Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout My Best Friend

“People, let me tell you ’bout my best friend…he’s a one boy, cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.”

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I lost my best boy last weekend – my beautiful, gentle Caleb. If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve seen him quietly slip into pictures, or heard me talk about an adventure we had. And I know it’s not fashion or body positivity or anything related to this blog…except that it’s about my life. And his loss is life-changing for me.

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People say “Oh, you lost your dog/pet/fur-baby, that’s so sad,” but he wasn’t really any of those things. He was my PARTNER. And that might sound…bizarre or dramatic or awkward, but…for the past 14 years he has been with me through ups and downs, losses, moves, new jobs, break-ups, my daughter moving away, cancer, happy times and sad. Until last year when I was sick and then he started slowing down, he went with me almost everywhere except work…and he sometimes went there! He is the one who has gotten me out of the house, out of my shell and my head, and out into the world, into nature. He helped me exercise. He trained for a 5k with me! I don’t understand “walking” without a dog! What are you supposed to do with your hands without a leash to hold or a silky head to touch? How do people go walking in the woods or desolate areas without the company of a Big Brave Dog? I can’t imagine just sitting in a park alone. He was such a great meeter. He would sit with me, so quietly, people were always drawn to his beauty and good manners. They would start chatting with me about him. Without him?? I’m just a weird lady sitting alone on a park bench.

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I remember so well the day I brought him home. I got him from an Aussie breeder upstate, Rising Star Australian Shepherds – he wasn’t a good fit in the show ring so they were looking for a pet home for him. She sent me his picture…

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…and it was love at first sight. They live quite far up north, so we agreed to meet mid-way at a dog show where they would be. When I got there, they introduced Caleb and I, gave me some instructions and handed me his leash and were like, “Okay, bye.” It felt strange and sad to be taking him away from the family and dogs he’d lived with for over a year, but he was such a good boy walking obediently off with me, a total stranger. I put him in the crate in the car with a soft bed, water pail and rawhide bone, then headed home. He sat quietly watching out the window. After about two hours of driving I got off the parkway for a bathroom stop. It was a mild day and I parked in the shade with the windows down, ran in quick to use the bathroom then hurried back out. I opened the hatch, opened the crate door…and he literally FLEW out of the crate, jumping up on me excitedly as if to say “YOU CAME BACK FOR ME! I THOUGHT I’D BEEN LEFT HERE! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! YOU’RE MY MOTHER!” and he has been my devoted shadow companion ever since.

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I thought I was getting a dog for us, for me and Katie, but he bonded with me in that moment – and by the time he met her a couple days later, he was My Dog. He loved her, she was His Girl…but I was The Mother.

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So I didn’t know him as a puppy but I have some pictures from the breeder

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From Day One, he was a total gentleman, and I credit his breeder with that, with starting him so well. But I also credit him, as he was always extremely intuitive, practically knowing what I expected of him even before did. Everything I taught him, he picked up so quickly, I hardly felt like I “trained” him, it was like he just knew. And I took him everywhere with me. I’m a big proponent of extreme socialization and taking dogs into every possible situation and because of that he was accepted everywhere we went because he was always so quiet and well-behaved.

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Everyone that met Caleb loved him.

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People and animals alike.

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But his kitties loved him best….

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…especially Janey.

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He loved going in the car anywhere….

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…and we were always on the lookout for new fun places to go.

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We loved going to the woods…

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…and the beach and into the water…

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…the muckier the better 🙂

He loved the snow!

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Or maybe it was me who loved the snow…and he just wanted to go with me wherever I went. Sometimes even to work.

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But it didn’t matter where we went or what we did…as long as we were there together.

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He was my beautiful boy…with the most sincere expression.

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I loved hurrying home after work to see my boy…and he was always right there waiting to see me.

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Around the house he was very quiet, and sometimes I’d look up and see him peeking at me from around a corner…as if just checking that I was still there.

One of the most endearing things he did, every night, was to come rest his head on the edge of my bed…I would stroke his head for a minute and tell him what a good good boy he was, how he would be my best boy always…and then I would say goodnight and he would lay down next to my bed and go to sleep.

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He was a good boy, a happy boy…and he brought Such Joy to my life for such a long time.

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He just had his 15th birthday earlier this year…I knew he wouldn’t be with me much longer.

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But there’s no way to prepare for this loss, this sadness. My lovely little family keeps getting smaller and smaller. Katie moved away years ago. Madison passed away two summers ago. Now my Caleb is gone. It’s just me and Janey.

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I know this is long. I hold no grudge for anyone who clicked away halfway through…or who scrolled to the end, skipping over bits. I had to share our story for me. To try and show why I am unbearably sad now. I feel sort of unattached from my life, like my anchor is gone. I feel like I’m trying to find way my back to…someplace I don’t even really want to be.

I’ve been saying goodbye to my friend for eight days now. I wanted to explain my absence from the blog and the internet in general. I have so many wonderful memories…things that are making me sad right now…and I had to just…let some of it out of my head…let a little steam escape.

Goodbye, my beautiful boy.

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Week in Review: Week 109

Another week. Those suckers are really piling up, huh??

Cat-sitting.

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The podiatrist did magic and I had practically pain-free feet for a couple days. It’s wearing off now and I go back tomorrow to see what’s next.

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Puppy-sitting.

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The trees have eyes.

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Snow….

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And more snow. Caleb had a really good week. I’m grateful.

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Hide-and-seek.

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The kids.

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I went for a new mop-head, ie, Target is the Devil’s Work.

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Lots of busy things in the week ahead – work is very busy, some things are going to get done around the apartment so I need to ready my space for that and I have another podiatrist appointment. I’m sort of feeling on auto-pilot, trying to get done everything that needs to get done without stressing. If I can get through to Friday this week I think I’ll be okay.

Hope you’re having a calmer week.

Just Keepin’ It Real

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Just keeping it real today. I have no photographer. It’s cold out. Whaa Whaa Whaa. So, I’m shooting indoors with the tripod and timer. And all the puppies. This is Muggles the Puggle. He wants to know Where is The Treat Surely There’s a Treat Why Are You Holding Out on My Treat. Caleb is staring off into space in the background. I’m sure Gracie is somewhere MacGuyvering a way to ACTUALLY get the treats.

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Ah. There she is. She hasn’t found the treats. Aunt Bettye is Very Good at Hiding the Treats.

I’m dressed for some light erranding, mud-and-poop cleanup in the yard and some photo editing. Maybe a nap. But I’ll change for a nap. If I’m going to nap, I go all in. None of this fully-dressed dozing off on the sofa nonsense. I’ll change back into my nightgown and get in bed. I don’t treat myself to naps very often as they throw off my already precarious night-time sleep, but when I do, I take it very seriously.

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I did not “blog-ize” the apartment before shooting. Is that because a) I like to keep it real, b) I didn’t realize how messy it was til I saw the pictures, or c) I’m lazy? You believe what you like. Yes, my Christmas tree is still up. I think Monday it will come down. Sadface. It’s the least wonderful time of the year.

Janey likes to sit on the arm of the desk chair when I’m at the computer and bump me incessantly with her head or TAP TAP TAP me with her paw.

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What do you wear when you’re just hanging around your house? I’m a “get out of day clothes as quickly as possible and into my nightgown” person. Wig, bra, shoes all off ASAP. I did my time. If I’m at home I want to be comfortable. Even “comfortable clothes” are not as comfortable as no clothes.

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I know what you’re thinking. This was The Lamest Blogpost Ever. Ha. So I learned a new trick to share with you.

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It’s still lame. But now there’s a GIF. And if you, like so many, are confused about how to pronounce that – here’s some useless information. The creator of the GIF, or Graphics Interface Format, says it’s pronounced JIF, like the peanut butter. The rest of the internet/world says he (the creator) is wrong and it’s pronounced with a hard G like in the word Graphics that it comes from. You say it how you like. I won’t judge.

What I Wore:

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you click on them and/or buy something as a result of clicking that link.

 

Week in Review: Week 88

Started the week last Sunday with another day-trip, this time up to 7 Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park with a couple little detours to Croton Dam and Sing-Sing Prison.

But first, donuts 🙂

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The foliage was just about to hit peak…

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We had dinner at a cute place on a marina…

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That was also five minutes from Sing-Sing Prison.

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Caleb had stayed at my ex’es for two days and when I picked him up he had an upset tummy…that lasted all week. Poor boy. Poor Mom, mopping all through the day and night.

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Found some pretty foliage spots right in my own backyard (figuratively).

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Got sucked in involved with an online photography challenge of posting a black and white photo of my life every day. Four days to go.

One of my outfits-of-the day. This one has a little story that goes along with it, if you don’t follow me on Instagram…I was browsing in a plus size store that afternoon and there’s a girl and a guy looking through the racks near me. I hear the guy say “what about this?” And the girl goes, “are you kidding me? Who puts a big girl in stripes?” So I stepped into the aisle where they were right next to me and said, “uh, hello?!” Ha. She looked a little embarrassed and tried to backtrack by saying yeah but those are skinny stripes look at the one he’s holding its wide stripes” (like THAT matters!) and I just said WEAR WHAT YOU LIKE!!! and went about my day. I considered it my little teachable moment.

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What I’m Wearing: Striped dress from Old Navy; Military shacket from Charlotte Russe; black flats from Payless; vintage headscarf

I puppy-sat a couple nights.

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I had dinner out with a friend one night…and am working on this week’s vlog…and that’s the week! Next week, HALLOWEEN…and setting the clocks back, ugh.

Hope you’re enjoying the season!

Bettye xoxo

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I’m Feeling a Little…

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Okay, a) lookit my cute boy!

b) I’m feeling a little Sporty Spice in this outfit

c) A little spunky

d) A little…NO EVIDENCE OF CANCER-Y!!!! Yup. Got my scan results back and finally heard the words “no evidence of cancer,” which is what you want to hear at this point. That’s not the same as “cancer free,” they can’t say that yet. Once you’ve gone five years with no evidence of cancer THEN they can declare you cancer free.

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So, yeah. Good news. Funny thing though, I don’t feel like I’m as excited about the news as other people! Honestly, I never felt that this cancer at this time was going to be the end of me. Not in a “I’m such a positive person” way, just in a “in my bones” way. Like when I knew I was going to have a girl when I was pregnant with my daughter. I just KNEW.

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So, the chemo stuff hasn’t worked its way out of my system yet, my blood cell counts are still low so I still don’t have much energy and they have me going back weekly to monitor my bloodwork…but I’M ON WAY TO FEELING BETTER. And I don’t have to have anymore *(*%&(*!! treatments, YAY.

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So Caleb and I are getting out a little more.

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The one-eyed kitty was distracting him.

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And perfect for a little stroll around the neighborhood is this Junarose dress from Alexis Krase at plusBKLYN. I love pairing the blue tie-died dress with the grey thermal knit cardi from Avenue and sneakers.

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Thanks everyone for all your thoughts, prayers and good wishes throughout this year – I appreciate every one of you. And now I just want life to go back to NORMAL!!!

Pictures by my friend Karen.

Til next time….

Weeks in Review: Week 83-84

Hey, cats & kittens! Sup??

I’m sort of over my cranky hump of last week because I’ve been forcing myself to go out, for better or worse. When you don’t feel well for a long time you just sort of get used to staying home…but I had finally hit the wall. So, while my legs are not really any better at carrying me around, I’m making them do it anyway even though it’s a struggle. Eventually I get home and collapse on the bed – for hours. But til then…I’m gettin’ out, baby!

I read “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting & Fishing.” It’s not my usual MO, but I liked it. I liked the characters, it was an easy, fast read…and I’ve already bought something else by her which I will hopefully like as much. I give it a 3.5 out of 5. That’s pretty good for me. I think I’ve given like 3 books a 5 in my adult reading life: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Power of One and All the Light We Cannot See. If you think we have similar book taste you can follow me on Goodreads.

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I puppy-sat two weeks ago. It was a beautiful day but no one wanted to sit outside with me.

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I started taking advantage of the beautiful area I moved to recently.

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Caleb is such a peeker*

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Just another beautiful sunset.

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Finally made it to a beach. It was just in time for the sun to go down, but still…

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I love this picture. Now, this has NOTHING to do with having cancer. But do other people see pictures of themselves and think “I have to tell someone I want this picture in my “life collage” at my funeral?” Maybe that’s just a regional thing where family members put together big photo collages for display at the wake or funeral service. I actually have a folder on my computer where I’ve started putting pictures I want displayed. Hey, that’s the last time I lot of people are going to see me – I’m not leaving THAT up to someone else. I have a *lot* of plans (guidelines?) for my funeral – and this goes WAY back before the cancer.

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Oh, it’s just a dog driving a BMW.

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I can’t resist a good sky.

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See above*

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A good friend made this beautiful bench for me. He’s calling it a bench. I’m using it as a table. It’s so smooth. I keep petting it.

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This bunny comes to the front yard every day.

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My friend Johnna and I went to a “doggy brunch” this morning. Cute concept but it was a little rough on Caleb. I brought a little rug for him to lay on but it was so busy he couldn’t really settle in. Getting up and down is hard for him these days so it can take him awhile to decide to lay down. Johnna’s 5-month-old Italian Mastiff , Shine, was *such* a good boy! He’s all velvety and loose-skinned and sweet.

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And that’s that! I plan on continuing to get out as much as possible. I have to start getting a LITTLE fit again so everything is not SO hard for me.

Have a good week, yo!

 

Week in Review: Week 81

It was a quiet week for me…in a good way.

Tuesday was my birthday and my lovely office-mates got me oodles of goodies!

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I got a bunch of emails from 1969.

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Caleb enjoying his new view.

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I’m enjoying my new view, too.

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Nature dancing on my wall.

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Wig shopping.

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After pouring spoiled milk over the last bowl of cereal I had to improvise breakfast.

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What I’m reading now. Janey loves when we stay in bed all day.

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Thinking good thoughts for all the people in the world being hit hard by weather these past weeks…hoping they all get the help they so desperately need…grateful (selfishly?) that my loved ones are safe. Hoping for an easier week ahead for everyone.

Bettye

Week in Review: Week 80

This was a week of rest – rest from packing and moving, resting from chemo. I feel so good in the new place. It feels very peaceful and relaxing. It’s good.

I spent a lot of time home alone with the animals this week. Caleb is so sweet to share his food with Miss Jane.

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Janey has so many new favorite spots in the new place.

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I did make it into work a couple days…it’s always sad to leave them behind.

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My sister asked if my hair was pixie cut length yet. Not quite. It’s still 5’o’clock shadow length.

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When you’re awake at 3am cuz foot pain is keeping you awake, you do scary face masks.

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OH. MY. GOSH. These are my favorite chip snack and I NEVER see them in New York. But they’re at my new local grocery store! Score!

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Ruh-roh. Had a blowout on the way to the airport to pick up my niece. Fortunately I was not yet on the parkway and I managed to find a tire place that was open on Labor Day and I was pretty quickly on my way. Still, a little unsettling.

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Was only a little late to get to the airport and we had a nice visit and dinner here in Northport before I had to drop her at the train to head into the city for work. It’s so good to have even a little time with family so this visit was really appreciated.

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And now Labor Day is drawing to a close…summer is drawing to a close…BUT…tomorrow is MY BIRTHDAY!!! Looking forward to that 🙂

Hope y’all had a nice holiday weekend.

Bettye xoxo

Week in Review: Weeks 64-67

Wow, I’ve essentially lost the month of May. May was the bulk of my radiation treatments – I still have seven left to go so they’re reaching a little into June as well, but hopefully I’ll be able to reclaim some of June for myself. I’ve been too tired to do much of anything, but here’s what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks.

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I photographed our 5k Jack’s Run for Autism up in Port Washington. It was like The Windiest Day EVER. We couldn’t hang signs or put out balloons to mark the course or anything. But the runners didn’t seem to mind. Those athletic types don’t let *anything* stop them. Respect.

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And then I went for my first chemo treatment. Scary. They kept referring to it as an “all day treatment.” SCARY. But in reality, it was a lot of prep, counseling, two hours of IV hydration and anti-nausea meds before and another two hours after…and the actual chemo was only one hour. But it *was* a long day of not really knowing what to expect so I had my bag well-stocked with activities, snacks, water, super soft kitty blanket, book, etc.

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I was anxious all day waiting to feel awful…but that really never happened. I felt *queasy* for the next week or so but never really nauseous. I will be repeating this procedure on Monday. Hopeful for same outcome.

Ugh. This dress. Not good. It went back to Gwynnie Bee immediately. You win some, you lose some.

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I brought some lilacs in from outside our office door. They smelled so so so so good. And I haven’t killed my succulent terrarium plants yet! Yay Me!

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Caleb is such a sneaky-peeker.

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I found a rock on the beach that looks like a heart. Or a butt. You choose.

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Ahhhhh. I need more of these.

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Don’t work too hard, Caleb.

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Sunrise outside my door.

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How fun is this beachy cake? I just looked, I did not touch.

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A family from the school brought me this card. They’re having their own struggles and yet they took their time to do this for me. HUGS TO YOU.

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My kooky kid.

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Her kooky mom.

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Sunrise out my girlfriend’s door.

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I dog-sat last weekend. They’re a tough pair to handle. Not.

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We had lots of lovely porch time.

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Some things never change.

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Ruh-roh. I killed one of the succulents. It rotted away. I think I overwatered. I put a turtle in its place. That will be harder to kill.

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Here is a pic of me at 10. It was part of a video I just saw for the first time, so I apologize for poor quality due to screen grab. I guess my father filmed this back in 1970? Isn’t it weird to see pictures of yourself from the past (well, duh, all pictures are from the past but you know what I mean) that you have No Recollection of? You know it’s you cuz you can SEE you, but. I have no memory of this day or this dress or even my father having a movie camera! And this is funny, in 1970 girls were not yet allowed to wear pants to school. But we were wearing dresses this short (you can’t see the groovy white Jan Brady knee socks I had on but they’re there). How did THAT make sense??

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For some reason this “I Am the Champion” muscle man bicep pose was my go-to photo pose around that age. Who knows. That’s my sister, cheery in yellow.

And there you have it. This month was a LOT of laying around, staying close to home. Hopefully I’ll be able to venture out a little more this month. Fingers crossed!

On another note, I have STILL not switched out my winter clothes for summer! It’s been just cool enough that I haven’t needed to. Maybe this weekend. I kind of think that was the same last sentence from my LAST Week in Review post!

xoxo Bettye

Catching Up…

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Totally random picture of my dog cuz come’on. Is he not the handsomest ever? And there had to be SOMETHING good about this post….

So…February has been a very challenging month for me…I’m not seeing the end of the tunnel yet either, but…the show must go on. And I don’t want this to be a pity party post, but I do want to explain why I have been MIA.

To start, I have some health/medical issues going on, nothing So Serious, but painful and at times incapacitating…they have made it difficult to meet up with anyone to shoot blog photos. I have a vision for this blog and I get frustrated when I can’t make it be The Way I Want it To Be…so I put off and put off, thinking an opportunity is right around the corner, and before you know it an entire month has gone by and there hasn’t been a blog post in ages!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know about my trip to Maine and how we got stuck there in blizzard after blizzard and finally had to just drive home because if we’d waited for a flight to actually leave the ground we might still be there! I missed both Valentine’s Day AND my blog’s One Year Anniversary (Happy Blogiversary to Me!). I’d had plans for a special anniversary shoot, but that didn’t happen and I don’t see it happening in the near future so I’m going to have to come up with something closer to home. Like…right here in my living room 😦

That’s another issue I’ve been having. When I started the blog it didn’t really occur to me just how much I was going to have to rely on other people for blog photos. I’d been getting Outfit of the Day shots done pretty regularly, but One Photo in the parking lot at work, and Ten-ish Photos in an interesting location are very different animals. And my friends have been great…but a year in I’m sure they’re getting weary of me asking them to do photo shoots with me, and they all have their own lives and their own issues and I totally get it. I’m SO appreciative of the time they gave me over the last year…but I’ve got to come up with another plan. I know some people do selfies with their tripods but I have a cheappieceofcrap tripod that doesn’t support the weight of my camera and lens so I can’t trust walking away from it. I’ve taken some blog photos in my apartment by creating a “tipsy tripod” out of two end tables stacked on top of one another but I’m not a fan of doing blog post after blog post with pictures of me in front of the window in my living room. Yawn. It bores me just thinking about it. The photography is a very important element to me and I’m so frustrated that I’m being unable to achieve what I envision in my mind’s eye.

And last but not least, I’ve had computer issues for the past month. My computer got wiped out by a bad virus* (yes I have anti-virus software and no they are not foolproof). It was awhile before I could get that looked at (cuz money). The computer guy thought he had it fixed, but no. So he gave me a used computer from his business (I couldn’t buy new cuz money). That had its OWN issues and he eventually came back and brought me ANOTHER used computer this week, and knock on wood, so far so good. But trying to do ANYTHING on computers that keep fritzing out on you is very frustrating and eventually I just threw in the towel and Let It All Go.

So, that is my story. I’m sorry this was so unbearably long, but I wanted to explain my trials and tribulations. And as I mentioned while commenting on someone else’s blog, Life is Not Always Pretty in Blog-land. Sh*t Happens. Things Break. We don’t feel well enough to shoot. Blizzards. Photographers (shockingly, ha) are not lining up at my door hoping to take my picture. Wah Wah Wah. Poor Me. I don’t want to be that person…but this month…I really felt like that person. I’m hoping the new month ahead, the new season, *something* will bring about a change, cuz right now I can barely get out of my own way.

I’m not looking for “oh poor you,” I just wanted to explain my absence.

I’m going to stop talking now 🙂  And tomorrow will do a big “Many Weeks in Review” catch-up post and hopefully next week be back on track. Cuz I really miss blogging when I don’t do it. I’m always thinking of post ideas or things I want to share…and I miss you guys 🙂

xoxo Bettye

* Oh! The virus, just to give y’all a heads up. It was a phony “update your Java” pop-up. Computer guy said if you ever see that, don’t click it, but go to the Java website instead and see if there’s actually an update and download it from there if it is.