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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eventful week!

My first full week at the new job is done! And I'm happy to report that I'm still just as pleased as I was on the first day. I've only worked 8 days so far, but I have zero complaints...about anything. I can't imagine how I've gotten so lucky! On the first day back for the kids (Thursday), a busing fiasco left dozens of students without transportation to and from school. While that played out, a sewage backup that required an emergency crew of plumbers left over half the school without useable toilets!  It was chaos for awhile! In the midst of all that the principal apologized and handed me a list of parents that needed to be called and who weren't going to be happy--their children, who should have been on buses, had no way home and arrangements had to be made to get them picked up. Most were obviously blue collar hardworking types that needed to be at work and/or didn't have reliable transportation themselves. The rest of the office knew that I had been given a tough task, and I knew they were watching to see how I'd handle it. So I did my best. I accepted the task with a smile and pleasant attitude. I made one call after another, and tried to be as empathetic and professional as possible. I didn't complain. And do you know--not a single parent blasted me! Most were gracious and understanding.

That afternoon, before leaving for the day, the principal (a sharp and efficient middle aged woman) complimented me on how calmly I had handled an especially trying first day of school. That was my biggest highlight of the week! She's not a woman who's given to compliments, certainly not if she doesn't feel they're deserved.

This week I also met the teenager I'm a new guardian to! I was really nervous about it. She's living with foster parents in a really poor part of town, and I had no idea what to expect when I knocked on their door. They're all African Americans, and with the way things are going in our country right now, I couldn't blame them if they didn't want a strange white woman over. But they turned out to be a sweet elderly couple that were very kind and gracious. They remind me a little of my grandparents: the wife has flowers and plants everywhere in her tiny front yard and on her porch, and they were watching The Andy Griffith Show when I arrived. My grandparents watched that show all the time!

After I introduced myself, they called *Kay from her room. She was another pleasant surprise. I expected her to be unreceptive to yet another adult sent from "the system". I expected her to possibly be sulky or difficult. In fact, she was none of those things! She was shy and had a sweet smile. She seems young for her age. I had a new book bag filled with school supplies to give her from the GAL program director, and she seemed very happy with it. We talked about the upcoming school year and what classes she's taking. I admitted I had been nervous to meet her, and she laughed. We made a plan to see each other again in two weeks, and she seemed impressed when I took out my planner and wrote her in for the afternoon of the 31st. All in all, a great first visit and I feel good about this assignment! I'll be with Kay until next summer when she turns 18. She's been through a lot of trauma and deserves a shot at a decent adult life. This year is going to be crucial for her.

I met with Kay after work on Wednesday, and that night was book club. I was so happy to see my friends! I had to miss last month's meeting, and I've been too busy with the new job to see much of them lately. The book we read this month was In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. It was a quick and easy read, and not bad for a summer selection.

It's been an exciting week. Now I'm ready to relax! And guess what? It's a three day weekend, because a total solar eclipse is happening here on Monday (!!!!!!!) and the schools are closed. A three day weekend already--I think I'm going to enjoy being "back in school" and following a school schedule! Tomorrow, I'll write more about the grand celestial event that's about to take place over South Carolina on Monday. Until then, enjoy the weekend!

*Not her real name, for obvious reasons.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mean Face

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The face of feathered terrorism.

Marco insisted on coming out of his cage as soon as I walked in the door today. He got on my shoulder and was good for a little while...but then I sat down at the computer for a little bit of relaxation. That's when the devil came out to play. He jumped down onto the desk and started flinging crap to the floor (including a half full bottle of ginger ale) and making a huge mess. When I went to stop him, he actually growled at me and wouldn't let me pick him up! I took this photo right before throwing a dish towel over his head so I could take him back to his cage without getting bitten.

As soon as I put him in there, he climbed up to the front corner, looked me dead in the eye, and said "I love you. I love you, baby."

 The little shit.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Social Media Sabbath

Now that I have regular weekends off, I'd like to try taking a break from social media on Sundays. A weekly Social Media Sabbath, if you will. A chance to turn off the computer, put down the phone, and spend time doing things that refresh my spirit. Like a lot of you, I spend plenty of time every single day checking in on Facebook and Instagram, reading news articles, reading and commenting on and reacting to silly Internet junk, and watching YouTube. I also spend a big chunk of most days worrying over politics. Since Trump took office it's been one terrible situation after another, and people are full of hate for each other and arguing bitterly on social media. (Speaking of hate, I can't even talk about what's going on right now in Charlottesville, Virginia. I don't have adequate words to express my feelings about a situation this awful). It gets exhausting, and isn't conducive to peace of mind. Not to mention how much time social media wastes, even the entertaining parts of it.

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I've decided that from now on, Sundays shall be a day of rest (from social media) for me. No Facebook, no YouTube, no idle messing around on the Internet. I have 7 hours to myself on Sundays, because that's one of the days Gregg works at the pet store.  I want to spend time with the dogs, cook nice Sunday suppers, get together with friends sometimes, read, and write for this blog (which is the one social media activity I want to keep on Sundays). I want to make a conscious effort to not think or talk about politics or the news. I need a regular break from the Internet, if only once a week!

How about you? Do you set limits on social media consumption? Do you take a personal Sabbath day for religious or secular reasons? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

First Day

I started my new job today. Everyone was so kind and helpful and welcoming! I don't think I've ever had such a warm, friendly reception at a new job!

And the school itself is gorgeous!  It was built very recently and everything is new and shining and spacious. The school mascot is a Squire (a young knight) and there is a suit of armor in the main lobby!!! Haha! (I'll  have to take a selfie with him at some point and post it here). There are skylights with living plants, and an incredible library, and oh....just so many things to like and appreciate.
The teachers and staff that I've met so far all seem very positive, enthusiastic, and genuinely happy to be there. The bookkeeper, who started just last October, told me it's the best environment she's ever worked in.

I think I'm going to be very happy with this job.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It's official! I went to court this morning and was sworn in as a Guardian ad Litem.

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I've also been assigned my first case, a 17 year old girl in foster care. I plan to try to meet her and her foster mother this weekend. I'm terribly nervous, but I'm looking forward to it, too. Wish me luck (I'm going to need it!)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Surprisingly good

Well. I feel surprisingly good considering I drank a whole bottle of champagne last night to celebrate my last day at the bookstore!

I didn't intend to drink the whole thing. Gregg doesn't drink so I didn't have anyone to share it with. I popped the cork around 8pm and sipped until midnight, at which point the bottle was empty. I was a little worried about how I'd feel this morning, but besides a slight headache (easily solved with two Ibuprofen) I feel fine. Thank goodness.

Yesterday went by in a flash. Right before I left, my coworkers surprised me: they had pooled their money to buy me going-away gifts and a cake! They had also signed a sweet card for me. Between the card and the gifts and the hugs and the kind words, I had to fight back tears more than once. I never expected such a wonderful send off! Then at 4:30pm a couple of my book club friends showed up at the store to see me "dance your way out the door" as they put it...and one of those crazy women filmed me clocking out and leaving! Hahaha! That made me laugh so hard! I have some wonderful friends.

It feels really weird this morning to be between the old job and the new....but surprisingly good, just like my (mostly non-existent) hangover!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Nervous and emotional

Tomorrow is my last day at the bookstore. I'm really happy about that, but it feels weird. After 6+ years in one job, no matter how much you dislike it, there is a certain comfort level. My job before that (that I loved) was as a store manager for Pier 1 Imports. I was there for almost 8 years and it was a sad day when our store went out of business. Now I'm going to be doing something completely different than what I've done for over 15 years. I expect it will be much easier and less stressful than retail management, but in any job you have to learn the ropes and adapt to a whole new atmosphere and new people. I hope it will be okay.

One thing I'll remember fondly about this job I'm leaving is all the wonderful friendships I've made there. All the women in my two book clubs (with the exception of my friend Marla) are people I met through work. I've gained several new friendships because of the bookstore, so it hasn't been all bad!

Then there are the regular customers that have come to mean a lot to me that I'm going to really miss. Some of you may remember me talking about an older couple originally from Colombia that shop there and help me practice my Spanish, Mr. and Mrs. Sarmiento. Early on, I accidently told Mr. Sarmiento in Spanish that my husband and I eat our dogs! He still laughs about that to this day! They are the sweetest people, and I was happy to see them come in the other night so I could tell them about my new job and tell them goodbye. They were so very sweet, and happy for me...they both hugged me, and kissed my cheeks, and said so many very nice things to me that it made me cry. I sure will miss them, and a handful of others like them.

The district manager for our store visited yesterday, and asked me about my new job. He's been kind and helpful and we've  had a good relationship. I always knew that if the HR problems at the store ever got out of hand, that I could go to him for help. I never did, and probably should have a few times, but at least I knew it was an option. He was also very, very kind to me yesterday. He shook my hand, said some really nice things about my service to the company, and told me that if he can ever do anything for me in the future to please not hesitate to call and ask. That choked me up a little bit, too. It's nice that at least one higher-up in the company seems to appreciate me and the work I've done!

My coworker, John, has a little daughter (3 years old) that started calling me "Aunt Jenn" last year. It was completely her own idea. I'm going to miss her, too. John is off today and tomorrow, but he told me he's planning on bringing her up to the store today to see me before I go. I expect to get teary eyed again when I see her. So many farewells this week....

In addition to the new job that I'm starting next week, I'm also going to be starting my work as a Guardian. The program coordinator emailed me this morning about my first assignment--a teenage girl living in a foster home here in Florence. I'll be going to meet her one day next week after work--so now that's two things to be nervous about next week! I actually had hoped that my first case would be a younger child, but I had to be given an ongoing case that doesn't have any court appearances scheduled in the very near future since I can't take time off work right away. So it's going to be a teenager--meeting her is almost more scary to me than the new job.

Well, off to my next-to-last day at the bookstore. These are scary (but exciting) days!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Early August

It's been a while since I shared an essay from my favorite nature writer, Hal Borland. The start of a new month seems like a good time for it. Enjoy.

"August comes with hot days, warm nights, a brassy sun, and something in the air, perhaps the season itself, that begins to rust the high-hung leaves of the elms.The listless leaves of the maples have a dusty look and the sycamores and basswood are hung with seedy fruits. Sumac holds its candle-flame clusters, red as the sumac leaves will be in September.
First goldenrod comes to bloom along the roadsides, and early asters appear, lost in the clouds of Queen Anne's... lace. In damp places the purple vervain leads the parade of darker color that already begins to show in the first flower heads of Joe-Pye weed. Thistles flaunt their thorny tufts of deep lavender, and tick trefoil is in weedy bloom, its small lilac flowers preparing stick-tight pods. Bur marigolds, masquerading as roadside sunflowers, come to blossom, and great Lobelia lifts its blue spikes above the podding milkweed.
Brooks languish in their stony beds. Only the grandfather frogs groan and rumble in the dusk. The Whippoorwills are less insistent, and now a Barred Owl is heard questioning the night. The big, dark moths haunt the flower garden's deep-throated flowers, gleaning nectar the August-lazy bumblebees overlooked. The night still twinkles with fireflies but the day's heat lingers and the air has a dusty August scent, the smell of languid summer. And overhead the warm air touches the treetops, rustles the rustling leaves in the broad-tipped elms."

Hal Borland
"Twelve Moons of the Year"
August 1964

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