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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Volunteer Work

A lady in my book club volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem here in Florence County. We've been talking about it off and on for months now, and I finally decided to take the plunge and have her put me in touch with the program director. It looks like I'm going to become a GAL this summer!

A Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for children who have been abused or neglected and are in the custody of the state. Most are in temporary foster homes until their birth family either get it together so they can reclaim them, or else a permanent adoptive home can be found. In the state of South Carolina, minors are not present at court hearings that determine their fate, and a GAL can be there to testify on their behalf so that the judge can take their wishes into account. Serving as a volunteer means meeting with the child (or children, if it's a sibling group) at least once a month, writing a monthly report on their welfare, and writing a report and appearing in court whenever a hearing is scheduled. Beyond those basics, you can be as involved as you want to be and have time for. There will be 30 hours of training as a prerequisite which will start in July.

I'm super excited about this! I have an Associate's degree in Human Services and have always had a strong interest in social welfare. I've been looking for an opportunity to volunteer some time to a worthy cause, and I would love it if I could eventually find a new (paid) job in the field of Human Services. This opportunity to become a GAL will not only be a wonderful way to volunteer, but will give me new skills, new experiences, and new contacts. A win-win all around.

Here's a link to the program is anyone is interested in reading more about it:

http://scgal.org/state/index.html


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Equal time

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A picture of the Marcoman from 2011 that I particularly like. Posted today to balance out all the photos of the dogs I've shared lately. Fair is fair.

And isn't he beautiful?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Too hot already!

Well, here we go. Temperatures are expected to reach way up into the 90's today.  A heat advisory is in effect for the area for the rest of the week. And it's not even June yet. Ugh.

This afternoon we're going to set up the dogs' little portable A/C in the garage. We're trying to figure out some way to close off part of the garage with tarps, so that the cold air can be concentrated around their bed. Attempting to cool the whole area is expensive and not very satisfactory in terms of temperature. The ideal solution would be to just let them live in the house, but we can't. George might be a danger to Marco and we hate to risk it. Ginger's behavior is exemplary, but she doesn't like coming in the house, having been born out in the country on 14 acres of land with two ponds and plenty of fields and woods to explore. Even after we moved to town, she preferred to spend her days in the back yard, watching the sun rise, napping in the shade, patrolling the perimeter of the fence, etc. The good life for a dog!  Although I'll bet that if she got a taste of the climate-controlled house in the hottest part of the summer she'd quickly learn to love being inside, at least in the summer.

Now that George is here, though, with his prey drive and destructive chewing habits, it's necessary to keep them living in the garage and back yard instead. (Side note: not only do they have a portable A/C for the summer, they have a heater for the winter, a big cozy bed, fans, access to the laundry room, access to the back yard, and a view right into our den via the back door. They're hardly roughing it even if they're not "house dogs").


I need to prepare our house for the onset of hot weather, too. The houseplants that live in the front living room and dining room will have to be moved, so that the blinds and drapes can be drawn--we hardly use those rooms and they have hot westward facing windows. Gregg can't sleep unless the house is super cool at night. Since his lung surgery 5 years ago, he wakes up occasionally in the middle of the night struggling to get a deep breath and gasping. After about a minute of acute anxiety that makes him jump out of bed and pace around, everything goes back to normal and he can breathe again. These episodes are more likely to happen if the room is warm. So power bill be damned, we have to crank down the A/C at night, even now. It's in the daytime, when we're mostly at work, that we need to be conservative with it. Combining our cooling needs with the dogs' makes our summertime power usage soar. No matter what we do, our next four or five bills are going to be scary.

And don't get me started about how uncomfortable being outside will be for the next 5 months. Even at night, it's so hot and humid no one wants to go outdoors.

Yay for summer in South Carolina! (Not).


Friday, May 12, 2017

Reasons to smile

Thanks to my friend Terra over at Terra Garden for giving me an idea for a blog post today. I've been feeling uninspired and a trifle depressed this week, and haven't had much to say here on the blog. Making a list of reasons to smile has got to help lift my mood, right?

Here are a few things that spring immediately to mind:

* Everything about being outdoors right now.
This is such a nice time of year. There's about a thousand shades of green outside. Flowers are blooming in my yard and all over town: jasmine, magnolias, roses (how I envy my neighbors their roses!) the water lily and blue pickerel in Gregg's container pond, bright red geraniums in pots. Speaking of which, I bought myself  a small pot of geraniums at the farm stand down the road. They brighten up our back patio.


Blue Pickerel in the container pond.

*These two sweethearts.


Ginger and George both got baths on my last day off. They both feel and smell so good right now! And sweet? Oh my goodness. These two are always affectionate and happy and full of doggy zen. The hardest part of their day is when Gregg or I leave for work--they watch us getting in our cars and driving away with solemn faces and mournful eyes.

*Small surprises in the mail.
A few of my blog friends and I now correspond through "snail mail" and I love it! Here are two postcards I received just in the last week or so, one from California and the other from Arizona. Unexpected cards and letters in the mail make me so happy! Thank you both!

On the refrigerator for frequent viewing!


What kinds of things are making you smile these days?


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Living Water

This photo popped up on my Facebook page today. It was taken several years ago at Lynches River Park (just a few miles down the road from my house) on a nice spring day this time of year. I grew up around rivers; my hometown is near the Big and Little Pee Dee here in South Carolina. This looks like home to me.

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As some of you may remember, my husband has a large (300 gallon) vat on our back yard patio. There are small local catfish and bream living in there, and we're growing three native pond plants in it, too. Yesterday we went outside to feed the bream and noticed the first bloom of the season floating on the surface of the water...

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All the water around here is teeming with life in May.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Walking Wounded

My husband and I look like we've been in a car accident or something. He has a huge bandage on his forehead (they took a much bigger, deeper layer of skin off than we expected) and I have a forearm covered in a giant purple and yellowish bruise from my bike accident.

We're a nice looking pair today. Ahem.

Speaking of my accident, I told my friend Marian that I hoped none of the neighbors were looking out of their windows when I fell. And she said, "Check YouTube."  Ha!





How's your week going?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The beginning of May

Thanks, everyone, for the supportive comments about my fall on Monday. Yesterday I was pretty sore all along my left side, from my neck down to my knee. I felt like I had pulled some muscles, and I may very well have. I hit the ground hard! But today I feel much better. I'm still a little bit sore, and the bruise on my arm is pretty sensitive to the touch, but overall things are much improved.

Gregg is at the dermatologist's office having the small basal cell carcinoma on his forehead removed. I tried to get him to let me drive him, or at least go with him, but he insisted that it wasn't necessary. The nurses said it should be pretty quick and straightforward and he'll only be getting a small area of skin numbed. There were no restrictions on driving or anything else, so he told me to stay home and enjoy the day off. He suggested I might want to ride my bike, since the weather is so nice...ha ha ha! I think I'll let my bruises, scrapes, and pulled muscles finish healing first, thank you very much!

It is a beautiful day outside, though. Blue sky, cooler temperatures, and the magnolias and jasmine have burst into bloom. I knew the jasmine was starting to flower before I actually saw it, because of the sweet smell. We were returning from our nightly walk with the dogs and I caught the barest hint of jasmine in the air. Sure enough, the next morning when I went outside to check, the first tiny white flowers were beginning to open. I knew the magnolia trees in the neighborhood were about to bloom, too, because even after dark all the huge white flower buds are easy to see. It's amazing what all you can notice even after dark if you pay attention!

Here's one of the first blooms on a young magnolia tree in our yard. I went out just now (at midday) to take the picture. This is the only one within reach so far. It's about 2 feet above my head.



I pulled the branch down to get that second picture for you. These blooms are enormous--roughly the size of dinner plates. And oh! The smell is heavenly. It's a very soft lemon scent without a hint of the usual zest of citrus. It's reminds me of lemon mixed with cream and sugar. Lovely.



The perfume of a whole fence covered in Confederate Jasmine, on the other hand, is anything but subtle. It's strong and sweet and unmistakable. Every year this vine takes up more and more space on the fence around the backyard. It's a monster--but a very pretty one.

These are the kind of pictures I meant to share here on May Day (before my fall).  The month is off to a beautiful start here in my little part of the world.

Monday, May 1, 2017

My own stupid fault

Well, I did it this time. I've injured myself. I definitely should have known better.

I decided to start taking Ginger with me on bike rides, to give her some extra exercise. And she's great at it, just like she's great at everything we ask of her.

Right from the beginning, Gregg and I talked about how taking George along for a ride would be a bad idea. He's just getting to the point that I can comfortably walk  him on a leash, and he'll still pull hard when he gets distracted. An 88 pound dog can really pull when he wants to, and sometimes I have to use all my strength to hold him when he gets really excited about something.

So this morning I took Ginger out for a ride, and she did great. I felt guilty though because poor George stood at the gate as we rode off and whined and whined. When we got back he still looked so sad that I decided to give him a go, too. I figured that once he worked up to a run that he wouldn't be as likely to notice distractions, and maybe it would be alright. For about a block, all was well.

But then he suddenly veered off to the left at a neighbor's mailbox that he loves to sniff, and I went crashing down on my left knee and forearm. Check it out:




My arm is actually worse than it looks in the bottom photo. It's got a big swollen lump that's rapidly turning purple. I haven't had gravel burns from a fall from a bike since I was a kid. It's pretty painful, but at least nothing is broken.

I can't even blame poor George. I should have known better. He looked so startled, and so sorry, that rather than walk the rest of the way back home I (very cautiously) climbed back on the bike and we made it without further incident. Thank goodness that I only have some scrapes and bruises to show for my stupidity. My bike's handlebars got knocked all out of alignment but I'll wait for Gregg to get home to fix it.

Never again.