^^^The view from my office on Friday

Sort of forcing the blog posting right now. Saturday was a very bad day, beginning on Friday afternoon, actually, resulting in terrible nightmares, and putting me in the hole for most of Saturday. I wrote a private post that morning describing my dreams, trying to work through them. Sandy came through after he found me in my bed with the covers over my head, crying. He made sure that I ate, gave me a nice back rub/scratching, and generally made me feel loved.

I popped out of it on Sunday, and if I wasn’t on medication, I would probably still be in the hole.

Last week my focus turned back to purging and organizing, since I can’t get past the artist block. One thing that we’ve been working on is to make it easier for both of us to do things that we have to get down on the floor or squat to do. That is difficult for both of us for various reasons due to age and health.

A couple of months ago we put the litter box up on a sturdy table in the back room, and the cats adjusted right away. It is much easier now to scoop and clean. Earlier last year we were sent a big fancy litter box system with pee pads by mistake and PetSmart gave it to us. We didn’t use it for months because I didn’t like that you had to use special litter and pads, but once we tried it, it is so worth it.

Last week I ordered a couple of metal pull out drawers designed to go under sinks and in lower cabinets to see how I liked them. We have a lot of food and pots and pans and storage containers in our low cabinets and it is really hard to squat down and pull stuff out from the backs of them. I put a two-tiered one under the sink and cleaned that out. The other two, shown here, are very sturdy, but don’t stack as well. I put my Golden acrylic paints and Ranger inks in them for now, where I can get to them easily, but I might end up using them in the cabinets, depending on whether the wide ones I ordered fit. They should get here today.

I packed up a beautiful Japanese tea set that I laid claim to many years ago from the room full of stored antiques in my grandfather’s house. At the time, my sister wanted it for my niece. I said, no way, this is mine, and I promise to give it to Brooke when the time is right. The time is right. I kept one saucer that was extra – it seems that a cup or three were probably broken at some point because they were always missing. The set was so delicate that I never used it. There was ancient sugar in the sugar bowl that I had to clean out. I suspect that this set probably belonged to my Aunt Lib.

It appears that Diego requires my attention now.

Coronavirus Chronicles


When everybody is talking about the same thing, I don’t have much desire to write about it. Kind of like when I was blogging about local food and then suddenly it seemed like there were so many local food blogs out there doing it better. I’d just as soon step back and let the others talk as long as they speak my mind well. So I’m not writing about impeachment or the danger that we are all in here.

I said to Sandy today that I sometimes fear that we may not get out of the country in time – thinking of Germany or Russia in the 20th century – and by waiting for the best time, miss our chance. I feel like that happened somewhat by waiting until we were older. Canada doesn’t want retirees, unless you are rich. It is heartening to know that after my birthday in February I can draw my pension at a reduced rate if absolutely necessary. It won’t be enough until I can add my social security to it though, and that will be a little more than two years from now.

Prices on airfares from NC to Europe dropped and it’s worth checking it out on Google Flights if you are planning on traveling next year.

I’ve started looking at some Portuguese recipe websites and maybe that would get me excited about cooking again. I feel so flat and blah right now. It’s probably that psychological freeze response since I can’t take flight.

This is the beginning of my busy work season. I don’t mind. I just wish I didn’t have to go to the office tomorrow because cold rain is forecast. Today was my staff meeting on Zoom and the four of us mainly talked about politics and joked around. It was good. I miss my co-workers because we are all good friends.

North Carolina changed their vaccination priority schedule again and now Sandy and my sister and brother-in-law are in the group ahead of me. I am happy about that. I’m considered an essential worker because I am educational staff and will be in the next group, but this group that is up now is huge and it will probably take weeks for them anyway. There aren’t enough vaccines. However, I am perfectly capable of doing my job at home. I have digital files and I seldom need to look at the paper files any more. The only part we can’t do is answer the office phone from home, and let the mail delivery person into the mailroom.

Ho hum.

Coronavirus Chronicles


Yesterday was another wasted day. I did dishes and laundry and put them away, but other than that and blogging, nothing of worth. We ordered a pizza from New York Pizza a couple of blocks away and got contactless delivery. It was not nearly as good as I remembered. I think that Slices by Tony has spoiled us. We watched an episode of Schitt’s Creek, which I am forcing Sandy to watch one episode at a time with me to spread it out. He’s a binger; I am not.

We both spent a lot of time on Facebook and reading the news and watching new videos of the coup attempt. I bet some people regret running for Congress and Senate. I worry.

NC Health Department is recommending everyone over 65 or with high risk health conditions to stay home and get delivery for essentials if possible. It’s that bad right now.

Sandy is still weak but much, much better.

——Lunch break——

Some more earliest memories, percolating with the news about vaccinations:

Terrified of doctor visits and needles – I had tonsillitis and ear infections in early childhood. I had to be held down for vaccinations. When I was five, I had a tonsillectomy and my adenoids removed. I would try to hide any injury or pain if I thought it might result in a doctor or dental visit.

What are adenoids anyway? Ah, thank you, Google: “The adenoids are glands that sit above the roof of the mouth and the tonsils. They are part of the immune system. These glands help trap germs that enter the nose or the mouth, in an effort to prevent infections. The size of the adenoids increases until a child is 6 years old, then they slowly shrink. The adenoids usually disappear by the time a person is 16.”

Also major dental problems. My teeth came in yellow and soft, and our dentist was my father’s cousin, and he was an asshole. When my permanent teeth came in, they were also yellow and soft, so I got a lot of fillings. I’ve been told this was because my mother took tetracycline when she was pregnant with me. It was new, then, and they didn’t know the risks. I’ve learned that a lot of people my age have yellow teeth. But my father also had terrible teeth. Who knows how much was genetic? The Army Air Force pulled his entire upper plate before he left for the Pacific in World War II.

On the other hand, I was perversely stubborn about not brushing my teeth. I have no idea why other than I was a very strong willed kid. I remember sometimes wetting my toothbrush to make it look like I had brushed my teeth. I also remember having an abscessed tooth and I chewed on a bedsheet and cried and waited as long as possible to tell my mother about because of my fear of the dentist. Yet, I resisted basic dental care. Maybe it was me.

Nowadays, I know that Novocaine has an unpredictable effect on me. Sometimes I have to have multiple shots to numb a tooth, and sometimes even then it would wear off before the dentist finished. My mother started giving me Valium to get me through a dentist visit, and Cousin P.C. made me sign a humiliating contract “not to cry,” which he showed me every year until my last visit at age 18, when I was finally able to get free of him. Then I found that that other dentists had methods that reduced pain that he never used.

I remember when I was a teenager that after he told me that a shot in the roof in my mouth was not going to hurt, his assistant stepped in and told me that it would but it would be over quickly. He was furious. She said that I should be told the truth and he said that she had no idea what he had to deal with with me.

I have a wonderful dentist now. I will hate to have to switch when I get to Portugal. She is so kind about my panic attacks and my hypersensitivity.

Zoom meetings have made me ultra aware of my yellow teeth. I read that is a common complaint these days – it seems to exaggerate every facial flaw. Other than that, I like Zoom.

coffee pot posts, Coronavirus Chronicles, Family, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The shelf next to my “work” table. The small bone is a vertebra that I found at the lake. I think that the lovely carved wooden container is bamboo, and probably came back from the Philippines with my father.

Yesterday I started blogging some of my earliest memories and I’m going to continue to do that from time to time. I think a lot about them when I am in that world between wakefulness and sleep. Plus, there is not really too much else to write about in my personal life, and I prefer to not write about politics, although occasionally I will have to put my opinions out into the world. I don’t want anybody assuming that because I am a white Boomer from North Carolina that I am right wing. I am a leftie all the way, and I have been since high school when I began to understand what humanity is doing to our environment. I can’t say that I understood racism then, although my heart was in the right place.

My mother and father always voted opposite parties, until my father started catching on to Reagin and voted against him in his second term in 1984. He still voted for Jesse Helms, though, bless his heart, because he said Jesse was head of the Senate Ag Committee and everything was about small farms for Daddy. After Jesse was re-elected, he moved to the Foreign Affairs committee so Daddy’s reason was moot.

I am a leftie to the point that Portugal not only calls me because of its affordability, beauty, and friendly people, but because it has a democratic socialist government. I am going to do my best to get there and get EU citizenship when I retire in 2023, and Sandy seems to be committed to this as well. What is going to be the big headache is downsizing our hoard and fixing the house and yard up to get our property sold. It will sell quickly, based on what I’ve seen on this street. We invested well.

Once we get Portuguese citizenship, I hope that will be my back door to moving to Ireland, which has always been my dream, but its income requirements are beyond what we make.

I keep saying that I will get back to artwork but I just can’t seem to do it. At least I have started exercising. I joined Sandy for his “one mile express” low impact exercise video yesterday and my feet were fine last night. Hopefully my tendinitis has healed enough that I can continue to exercise and sleep without pain.

Yesterday afternoon, I retreated here again and played games on my Kindle and read news articles and my current book and cuddled with Diego.

The bed frame is from my Aunt Lib’s bedroom from the Parham house. It traveled to my parents’ house, where it became my grandmother Jones’ bed while she lived with us. It is just the right size for this room, big enough for me, the cats, and my books.

Right now I am reading “House Made of Dawn,” a slim book with beautiful prose that takes place in New Mexico. Given my renewed interest in writing, I may read Natalie Goldberg’s book on memoir writing, “Old Friend from Far Away,” next.


Early family memories: Parham grandparents

This really will be a brain sweep, since I am kind of overwhelmed with all of the possibilities that I have for this weekend. All of them at home, of course. I’m trying out the gallery feature on WordPress for the first time.

The Jones women: sisters and sisters-in-law. Back to front: Aunt Mildred, my grandmother Madge Jones, my step-grandmother Pauline, unknown (maybe Nell), Gertrude or Eva with Madge’s hand on her shoulder, unknown, unknown, Addie in the dotted dress on left, Gertrude or Eva in white dress in front, unknown. I never could tell Aunt Gertrude and Aunt Eva apart. Aunt Eva was the oldest sister. Of all these great aunts, I knew Aunt Mildred, who was the youngest, the best. I probably resemble Aunt Nell the most in personality, but rarely got to see her. There were ten brothers and sisters.

So, a bit of autobiography. My earliest memory is probably my grandfather Parham (aka Daddy Thad) sitting in a red leather armchair with metal studs on the upholstery. This had to be when I was two or younger because he died in 1963. I spent a lot of toddler time in my grandparents’ house in Marietta. My mother had a hysterectomy after I was born so I like to joke that I broke the mold, but in truth it meant that between that and a lot of eldercare on her part, I was babysat a lot.

My grandmother Parham, Eliza Henley, died in the 1930s from a sinus infection, when my father was 13. My grandfather Parham remarried my mother’s aunt, and that is how my parents met. So the woman who I called Grandmother on that side of the family was actually my great aunt. It wasn’t until much later that I worked all that out. My father called his stepbrother “brother” and mother called him “cousin.” She called my “grandmother” Aunt Pauline.

I don’t know why I was so formal with what I called my grandparents. I called both grandmothers “Grandmother” and both grandfathers “Granddaddy.” My other siblings called my grandmother Jones “Mom-o.”

Great Aunt Pauline Smith Jones Parham

Anyway, Grandmother Parham/Great Aunt Pauline spoiled me rotten. She lived in the back part of the house and the rest of it was shut off, dusty and mysterious, and I was terrified of the rest of the house. There was a small room with a propane heater, a sofa and chair and a little bed to sleep on. Perhaps because she was descending into dementia, I got a hefty fear of ghosts from her, because I remember her sometimes talking about Granddaddy like he was still alive, and it was very confusing. She cried a lot and reminisced about her once long red hair. I loved staying there, though, and I know that she loved me to pieces. She scratched my back to settle me down and I still long to have my back scratched when I need comfort. There were interesting old books of fairy tales and nature illustrations, and wooden blocks and little plastic figurines to play with. Outside, I loved to pick figs from her tree and her next-door neighbor, Miss Marie, had a rope swing. I remember spotted tiger lilies and lantana.

I was enthralled with a cup that had a picture of a cow on a cup that had a cow on a cup into infinity. I see the kitchen so clearly in my mind. I must have eaten many meals there.

When I dream about this antibellum house, which is often, there is a mysterious stairway down to a huge cavernous abandoned ballroom, with lots of interesting antiques and junk to poke through. It is scary and fascinating at the same time.

My brother and his first wife lived there for a time, and then my sister inherited it and rented it out. I explored it thoroughly and found some treasures. The attic was huge, pitch dark, unwired, and full of 19th to early 20th century junk. This house nearly fell apart before my sister finally sold it to someone who spent a huge amount of effort and money fixing it back up. The chimney actually fell through the roof. Then they went bankrupt and it sold to someone in the community who takes loving care of it. It is a beautiful house now.

Later, Grandmother Parham/Great Aunt Pauline went to a nursing home, and Mama and I visited her every week. She descended into that violent paranoid place where she attacked her roommate for stealing from her. I was told for a long time that I inherited Aunt Pauline’s “nerves” which I can tell you that I did not appreciate hearing. I dread the specter of dementia more than anything else in this world.

I have such complex memories of that old house, and it’s usually a pleasure when I dream about its rooms. If there are any photos of it, there aren’t any that I can access. The visual memories will all have to reside in my brain. My brother has the Civil War era bowie knife that I found in a closet. I have a Civil War cavalry manual, stack of 19th century magazines, a corset, a spinning wheel, and an American history book that is pre-Civil War.