Monday, July 30, 2007

Good-bye Luxury - Hello Economy, & Cape May

Our whirlwind weekend began on Friday evening with Michael waking me in mid-snore, “Mary, Joe’s here!” I, flat on the sofa after dinner and doing some yard clean-up, looked like a beat up ditch digger (ouch). Good friends from Maryland planned a surprise visit and I loved seeing them for a few hours on Friday night. I threw some water on my face, brushed my hair, and was good to go. We met again on Saturday evening.


Michael (left) and Joe. “The Two Stooges”. We had a great time at a nice Italian restaurant with Joe’s lovely wife and two wonderful daughters.

After dinner, we walked to Border’s and I found Geoff’s book!


Susan, let him know I shuffled the shelves a bit.

Earlier on Saturday, we headed out to continue to shop for and test drive SUVs. I wasn’t looking forward to it since it was the third consecutive Saturday we were out and nothing thrilled me. My mind wandered on the way…


Michael thinks I’m a nut but this bug held on to the passenger mirror during 40 miles per hour. Whoa!

SUVs offer nothing I want or need anymore. My beloved Envoy had a heavenly ride but it only carried “little old me” most of the time. Do I need the room? No. Do I need to pay for gas at 22-24 mpg highway? No. The Honda dealership had a nice CRV but not in the colors I prefer – white, black, or red. It was hot on that new car parking lot and I wanted to get it done. I saw an Accord in black that was very nice with leather, a peppy four-cylinder, and amenities I like. I thought, “Why not buy a sedan?”, then I convinced Michael that I liked it very much and we should put an end to this torture right here and now.


He does his car-buying homework and loves playing “Let’s Make a Deal”, knowing how far he can push the card and this deal lasted a while with a manager that offered us the MSRP on the first try. We laughed! It reminded us of a friend in Maryland who had an out-of-body experience in a Ford dealership once and screamed, “Do you think we’re STUPID???!!!!!!” She stormed out. Her husband was mortified but agreed there was good cause for her to become ballistic. We giggled about that, waiting for a more than decent deal to be set in front of us. And it did.

The sale took a few hours to finalize and I spent my time outdoors until I had to sign the papers. The financing, waiting, and everything else about car dealerships makes me dizzy and downright bored to tears. I would have walked home if the Envoy wasn’t registered in my name.


I always find something out of the ordinary. Whaaat? On a parking lot?


While we transferred my stuff to the new Accord, I shed some tears. I cry over nuts and bolts. My wonderful, three-year old GMC with only 35,000 miles was worth less than half its purchase price. That is an American tragedy and I’ll never, repeat never, buy into it again. Sorry.


It’s not as “cushy” as the Envoy but it’s nice and black. I’ll bond with this car. It has a great sound system that will entertain me for long rides on the interstates (to Cape May, see below!). I'll also enjoy 34 mpg - very nice.

In the future, I see me in a red Mercedes sports coupe convertible. I’ll drive it wearing a wide-brimmed hat tied under my chin with top down and A/C running. My XM radio will play my favorite 80’s & 90's, loudly. I'll sing and hold onto my hat.


I was washing hummingbird feeders and making nectar on Sunday afternoon while watching the Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees in Cooperstown, NY. The Baltimore Orioles and Cal Ripken, Jr. made my heart swell with pride even though I’m not big a fan of major league baseball. (Allison, I do know Cal was #8). The Orioles have been blessed with numerous hall of famers over several decades and I remember them all.

Baltimore - My Home Town, hon.

Until I get my rear in gear and upgrade my template and sidebar:
I'm so excited
for the First Birder Blogging Conference
at the Cape May, NJ Autumn Weekend
October 26-27-28, 2007
Join the FLOCK:
Lynne @ Hasty Brook
Sharon, the Birdchick
the list is growing...and open to all!
It'll be a whoot!
For more info:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Finally...No urgency at the office!


For the first time in three long weeks, there were no deadlines or rushing at work. So, what did I do today? Very little. I was not a good employee. My main focus was blog trolling and e-mailing friends. Very important stuff, I think, because my brain is shot.


I arrived at work at 7:10. This is what was waiting for me.


10:15 a.m. Nothing changed. It became increasingly apparent to me that I was going to intentionally waste the day.


11:00 a.m. I went outside in search of birds. No birds, but I saw a colorful moth.


Dear Laurie at “Don’t Make Me Get My Flying Monkeys” posted a mystery photo. I spent most of the morning trying to figure out what it was because I wanted to win the prize – a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine or a trip to Montana. It’s a plastic bag of poop and my guess put me in the lead but I couldn’t determine the answer of the next question, “How did it arrive to be?” The mystery is still unsolved as I write this. I giggled all morning about it! Laurie is a hoot.


Dear Laura at “Somewhere in NJ” is grieving over the loss of her old man dog, Buddy. I wept for her.


After hearing about Buddy, I left the office again with my camera. I saw a colorful bug.


I didn’t see any birds outdoors but “Julie Zickefoose” caught a fantastic action shot of a bird argument between a Titmouse and a Scarlet Tanager. Wow.


Dear NatureGirl at “Nature Trail” lost her beloved cat, Freddie. I wept again.


1:30 p.m. I shuffled some things around on my desk to show some moving and shaking going on…then I played some Free Cell.

Outdoors called me once again and I was in search of a hawk or SOMETHING! Nothing. Instead, I found THIS!


This is what I should have done today. I wanted to ask, “May I borrow that rock?”

Did I feel guilty? Yes, terribly guilty, all day long. If I were smart, I would have packed up at 9:00 a.m. and called it a day. I felt like deadwood or an employee with a pink slip in her future. However, I did a damned good job lately during some high-pressure times.


After work, I looked up to see Claude and Maude staring at me from my bedroom roof. Terrible photo. I guess I deserved it.

I'll force myself to be in be in bed early tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll work my butt off until 2:00 p.m. and call it a day. HA!

Does this sound familiar to anyone who has an office job?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Early Evening Retreat


6:58 a.m. A new day.

It lasted a long time at the office

and took my strength.

Dinner hour has passed

and the work is done.

I crave a brief retreat,



No dogs, no voices, no phone -

just me and sounds of nature.

Wind chimes, birdsong,

trickling water, hummingbird squeaks & engines.



Gentle breeze, might rain.

Nice, for a while.
Need a little retreat tonight?
Join me.












Ughhh. Who fed her beans?
Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Short Stories, Around the House

My life is full of non-stop thrills (joke)... Help me?


Guess who rescued a Five Line Skink from the inside of an overly cold, air-conditioned building today? I had better things to do in the office. Hmmm...not really.

Someone once told me that our last name has an Italian meaning of ‘street cleaner’. I don’t know if it’s true, but if you knew my husband, you might think it is.


Michael’s a very tidy person (except in the kitchen) and loves his toys. I watched him grin from ear to ear when he powered up his new Troy Built Pressure Washer and put it to the test. Like a child on Christmas morning, he looked to me with wonder and amazement on his face and I was happy that the 300,000 pounds of water pressure scoured away the stained concrete instantly! How exciting is THAT? After testing a dirty spot on the back patio, he hoisted that baby into the back of his pick-up and drove to Gina’s house to zap away a large black oil stain on her driveway. It bothered him. He hated that stain…


The hummingbirds didn’t like the noise and waited for him to disappear around the corner before they relaxed.

This new toy reminds me of the first time he used a snow blower in a blizzard. Every 4-6 inches of snow that fell, he’s suit up and crank up that wonderful engine again. Just when I thought he was thoroughly frozen and finished, I’d see him across the street removing snow for neighbors. All…day…long.

Back to the pressure washer, I hope he realizes he can hydro-cut his toe off if he isn’t careful. This new machine will be nice to have when I long for a snowfall. When it gets down to 20 degrees, I’ll hold the sprayer to the sky and let it snow on me while singing “Winter Wonderland”. Don’t think I won’t do it.


Chloe visited the vet on Saturday for a booster shot and check-up. Dr. Sarah and I laughed at a note on Chloe’s chart, “Hates Instruments”. She massaged every part of her body for several minutes and checked her teeth, eyes, and ears. Chloe didn’t like it very much but tolerated Dr. Sarah. Her muscles aren’t rock hard like they used to be, her vision isn’t sharp, she's had many teeth extracted, but she’s arthritis free and very healthy. At the end of the exam, Dr. Sarah brought the stethoscope out and Chloe took a growling shot at it, just as we expected. We laughed and agreed it wasn’t worth it this time. Her distemper shot was a three-year booster. This means Chloe will be 14 when she needs another booster… I plan on being there with her. She's a determined lady who will live beyond her expected years (please).


We thought it would be nice to allow Chloe & Bella to enjoy the view from the hill in front of the house so we bought a sturdy Evenflow baby gate for the porch. If they see a dog, they go wild and shout, “Hey, we’re up here! See us? We have hula-hoops and balls!”


There were two, now there are eight. I wonder if my neighbor knows what's happening on her rooftop. In almost two years, I've only seen her outside three times. Isn't that sad?


Goldfinches sit on the hanging planters (which are empty because of the heat we’ve had for a long time). This was taken inside the house through the blinds.


Our pond plants are growing so fast and I’m so pleased! I have never had a pond with so much life. It’s work to keep them under control every day and I don’t mind at all if my knees are stained black from mulch. I’m loving it.


Did I mention how much I love my pond?


A few weeks ago I asked for submissions of your "Eyesores". I've received a few and to those who submitted, THANK YOU! However, because you are busy and I am busy during these long summer days, I'm postponing this little project until after summer ends and the days are shorter. We'll have more time then. I know I will!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Few Kind Words


Kind words spoken are the best gift of all.

During the past two weeks, I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking with students again. The coordinator of Emergency Medical Services took a much deserved vacation so I kept things going for prospective EMT students, as Fall registration is underway. All of the students are appreciative of the help I’ve given but there is one student that I won’t forget.

An African American lady, five years older than me, came to my office last Monday. She’s hot on becoming an EMT. Her children are grown and she helped raise a few of her grandchildren. She’s had many part-time jobs throughout her adult life but her desire, now, is to have a career as a first responder. I marveled at her physical strength and enthusiasm. I envied and applauded her aspirations because while she is ready to set the world on fire and make a difference, I’m ready to step back and let someone else take over.

In order to qualify for the EMT class, students need to either provide a college transcript or take a reading and math test. She left my office with a handful of informational brochures and agreed to take the skills test.

Two days later, I scored her test and knew I had to make a phone call that would be difficult for me as she scored 8th grade in reading and 4th grade in math. Before I dialed her number, I rehearsed my lines for a few minutes and took a deep breath.

Was she disappointed? No, as she expected low scores. I gave her options. Certainly, she could take the test as many times as she wanted, but I referred her to our tutoring center, free of charge, to get those basic math skills back and opportunities to read, read, read! It might take her several weeks of tutoring and that would preclude Fall registration but she’ll certainly be ready for Spring. I called the tutoring center yesterday and learned she has made appointments over the next three weeks. Many prospective students need to hear more than a recorded message. Smiles and encouragement goes a long way and I’m certain she will show up on an EMT roster one day soon.

Instead of immersing myself in budgets and paperwork, I’d rather do what I did lately. Assisting students. I’d like that.

This short message appeared in our college newsletter this week, written by a GED/Adult Education representative:

“We had a young man come in several weeks ago to get his scores. He looked very ‘gangster’ and was with another young man. When I looked up his scores they were quite good. I was telling him how well he had done...bragging on him somewhat....he seemed stunned that he had succeeded. As he stood there his friend said in gangster vernacular.... 'man you look like you gonna cry...are you?‘ His reply was with a broken smile....'yeah man, I just might...I finally did one thing right in my life.' I was so touched...I told him that he had done so well he should consider some college classes...his reply, 'For real?' I told him of course he could and explained the process. He said he had never even thought about college. He came back last week to get another transcript from us...he was on his way to admissions to sign up for college courses...not sure what to study...but ready to start. That is what this program and a GED can do..... how cool is that!”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?


The weather was splendid this weekend and graced us with a cool breeze and hot sun. The early mornings were chilly! Nice relief for burned out Carolinians.


A few thunderstorms rejuvenated the Crepe Myrtles out back but there are many trees, flowers, and shrubs that look miserable.

The Mourning Doves are bonding with me. I really think so!


Brown Thrashers and Woodpeckers have reappeared this weekend after a few weeks vacation. The Starlings and Grackles left a week or two ago but I’m still fighting the squirrel population. They’re draining my checkbook!


Welcome back, handsome man! Help yourself. You are very welcome.


On Saturday evening I took a stroll through the overgrown area near the bird feeders and culvert. There is always something new but I rely on my garden bloggers to tell me what it is?

Here’s another weed with striking photo appeal!

This is the one. I can’t count the number of hummingbird photos I’ve taken over the weekend. Many of them are good but this one is sweet. Can’t zoom in when they are zooming!

Hummingbird photos are fantastic in my blogging community but I want to praise a gentle lady who posts several times a day and makes me smile with her brief but meaningful poetry, complimented by her prize-winning photos. Please take a look at Sherry’s “Monarch and a Hummingbird”. You will love it. I did!


It’s been a full weekend. Lots to do. I enjoy a little time each night – winter, spring, summer, and fall – parking myself near the pond lights to look for something that might swim by…