I drank from a spoon).
19. I have body image issues.
20. I have a bit of an inferiority complex.
21. I have serious bed head when I get up in the morning.
22. I have been in menopause for quite a while, but I’m just starting to experience night sweats.  It’s so bad I’m considering giving HRT another try.
23. I’ll be 55 years old in August, and I’m not feeling very good about that.
24. I have an unnatural fear of praying mantises and eyelash curlers.  It’s a good thing my eyelashes are naturally curly.
25. Many of my clothes come from thrift shops and clearance racks.  A co-worker recently told me I could earn a good living thrift shopping for others because of my sense of style, and talent for separating the wheat from the chaff.  She made my day.

Back to number 12.  I wrote an entry on this topic on February 4, 2003, during my days at Diary-X.  It was one of the few entries I was able to salvage.  I’ll repost it here.

I t doesn’t take much to make me cry.  I’ve always hated that about myself, but, try as I might, I just can’t seem to help it.  I guess I’m just a crybaby.

I cry when I’m angry.  I cry out of frustration.  I cry when I’m moved.  I cry when I’m depressed (although there are times when I’m too depressed to cry).  I cry from grief, and sometimes I laugh until I cry.  I shed tears of joy, and tears of compassion.  I cry when my feelings are hurt.

Yesterday morning, I cried while watching a lame deer in my backyard.  It was one of eleven, and I stood at the door spying on them as they foraged for food.  When I spotted the lame one, I was filled with pity for it, and tears formed in my eyes.  I had to force myself to turn away.

On Sunday, while listening to music, I was stopped dead in my tracks when an old Joe Jackson tune, “A Slow Song,” came on.  I used to love that song, and hearing it again sent shivers down my spine.  It made me cry.  It wasn’t so much the song itself; it was the memory of the song being special to me.  It was the memory of younger days.  Days when I went to see Joe Jackson perform at an intimate local nightclub whenever he came to town.  Days that were exciting and filled with fun.

Similarly, I wept when I watched “To Sir With Love” a couple of weeks ago.  As soon as I heard, “Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone,” I broke down and cried.  In fact, I sobbed.

That song and that movie brought back so many memories.  Memories of 1967, and of being 13 years old.  I wore big, dangly earrings, and had a gamine haircut  just like Lulu.

That was the year my grandmother took me to San Francisco.  Haight Ashbury thrilled me beyond measure.  That was a time when I was fascinated by hippies, and The Haight was their Mecca.  That was a time when I was in love with The Beatles, and in love with life.  I had so much to look forward to.  Remembering that young girl was a very emotional experience for me.  So I cried.  Oh, how I cried.

As much as I get down on myself for being so sensitive and emotional, I am starting to think that it sometimes takes courage to allow ourselves to feel bad or sad.  In a society that promotes the power of positive thinking, many of us learn to suppress our negative feelings. However, repressing emotion doesn’t strike me as a very healthy practice.  It seems to me that denying our feelings only makes for a longer period of recovery.  So, as Lesley Gore sang, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” So there.

Song of the Day: Random by 311

Brrrrrr

January 16, 2009

Our schools are closed today, and I can’t figure out why.  Unless pipes are frozen, or something like that, this was a ridiculous call.  It’s zero degrees, so I can see having a two-hour delay.  This is a walking district, and some of our students have a two mile hike.  But closed?  This means that we’ve used three of our five snow days, and it’s only the middle of January!  I don’t want to give up any of our spring break.  (One year, we lost the entire break!)  Grumble.

I wish I had known about the closing before I had already been up for an hour and drank two cups of coffee.  Getting up was very difficult for me this morning.  After work yesterday, I went to the Ikea in Paramus, NJ, and didn’t get home until 9:00 pm, which is past my bedtime.  To make matters worse, I had a bad night (which always happens when there is any deviation from my usual bedtime routine), and woke up just about every hour.  I’ve been dealing with a flare-up of severe pain (which is one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet here), and nights like last night sure don’t help.  It would have been wonderful to sleep a bit later this morning.

My Friend and I are going to try to get an appointment with the chiropractor, then go to lunch, followed by a trip to Sam’s Club to return the red pea coat I bought Leigh for Christmas.  Even though it’s a size small, it’s way too big for her.   It’s too big for Rebecca, as well.  So back to the store it goes.

Before I head out, I’d like to share something that Sasha brought to my attention. Performing artist, Neko Case, and Anti record label will donate five dollars to Best Friends Animal Society for every blog that reposts Neko’s new single.  Click on the link below (under the Song of the Day) for this free downloadable mp3 and please visit Antilableblog and Best Friends Animal Society for more information.

Reading:  The Three Junes by Julia Glass

Song of the Day:  Angel by Sarah McLachlan (I can’t watch that animal cruelty commercial without crying, so I don’t watch it at all.)

People Got A Lot Of Nerve by Neko Case


I took Penny to the vet yesterday.  She had a fever, so the vet wanted to check for Lyme disease.  The test came back negative, thank goodness.

So, what was the diagnosis?  Intestinal colic.  I looked it up online and the symptoms include restlessness and whimpering.  Yup.  I’m so relieved it was nothing more serious, and am happy to report that Penny seems to be back to her old self.

Since I wasn’t at work yesterday, I asked My Friend to check my mailbox to see if there was anything from my Secret Santa.  There was nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  A big fat goose egg.

I wasn’t going to participate in the Secret Santa gift exchange this year, but the organizer talked me into it.  The morale in the high school (actually, the whole district) is very low.  Ms. Organizer believes that the Secret Santa thing is a way to lift our spirits and promote friendly feelings.

Unfortunately, my spirits are being deflated by this whole thing.  I know that it is better to give than to receive, but not in this case.  The whole point of a Secret Santa is to give and receive.

This really sucks.

Song of the Day:  You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Dr. Seuss

Penny Lane is in Pain

December 16, 2008

When I got home from work yesterday, the first thing I did was hitch Ellie to her lease to take her out to do her business.  As I was closing the door, Penny got in the way and the door hit her.  Not hard, though, so I didn’t think anything of it.  When I came back inside, I fed the dogs, got dinner started, and sat down to watch General Hospital and work on the afghan I’m knitting as a Christmas present for my father.

Penny was lying on a fleece doggie bed at my feet.  She kept moving around, as if she couldn’t find a comfortable position.  What’s worse, she was whining, whimpering, and crying.  I picked her up and sat her on my lap, but the moving around and crying continued.  I put her back on the floor and she surprised me by going to her crate.  (There’s another doggie bed in there.)

I was getting very worried.  This was not like her at all.  I called Daniel to see if he would be able to leave work to take her to the vet if I could get an appointment.  Unfortunately, the receptionist at the vet’s said they wouldn’t be able to see her until the next morning.

Besides constantly changing position and whimpering, poor Penny was shaking uncontrollably.  When Daniel got home, he took her upstairs and put her under the covers. At one point, her head snapped back and she made a scary sound, sort of a strangled yelp.  She continued to squirm around, but finally settled down.

During the night, her yelping woke me up, but she went back to sleep pretty quickly, so I was able to do the same.   She seems better this morning, but I still want to have her checked.

In other news, our Secret Santa gift swap at work started yesterday.  Each day this week, we are supposed to leave a present in the mailbox of the person whose name we picked.  As luck would have it, I picked the name of one of the few co-workers I can’t stand. Nevertheless, I placed gift number one in her mailbox yesterday morning.

I checked my own mailbox at various times throughout the day only to come up empty handed by the time I left.  Perhaps the person who picked my name was absent… Still, it was disappointing.   I’ll be absent today, but made arrangements for My Friend to put gift number two in Ms. Co-worker’s box.  Even though I’m not crazy about her, I wouldn’t want her to feel left out the way I did yesterday.

Song of the Day:  I’m Gettin Nuttin’ For Christmas (‘Cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.)

I’ve always liked the idea of Holidailies and decided to give it a shot this year.   I don’t know if I’ll be successful  – the thought of posting an entry every single day until January 5th is a daunting one.  But, what the heck.  It’s worth a try.

Today’s prompt:  Introduce yourself

I am 54 years old but don’t feel or act my age.  One of the things to which I attribute my youthful attitude is the fact that I am surrounded by teenagers five days a week (while school is in session).  I work in a computer lab in what is classified as an inner city school.  For the record, this is the same high school I graduated from in 1972.

I have two daughters – Rebecca, who will be 22 years old on Sunday,

and Leigh, who is 20.

Both girls are presently in college, which means that we are really feeling the squeeze financially.  Rebecca will earn her Bachelor’s degree next year (after finally settling on Sociology after switching her Major six times), so the money situation should improve somewhat.  (The girls are on their own as far as Master’s degrees go, and, in Leigh’s case, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  We’ll help them as much as we can, but they’re going to have to take out large loans.)

Daniel (my 2nd husband) and I will celebrate our 4th anniversary in March.  Being married to someone who suffers from chronic pain is not an easy row to hoe, but Daniel is very helpful, patient, understanding, thoughtful and loving.   I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Speaking of chronic pain, I have Fibromyalgia (accompanied by Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic fatigue), Degenerative Disc disease, a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, pinched nerves,  Anticardiolipin antibody, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (mild), and a persistent pain in the right shoulder blade that drives me out of my ever loving mind.

Our nest is pretty close to empty.  Rebecca lives at her father’s place, and Leigh is away at school.  On the other hand, we do have dearly loved “fur children,” Eleanor Rigby, a cockapoo, and Penny Lane, a dachshund.

I am an avid reader. Knitting is a more recent obsession, having learned how to do it only about a year and a half ago.  Music has always played a very important role in my life.  My tastes range from The Beatles to Linkin Park to Mendelssohn to Modest Mouse to Conor Oberst to Broadway soundtracks to The Talking Heads to U2 to the B-52s to Elvis Costello to Radiohead to The Clash to The Shins to opera, and so on.

To sum things up, I yam what I yam.

Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Song of the Day:  I Yam What I Yam from the Popeye Soundtrack

Whole Lotta Fun

October 25, 2008

I actually went out last night!  Me, the person who is almost always in bed by 8:30.  We didn’t get in until 2:00 am, which is only a few hours earlier than the time I usually get up.

Of course, I am paying the piper today.  But, I don’t care.   I had a good time.

Daniel and I went to see my brother and his Led Zeppelin tribute band.  The place where they performed is located in “The Boondocks,” an hour away from where we live.  It was worth it, though.  The music brought me back to my youth, and I was very proud of my guitar virtuoso brother.   Highlights were a blistering version of “Achilles Last Stand,” and their tour de force encore, “Whole Lotta Love. ”

Rock on, little brother.

Another thing I’d like to talk about is money, or the lack thereof.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, I am feeling pretty stressed out over financial matters.  Things are really tight.

Last year, Leigh attended a community college where the tuition was dirt cheap.  This year, she’s away at school, so our financial burden is greatly increased.  Incredibly, the only state aid we get for each of my daughters is a paltry $250.  That barely covers a couple of textbooks.

We live pretty simply.  Much of our furniture has been handed down from family members or purchased at yard sales.  The few pieces that we bought new were “assembly required,” in order to keep costs down.  We don’t have credit card debt.  In fact, I don’t even have a credit card.

My clothes are bought off clearance racks and from thrift shops.  Our grocery list is created according to what’s on sale that week.  Daniel brings leftovers to work for lunch.  I bring a granola bar and fruit or a peanut butter sandwich.

Because of our financial situation, we’ve been living with some pretty shabby pieces of furniture.  One was the loveseat in the living room.  Our darling dogs destroyed it.  The cushions were stained, and there was a spot that had been chewed all the way down to the frame.   I covered that spot with an afghan, but there was nothing I could do about the stains.  They wouldn’t come out, no matter what I tried.

Another ruined piece of furniture was the sofa in the family room.  This was a hand-me-down from my sister, who bought it at a yard sale, so it was pretty well worn.  The foam padding was visible through the rips on one of the cushions (on both sides).

Also in the family room is a chair that was given to me by a co-worker when her boyfriend moved out of his apartment and in with her. The chair was pretty beat up, but beggars can’t be choosers.   I put a slipcover on it, but it wasn’t a good fit, and constantly had to be re-tucked.  It looked sloppy.

These unsightly pieces of furniture were really bringing me down.  I had to do something, but couldn’t afford a new sofa, loveseat and armchair.  Thanks to a half price sale at Pier One, I was able to buy these two chairs to replace the loveseat.

Stretch slipcovers worked wonders on the family room sofa and chair.

Now I just have to train the dogs to stay off the furniture…  Sigh.

Song of the Day:  Achilles Last Stand by Led Zeppelin

Have You Any Wool

October 19, 2008

Even though I’m in a lot of pain, I’m trying to make sure to have some life in my life, so I went to the Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck yesterday.   We left at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until 8:30 p.m.  My back is killing me, and my legs are cramping from all that walking and standing but it was well worth it.  I just love that festival.  In fact, I might go back today.

I’ve never seen rabbits like this before.  They look like huge puffballs.

This llama is named My Sweet Prince, and I can see why.  He was very friendly, and even a bit flirtatious, if you can imagine such a thing.

This sheep was trying to climb over its enclosure to get in with his or her neighbors.

I bought some deeply discounted yarn, which made me pretty happy.   The lighter blue is a mohair blend, and will be knit into a cowl hood/scarf.  The darker blue is for my first pair of socks.

I also picked up a couple of felted gourds to go with the felted pumpkin I got at last year’s festival.

Another thing I’d like to mention is today’s Simple Abundance essay.  It begins with this quote from Oscar Wilde:  Nowadays we are all of us so hard up that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments.

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes:  “All women need more compliments in their lives… We need to hear more of them, even if we have to give them to ourselves.  But, most of all, we need to bask in them… It’s interesting that the first dictionary definition of a compliment is ‘an expression of esteem.’  Perhaps we have a difficult time accepting compliments because deep down we don’t believe we deserve them… Today, be receptive.  Start with the assumption that you’re beautiful, dazzling, absolutely fabulous… Every time someone pays you a compliment, accept it as if an angel had just whispered Spirit’s appreciation… We’re all so fragile, especially when we put on a brave face.  A sincere compliment can penetrate beneath even the most sophisticated masks to soothe troubled souls.”

I was struck by the timeliness of this essay because I’ve been receiving an unusually high number of compliments lately.   One day this past week, a girl came into the computer lab and was writing her name on the sign-in sheet next to my desk.  I heard her say “You’re pretty,” and looked behind me to see who she was talking to.   I was truly shocked when I realized she was talking to me.  (This is not something a fifty-four year old expects to hear, especially from a teenager.)  I thanked her with a big smile, and told her how gorgeous she is.   The next day, a young male substitute Teaching Assistant (who is in the process of writing a book – for which he already has an agent and publisher –  about having Asperger’s Syndrome, combined with his experiences on the Appalachian Trail)  asked me if I had any daughters.  When I acknowledged that I have two, he said, “They must be very beautiful, just like their mother.”  I was absolutely floored.

At the Sheep and Wool festival, I was amazed and pleased by all the compliments I received about my “sharf.”   My cousin, Kathy, was as delighted for me as I was for myself.

Sarah Ban Breathnach is right when she says “Just as words can hurt, words can heal.”   I’ve been so down lately, these compliments couldn’t have come at a better time.  The kindness that has been coming my way really does help to offset some of the stress I’ve been under.  And, much of that kindness has come from you, my attractive, smart, compassionate, wonderful readers.  Pass on a compliment today.

Song of the Day:  Sheep by Pink Floyd