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Monday, October 31, 2016

100 years

Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. I didn't realize it until my mom posted about it on Facebook.

I was very close to my maternal grandparents. My childhood home wasn't a happy one; my grandma and "Pa" Lewis made my world more secure than it would have been without them. I miss them and will be thinking of them along with the rest of my beloved dead in the next couple of days (All Souls is November 2).

Here is a picture of my grandparents at my parents' wedding in January of 1973.




Left to right: my grandfather Marvin Lewis, my mom, my dad, and my grandmother Ora Lee Lewis.

Happy 100th Birthday, Pa. I love you. I miss you.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Welcoming Grins!

These two guys are hanging out on our front steps, waiting for little ghosts and goblins to come visit.


One more day until Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Late October weekend

I've been off work for two days. It's so rare for me to have a Friday and a Saturday off that I've tried hard to enjoy it and also to catch up on some rest.

We've hit the worst part of the retail year at work....the dreadful holiday set. One night, I got off work at 3am....the next, 5:30 am...and had to be back at work the next afternoon to do a regular closing shift after that. On the plus side, we're almost done. 90% of the store is set, and all that remains is one more late night on Monday to finish the music and dvd section. It's such a relief.

Yesterday (my first day off) I took the most wonderful nap. I had gotten up early to do errands: Ginger needed to go to the vet,  I had to go up to the tax office and pay taxes on our truck, I had to stop by the post office, and then groceries had to be bought (our fridge was bare after a week when Gregg and I both had to work long hours). When I finished all that, it was just after lunchtime, so I took to my bed with a book. I dropped off into a deep sleep immediately and didn't wake up for three hours. I felt great when I woke up, too. It was clearly a much-needed nap!

Our house is decorated a little bit for Halloween. I have two jack'o lanterns made of plastic lit up on the front steps, there's a sparkly purple witch hat with LED lights on the living room coffee table (you can see it in my last book club party post) and our mantle has miniature pumpkins and gourds on it. I bought a big bag of candy at the grocery store yesterday in case any trick or treaters show up at the house Monday night. Gregg will have to hand it out because I'll be at work. We never get many kids so I don't buy very much. The few that do show up will probably get handfuls of treats just to get rid of them.

I buy stuff we like, just in case of leftovers.

This afternoon I took the dogs for a walk. Gregg is working late tonight, setting up a really big aquarium for a new client, so it's just the three of us right now (and Marco, of course).


The leaves outside have barely started to change color. It's still warm during the day, but pleasantly cool at night. The dogs love walking through the wooded lot behind the church at the corner. See how happy Ginger looks?  A walk before supper is all my dogs need for a blissful afternoon!

Time for my own small supper, a mixed drink or two, and a movie on Netflix. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 24, 2016

A quick laugh..



Just popping in to say hello and share this funny photo I found on the internet with you all. It made me laugh out loud this morning. Living with two dogs as I do, I can certainly relate! 

Friday, October 21, 2016

October Book Club Selection ~ The Haunting of Hill House

At the beginning of this month my smaller book club met to discuss The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. We had decided that with the approach of Halloween we would try to pick a couple of good scary stories to read, and we started off with a classic!

The Haunting of Hill House

From Goodreads.com:

The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
 

This turned out to be my favorite kind of horror novel: subtle, with tension that slowly builds and leaves you more frightened by what is left to your imagination rather than going for big dramatic frights. The narrator of most of the story, Eleanor, is the classic unreliable narrator: a psychologically frail, sheltered, emotionally repressed young woman. It's left up to the reader to decide if what happens to the group staying in Hill House is the result of a real haunting or else the imaginings of Eleanor's increasingly unstable mind.

I really enjoyed this book! I also discovered Shirley Jackson through this selection and was happy to find a new (to me) female American author that I like. She wrote in the gothic style of Daphne du Maurier which made me so happy, as du Maurier is one of my favorite authors of all time. I adore spooky gothic stories!

Three friends showed up at my house for our discussion party. We had a great time and everyone loved the book!

Would you like to see our menu?! Here's what we had to eat!

Haunting of Hill House Party Food:

  • Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs
  • Assorted Cheeses and Crackers
  • Crudites Platter
  • Spinach Dip (brought by Marla)
  • S'mores Bars (Marla again...thanks Marla!)
  • Caramel Apple "Nacho" platter (brought by another guest)
  • Pumpkin Pie and Mini Pumpkin Tarts
  • Kettle Corn
  • Halloween/Harvest Chex Mix
  • Black Fruits Sangria
  • Iced Tea

I only got a few pictures of the food and decorations to share. I wish I had taken more, but here's what I have. This was possibly my favorite meeting with this group yet!





It's hard to see, but the pumpkin tarts have little sugar
ghosts on top! The pie has dough cutouts of fall leaves.

Black Fruit Sangria, made with
blackberries, purple plums, muscadine grapes,
raspberries, Apothic Dark red wine, and brandy.


Pumpkin and live mum arrangement
with fairy lights. On the table are bags of
Halloween Chex Mix for the guests to take
home in cute little Day of the Dead bags!

Marla's always saying something funny!
We laugh a lot at book club!

And before I forget, special thanks to my little kitchen assistant, Marco, who "helped" me prepare the food and pies the night before our party!! He loves to sit on my shoulder while I cook. I took this selfie of the two of us hard at work in the kitchen that Saturday night!





Thursday, October 20, 2016

Here we go again.

Last night I had to work until 2:30am, the first of three late nights to complete our holiday set. The next two "overnights" will be Sunday and Monday of next week. It's a lot of hard work, and every year by the last night everyone is exhausted and desperate to finish. Our regional manager comes the day after the 300 or so projects are supposed to be completed, to tour the store and critique everything.  There are only four of us working on this and responsible for it all.  It's just the worst!

I promised myself last October that Christmas 2015 would be my last in retail, and that I wouldn't ever have to do another holiday set again. So much for that. In fact, I'm losing hope that a new beginning on the job front is destined to be part of 2016 for me. I'm still looking, but there's been nothing to even apply for lately. With the travesty of a presidential election going on, everyone (including employers, I'm sure) has been on edge. Whatever the reason, job openings seem to have dried right up for the time being. All I can do is continue to wait and try to be patient.

    But I don't have to like it!!





Sunday, October 16, 2016

Retreat

Everyone should have a special spot all their own to escape to when they want to be alone. For Ginger, that spot is under an overgrown jasmine hedge in the back yard. It's her favorite place.

Go away.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Afterwards

Well! That was an adventure!

My area got hit unexpectedly hard by the hurricane. Last night, on what would have been our 4th night without electricity, the lights finally came back on. Many people in the area still don't have power and won't for some days yet. The widespread flooding combined with high winds meant that an incredible number of trees uprooted and came crashing down on lines. Linemen from all over South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia are working around the clock (often with the help of tree removal crews) to try to restore power and I'm grateful for their hard work. The flooding over the weekend rivaled last year's historic flooding and a lot of people lost everything



A home sits in flood water in Nichols, S.C., Monday.
Aerial shot of a tiny little community called Nichols,
maybe 15 miles from my parents' house.



So I won't complain about being inconvenienced for a few days and losing all the food in our refrigerator and freezer. We were extremely fortunate. No big trees fell on our house (although so many were down in our neighborhood getting out was like running a maze at first), the flooding was minimal and nothing is water damaged, our freezer stayed cold enough to keep water and soda chilled, and maybe most importantly, it's turned cool outside. If this hurricane had happened a month earlier we would have been miserable with sweltering temperatures and high humidity. Instead, we are having some of the most beautiful weather of the whole year, gloriously blue skies, warm days, slightly chilly nights....just wonderful. The first two days after the storm, our water pressure was down to a trickle, but then it re-pressurized and never had to be shut completely off. And on top of that, we always have hot water when the power goes out thanks to our gas powered hot water heater.

Yes, all in all we were lucky. We were slightly inconvenienced, having to do without tv and limited internet access (as our phones had to be charged in our car and we didn't want to drain the batteries by using them too much), and cooking outside on the grill and Coleman camping stove, but all in all it was ok. I'll count my blessings.

And what a change it was to hang out by candlelight for three days, with almost no screen time. We sat outside each night and watched the sun go down, and marveled at how dark and serene the neighborhood was without street lights and well-lit houses. We walked the dogs with flashlights (that we didn't really need thanks to the moonlight) and the crisp autumn air felt great. The hurricane really seemed to usher in fall for us! So it wasn't all bad. Not at all.

Today has been busy, catching up with laundry and doing a final cleaning out of the refrigerator and freezers. Now I'm getting ready to head out grocery shopping. It's going to be expensive, stocking everything back up, but then we should be back to normal at my house. Thanks for all the comments and good wishes everyone left here for me during the ordeal! I really appreciated them all!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Safe

The hurricane hit us hard. No power now for 3 days and counting. Four main water lines in the city are broken so no water. I'm typing this on my phone which I have to charge in my car which will soon be out of gas. It may be a few days before I can update again, but we are ok. Thanks to all for your concern.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We may be in trouble..

I had intended to blog today about the book club party I hosted at my house on Sunday (we read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson) or the one night camping trip we took with the dogs to Lynches River on Monday, but the really big news over here in my little corner of the world is hurricane Matthew. It's a big, bad, scary storm and it might be headed straight for us. Last night the forecast track put it making landfall around the NC/SC border...I live about 20 miles away from the border.

Our governor has already declared a state of emergency and an evacuation is underway for all coastal areas. Everyone is urged to leave if they live within 100 miles of the ocean. My town is right on the edge of that--we're about 90 miles from Myrtle Beach. As of today, all the local schools are closed and so are government offices. My store will probably close tomorrow afternoon and will not reopen until Sunday, unless the storm dramatically changes track before tomorrow. Which is, of course, entirely possible. Hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable. The bad thing about a storm the size and strength of Matthew is that you don't have to be all that close to the precise landfall area to be impacted. There will be tropical storm force winds and rain all around the main part of the storm, and states all up and down the eastern seaboard have to be prepared for danger.

Smaller hurricanes don't worry me too much. They're a common occurrence and usually just cause some minor inconveniences and damage. Once a storm reaches category 3 or larger, though, that's a whole other ballgame. Matthew has had sustained winds of 150 mph, and combined with massive rainfall and storm surge it has the potential for massive destruction. I'll never forget hurricane Hugo back in 1989. Charleston was devastated. Myrtle Beach had to be evacuated, and it was a month or more before the residents were allowed back in (National Guard were stationed there) and even at my house 30 miles inland we were without power and water for over a week. Even Charlotte, NC was in terrible shape and that's way on the other side of the state. I remember feeling our whole house shaking and the continuous roar of the wind, and when it was all over a small dogwood tree was uprooted and had been hurled against our front door. We were lucky to have water and power again in less than 2 weeks, some people we knew who lived in more rural areas went without for almost a month. It was a bad time.

So instead of blogging about fun stuff today, I'm leaving for work early so I can look for bottled water on the way in and top off the gas in my car. I'm sure the stores' shelves are bare of water and non-perishable foods already so I hope I can find some. Thank goodness we have plenty of canned food, batteries, candles, and other emergency supplies already (we try to keep that stuff on hand all the time) and we have plenty of 5 gallon buckets around we can fill with water for flushing the toilets if need be. I'll try to keep you all updated, but if the storm hits here hard I may not have power for awhile. Keep your fingers crossed for us!



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Farmer's Market Fall Festival

The biggest farmer's market in this area has a fall and spring plant and flower festival. This year's fall festival is happening this weekend. I went to check it out yesterday morning and took a few pictures. The vendors were just starting to arrive and set up and so things weren't very busy yet. 

There were lots of neat things for sale. I restrained myself and only bought a large bag of kettle corn and about 10 pounds of mountain apples. 

Here are some of the pictures I took...