Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plan B

Yesterday was definitely a "Plan B" day. I started out here at my desk planning to do some benefit CDs for The Clevelands. But the internet service provider went down mid-way through my blog posting and never came back up all day.

So after wandering around aimlessly for a bit, I decided to do a little gardening. I'll get out there and shoot some photos this afternoon. I saw my neighbor digging around in hers and asked if she wanted to go plant shopping. She's always up for that! So we headed out to Pike's Nursery in Ballantyne.

What a gorgeous place! The plants are so well-cared for, too. I bought some Bee Balm, Japanese Anemone, Salvia, Summer Phlox, Spike Speedwell, a Dwarf Red Columbine, Lantana, and a plant called Jacob's Ladder. Those are all perennials. Then to get some color to look at now, I put in some annual Salvia and some Dianthus. The plants were about $30 all together, and then I bought a water wand for the hose. On Friday I'll go back for herbs for the herb pots. I've also decided to put in 3 or 4 tomato plants to supplement what I get from the farm and some chili pepper plants. I love dried chili peppers, and last year we really only got a handful from the farm. They are pretty plants too, so I'll put scatter them throughout the flower garden to add interest.

Every time I dig in this garden I'm so glad that I had my friend Steve prep it last fall. I don't even have to put soil conditioner in when I plant new stuff. And using a spade to dig the hole for the new plant is optional, too. It's so moist and loose I can pretty much just scoop out handfuls with my fingers.

The stuff I planted last summer is doing just okay. The Gardenias are really not coming up the way I'd like. Actually, most of them are not coming up. I think I planted something like a dozen of them, and I can only find 3. I had to excavate for those, too. The rest seem to just be gone. I'm having better luck with the Scabiosa and Coreopsis. I also had some Penstemin and Gaillardia, and I think I'm seeing some of that. The little Clematis I planted is doing really well and starting to climb the obelisk. But it needs a couple more to keep it company. I couldn't find any at the garden center yesterday. The stuff that really looks great is the Astilbe. Yesterday before planting the new stuff I "fluffed up" the entire garden and did a little gentle digging where I'd placed flags signifying new plants.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dog's Dinner

When Gordon Ramsay is criticizing a chef's dish on his show "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," he often will say "That looks like a dog's dinner."

Well, that's pretty much what we had last night. Actually, it was the dog's leftovers we had last night for supper.

Geriatric house guest Kelly still is suffering from some mild bowel upset, and not eating terribly well. I decided yesterday to make her a nice, easy-on-the-tummy meal of chicken and rice. Often I have chicken parts in the freezer..wings and necks that I drop into a gallon ziplock for making stock. But all of that was gone. So I went to the grocery store and picked up a $4 bird and simmered it up. After I made her a container of chicken and rice, I still had most of the bird, so made chicken and rice soup for the rest of us. Taylor was somewhat taken aback when I told him we were having Kelly's leftovers for supper!

Yesterday I also went to the school district office to become bona fide. Completed all the paperwork, waived all the insurance benefits and arranged for direct deposit. And finally found out what my salary is. It's pretty low for someone of my age and experience, but it's double what I've made the last couple of years as a freelancer and I'll only work 210 days a year. How can you beat that?

Monday, April 07, 2008

it's all about poop

Not our dog this time. Sarah's. We are taking care of buddy Sarah's aged golden retriever, Kelly. She can not really go to the kennel anymore when they go out of town. The stress upsets her gastrointestinal tract and she ends up sick as know...for several days. Sarah's husband Rick likened Kelly going to the kennel to taking your grandmother to the dorm. How appropriate!

Kelly's got an upset tummy this time anyway. She got into their puppy's food and the richness of it all caused her bowels to basically explode. She had been pretty clear by the time she arrived here yesterday morning, but she's not producing much solid waste...just small amounts of watery discharge. So I'm taking her out, then Bear out, then her out...feeding her, then Bear, etc. The gates are back up all over the house to make it easier to take care of them both. And we use them to separate the dogs so that she doesn't get into OUR puppy food!

She sleeps in Taylor's room. He let her up on the bed, he said, where she slept all night. But this morning when I went in to get her she was on the floor next to him. Kelly has quite a bit of hearing loss, so I had to turn lights on in the hallway, then open Taylor's door, to let her know I was there. I can see her startle sometimes when she's sleeping and I come around the corner or walk through a door. She's a very sweet dog.

Today I got a call from the school district. They are very sorry they have not contacted me before to take care of paperwork for the new job but apparently my file was in the pile of terminations! hmmmm

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Scholars Day

Yesterday we went to Erskine College for Scholars Day. I did not count how many students were there but it appeared be the entire class of incoming freshman.

We had a nice chance to hear from administration about life at Erskine while the students went to hear the same from current students. The administration made a point of assuring us that they will take care of our kids and give them individual attention. Class sizes are very small and the student:teacher ratio is 12:1. Total enrollment around 600. So it's easy to see how they are able to catch kids that are slumping.

Because the campus is out in the middle of nowhere, the campus has a ton of stuff for kids to do right there. Many of the students said they never lack for anything to do.

One thing the President said really stuck with me, and I hope it sticks with Nate when he hears it next fall at freshman orientation:

"You were a success in high school because you are bright. But at Erskine, everyone is bright. You will be a success here because you apply yourself."

Pretty cool. I sure hope he does!

I was impressed with the way Nate handled conversations with all the strangers. He maintained good eye contact (something I've not seen him do well before), and spoke politely and intelligently. Looking at him as he spoke to the music professor, I was impressed with his obvious engagement in the conversation and his open and interested body language. I was very proud. I'm also noticing that he's really a good looking kid! He's got a shy thing going on and those big brown eyes and the way he tilts his head down and looks up kind of through his bangs is simply adorable.