around here, late July

lantana from my garden
lantana from my garden

What’s going on around here:

In my head…
A bunch of stuff. First: BACK TO SCHOOL PREP.

My mom and dad are in North Carolina for the summer, but my mom came back to town for some appointments and to help get Gracie ready for school, so it’s been a very busy few weeks.

Gracie’s starting a new school in just a few weeks- her Montessori school only goes up to third grade, so she “graduated” in May. Because of the change in schools, we had a lot of school shopping to do this year. The new school has a dress code, but it’s a very flexible and relaxed dress code. The issue is that Gracie is picky about clothes because she’s petite  (especially pants), so finding stuff that fit the dress code and that were comfy and things she liked wearing and felt good in was a little bit of trial and error. At Montesorri, she wore t-shirts and yoga pants, but now she has to wear the school-logo polo shirt, khakis/shorts, and sneakers. We’re still on the hunt for pants that aren’t leggings. But she got shorts and skorts that she loves, and a bunch of solid hoodies and sweaters. And new shoes! She loves Converse and Toms.

The school supply list was extensive and very specific. We’ve never had to buy school supplies before because Montessori provided everything, so that was interesting. I love paper and office supplies, so I was excited to do that part before I got the list, but the kids aren’t allowed to have anything with too much variety so it was just basic yellow number-2 pencils and black/white composition books and pink cap erasers and a plain binder with filler paper, etc. Now we have a dining room table full of supplies for the year.

It’s been a busy few weeks. On Sunday, my mom flew back to North Carolina on Sunday, and Gracie went along with her to spend a few weeks with Nanny and Papa in the mountains before school starts. I can’t believe it’s almost back to school time, and that Gracie will be starting FOURTH GRADE. It’s a bit much, to be honest.

But it’s also sort of nice. I have to admit, every year that passes, Tom and I say to ourselves “*this* is the best age”. I know a lot of people are all about the baby/toddler stages, but Tom and I are more “kid” people, I think. I love being able to really TALK to Gracie and hang out with her. I love going with her to Disney and Universal and the movies and hanging out with her, and talking about books and things we find online and art projects and food and whatever. It’s amazing to have that connection with her. I love that she asks me really emotional and complex things about issues and topics that are not easy to deal with or provide immediate answers to. I like that challenge of parenthood- it’s bittersweet.

It just feels like we are this unit now, as opposed to two adults with a tiny kid. She has opinions and ideas and they matter.

As you might know, we have three cats: Milo (the perpetual kitten, who is now two years old), Chester (our big boy who has been with us over ten years), and Ginger (our sweet calico, who came home around the same time Gracie did, nine years ago.)

You also may know Ginger’s had some health problems the last year or so. The glands near her tail started being an issue about 18 months ago, and they got seriously infected. She had several surgeries to get them healing, and to help her recover. While she was recovering from the first infection, we consulted with two different vets, and both advised us to try and let the glands heal on their own and see if they would remain stable rather than go ahead and get them removed. There is surgery to remove the glands, the major risk of that is that she’d lose bowel function. So we decided to go that route- because we have the resources and time to take really intensive care of her (making the back bedroom into her personal space, being home a lot, etc.), we decided to follow the vets’ advice and see if she could recover and then stay healthy, even though recovery might take a while because of scar tissue and things like that.

So for the last 18 months, Ginger has been under very special care- she has her own room in our house, she gets special food, her own litterbox, and basically leads a very stress-free life. It took several months for the glands to cycle through infections, and then for her to be treated for the resulting issues from being on antibiotics for so long, and to heal, but they finally did.

She was doing great until a few weeks ago- she developed another infection out of nowhere. We caught it pretty much immediately (she was acting weird, and we got her right to the vet before it even opened) and she’s being treated for it. But now it’s clear she needs the surgery- the gland issue will be chronic for her. We feel *terrible*. On one hand, we tried to do the right thing- we held off on surgery because it is risky and not something to enter into lightly. And if the infections were just a weird thing that happened once and she recovered from, then the surgery would have been unnecessary. But on the other hand, I keep wondering if we just went ahead with the surgery, if she’d be all better now and not have had to deal with all this these past few months 🙁

The game plan now is to get her totally healed, and then get her in for the surgery as soon as it’s safe, and we’ll hope for the very best. No matter what happens, we’re here for her, and will care for her no matter what it takes. I just hope she can get the surgery very soon, it all goes very well, and she comes home pain-free and able to be part of the “main” part of the house again and interact with her brothers and be able to do normal cat things without worrying any stress might cause her medical problems.

Poor girl. I love her so much.


The new Florence and the Machine album has been on repeat on my iPod shuffle. At first I was a little crushed that it was so much more low-key than her previous stuff, but then it grew on me. It isn’t quite as dramatic and soaring as her previous stuff, but there are so many great *moments* in the new songs.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say her really BIG, epic songs aren’t my absolute favorites. There is *one* of those on the new album (“Which Witch”, which is supposedly a DEMO track. Florence Welch is *seriously* a genius…), and it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Supposedly she created a whole concept album with that particular style of song and storyline and she scrapped it for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, and the idea of losing a whole album of songs like “Which Witch” makes me want to cry a bit. Maybe she’ll release it in the future. I hope so.

She writes and performs music that makes me feel alive and young again, in a really vulnerable way. It’s almost like there’s some thing inside me that tends to get a little dusty and diminished as time passes, that thing that I felt strongly when I was young- the possibility of anything, the incredible emotion of life, the power of creativity and humanity… and when I hear some of her songs, the dust and grime of years gets blown off and that part of me comes alive again. The only other band that does that for me right now is M83. (Oh, and Metallica, but that’s been going on since I was 17, and Metallica soothes my anxiety more than anything else, besides maybe swimming.)

In the art studio…
Coloring with watercolor pencils that I forgot I had (more on that in a few days…).

Playing with Brusho (which is so messy and fun and so hard to use, more on that in a few days…)

Experimenting with resists and watercolor. I hate embossing powders (did it this weekend and it reminded me how much I hate it) and am determined to find an ink/liquid that provides a resist on watercolor paper. The search for a good liquid resist is sort of a never-ending experiment in the art studio. I have been trying things for years- glues, paints, waxes, solvents, resist mediums, etc. and have yet to find anything amazing- something that works with paintbrushes, stamps, dip pens, etc.

I feel a little aimless but trying to ride through summer, as far as creativity goes. I’m doing something creative everyday and trying lots of different stuff, so I’m actually doing a lot of work and that’s great. A lot of playing and experimenting and just seeing what I feel like doing and following through. I think the feeling of restlessness is just a summer thing. I think that everything I do should bring the intensity and focus and passion I feel when I’m painting with acrylics. I took a break from that because I was agonizing over the painting I have been working on since late 2014, and not able to finish it. I knew I needed a break because it was making me so unhappy.

Also, I felt really drawn to watercolors and water-based mediums, and missed the “looseness” of those mediums. So that’s what I’m doing. It seems to be a trend with me- in winter I paint with acrylics, and in summer I play with watercolors. I hope to mix the two as the year continues, because I just hate abandoning projects because I can’t figure out how to split my interests. I don’t have much free time, so when I start breaking it down into tiny chunks devoted to different projects, I wind up getting very little done.

Outside my window…
RAIN. Rain. All weekend. We’ve had a VERY mild summer, as far as Southwest Florida goes, and I’ve been very grateful for that. Morning storms have been minimal, and the afternoon storms haven’t brought excessive rain- excessive meaning enough to damage my garden. It’s just been hot and cloudy and the storms have come later in the day so I have had plenty of time in the mornings to garden and get my swims in without having to check the lightning tracker every two minutes.

But this weekend, some sort of weird tropical storm blew in, and the rain just fell from the sky in  what seemed like bucketfuls. Just torrential, hard rain, all weekend. It was so forceful that it pushed one of the top screens on our lanai out of the frame. Thankfully, there was very little thunder and lightning, so I was still able to go outside and swim and do my thing, it was just wet and steamy. Yesterday was kind of a pain because there was a little bit of lightning on the radar, so I had to keep getting out of my pool and waiting it out while I was trying to finish my swim. It took about five and a half hours to get my five miles in (it usually takes two and a half hours).

We now need a few good, dry days for everything to dry out and become less “squishy”. I’m hoping Mother Nature will bless us with a few days of sunshine, mild temperatures, a little bit of breeze, so the standing water can go away and the plants on the island can recuperate. Rain is good, but torrential rain does a job on the plants and trees all over the island.

In the garden…
See above. I’ll have to wait a few days to see what the results of all that rain will be. I just planted a few new plants, and I hope they pull through.

I’m a little freaked out about the mushrooms, which fascinate me but completely gross me out when they are in *my* garden. Some of them are really, really weird. We found an Elgant Stinkhorn Mushroom in one of my planters a week or so ago and I had to have Tom get rid of it for me. It was just *too* weird for me. It was about 6 inches long, pink, kinda foam-y, looked phallic, and it smelled disgusting. When Gracie saw it, she literally shrieked and ran across the lanai, which is NOT common for her. It was just weird and otherworldly. *shudders*

So fingers crossed for dry weather and sunshine.

“Day Four”, which is about a cruise ship that runs into issues and chaos (and creepy mysterious stuff) ensues. It’s very readable, but not particularly scary, so I’m just reading along, seeing what happens. I’ll let you know what I think of it. I just grabbed it (well, for my Kindle) because it was available and I read a review of it in Entertainment Weekly that made me curious. I like spooky, eerie stuff- not downright horror or gore, but eerie things that suggest creepy happenings. You know the movie “Mothman Prophecies” from about ten years ago? That’s my idea of good spooky stuff. (On that note, I like spooky stuff set in space even more. But all spooky space books tend to be more fantasy fiction, and I’m totally not into that.)

Thankful for…
– compassionate vets, their staffs, and strong medication to help Ginger through this health issue.
– Tom, for taking a major role in Ginger’s care these last 18 months.
– Gracie for being a superstar about all the new changes with school and for being brave and excited about everything new coming her way.
– my parents for helping out and for sharing their summers with Gracie every year in North Carolina.
– kind people in this community (particularly Andrea, who is on staff at our favorite movie theater and who has been incredibly lovely to us since the day we met her.)
– Milo and all his insane habits and quirks (and obsession with sliced carrots, running whenever the cabinet door is opened because one of us is either getting a piece of chocolate – which he likes to nibble- or getting him a brand new toy to play with, and having to be locked up at night because he’s learned to open doors by hurtling himself at them full force which is NOT a stress-less noise to hear at 3am.)
– Good TV shows, like Orphan Black (we binged Season Three last week- love Helena and her “science baby”). Now we’re starting season Two of Broadchurch.
– Watercolor pencils (a rediscovered passion.)
– Storms *without* lightning.


Nothing *yet*, but since fall is around the corner (I feel like every time I even think about that, confetti and balloons should drop from the ceiling because it IS that much of a deal to me!)

I’m starting to think more about cooler, dryer weather, and sunshine, and spending more time outside. The fall gardening season- nasturtiums, maybe, this year??

I’m also thinking and starting to plan for a few day trips to Universal and maybe even Disney in the fall- as soon as the rains slow and the temperature drops just a few degrees (September), we’ll get back into going again. Now that we have annual passes, and we all have such a good time, I want to make it a regular habit for us, especially the two Harry Potter parts of the parks.

Thanks, as always, for checking up on me and letting me share my life. Hope you are having an amazing summer. 🙂

1 thought on “around here, late July

  1. Hey! 🙂 Sorry to hear about Ginger! I hope she heals up quickly!

    Mild summer…haha, wish ours was…nope.

    Your mushroom will likely come back due to the mycorhizzae filaments. mushrooms usually just last a few days on top and will come back when the climate is right.

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