I currently have two orchids growing in my office window. One is about two years old and the other was a gift from my beautiful niece Kyra for my birthday last summer. They really flourish in the summer time and in autumn when I put them out on my sun porch. The humidity and filtered sunlight is perfect for them. In winter, when they go dormant, I keep them in my office where they can still get a little bit of filtered sunlight. The problem with the office is that it is pretty chilly in there. It is actually the coldest room in the house, but it's the only room that gets decent sunlight.
Well, about a week ago, both of the orchids started to throw buds. Those buds have increased in number and size, and I should have blooms in about a week. As of today there are about 5-7 buds on each plant. Clearly my orchids are seasonally challenged. Instead of staying dormant in the cold weather, they have decided that January (not to mention of of the coldest Januarys ever in NC) is a great time to bloom. I don't really mind given that they will be beautiful to look at, but I feel a bit sad for them knowing that they are so confused.
As I've said before, I take a ton of photos to get to the one I choose for my NC Life feature. And, of course, I cannot get rid of them all. After I winnow them down to just a few, I keep all the rest in a digital photo album. I've decided to post all of them in a slideshow on a page in my blog for all to enjoy. You can find it here or in the side bar under "NC Life - All The Extras."
Today has been absolutely gorgeous. The weather has been warm, the sky has been blue, and our spirits are high. The sky was so crystal clear that it begged to be photographed. I especially like how the leftover gumballs are so visible against the beautiful sky.
Yes, it's another Bailey pic. She was nursing her wounds while relaxing in the sun this morning, and I felt compelled to snap her photo. I'll try to keep Bailey posting to a minimum in the NC Life, but she is so pathetically sweet right now!
Today was a rather stressful day. It began with an emergency visit to the vet and ended with the devastating realization that I couldn't eat my favorite destress snack: popcorn. (Okay, that last bit isn't stressful, but it was disappointing!)
B's ear is still hurt from when she injured it way back before Christmas. Today I decided that she needed to have the vet finally fix it. I mean, a girl can only take so much blood spatter on her walls. So our trip to the vet ended up in B being put under anesthesia, a chunk of dead tissue was cut out of her ear, and it was sutured back up. So now she is banished to an E-collar for the next seven days while her ear heals. Poor baby. And that is what prompted today's NC Life pic ... The Most Pathetic Dog in America.
While she was under, the vet trimmed her nails DRAMATICALLY (I'm talking like a half inch shorter!) and cleaned her ears. It was fantastic. She's still tired out from the drugs and the stressful day, but she'll be okay. She's a pretty tough pup.
Today my kids took their World Religions field trip. It's the culminating event after a unit that investigates the "Masters of Monotheism:" Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We spend the morning visiting a synagogue, mosque, and a Catholic church. It's a great opportunity for the kids to experience the "other." So my photo today comes from our field trip. These are prayer shawls that are kept in the synagogue. Their simplicity is what makes them beautiful.
Okay, today I'm cheating a little. I didn't take this picture today. But it is a NC picture (from the coast last fall)! The weather around here lately has been dreary and sunless and cold. And today it was rainy. I really needed something to perk me up and lift me out of this dreary perspective.
I haven't noticed any major changes in general feeling and energy yet, but I did work out this evening. That has to be a good sign, right?
Most notably, the only real change I have experienced from the new vitamin and protein regiment is a dramatic change in the color of my pee. Sorry for not warning you about TMI. The B12 that I am taking makes my urine a nice shade of radioactive neon yellow. It's nothing to worry about (I checked), but it is surprising. The color results in the chemical reaction as my body processes the vitamin and is not indicative of my body simply flushing out the vitamin. Because if that was happening, I'd stop paying for the vitamins!
I made it a week!! Seven whole days of posting pictures! Go me!
Today's pic is inspired by my first trip to Trader Joe's. I had never been but finally caved under peer pressure. I still prefer my Earthfare, but Trader Joe's certainly had some goodies to offer. Mainly, a great assortment of nuts. I got almonds, cashews, sweet and spicy pecans, Thai lime and chili cashews, and cinnamon almonds. Umm ... YUM!
Starting today, I am going on a regiment of supplements and vitamins to hopefully increase my energy and overall nutrition. As a vegetarian, I know that I don't get enough protein, and I know that protein is essential for weight loss and management. I bought some soy/whey protein powder that can be added to juice, water, or milk. It's vanilla flavored, and it doesn't taste too bad. I had some tonight with a mix of coconut and pineapple juice. It was actually kinda tasty. It provides me with about half of my recommended protein for the day. I've also picked up some multivitamin packets which include a vitamin C tablet, beta carotene, vitamin E, a mineral tablet, and a B vitamin. I also picked up a nice B12 dissolvable tablet that should help perk up my energy. I started my doses tonight, so I don't expect to see any real changes for a few days or a week.
I'm really not good at remembering to take medicine every day, but I'm definitely going to give this the old college try (do people even say that anymore?). Besides, it can't hurt, can it?
The best part of my day. Seriously. Finally sitting down with popcorn and a beer (Partly Sunny! Ithaca Beer, I love you!) after a full day of work and three hours of running errands was the first time I got to relax all day. Ahhhh ...
If you have a relatively weak constitution, I suggest you stop reading now. What comes next is relatively gross.
Today I visited the ENT (otolaryngologist - the ears, nose, and throat doc) for my persistent issues with my left ear. This is the same ear that has caused me trouble for the past four years or so. My previous ENT in the 'boro put a tube in my ear after a considerably bad inner ear infection, and the beneficial effects of said procedure seemed to have faded. The ear pain had returned -- thankfully not as intense! -- so I figured I would cut the problems off at the pass and see the doctor before things got any worse.
When I got to the doc's office, I explained my colorful ear history. I told him about all the scar tissue in my ear and how that causes me to have excessive wax build up. He looked in my ear and immediately noted that I had some wax. He told me that he was going to remove it, and I told him that there was no way I would let him irrigate it. The last time a doctor did that to me, I got nauseous and almost passed out. He reassured me that he had other means of getting the wax out.
He took me into the procedure room and had me lay down. (On a side note, this is the first time an ENT has had me lay down while undergoing a procedure. SMART! Messing around with the ear often makes one dizzy, and laying down is a pretty smart way of catching people when they pass out. I like this guy!) He was really great at informing me of what he was doing and stopping when I felt discomfort. And, let me tell you, there was a lot of discomfort. Apparently, the wax had formed a sort of scab that was holding it into my ear. He had to essentially rip off the scab to free the wax. OUCH!! But he was really gentle and understanding. When he finally released the wax from its scabby foothold, he needed to remove it. I figured, "no problemo." Ummm ... wrongo. The wax was actually a large chunk and it had hardened and was deep inside my ear canal. When he pulled it out, I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. But I didn't. 'Cause I'm a champ. When the wax was free, Doc showed me what he had removed. What I saw was a hard, yellow-black, contorted chuck of nastiness that was the size of one of those incense cones (no joke). It was so gross. And I really had to resist the urge to take a picture of it.
It's nice to be able to hear again and not feel so plugged up. My ear is now a little sensitive (Doc said there is a minor bruise on my ear drum due to ripping off the scab), but it's nothing a dose of pain relief can't cure.
This week has been hard. In all actuality, the last twelve days have been hard. I have been working pretty much non-stop. Even last weekend was no real reprieve. Granted, I was in NOLA visiting The Boy, but the bulk of my days there were spent in a hotel conference room increasing my teaching potential. I landed late on Monday night and turned right around and went to work on Tuesday. I was really hoping for a relaxing weekend at home, but I've got two social events and two work responsibilities slated. Joy. At least I'll get to enjoy myself a bit this weekend. Hanging with my girlfriends and watching a Broadway musical (at DPAC) will definitely be the highlight.
I no sense of compass-direction (unlike Kiki!), so I can't say which direction I'm facing. I do like the jet trails in the evening sky. The sun has started to set behind the roof, and, if you didn't know better, you'd think it was warm out. But it wasn't.
I promised to capture my natural surroundings in this feature, but that's not happening today. I'm worn out from 10 days of non-stop work. My conference in NOLA last weekend, while I enjoyed it, eliminated my weekend entirely. And I'm certainly feeling the effects now. So today's picture is the medicine I need: tea, a good book, some candles, and my couch.
I made sure to make time to take some photographs today after work and before hanging out with Quinn's Momma. I took about 40 pics in 15 minutes (I know. I have a problem.) and decided that this would be the starting pic of my new feature.
Well, let me make that 347. Because I'm about 19 days late. "What? Huh?" you ask. Let me clarify.
My dear Kiki is doing a Texas Sky 265 feature on her blog. I love the idea, but I find that the North Carolina sky is often less impressive than the Texas sky. It is smaller after all. So, instead of focusing on my sky, I will be focusing on all things North Carolina. I do plan to post a sky pic each Friday for Kiki's Friday Sky Round-Up. I plan to focus mainly on my natural surroundings, but I can't promise that the occasional unnatural appearance won't appear. :) This will also encourage my to pay more attention to my photography passion (which was a New Year's resolution of mine!) and to bring my camera out of the house on a more regular basis.
I'll begin posting my daily pics tomorrow with the tag NC Life 365.
I spent last weekend in NOLA at a writing institute which also meant that I got to spend some QT with The Boy. We stayed up late, ate great food, enjoyed tasty cocktails, and had a blast walking around and checking things out. But, then again, we usually have a good time together.
I also got to take some pictures! Finally! It was great to get out and record my world, no matter what the weather. As the pics show, the weather varied considerably from Friday to Monday. But I'm pretty happy overall with the pics that I was able to take.
As always, we visited Jackson Square and Cathedral. We walked around French Market and the whole of the French Quarter. We also finally got to tour the Ursuline Convent and St. Mary's Italian Church. And here is what my camera produced ...
One of the many balconies of NOLA
Why can't I live in one of these balconied apartments?
A gate. Clearly.
A pretty succulent.
I love the shadow cast upon the ceiling.
I wonder what time it was when I took this pic?
The view from Jackson Square.
More Jackson Square.
I absolutely LOVE Live Oaks. I seriously want one in my yard when I get a house.
I like the lounging statue in the center.
I do not love the squatting man in the jersey on the right.
The Mighty Miss.
Wrong side of the tracks?
French Market yummies.
The light at the end of the tunnel.
A quaint Quarter doorway...
on a quaint Quarter street.
Our Lady of Succor.
Convents grow great oranges.
The nuns all boarded up (they don't actually live there anymore.)
For all my laughing and making fun of my Southern neighbors, I must admit that I just had a very Southern moment.
Me in my warm and toasty Red Sox jacket and heavy clunky winter boots and gloves. Armed with a broom and ... a fireplace shovel. The only feasible tools I had for the mission ahead. I use the fireplace shovel as a pick-ax to break up the 1/2" thick layer of ice that coats all 14 stairs. After I break up the snow, I use the broom to sweep the snow off. There is not a doubt in my mind that I looked absolutely ridiculous and EXACTLY like all those people I make fun of.
So I resolved to take more time for photography this year. And, since today is a snow day, I took the time to take some pics. I only took a handful of shots, but it was good to get back into "photographer" mode for a while.
The Boy and I drink a lot of flowering tea. You know, the tea that starts as a tight little ball but has actually been sewn together to bloom into a flower in the hot water? Well, I figured that I would attempt to take some pics of the pot that I was currently enjoying.
This one is blurry due to the steam rising. I kinda like it. Makes it look misty.
This is taken through the side of the clear tea pot that I have for flowering teas. I like the fluidity of the water. Which makes sense because water is indeed fluid. :)
Here is Kiki! The Sago Palm! Up close and personal.
I actually really like this one. I like how that the foreground is blurry but you can see the mirror reflection and a strand of pearls behind. It took me a few looks to like it, but I do.
Due to the icy conditions all over the Southeast, today is a "snow" day for most of the schools in the area. And, as we all know, everyone loves a snow day. Except maybe parents who are then trapped at home with overly energetic and excited kids. And, to be honest, today is the worst kind of snow day. There isn't any snow to play in, and you can't go anywhere. The equals stir-crazy children.
So, for snow days, that means day off for teachers! I have every intention of doing some work later, but, for now, I am enjoying some time off when it's actually daylight. That means playing with my camera and my blogs.
There is about 1/4" of ice covering everything right now, and it is thicker in some places. My rosemary bush has a nice layer on it, and the grass is super crunchy. Unfortunately, the bad weather has kept the complex maintenance men at home, and my stairs -- both front and back -- are covered in a very think layer of ice. The Beast has fallen each time I've taken her out. I feel bad, but there's not much I can do.
I will say that it was great fun watching the neighbors attempt to clear their cars this morning. I've got another Rear Window set up in my office, so I get to watch the neighbors come and go while laughing to myself. They were using their scrapers (which I was surprised they actually had! A lot of people down here use all sorts of things -- credit cards, cd cases ... -- to clear their cars.) as hammers and were whacking away at the ice. None of them thought to start the car and turn on the defrost and heat to aid in the ice removal. Good times.
It's days like this when I'm glad to be a New Yorker. While my blood may have thinned and the cold hits me harder than it used to, at least I'm well versed in dealing with the winter elements.
If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE Mexican food. One of my FAVORITE Mexican items would be nachos. Specifically vegetarian nachos given that I don't eat meat.. I love the saltiness of the chips and the creaminess of the cheese and all the other yummy flavors. It's very easy to get bad nachos and very difficult to get good nachos. Tonight, I decided to make a solid attempt at concocting my own from the supplies I have in my kitchen. If I do say so myself, they were freakin' awesome! Mmm, mmm good!
I took a can of kidney beans (rinsed), a container of Imagine Organic Cuban Black Bean Bisque, a few handfuls of my favorite tortilla chips, some plain chevre, and some diced grape tomatoes. I combined the beans and the bisque and then reduced the bisque down to a thick, chili-like sauce. I spooned the sauce over my chips, added about 4oz. of crumbled chevre, and then sprinkled the tomatoes over top. I would have added some black olives but I didn't have any in the house. I don't need sour cream in my diet (despite it being mucho tasty!), but it would have been tasty spooned on top.
I forgot to take a picture because I was super eager to eat it! But, believe you me, it was very yummy! And my sparkling pina colada was a nice margarita substitute.
The last few days have been quite challenging. Not physically or mentally. But emotionally. And now, that the "crisis" is over, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about everything.
This week, I had a "scare." My period was due on Tuesday, and my cycle is like clockwork. I always get my period between midnight and 6am on the day it is due. This month, my due date came and went with nothing. Nada. Zip. No cramps. No bloating. No anything. I wasn't all that worried until three days had passed without any sign of my period. The Boy had a vasectomy a long time ago, so I shouldn't have worried. But there is a 0.05% chance that the vas deferns can regrow and reconnect. Knowing my luck, that would happen to us. It is now four full days past my due date, and there is still nothing. Today I peed on a stick (not just any stick of course!) to ease my concerns. It very quickly came back negative. Phew.
I've never had a scare before. My mind immediately began to whirl. I made a decision long ago that I didn't want kids. I LOVE children (obviously! I'm a teacher!), but I don't want my own. I'm too selfish. I like to travel and to shop an to live a rather carefree existence. Because of my personal beliefs, if pregnancy were to ever happen, I would obviously make the best of things and become a mom. But, given a choice, I'd prefer to be a perma-auntie instead of a mother. But this whole situation has given me pause to think.
When faced with the remote possibility of being pregnant, I was surprisingly not upset. I was nervous. Anxious. Unsure. But I wasn't upset. My mind reeled at the thought of the expense of a child -- both financially and emotionally -- and I wrestled with imagining what the burden would be. But I also couldn't help but feel a little excited. A little eager. A little happy. I thought about having a little creature to care for and love and mother and tend to. And when my period started this evening, I couldn't help feeling a bit of sadness mixed with that relief. And now I don't know what I feel.
Having a child now would be horrible, horrible timing. My apartment is small, my budget is tight, I live alone and with no help. My life is pretty non-child-friendly. But, if it happened by some twist of fate, I would make do. I could never in good conscience plan a baby while I live in this situation, but the prospect of it happening accidentally didn't devastate me.
Now, after a solid decade of being firmly decided against having children, now I'm not so sure how I feel. And that creates a huge problem in my life.
I love that my students are so generous. I received almost $200 in gift cards this holiday season, $70 of which was for Barnes and Noble (and another $60 for Borders!). It took me all of an hour, but I managed to spend it all on a variety of goodies. From Barnes and Noble, I picked up two books (on of which is coming in another shipment), two daily calendars (Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine -- the Get Fuzzy is for The Boy), two leather bookmarks, a pack of mini eco-notebooks, and some rubber stamps. The best part of it all is that almost everything was on sale! My stamps were only $3.47 and everything else was under $10. (Kiki, you should check out the book in the picture. I think you would find it quite funny!)
I also bought these great "love" postcards. The pack has 40 postcards and each card has a cute and simple statement of love. On of my favorites has a picture of a British pound note folded into the shape of a heart that reads "My heart pounds for you." How sweet! I plan to send one or two to The Boy each week. You know, keep our love new and fresh. I've already got one filled out and ready to send tomorrow. Of course, now I need postcard stamps. Do they even make those anymore? I should have checked on that first, huh?
My order from Borders is all biographies and should be here soon. I can't wait for those! Although, I'm already involved in three other books, so I'm not sure when I'll have time to start a new book or two.