Wednesday, August 31, 2016

my poor mom

It's not overly clear or visible in this photograph, but my legs are COVERED in band-aids. (I'm the one on the right.) And I hated them.  But what I did love doing in the summertime, was raking up mounds of leaves and making small "houses".  Basically it was a waist-high maze that was the outline of my pretend house. And leaves, especially old wet ones from the previous fall, are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. (As was the pond behind our house.)  As long as I can remember, I have been a food magnet for mosquitoes. And their bites leave HUGE whelps. This particular summer was exceptionally bad. And when things itch; I scratch. Scratching creates scars, which I scratched. And that summer, which seemed worse than any other, my mom, in her desperation to get me to leave all the bites and scabs alone, slathered me in band-aids, forbid me to take them off, and placed any and all leaf piles around our property (which was very wooded) on my list of restricted places. Looking back as an adult, I realize this was as much (maybe more) a punishment for her as it was for me. I did find other things to do, but those bites seemed to take FOREVER to heal. It's a wonder my Mom is still sane after all I've put her through.

This summer has reminded me so much of that summer. My legs and arms have been COVERED with bites and whelps like no other summer in my adult life. It's been so bad I've quit counting the bites, have been washing my legs and one arm in hydrogen peroxide to help relieve the itch, and have been wearing pants in public (yes, even in this heat!!) because my legs looks SO bad.

My mother-in-law, after visiting Alaska, claims that cold weather does not kill of mosquitoes. She said Alaska was full of them. Sometimes I think maybe I should live in a colder climate in the summer, but then I remember that, and realize it wouldn't make a difference. Early in our marriage, Bobby was amazed at how we could go to the pond at night. Within 10 minutes, he would not have one bite at all, but I would have 10-15 whelps appearing on my arms alone. Mosquitoes are not my friends, and am I greatly looking forward to fall and winter.

thankful

This past Saturday I started my temp work with the Board of Elections. I am SO thankful that my schedule is very organized and reasonable. Unless I need to fill in for a different trainer, I should only have one class to teach each week and one class to take each week AND they've given me several days in a row off before early voting starts. Starting Oct 27, I'll be working every single day until Election Day. And the day after that? I plan to crash. As I get older, I wonder how many more years I will keep doing this. It's not a difficult job, I enjoy the interaction with people, and it's a great public service job. And yet, the hours on election day are c.r.a.z.y. I'm trying not to focus on the future or what's ahead, because it's constantly changing. But for now, my goal is to be the best Help Table trainer I can be, and be a fair and kind supervisor on election day. People always turn out on Presidential election years, and this year has been a record turnout for Wake County. I don't expect November to be any different. So if I don't blog a whole lot in September and October, you'll know I'm trying to balance getting ready for class and daily life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

sheer genius

When I was a child, I would beg for Mom to let me stay with Dad at work while she shopped for groceries. I would have been 4 at the time, as I was not in school and Dad had not yet become a preacher. He was a pharmacy tech, and the pharmacy where he worked at the time was behind the grocery store. It's name was Geriatric Pharmacy and it always bothered me to no end that they spelled his name wrong on the door. (His name is Jerry, and I was convinced it was named after him.)


Thanks to a game called Chutes and Ladders, I knew how to count to 100, and my older sister had taught me to count by 5s. So Dad would let me help him "push pills".  Medicine came in these HUGE bottles, and one of his many jobs was to drop two/three pills (depending on the order) at a time into a machine that looked like a huge rotary dial machine, and it would seal them into little packets. Dad would hand me a large bottle. My first job was to count out 100 pills. When I finished I would turn and tell him how many I had left over. I was always amazed when he'd frown, come over, look at the pills and go "Hmmm. I think you better count again. I think you might have 96 pills there (or 98, or 99). And when I recounted, I was always amazed that he was right. (And keep in mind I often lost my count and had to start over.) I was convinced that my Dad was a math genius. Now when I have to buy a bottle of vitamins or pills, I laugh inside when I see the count on the outside of the bottle. My Dad might not have been as much a math genius as I thought he was, but he was a genius at keeping me occupied. When I had finished counting and had finally reached the number he said I should have, he would turn on the machine and I could drop them two at a time into the slots. One time I dropped a bottle and it spilled into the machine. Too many pills went into a slot and jammed. He not only had to clean up my mess, but he had to sort out all the mispackaged pills and redo everything. I had to draw and sit in a chair the rest of that trip. I'm not sure, but that may have been the last day I counted and packaged pills as well.

I'm not sure who took this photo of my Dad at work, or why, but I'm so thankful to have a digital copy of it. It brings back a LOT of memories.


Friday, August 19, 2016

helpers

Last winter our neighbor recognized that a persimmon tree near his mailbox would be destroyed when they started construction or paved the road this year. So he saved quite a few seeds.  Earlier this week, some of Bobby's great nieces and a great nephew came over and helped me plant the seeds into cups. I didn't get pictures of the action (or of one saying "Mom painted my nails last night" as she refused to get near the bag of dirt. Did I mention she's not quite 3?!) or of the final result, but I'm hoping in a few weeks to see sprouts. At that point the sprouts will be replanted into larger containers. Hopefully by next spring we'll have decent seedlings. 

Most kids know which room in our house is the "toy" room, and they tend to gravitate toward it. Their grandmother told them to pick up, and I couldn't help but laugh when I walked in the room later that evening and saw this:


There's not a toy in the floor. I've not bothered to go in and straighten the box up so the lid will close. But it made me smile, and not just because the floor was clean. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

coming changes

About ten years ago, a small section of the farm that bordered our property was sold to the Wake County School System. We've known since then that both an elementary school and a middle school were going to be our neighbors. We also knew that when that happened, this view would change:

I know nostalgic people think I'm crazy, but I'm not an overly huge fan of living on a dirt road. The state does "maintain" the road, meaning that when the potholes and washboard effect get too bad they scrape it (and almost always cut our phone line) and add new gravel (which teenagers drive through super fast and sling everywhere). But that is not all that often. And we don't get a whole lot of rain, which means we have an incredible amount of dust. Sometimes in the summer it seems to just hang in the air. So I always thought I'd be glad when the road became paved.

But then ten years passed, and the layout of the school property changed, as well as requests from the town of Garner for the property. The long and short of it is that there will now be a town walking path that is right on the border of our property (and we have a pond), and immediately next to it is the school driveway. And the school wants a turn lane. So we were QUITE shocked two weeks ago when surveyors showed up in our yard, unannounced (by law you're supposed to have a 30 day notice), and started putting stakes around our 20 year old oak tree (in the picture below), our well, and in the opposite corner of our yard from the school property, all the way down into 1/3 of our yard. The stake they placed in the middle of our driveway I promptly removed.
We have yet to receive an explanation on any of the stakes from the BOE or DOT, no one will answer any of our questions, and their promised "we'll contact you next week" has now gone two weeks without happening. So we don't know if the paving of the road will require the removal of four trees, a huge section of our yard, relocating the dog's underground fence and our well, or not. I know that the person we've dealt with over the years left her job sometime in May. I don't know if the person who replaced her is overwhelmed in the new position, or simply inconsiderate and incompetent. But one of our neighbors is being treated even worse. And it makes me angry. Eminent domain is one thing, but this taking this much is arrogant and unnecessary.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

moving out of summer

With the crazy humidity we've been having it certainly does NOT feel as if we're moving out of summer, but as back to school posts are showing up on Facebook news feeds and the tomatoes in the garden are fading and drying up, I have to accept the reality that it really and truly is August. This year seems to be disappearing before my very eyes.

And August means it's time to start transitioning from the garden to the fruit trees. The hard frost we had back in April/May (I can't remember which, just that it was bad and very late into spring) killed almost all the leaves and bud on our trees. Even our pecan trees took a horrible hit. So we weren't expecting much produce from our trees at all. Last week I started seeing squirrels running across the road with apples and pears in their mouth, so I had to admit to myself it is time. Yesterday I picked one bucket of both apples and pears (together), which is the lowest amount of fruit our trees have ever yielded. I've not checked the grape vines yet, though it should be time for the grapes to be ripening as well.


I decided to do apple jelly this year, which I've never made before. I didn't finish with all the apples yesterday and had planned to finish up today. Unfortunately, my sinuses/allergies triggered a bad headache that was nearing migraine status. So my day has mostly been a wash. It was almost five before I could get rid of the pain, and I am totally wiped. I've managed to get a little bit done (I actually stayed home from church tonight), but am mostly taking it easy. But hopefully before the weekend is out I'll actually have some completed apple jelly to show you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

'tudes

We're nearing the end of a study at church on our attitudes (mostly the sin of negative and complaining attitudes). The first week and this week of the study seems to have been the most challenging.

- We lost phone/internet due to construction stuff in our area for almost 12 hours...again.
- Some friends of ours are facing some really tough stuff right now, and there's not much we can do but listen and pray.
- They're surveying for the road, and we now have stakes up through the middle of our yard. Grumpy me actually pulled one up out of the middle of our driveway so I could go to the grocery store. We've yet to hear from one official person about easements, right of way, payment, etc. They just showed up this morning and started staking up half our front yard and a good chunk out of the far corner.
- I'm not feeling great again.

So in the midst of all my grumpiness and negative mindset, I am trying to count my blessings (we're getting a paved road, I got a lot of work done yesterday, it's only sinus mess not hives this times) but it's been a constant struggle all.day.long.

So if I don't get around to posting the rest of this week, know our internet connection is probably cut up or dug up or blown up or washed out or one of the other crazy scenarios that can happen when new turn lanes, sidewalks, two schools and two red lights are being put up withing a 5 mile radius of your house.