Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Best Part of the Ride to Work

I hope to get in a few more field trips during the next couple of months; it would be a shame not to see as much as I can of the area while I am still here. One view I have almost daily is on my drive into work. There is a little stretch on 385 that gives me a glimpse of the mountains. On the way in yesterday, I held my camera out and snapped a picture through the windshield. It is always pretty, whether barely visible through rain or in shades of blue as in this picture, and I wanted a reminder of it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Field Trip

There are a lot of pretty things to see here in the Upstate of SC and one is Campbell's covered bridge, the only covered bridge in the state. It was only about a forty-five minute drive from the house.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Do you have any chocolate?

What is it about the sweet smooth taste of chocolate that makes us desire it?

How often at work have I heard, "Do you have any chocolate?" or "I need some chocolate" during or after a stressful time. Not surprisingly, I have craved it too many times, but I have learned that taking a break to savor even a bite of chocolate can be curative. In fact . . . chocolate releases endorphins and certain neurotransmitters that make us feel good, and I think it must happen immediately, even with the first whiff as we open a candy package.

A web site said that chocolate also has these chemicals: theobromine and caffeine to provide a mental boost, phenylethylamine, which increases your nervous system and can make us feel like "standing next to your latest crush," and something called anandamide, a built-in flavor enhancer that some consider similar to a drug. (But what kind?)

Thank goodness for chocolate.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


This common field grasshopper was sunning on the windshield today.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

State Fair Time

One of the most anticipated yearly events in Columbia is the State Fair, and each year since I have lived away, I have seen October come and go and regretted missing it. Not this year though. On Friday I met Peter, Sally and Caroline near entrance and under the darkening sky we did much of the Fair together. (No rides for us though.) Fair food is great! Sausage dogs in buns piled with grilled onions and peppers, elephant ears, fried mushrooms, fresh lemonade and corn dogs, and the best French fries with Cajun seasoning I have ever eaten. We walked in the crowd and in the big building that housed the art and agriculture exhibits. After the girls left for the concert, Peter and I went to see the animals, all kinds of beautiful fowl, cattle, and even an elephant for the kids to ride. There was more to see and do but I left quite satisfied and happy. Caroline enjoying Fair food.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kitten Update

Finding a home for the kitten has been harder than I thought it would be. Though I haven’t had to give one away lately, I have in the past, and honestly, it was no trouble. But that was then and this is now. I have asked everyone I know. People have allergies, or their husbands don’t like cats, or they will claw the furniture, or their dogs would attack them, and no they don’t even know anyone who is looking for a cat. I posted signs in the neighborhood, even shamelessly left one where the school bus stops, but no calls came. What to do! On this gray and drizzly day, I packed up the kitty in the cat carrier and drove to a pet store where Jessica and I took some homeless stray kittens about six years ago. At that time they gladly took them, and before we left, one was being sold for $25. Today I was told, “We don’t do that anymore.” But seeing my predicament, the kid in the store said I could hang around for a little while and see if anyone would be coming in looking for a cat. One woman customer asked, “Is there really something in there?” as kitty was in the back of the carrier under the covers. I took the little yellow bundle out to show her. “Aww . . . wish I could take her but I can’t,” she offered. I held kitty’s little quivering body and her big trusting eyes looked back at me. What was I thinking? A big knot, the kind that keeps you from swallowing, was forming in my throat. My eyes were welling with tears. I had to get out of there before I cried. It was a bonding moment. I stuffed her in the carrier, and we walked back into the rain. Is it time to name her?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

...and often unwelcome

"In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary."
George Orwell

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ending the Blooming Season

There are still a few photographable sights in the yard as flowers go to seed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reflections from work

Last week was pretty busy work week for me, and I wanted to pass along a couple of observations. (I still agree to do more than I should. When will I ever learn!)

For the past few months I have mostly been taking care of some truly mentally ill people, those who have a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is not. One of the women patients became physically weak for a few days, and what was so heartwarming was how the other women, in spite of their own handicaps, showed concern for her and tried to nurture her. It is instinctive in most of us women to caretake when the need is there, and for women to understand other women.

Another situation happened Friday in the day program. We noticed that one of the patients was going to have a birthday the next day. Before the group left, we quickly announced it and started singing Happy Birthday before he got a chance to protest too much. When the song ended, he said that was more of a birthday celebration than he had had in twenty years. And we wondered why the depression has been so long lasting. Recognizing birthdays and milestones is validating to all of us, making us feel a little special for a while.

Some mental problems just happen but others can be prevented.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keeping Grandmommy Current

It looks like Jacob is on a skateboard, but no. It's a Ripstik and is more fun, he says, and works in a different way. I appreciate the way he keeps me up on things, and I hope he learns as much from me as I do from him.

Gathering pollen?

There were several types of bees on the pineapple sage. This was the tiniest of them, barely visible with my presbyopic eyes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Desiring Power

Something I have noticed over the twenty-five years that I have been working is that often people want positions of power even though they are not qualified for it. And once that power is established, leaders can push whatever agenda they have - right or wrong, ignorant or wise, selfish or selfless - and it is hard to stop them. “They say” that power corrupts, but maybe corruptible people are the ones who often seek the power. It is quite intoxicating whether in a small arena or on the national stage.

Last week a co-worker commented on something he would do differently if he were the president of our country. He said he would not be out flagrantly spending our money, just because he could, during these economically challenging times but instead would set an example of wise money management. That sounded like a good leadership quality. In a perfect world, leaders would possess knowledge and wisdom and be responsible to the people they serve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Free to Good Home

The lively little Tennessee kitten with personality plus was hard to photograph, but I had to give it a try. Still no takers. I haven't really tried.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Family Tradition

It seems that when I visit my children, we somehow find a farmer's market to go to. I think I know where it all started.

When I was a curly haired little girl of maybe five or six and Wilmington was home, my grandfather would take me with him on some Saturday mornings to the Farmer's Market and the Fish Market downtown. Before leaving the house, Papa would always take the time to look in the mirror and position his straight brimmed straw hat securely on his balding head. It was a ritual and once accomplished, we were free to go. Since Papa never drove, we took the city bus up to Front Street.

As I remember, a lot of people were crowded into these busy, colorful, happy places. I was too small to see everything and stretched to see the tasseled corn and dark green collards on the tables. Mama was known for cooking a big breakfast, and I remember that Papa looked for double yolk eggs and big homemade sausage links to bring home. He probably also bought some okra and green beans too, since Mama used to cook them pretty regularly.

The markets were filled with robust smells, and what wonderful aromas they were, especially in the fish market. Several years ago we stopped in the place where it had been a half century ago. It is now full of small shops and artist studios, but as I breathed in deeply, I smelled that old fishy fragrance. I suppose it has lingered in every pore of the old bricks, giving away secrets of its past.

Papa was a quiet man and we didn't spend much time together just the two of us time. I guess it was because I am a girl. But now that I am a grandmother, I know how much delight he felt in having me with him on these Saturdays and also sharing something he loved to do with me. It is a piece of his legacy to me, his granddaughter, and to the great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren he would never know.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No. We are not going to keep her.

On Saturday morning, Stuart, Paige, Ashley, John and I went to the small but impressive Dandridge Farmer’s Market. As we were pulling up, Stuart said, “Uh oh,” and spelled out what was on the sign, “F-R-E-E-K-I-T-T-E-N-S.” It didn’t matter. Ashley spotted them right away. She picked out one to hold, the tiniest, with soft blonde fur. The teenaged girls who were responsible for them told us they would have to take them to the animal shelter if they couldn’t give them away that day. Maybe it was a scam, but I fell for it. The kitty did not end up with Ashley but with me. I figured with all the people I work with someone would love to have her. She made the trip down the mountain, not a peep from her box the whole way.

For the night, I settled her into the bathroom, a small safe area. With my still finely tuned mother's ears, I knew I would hear her if she gave a hungry cry. About 0530 I was awakened by a desperate, high pitched “Meow!” Prepared to give the baby some milk and a spoonful of canned food, I opened the door and went in the bathroom. She was nowhere to be seen. Then I realized the meow was not coming from where I had expected. I looked in the toilet bowl and saw two huge, frightened black eyes looking back at me. I reached in and pulled her out by the scruff of the neck. She was soaked and dripping. How she got in I don’t know. She is too small to be able to jump that high. I held her under warm, running tap water and rinsed her off. (So much for the safe place.) Then I gently toweled her fur, feeling her delicate bones underneath. I kept her warm and held her for over an hour until she purred, letting me know she was going to be all right.

She has already used one of her nine lives

Black Beans

Saturday, October 3, 2009


In Stuart's garden.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bad Kitties

What an expensive mess two little girl cats can make!

Jessica got a precious bundle of kitty love for her fifteenth birthday, a soft yellow, pale gray and white calico. She named her Daphne. A few years later she found a lost black kitten, so tiny she probable hadn’t been weaned yet. “May I bring her home?” Of course. We would find someone to take her, I felt sure. Nora was so young and skittish, possibly feral, that I had to hold and love on her often. Needless to say, that created a bond between us, and I admit it was I who wanted to keep her. Jessica moved on and out and away, and had babies and other pets, and the cats she left behind have been mine for quite a while. I love them and they are part of my family, but . . .

Our garage has a small, “secret” opening that goes to the crawl space under the house that must be just big enough for a cat to get through. But not only has it been a good hideout for the kitties when they are outside, they have been using it for their litter box, too. That is not a good thing. I had picked up on the unmistakable odor at times, and my suspicions were confirmed last year when the termite inspector came. I had to do something. Today two middle aged men crawled under the house, pulled up the dirty moisture barrier, sprayed some sickeningly sweet odor remover that is still wafting through the house, and replaced the heavy black plastic over the moist earth. I now hear the whir of a saw as they are constructing a barrier for the awkward place where the entrance to the crawl space is. Will those cats be in for a surprise!

I love my kitties, but I could take a nice trip for what I am having to pay for their damages.