an arctic assault…

As one friend of mine suggested, it really does sound like our local TV weatherman is getting his lines from Cobra Commander. I suppose that after the week of the “polar vortex”, you’ve got to come up with some lingo that sounds even more exciting? Now, if we actually do get snow or ice, and if that turns into an ice storm that brings down all the neighborhood trees, and leaves us stuck in our houses for another week… then perhaps I’ll reconsider whether you used the right words or not.

Until then, another friend has suggested that the weatherman come out to Iowa for a visit, in order to see what real cold weather is like, while I heard a rumor that the buildings at Clemson University are being heated like we’re in Finland, instead of South Carolina. Considering I just played Ultimate Frisbee in 50 degree weather in a t-shirt and exercise pants, the idea that we could have really cold weather coming in is pretty hard to believe. The wind is picking up, however, so I guess it really will get cold tonight. The question is whether we’ll really get any type of precipitation.

If we actually get snow or ice and it sticks until tomorrow, school will get canceled, which is every student’s dream… as long as they have food and heat, wherever they live. And, of course, that will require a run on the grocery stores, in order to stock up on all the ingredients to make French toast. Even in Pennsylvania, this seemed to happen if there was snow in the forecast… everyone went to Walmart to buy eggs, bread, and milk. Go figure.

But for those of you who really aren’t interested in the weather, my second semester at Clemson started almost two weeks ago, and I’m settling in to my new classes. No math or science, but German, Irish History, Historian’s Craft (history methodology), and British Lit are going to keep me busy reading, writing, and researching. To liven things up, I’m taking “Frisbee Sports”, which is the fancy name for my Ultimate Frisbee “class”.

For any bookworms out there, I do have an upcoming post about books for children, probably ages 10-13, or thereabouts, but it may take me a week or three to finish, because school does keep me occupied. I am still trying to fit in a new post, now and then, and as soon as spring arrives, I should be able to get the floral photos going again! Have a great week!

so busy, but the end is in sight…

It is so nice to see that people are still dropping by my blog to read older posts, especially since I haven’t put up a new one in at least two weeks. My life, lately, has been full of constant literature papers and military research papers and studying for German tests and such. Tonight, my final research paper, which I spent most of my Thanksgiving break working on, will be turned in. No more papers.DSC_0140

The upside of that, in a way, is that after the paper is that I can relax a little bit and just study. Sure, studying is time-consuming, but at least I don’t have to write anymore until the day of the exams. I just have to work on cramming lots of review into my head. Oh, and brush up on the subject of my group chemistry paper, because we’re doing a presentation on that, tomorrow. I couldn’t do it on Tuesday, because I “called in” sick.DSC_0194

Well, to be exact, I e-mailed in sick, even though I didn’t need to. But I didn’t want my chemistry teacher thinking I was cutting class and abandoning my partner, and I did want my English Lit professor to know that I watched the movie we were assigned for Thanksgiving break. That assignment was to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I really, really liked it. I would have enjoyed being there for the class discussion about it, even if I didn’t need the extra credit from the little quiz he gave. When you’ve gotten A’s on all your English papers, and you’re exempting the exam, you don’t worry too much about extra credit.DSC_0205

DSC_0307-001If you’re wondering about me being sick, I’m finally pulling through, after going to the doctor and being diagnosed as having an upper respiratory infection and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Of course, everyone in my household caught a cold, within the last week or two, and some of them turned it into bronchitis and sinusitis, but I decided those were lame, and switched it up. But most of us have caught pink eye, by now, and we’re waiting for the last members of the household to give in and get it, too.DSC_0443

For those that are keeping up with me, in any form or fashion over the last months, I do have numerous photos of autumn leaves in the surrounding area, that I hope to share, once the Christmas break begins. I also spent a weekend at my Seabrook conference, and have beach photos, and doesn’t everyone have pictures of Thanksgiving dinner? And our Christmas trees are up, with plenty of photo opportunities for closeups of ornaments, and lights and the wonderful home-iness of it all. DSC_0479

So, I hope this will be a tasty sampler (sorry, food pics got to me) of the photos I hope to put up soon, and don’t think that I’ve abandoned you! But finishing all my papers and studying for my exams… that is definitely the priority, at the moment. : )DSC_0503

not a stick-in-the-mud…

Yes, she knows who you are. Some of you think that she’s so very outgoing, and the life of the party. Some of you think she’s a stick-in-the-mud who’s dreadfully shy. She’s been reading some interesting stuff on the subject of ambiverts, recently, and finds that description definitely fits. But if you must pick between introvert and extrovert, she’ll tell you that she leans toward introvert.

But she is NOT a stick-in-the-mud.

That girl who’s leaning against the wall, watching the dance floor, at a wedding? Would you guess that she wants more than anything to get on that dance floor, but she’s too terrified to do it? Maybe you would. And yet, when a friend tries to drag her onto the floor, she digs in her heels. No one is getting her out there. How can she be so very torn, wanting to get out there and dance, so badly that it almost hurts?

This might make no sense to you. It barely makes any sense to her. She actually cried on the way home, because she had wanted so badly to dance to the music. She knows all the music. Enjoys all those fun, loud dance numbers. Everyone jumping up and down, they look like they’re having so much fun. She wants to join in.

But she just doesn’t know HOW. She doesn’t know how to dance like that, and no one has ever shown her how. She needs help to learn, possibly when no one else is around to watch. Extroverts have no trouble getting out there and “looking stupid”, until they figure things out. They may continue to look silly, but they don’t care, because they’re having fun.

Nope. This girl that’s slightly on the  introverted side wants to take it slowly, learn how to dance that way with one or two friends around, and get more comfortable with the idea of acting crazy. She wants to learn that shuffle and that sidestep, where no one else can see her (except a friend or two). And then, maybe, she’ll go out with her brother to a contra dance. A bit at a time.

She used to know how to act crazier. Somewhere along the way, she lost the ability. She used to do the motions to all the camp songs, and make crazy faces in photos, with her best friends (she still does that, occasionally). And then, she was showered with disapproval, long enough for some of the craziness to get buried. Buried so deep, at times, she doesn’t know how to retrieve it.

And because she never was an extrovert, she needs to bring out her crazy again, but a little at a time. It’s in there. Because remember, she’s an ambivert, and she really WANTS to be on that dance floor and have some perfectly crazy fun.

Give her a chance. And don’t write her off as a stuffed shirt, just because you only see one facet of her personality.

don’t take the easy way out…

If you are in a field of study or career that heavily involves math and/or science, let me drop a word of wisdom into your ear. Actually, I want it in BOTH of your ears, so it really sinks into your brain. Are you listening?

When you are conversing with a slightly worried history major (or any major that does NOT heavily involve math/science), do NOT spend any amount of time telling them that “it’ll be easy”. In fact, delete the word “easy” from your vocabulary, as long as you are speaking to them. Because, you know what? They WILL NOT BELIEVE YOU.

In the larger scheme of things, let’s suppose that it IS easy. Don’t ask me how you measure this, because “easy-ness” isn’t really a field you can measure. Something can be true, and you still can’t convince the hearer. Have you ever run into that before?

You know for a fact that gravity exists, but that 5 year old of yours still thinks they should be able to jump off the roof, and fly away. Do they really believe you when you say it can’t be done? No, THEY probably think you’re a spoilsport.

Let’s try looking at it from the history major’s point of view. Maybe it won’t be as hard as they think, once they get started. Maybe things will actually start to make sense. Maybe. But that’s not the point. Especially if your history major is a girl, all she’s going to hear, when you begin to speak (and say the word “easy”) is “I’m really smart and I AM GOOD AT THIS, so everyone else should be, too.”. Or she’s going to think you’re bragging.  You may not be doing it on purpose, but she might still think it sounds like you are.

Then again, if you’re really good at science/math, you might not even be able to see my point. You’re too good at these subjects to make it even possible that anyone else couldn’t handle such a simple subject.

Remember, delete the word “easy” from your vocabulary. Instead, encourage the slightly worried history major with things like, “Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think.”, “Take it a day at a time, and I’ll help you if you need a hand.”, or “Take a deep breath. It IS hard, but you can do this. When you study hard, it WILL get better.”

Yours truly wants to know that it CAN BE DONE, but not that it’s easy. Tell me it’s difficult, because I already know that, and now I know you aren’t lying to me to make me feel better.

For example, I know of one… maybe two people that have told me that chemistry will be hard. That didn’t make me feel better, either, but at least I knew they were being honest with me. And now, I just need to survive my first Chem Lab, before I can face the rest of the semester.

So, please… take that advice, put it in your pipe, and smoke it for a long, long while.

words are funny things…

Words are always there. But sometimes you can’t figure out how to use them. Every writer knows what this is like.

So, while my brain is so occupied with leaving my job and getting ready for a trip, the blog post that I want to write isn’t coming together. At least I know where I’m going with it. It’ll come.

But while I was NOT writing, I was going through some boxes, and found a notebook. I have a lot of those, most of which are empty. Or they have a few pages written, and then nothing else. I remembered this one, though.

I haven’t written fiction in a long time, so this was written several years ago. I had a random dream (no, I’m not Stephenie Meyer, so shut up), and it was so vivid that I tried to write it down, before I forgot it. Reading that notebook, I still haven’t forgotten that dream, or that story.

And for someone who loves fantasy and fairy tales, it’s the only decent piece of writing I’ve ever done, based on a fairy tale. Oh, I wanted to rewrite Snow White and the Huntsman, but that’s still in my head. This is on paper.

Am I going to tell you what story it was based on, and where I was going with it? No, I’m not. For me, writing fiction goes a lot deeper than my normal blogging does. That might not make sense, since I write about myself and what I do. But that is writing about what actually happened, as I saw it.

For me, writing fiction is digging deeply into myself for what I know about the world around me… and then putting what is inside of me onto paper. For all the world to see. It may look like fantasy, but it’s a part of me. From deep down, where I didn’t know I had it in me.

Like when I read that notebook.

And pardon my French, but all I could think was, “Damn, I’m a writer“. Followed immediately by, “Could I ever do that again?”

I sure hope so.

at the level of your eyes…

Every morning, when I leave the house, I find myself mentally echoing the words from The Phantom of the Opera… “keep your hand at the level of your eyes!”. Wait, you mean other normal people don’t start their day this way? If you are one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t know what I mean, then remember that the Phantom was known for garroting people, and hanging them during the middle of operatic productions. You needed that advice, in order to survive.

Well, if you knew how many times I’ve walked into a spider strand, you’ll understand how similar the situation is to the aforementioned one. Right? Because getting a spiderweb in the face is a matter of life or death? Well, it was to some of my summer staff girls, a few years ago.

I’m always finding those spider strands, with my face, strung between a car and a motorcycle. It’s a nasty feeling, getting one of them right across your nose or mouth. But usually, they come unaccompanied. The spider must be somewhere else, yelling at me for messing up their handiwork.

And then, it happened. My arachnophobic, bug-o-phobic friends and former summer staffers will appreciate this. For all the times I rescued you from anything that crawled in front of you (I didn’t enjoy it, you know!), or laughed over it… Remember, I thought of you.

I left the house, first thing in the morning, with my hands almost full. Once I was under the tree, approaching my car, I walked right into a partially built web. And right before my eyes, I saw one or two things crawling around. I admit it. I squealed like a little girl. Twice. I just stood there, unable to think what to do, without dropping my things, and made that same noise that I’d heard from all my summer staff girls (and some of the guys).

Fortunately, my mom was a few feet away, and she came over to free me. There was something mesmerizing about seeing that reddish spider, that close to your face, so I just couldn’t manage to move. I let out two wails, and froze.

After that, I left for work, feeling like I’d failed somehow. No, really, I managed to laugh, later. It reminded me of that time we went to Seabrook, and a larger spider built an entire web… while we were at dinner… across our doorway. At head level. The part I can’t remember is if I walked into it, or someone else. I wouldn’t rememeber it so vividly, if it hadn’t been me. I think I almost walked into it, felt webby strands on my forehead, and freaked. That time, I had my hands free. I did have the presence of mind to get a broom and sweep the eager builder out of the door, but I’m pretty sure I was checking my head for creepy-crawlies for some time, afterwards.

But if you ever drive by my house, first thing in the morning, and you see me holding up my hand in front of my face, as I walk, know that I’m not waving at you. I’m not shading my eyes from the sun. I’m protecting myself from spiderwebs, and their menacing inhabitants. As all reasonably sane people should do.

sweet sunshine…

The hawk is hanging out in our back yard again. He seems to think that we placed our swing set and volleyball posts there, just for his benefit. And for all the “use” they’ve had in recent years, the vball posts might as well belong to him. We haven’t had a net out there in over ten years, I’m sure. And I seem to recall, many years ago, a local owl taking its turn, hanging out on the backyard perches. But if they’re like any of the people ’round here, they’re all just enjoying the sun. Now that the rain has stopped… again.

I read somewhere that Aussies talk about the weather, all the time, but I don’t remember if that’s true. The weather seems to be a normal kind of subject, no matter where you live. But now I know that we’ve never talked about the weather as much as we have, this summer. I’m not even going to go into talking details about our winter and spring. They must’ve been smoking something, for all the jumble they were in.

But the rain… the endless rain. We’ve seen the sun, in the last few weeks, but every time, we’ve been so surprised that we don’t know what to do about it. And all those that want to trim their backyard jungles, keep hoping that it’ll stay dry for a while. No such luck. The lakes are at flood levels, and they’re going to release some water from the dam spillway, in order to get the lake levels down. I’m sure the people downstream from us will enjoy that.

I talk about many things to the students that come into my workplace, and we mention the weather now and then. Well, we used to. Before the last month, I knew most of the regulars well enough to talk about all sorts of things. But the wetter it go, the more we couldn’t resist the urge… the dreadful urge to gripe about it.

In a way, we really do have reason to gripe. Our poor Western neighbors could really use the rain, but we’re unable to mail it to them. I know I’ve griped about that. If someone could tell me how to pack it up and send it away, I would be grateful.

And the trees. Every storm brings down trees and branches, all over the place. Someone finally reminded me why it’s so dangerous, after all the rain. Because we’ve been in drought for so long, the trees have grown weaker. Now, they have all the water they could want… and the excessive amount of water is loosening up their roots. Huge oak trees come down with one storm, and then another, at the next puff of wind.

Just this last weekend, we had a colossal thunder storm, in the middle of the night, and everyone in town (with the exception of some really heavy sleepers) heard it. If they slept through it, I’ll give ‘em brownie points, but I know their friends told them about it. “That storm” (yes, that’s how we all referred to it, all day today) woke me up, and it was frightening to listen to, the lightning and the thunder coming at the exact same time, the windows rattling, the ground shaking…  I am only unnerved by storms when I’m not completely awake, and then I can imagine all sorts of terrible things that might happen. I was sure that our maple tree, or our neighbor’s pine trees were going to uproot and blow through my window, at any second.

I read the weather report, incessantly, though I barely trust it anymore. I don’t think the weathermen even trust themselves, or what they read anymore. They just predict thunderstorms for every day, and don’t mention when the downpours will occur, because they don’t know. Partly, I read the weather report because my co-workers will ask me about it. I have to have an answer, because they think I’ll know.

If I were really being good, I’d also be reading my dictionary, on the side, as well as checking the weather, because one co-worker regularly treats me like his personal dictionary. Kind of like a certain brother of mine, he expects that I’ll be able to define “incorrigible” and… something close to “asinine”, at the drop of a hat (I can’t remember the exact word. It’ll come to me, later.). Of course, I know what these mean, but sometimes explaining them is more difficult than understanding them in context. But it’s nice that someone thinks I’m brilliant, I suppose.

Now, I’m hopefully looking at this week’s weather report, hoping that it’s accurate. Sure, I’m not a fan of the 90 degree weather and oppressive humidity, but beggars can’t be choosers. The words “partly” and “mostly” are starting to be paired with that blissful word “sunshine”. Might it be true? Could they be right? One of these days, we’ll be able to go to the pool again, and other people will be able to break out the lawnmowers.

I know I’m not the only one that will be happy if the sun stays out. Some of my Indian friends have admitted (ruefully, after I comment on their own weather complaints) that their country has a rainy season. Does that mean they’re enjoying this weather any more than we are? Nope. They don’t particularly like their own rainy season, so they’re ready to be done with ours. Amen and amen. Let it be so. And let it go out West, where they truly need it.

P.S. Now that I’ve spent an entire POST talking about the weather, I really don’t want to talk about it, ever again. Well, not for a while. I’ve even made a game of it, at work, trying to not talk about the weather, nor take the bait when someone else mentions it. It is very difficult. I vote we forget the weather exists, for at least a week or two.

once upon a time…

Once upon a time, a young woman spent a wonderful year in Australia, working as a nanny and looking after five little girls. Before she went there, she considered the possibility of being able to travel for years and years, visiting several different countries, and taking care of children. She loved children, you see, and as she was still single (and therefore, childless), nannying seemed to be a wondrous idea. Unfortunately, she was past the cut-off age for work & holiday visas, in most countries, so Australia would be her only overseas gig.

Instead, when she returned home, she thought that she thought that she would soak up being with her family and friends again, and then find another nanny job in the United States. There were plenty of states that she still wanted to visit, and what better way to get to see them than moving there for a year at a time? During her first summer back in the U.S., she packed up her car and drove to Minnesota.

It wasn’t meant to be. She learned a lot from that trip, but two weeks later, she drove (the two day trip) home. Admittedly, she was a little down, after this “failure”. Why had it happened? Was she NOT supposed to go, or did the Lord want her to learn something from that short trip?

She began to apply for jobs again, but just like before she left for Australia, she wasn’t finding anything very high on the pay scale or any higher on the job “quality” ladder. Once, she had been a business owner  and house cleaner, and then a full-time manager of housekeeping for a camp. Now, she was ready to step up and work at the desk in a hotel (in business clothes, instead of scruffy t-shirts and shorts), or something that had nothing to do with cleaning. But with the problematic economy and a limited resume, she wasn’t finding anything.

Fortunately, she still had some good credit with a local company that she had worked with before, and was hired almost immediately. This took her to working as a cashier, at Clemson University. The pay wasn’t high, but the location was a definite improvement on her food service experience in the same company. Every week, she told herself that she would find something better, and this job would hold her over until then.

The weeks went by, and something strange happened. She began to find that she actually enjoyed her job. Not because of the job itself, because cashiering doesn’t call for too much skill, but because of the students and professors. Especially, the graduate students, who were closer to her age. As she also had a college professor for a father AND grandfather, and graduate students had practically lived in her home when she was growing up, she began to feel right at home with them.

But still, she knew that it wasn’t easy to make friends with people, in her position. When students only speak to you for a few minutes every day, they don’t really see you as a person, and potential friend. She wasn’t sure how to cross the line to becoming friends with them, either guys or girls. She didn’t have a lot of local friends, having lived away from Clemson for several years, so she was trying to figure out how to make some.

As she began to persist in learning the students’ names, they began to see her as a person worthy of friendship, and call her by name, in return. And as each friendship developed, she found herself less and less inclined to look for another job, though she knew she needed to. She needed to earn more, but this company was not the right place to do it. But abandoning her new acquaintances, before they really became friends… that was a hard choice to make.

Did I mention that she wrote a blog? I know, you’re stunned. At about this time, she was paying more attention to her photography skills, and began to take more pictures of flowers and buildings, instead of children (as when she was a nanny). Especially, buildings on the Clemson University campus.

This caused her to take an interest in Clemson that she had never had before, not even when her dad taught there, or when she had attended one semester there. Just like when you get a new house (or car), clean it, and place your things just so, making it your own… her wandering photography tours of Clemson were making their mark. Clemson (the city) was already home, and now the University was getting there.

She would tell you that it’s the blog’s fault, really. On some days, she would think about random topics, trying to think about what else to write about. And one day… she had a blog post idea. But she never wrote it. It would have been a fascinating post, I’m sure, but the reality was so much better. I’ll tell you about it, in a few minutes.

With the beginning of the New Year, some of her acquaintances truly became friends. And during one online conversation, she discovered that Clemson University was hiring for a job. A job that was in the same department as most of her friends. If she had never made friends at her workplace, with the students, she never would have heard about it. Because when it was finally listed online, the listing was only there for a week, and you had to be ready for it.

Her friend had thought she would be interested in this job, for herself. As thrilled as she was by this placing of confidence, she knew that she couldn’t take it. Are you wondering why? I’m still coming to that aforementioned, non-existent blog post. Instead, she told her mother about this job opening, and encouraged her to apply for it. Her mother was so much more qualified, and it was about time she worked for a place that would appreciate her that much more!

When her mother applied for it, she was certain that her mom would get the job, though no one else was certain. And then… she did get it! Why had she been so certain? It didn’t really make sense, did it?

But then again… she (the daughter, not the mother) had gone through a long process of not finding employment, after coming home from Australia, and then developing an interest in an uninteresting job. An occupation that was made interesting because of the people. And if she had never gotten to know those students, she never would have helped her mom find her new position. She marveled at how the Lord must have had that plan in place, when she returned from Australia, but of course, she didn’t know about it!

Many people were excited for her mother, after she was hired for the new position, and encouraged her daughter that “they’d find one for her, too!”. She didn’t say anything about how she could have applied for that same opportunity, but that she knew it wasn’t the right one. The Lord had other plans for her, and she’d known it for a long time.

You see, once upon a time, she thought about how much she liked to read, and especially how she read a lot of history books. And because she was always working or taking photographs on the Clemson campus, she began to think about (for a blog post), what she would major in, if she ever decided to go back to college. She had hated college, the first time, and hadn’t had any subject that she enjoyed enough to keep her there. And she knew that you did NOT need a degree to succeed in life.

But while she was thinking about this imaginary blog post… it finally hit her. If she wanted to, she COULD go back to college. She loved to read non-fiction, everything from the subject of the Founding Fathers, the writing of the Constitution, and the forming of the United States, to the Civil War and the Cold War. She spent most of her spare time reading these subjects, for fun… why wouldn’t she enjoy getting a degree in history?

She did her research on getting a history major, and what jobs can result from that type of degree. She applied to Clemson, and was accepted. She jumped through every hoop they held out for her, and they moved those hoops around a LOT, for returning students! She wrote appeals letters for several committees, and scrambled to find out what information they had forgotten to tell her. And at the moment, she is still in the final stages of getting financial aid, and waiting to register for classes (because returning students can’t register until late July).

Think about it. Over a year ago, the Lord knew that she would NOT get a job outside of Clemson, but stay there, making friends. He knew that she would begin to like the campus and the people, and that her friendships would help her mother find new employment. He knew that her reading, blogging, and photography would eventually lead her to reconsider school.

He knew this, while she was crying over her “failure” in Minnesota. Was it a failure, though, if the Lord had His hand on the situation? He knew this while she was worn out by mono, and unable to even think about finding another job. He knew it, when she was unable to afford to travel anywhere, but slowly was becoming accustomed to staying in Clemson. He always KNEW where she would go, and what He had planned for her!

~

And now that you know, I might as well switch tenses to finish the tale. Barring any problems with financial aid, I will be starting undergraduate classes, in about six weeks. I may still be a little worried about the issue of funds, but I sincerely believe that the Lord’s been leading me this whole way, all this time. So, if that is true, then money should not be a worry. He has it under control.

I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers, as I am quite nervous about starting school. I don’t have fond memories of my lone semester at Clemson, and even if it was because I was immature and overwhelmed, the memories can spring up and swamp me, at times. Also, I was serious when I said that I had to jump through hoops, as a returning student. Every time I turn around, I’ve missed some important information, or they forgot to tell me that I need to sign another paper, or write another letter to someone.

Please pray that all the necessary paperwork will come together. That even if I’m nervous, I won’t be overly worried and/or terrified. Panic attacks are NOT welcome. And please, please pray that I’m not having a mono relapse (or that I will get over it soon), because I really want to have the energy to pay attention and even enjoy what I’m doing and learning.

~

I will be very busy, over the next four years, so my blog posts may become much more infrequent, and the subject matter of both word and photo may change (again). But please hang in there, because I truly enjoy blogging, and do not intend to give it up. Perhaps you will even come to enjoy my rambling about life as a 30-something college student. At least, I hope you will!  : )

the why-me? factor…

I should’ve known, I suppose. Or should I? When was the last time we had SO much rain that it occurred to me that I should move my car several times, in order to discourage intruders? I knew that bugs will head inside, sometimes, when there is a lot of rain, because they’re looking for dry ground, and shelter from what must be a global flood, to them. But how often do I leave my car sitting for several days? Not very often.

Spending several days with friends in Georgia was wonderful, and I’ll talk more about that part of it, later. But I was expecting a leisurely drive home to Clemson… when I saw an ant on my dashboard. I squashed him, thinking little of it. And then I saw another. By the time I had seen four or five of them, I was getting worried. Because it had finally occurred to me what MIGHT have happened, while Georgia and South Carolina were getting drowned in rain, and my car had been sitting in the same spot. I was hoping I was wrong, however.

You can never find an exit, when you want one. I’m sure it took another half an hour to find an exit, and then pull off at a gas station. The second I opened my car door, I almost freaked out. Ok, I wanted to freak out, but had to keep it under control. A stream of ants was running around the door jamb of the driver’s side door. So, I opened a different door… and it was even worse. I ran into the gas station, hoping they would have bug spray, but no such luck. I ran out, slightly panicked, and NOT wanting to get back into my car, but reminded myself they didn’t seem to be getting on the carpet or anything fabric. Just on the plastic stuff, in the door.

I managed to find an Ingles, and hurried in, just as it began to pour down rain, once more. Here I was, wearing my sundress that I had worn to church, trying to keep from slipping in my wet flip-flops, carrying an umbrella, and all I wanted was ant spray for my car! When I saw the Terro ant spray on the shelf, I took a brace, momentarily. Terro ant traps… my family and friends swear by that brand, so the spray must be fantastic.

Back out into the rain I went, where eventually, I had about three doors open at a time, to keep from soaking the inside of the car, and to deter anyone from making a grab for my purse. Not that any sane person would be out there in the rain, purse-snatching. But I had swarms of aunts in the back door jambs, which made me want to do a dance of disgust and run away, not deal with the problem. Holding an umbrella in one hand, I stomped through the puddles, spraying my doors, the door jambs, parts of the floor, and even on my dashboard (while trying to protect the CD player).

Once I was back in the car, I tried to convince myself that nothing was crawling on me, as I drove away. You know how it is, you get any creepy-crawly on or near you, and you feel like there are more. About an hour later, the rain had stopped, and I needed a break, so I pulled over at a Starbucks. Then, it was time for the next step. With no rain coming down, I popped the hood, and looked inside. And had to take several deep breaths, before calling my dad.

With a stream of ants running around near the battery, I wanted to know if it was safe to be spraying ant spray near the engine, while I continued to resist the urge to run away and cry. Or scream. Or something. So, after getting the go-ahead, I sprayed down everything I could reach (aside from the engine itself), and left the hood open. Then I went inside for coffee, and stayed there for a while. Just keep breathing. Coffee will help.

For the rest of the trip home, I had an occasional invader come into the car, and crawl out on the dashboard. So I kept the spray handy, and kept my windows cracked, whether it was raining or not. Because it was extremely humid and I have issues with the smell of exhaust, I could never go long with the air cycling from the outside, so I finally just kept the AC running, with the windows partially open. And yes, it was raining for a lot of this.

There were so many wrecks on the road, because of the slippery roads, and the traffic kept slowing down and speeding up. But I was doing fine, if a little uptight over the bug problem. And then, I still don’t know if the van didn’t have brake lights or if I just missed it. I saw a license plate at such close range that I’ll never know how I didn’t hit that vehicle. I hit the brakes and threw my car into the other lane. Had I somehow remembered that that lane was empty, because of an upcoming police car (helping someone with a flat tire)? Or would I just have hit whoever was in that lane? I’m sure what almost happened to me is why so many people were in the ditches, even when it wasn’t raining. So much traffic, and cars stopping and starting.

That near-miss just about gave me a heart attack, and for the first time, when I got home a road trip, I told my mom that I never wanted to get into the car again. Or at least, for a very long time. I proceeded to hose out the engine of my car, even as it began to rain again, and then hose out all the crevices all around my car. The ants kept looking for any non-poisonous space they could find. By the time I was finished with the hose, the rain was really coming down again, but I just stayed out in it, cooling off and calming down further.

It was  a crazy trip. One of those trips where you want to ask the sky, “Why me?”. What did I do to deserve that? Nothing, of course. These things just happen, and it’s just life. But though I’m usually the kind of girl that isn’t overly bothered by bugs, I’ve been extra antsy about them, all day today. And no, I’m not intending a pun, though I know where the word comes from, now. When I woke up, I had to take a deep breath and go check my car, because I had this dread that it would be just as bad, again.

Thus far, the spray and the hose seem to have done their work. But I don’t think I will be very “trusting” of my car, for some time after this. So, if you see me staring hard at the door jambs of my car, any time soon, you can be sure of what I’m looking for. Any unwanted visitors, so I can be rid of them, right away!

Now, feel free to laugh and squirm over this, and the fact that you didn’t have to deal with it. And I’ll get ready to tell you about the rest of my fun, though wet, weekend in Georgia. The trip home was the only bad part!  : )

a bit of a hodge-podge…

Who’s up for a bit of randomness? Me, that’s for sure. None of these items seem to be enough for an entire post, but if I turn on the faucet of hodge-podgey rambling, then I can get some of it out of my system. Ready?

You may remember that I recently moved out of my old bedroom, into the basement. Since then, I’ve settled in nicely, and it doesn’t even seem odd to me. I think that may have something to do with the joy of not sleeping in a bunk bed anymore. I don’t know about you, but I almost managed to bash my knuckles on the upper bunk’s springs, ever night or so. And for someone that loves to spend a Saturday afternoon, curled up on her comforter, propped against the pillows, reading a book… you can’t do that from the bottom bunk! You can read a Kindle, but it’s too dark for reading an actual book. And don’t talk to me about those clip-on bed lamps, I’ve never liked ‘em.DSC_0663

Now, my tropical comforter (or duvet, if you prefer) shows up nicely against the white walls and dresser, and I have a carpet again! Wooden floors are all well and good, but I’ve always thought that a bedroom should have a carpet, to feel all soft and cozy against my bare feet. Who needs socks in winter, if your floor isn’t cold?

While I put more of my stuff away, bit by bit, my parents get the fun of deciding what color to paint the walls of my old room. I was working away on that baby blanket, promising to help strip wallpaper, when it was finished. But they were finished before it was complete. So, I’ll be in on the painting, eventually.

My week began with getting my new Kindle Fire in the mail, as the last one suddenly stopped charging. Having had it for just over a year, if I’d only had the warranty it came with, I’d be sunk. But when my first Kindle was busted, on the way home from Australia, I was so annoyed over it that I bought a TWO year warranty on the new one. And so, my replacement Kindle was still covered. Now, it’s loaded up with all my favorite apps and books. The only “problem” is my favorite game wants me to start over, rather than allow me to sign into my old game. So, I’m waiting for the company to get it sent over to my new Kindle. Yes, it’s a VERY silly game, but when you’ve been playing it for a year, who wants to have to start over? Not me.DSC_0662

My mom’s week began with starting her new job at the university, and while she got to deal with the nerves and learning the ropes, I got to enjoy the exciting side of it. Because I heard about this job through a friend of mind, and from there, she’s now working in a building where I have a lot of friends! So, I have a good reason to go visit them, in the department right across the street from where I work. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy dropping in on my mom, every day after work, until she either tells me to go away because she’s busy, or because I suddenly get busy in the fall.

But the fun stuff also bleeds over to where I work, because I can bother the grad students, asking if they met her yet, and learning even more of their names. I’ve finally begun to learn the names of the professors and staff, rather than just sticking with calling them Sir and Ma’am. You see, when the “grown-ups” come over, I never know what to call them! I’m not a student, so do I call them Doctor, Professor, or by their first name? A few of them have given me permission to use their first names, but otherwise, I’m as polite as can be, with “Yes-Sir-Ma’am-Sir-Ma’am!”.

Of course, I totally surprised her with the photos on her desk, and having her co-workers tell me about her reaction was very fun. I still do my mental victory dance, when I think about it. But I think that having those pictures will not only make her feel at home, but it surely gives people something to talk about, if they didn’t already!

As for me, and my job, nothing much has changed, aside from having even more to talk to the regulars about. Summer is very slow, so some days can be pretty dull, and we work at finding things to clean and organize. Eating lunch at 10:30am is very odd, and it usually leaves me starving, when I get home at 2:30pm. So, I’ve been experimenting not only with eating better in general, but making myself a salad after work, instead of eating dinner early.

If I eat dinner early, I’ll end up having four meals in one day… which is fine, if they’re small. But since I’ve found that I like cucumbers in salad (no one in my family likes cucumbers, except me) and I also like avocados (only 2 people in our house like those), I’ve been playing around with different salad combinations.DSC_0627

I’ve started trying a lettuce and spinach mixture, with shredded sharp cheese, avocado, cucumber, and then a bit of ranch dressing on top. I’ve never been a big fan of ranch, but I’m starting to like it with certain things, and since I’m eating a little more on the low-carb side, I can have it (everything in moderation!). I even planned to put some mini shrimps on top of it, tonight, until I realized we were out of greens. So, I’ll try it out tomorrow, and let you know if I come up with any other marvelous combinations.

Another thing that usually occurs when I get home from work is that I’m really tired and sleepy. Those two don’t always go hand-in-hand, because I know you can be tired, but not be sleepy. But lately, they just smack me upside the head, when I get home from work. That’s one reason I hadn’t been going to the gym so much lately, which I told myself wasn’t a bad thing, because I needed to rest up my foot. Which is better, by the way!

But whenever I start getting extra tired, with no good excuse, I get a little worried. I say no good excuse, because I know grad students and full-time employees that work from morning until night and they aren’t exhausted. I’m working from 8-2, and I shouldn’t be. Even with the hot weather, I should be living in the air-conditioning, and not bothered by it.

When I start getting tired like this, I worry that I’m having one of my mini mono relapses. I’m not complaining, because I’ve never had a bout with mono like some others do, where they’re flat on their back and unable to do anything. I’ve always been able to work and get about, it just makes me too tired to think or do anything, when I get home from work. Which can be frustrating, if you already think you have no life. However, I’m probably just being paranoid, and I’m not going to the doctor just to have them say I’m not sleeping enough. This too shall pass.

Bored already? I’ll skip to something else, much more interesting than me begin tired, shall I?

If you haven’t been checking my Books ’13 page lately, I’ve still been keeping up the reading pace. After readingDSC_1017-001 the entire Pellinor series, by Alison Croggon, I abandoned the fantasy books in order to read Glenn Beck’s Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns. Short and to-the-point, I had never heard of that book (and I’m not buying them this year, remember?), until my dad bought me a copy. It’s a great book, and as I’m a big fan of the 2nd amendment and have no interest in gun control, whatsoever, I think everyone should read it. But one of my co-workers DID almost have a heart attack when he saw me reading it.  : )

From there, I began to re-read one of my favorite books by L. M. Montgomery, Pat of Silver Bush. If you ever read my book posts, I won’t go onto a rant over it this time, I’ll just tell you that you NEED to read it. You may love thepat-of-silver-bush Anne series, but Judy Plum of the Pat books is probably one of the best characters that Montgomery ever wrote. She is REAL and she’s wonderful.

For some reason, when I had finished that one, rather than read the sequel, I started an e-book that had been sitting on my Kindle for forever. It was Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line, by Abby Johnson. And then my Kindle Fire began to act up, and I had to stop mid-book, and wait for my new one to arrive in the mail. So, I read the sequel to my previous read, Mistress Pat, until my new Kindle arrived in the mail. Then I finished Unplanned.

I’ll admit it, once I started, I wasn’t looking forward to reading the part of the story that involved Abby Johnson’s time with Planned Parenthood. But you become caught up in all the good motives and reasons behind her joining them, and how she really wanted to help women. You could see it and feel it, on every page of the book. But more and more, she began to get her eyes opened, and realize some hard truths. However, I especially liked reading about her husband, Doug, who cared for her as a friend while she was in college, and whom she later married. Even when they disagreed on the subject of abortion, he continued to love her and stand by her, until the Lord brought her around. It’s a beautiful story.unplanned-cover1

On the musical side of things, I’ve still held to my intent of not buying any music, either. So, when I want to listen to some new music, I enjoy it on YouTube. I continue to listen to my favorite new artists from this year’s The Voice Australia, as well as a few from last year. I never get tired of hearing Karise Eden’s version of “Stay With Me Baby”, or her newest hit, “Threads of Silence”. And when I’m not listening to Kiyomi Vella or Celia Pavey, I admit to loving Robin Thicke’s performance of “Blurred Lines”, at the Voice Australia finale. He’s a bit full of himself, so I prefer to listen, rather than watch.

I think I’ll stop there for now. What have you been reading or listening to, lately? Any new changes in your life? Perhaps you have some hodge-podgey bits of your own happening? I hope everyone is well and happy in all that they’re doing! Thanks for reading along.