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[sticky post] Other ways to contact me [Apr. 4th, 2017|12:06 pm]

If i quit posting here, feel free to look for me at http://elainegrey.dreamwidth.org/ .

I receive email via google's mail service at the user name elaineforexample.

Confidantes may find more information at http://elainegrey.livejournal.com/654579.html
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(no subject) [Jan. 15th, 2018|11:39 am]
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It's a particularly elephant-y time around here. I am admittedly a little frayed around the edges but i have the capacity to handle it, i know that this is due to some calendar item triggers, and i can believe that Christine will get the elephants in hand again in February. As i plan for my 50th trip around the sun, i will note that there will likely be this challenge again with the holidays and events into January.

The weekend was otherwise full of exertion. Saturday morning my sister and i accompanied my mother to a NIA class -- an exercise class that mixes tai chi, yoga, dance, martial arts, etc into a very vibrant and fun practice. Lots of messages from the practitioners that one should just do what feels good. I hope i modeled that well for my mother as i was generous with myself at my left-right confusion, my routine flailing, and my only arm participation when i felt the need to protect my ankle. Mom seemed to grow into some comfort with it, and we will do it again.

I will be delighted to do it on really frigid or wet rainy days. Saturday was a good yard work day, and i had little pouts about using all that energy not on the yard. I did get the pollinator seed mix planted in the circle of the driveway island and other raking done. The raking plus arm exercises? Ooohhhhh. Hot bath was required.

Yesterday, after Meeting and lunch, i did more raking. Now all the mossy areas are glowing green, so pleasant with all the drab winter colors. My understanding is that moss grows at just above 32°F (given water and light) and so getting the leaves off helps all the little plants beat the big ol' vascular plants that are hibernating. I realized that there were areas that were just raw dirt last winter that have a moss carpet now. The year's worth of growth is satisfying. Here's hoping that it can soon get thick enough to deter the blasted stilt grass.

I also lopped down small trees in the orchard area and managed to drop a tree straight down on my foot. A perfect circular bruise.

It's gotten frigid again, and the forecast calls for snow showers on Wednesday.

I broke down and bought birdseed. I'll try again to put the broom corn (sorghum) out where i poured the purchased seed. Maybe it will be interesting now that the birds know to look for food there?

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Looking back on last year's planning [Jan. 14th, 2018|07:05 am]
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I did much of my planing for my 49th year using iPad's Paper app to make a notebook. The wheel of the year i drew seemed like a plausible plan, but, well, not so much in follow through. On the other hand, i engaged with therapy and i think i've pulled out of the negative framing and state that had me start going. Presenting cause was an exhaustion with elephants, but procrastination and self care have become our focus.

So there's a hope that this year will have more energy for doing available.

I had planned to take on the garage in May. I think i will move that earlier in spring this year. I hope i don't quite have as much gardening from scratch to do as i did last year, creating the beds from the raw tilled plot. And the earlier, the cooler it will be to work in there.

I had wanted to spend the hot months inside: finish unpacking and hang our wall art, spend time with friends & family, photography and fiber. I'm not sure i really recall what i did those months. (Skims journal.) Well, i think i did do a *little* toward those goals then. I did some beadwork, and there are notes about my brother's family's visit and "stopping off" at my parents. We've unpacked a great deal, but the garage needs to make room for any more unpacking. I think we're approaching ready to hang art. But i also worked outside far more than i expected, i think.

I didn't schedule anything for now through the end of February, the end of my year. I think i can redirect some attention to habits and to the garage.

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Celebrating my day [Jan. 12th, 2018|06:35 pm]
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1. I wrapped up the workday in a manner likely to lead to a productive Monday morning. Yay me.

2. I followed up on my laptop replacement to get a prorated refund on the Apple Care contract on the failed machine. The refunded the whole thing. YAY!

3. Six of the seven chestnut seeds i have been stratifying* in my fridge have sprouted!

Stratification is a sort of pretreatment for seeds to simulate the actual natural cycles that lead to germination.

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Pileated Woodpecker [Jan. 11th, 2018|07:36 am]

I saw a Pileated Woodpecker yesterday! The photo at iNaturalist was the best moment in the grainy video i captured. My, they are huge. And they hop down the tree backwards -- somehow it seems so odd.

For some reason, i have doubted Christine when she says she sees them, i suppose because i hadn't seen them. I confess now, because i feel guilty about it now.

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(no subject) [Jan. 11th, 2018|06:24 am]
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Last night, after Christine & i watched our episode of Longmire, i put on dog sledding videos for Carrie. We probably flipped through various youtube videos for about thirty minutes before i had enough. Carrie was still engaged though.

I'm still not sure how guilty i feel about entertaining our dog with a screen.

I let her run off leash around our property for the first time in ages ... Sunday, i think. Deer hunting season is over; i don't think the folks who own the parcel for hunting are likely to be out there for open season on coyotes or skunks or other small mammals. We were at the back of the lot, Carrie running madly in the neighbor's woods, i was picking up deadfall along the property line. This was eased by how clearly the bit of surveyor's tape stood out against the snow. Carrie was pretty much ignoring me when i called, but since she was back in the woods i wasn't getting upset or worried.

I've noticed some of her puppy behaviors are slackening -- most financially important is that shoe chewing is down -- so i do hope for a little settling. I do hope the orchard will give her enough room to run, although i expect we will have a long mud season as we wait for plants to establish.

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(no subject) [Jan. 10th, 2018|05:22 pm]

The oral surgery [for Christine -ETA] went fine just fine. Despite the grocery trip on Sunday (with soft food meals picked out), we stopped at the grocery store as we came home. I went in and bought ice cream and lime sherbet and ginger ale and whipped cream in cans and half and half at Christine's request, as well as a couple different analgesics and a fancy new ice pack. And a glorious bouquet of flowers for Christine. She hid her face in them all the way home.

I had a lime sherbet and ginger ale float last night as a treat.

I was pretty cranky today.

I think i need some garden time.

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(no subject) [Jan. 8th, 2018|07:10 am]

Sunday's adventure in adulting was, as mentioned yesterday, that our pump house froze. A 100' outdoor extension cord and two 150 watt incandescent bulbs did the trick. Well, plus time. Which was long enough to get a little concerned whether it would be enough.

Christine also bought halogen work lights. I suggested they were unnecessary, given she had found the 150 watt bulb outdoor lights, but she wanted to be sure. After getting the pump house rigged Christine put together the two 500W work lights. She now chuckles sheepishly having seen them on. We've got the lights in the garage (which was at 22°F) shining on the water filtration system. The lights also mean we can actually see the garage well enough to clean it after dark. I could mow the yard after dark with these lights. Yowza. The more i think about it, the more i like the idea of being able to work outside after dark in the next few months. It seems so far away, the the sauna days will come.

Our road finally got plowed. Given that we might soar up to 40° today, well, i guess it's less to melt and be wet. I suppose i was inspired and i cleaned the walk. This powder snow is not the usual North Carolina type of snow so it was rather delightful to be able to sweep the last bits of snow off after shoveling off most of it. So very very dry.

Driving around i also noted how our slight slope with northern exposure is significant enough to make a difference between still having a thick layer of snow vs dots in the grass. The northernmost area of the yard has melted: an indication of how shaded we are by the pines in with the sun low in the south.

We did our weekly grocery run early as Christine has oral surgery coming on Tuesday. There probably was a bit of overbuying after feeling a little snowbound for a couple of days.

I haven't yet decided how i'm celebrating the temperatures getting above freezing.

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(no subject) [Jan. 7th, 2018|08:18 am]
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I ended up leaving work early on Friday to rest. And i did a good bit of resting yesterday. Chest still feels tight & heavy, coughing spells still occur.

We have no water this morning, which is not a complete shock. The area has passed the 1982 record number of consecutive subfreezing hours yesterday. Our outside thermometer says -8°F this morning. We'll run a lightbulb out to the pumphouse in a while and hope nothing has cracked. We have jugs of water around for when we loose power (and the pump doesn't work) so no hardship yet. Also, there's plenty of snow to melt.

Eight Fahrenheit degrees below freezing. I am strongly inclined to cuss.

With respect to resting, i read The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. which i almost didn't finish: it takes off very very slowly, and i felt the foreshadowing (can you have foreshadowing with time travel?) was rather blunt. But FINALLY there were a few new characters that introduced a little more complexity and i did finally finish. I also read Piers Anthony's Wielding a Red Sword and concluded my expectations have changed since i was in high school. If i end up reading more today, i'll try reading a book i just had delivered which is about Quakers in Tibet in the 1950s.

Speaking of delivering, we had several postal packages trudged through the snow to our house. The were light but bulky (HVAC filters, primarily). I thought of someone else's story of not receiving a delivery because their porch hadn't been cleaned of snow. I suppose delivering up our snowy walk and snowy drive and snowy porch is no big deal because the roads are black ice and icy snow.

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(no subject) [Jan. 4th, 2018|07:22 am]
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Some quick notes:

SNOW! We actually got 3". It was beautiful in the moonlight early this morning, and now the morning is dawning brightly. I do not remember snow sticking around under sunlight in my childhood. As soon as the sun came out it was warm enough to all melt away. This subfreezing cold snap plus snow -- two years in a row! -- is weird weather for here. Ditto the snow before Christmas this year. Last year the garden benefited by snow first, then cold. Now it's been cold for days, and the snow is on top of frozen ground.

Stress. I realized in talking it over that i hadn't been talking myself up to a stressed state, but that the stress is just due to apprehension around a new role that i will engage in today and the long list of New Things i will be thinking about. I didn't need to beat myself up for beating myself up! I think i can "make friends" with this apprehension-stress, and not be judgemental of it as failing in my attempt to care for myself. (YES, i DO know this is twisty twisty judgemental thinking!)

Dad: called to debrief about Mom and the game. Mom asked to go exercise yesterday morning, which is part of what her doctor has asked her to do, so he was happy about that.

"Thank you Jesus ⓒ" So there are all these signs popping up over the Piedmont of NC. I noticed them summer of 2016. They act as a sort of Rorschach test. Christine has read them as a celebration of the current president, i've read them cynically as viral movement to part money from people. I'd looked them up before and found just a simple web page encouraging the spread of the lawn signs across the country, please send $$. Today i looked them up and noticed that there's now a 501(3)(c) mission that's been formed to handle the money. I also noted the ⓒ -- REALLY??? I suppose copyrighting without the comma? Pfft. Finally, i noticed the spiritual home of the person who started the program was a Friends Meeting. Knowing the dysfunction of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends (FUM) over the past year, i checked out the writer who has recorded the ups and downs to find, ah-ha, the Friends Meeting associated with the signs was also one of the meetings that was pushing for the expulsion of the non-dogmatic meetings. There's something about praying on street corners: i suppose someone decided it didn't apply to lawns.

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(no subject) [Jan. 3rd, 2018|09:48 am]

Celebrate! I actually spent the first work hour on the important task today! Following the precepts of "conditions of enoughness" today's work day is a win, no matter what else happens. Slowly creeping back to productivity is framed as getting done what i said i should do for today.

I'm trying to reward myself by not pressuring or beating myself up over the rest of the day.

And, in more celebration, i've been getting the "top ten things" done, a list i made on Friday.

This advice about pride has come just as i am ready for it.

--== ∞ ==--

Hours later: well somehow i've managed to get myself nice and stressed and tense. Fie.

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(no subject) [Jan. 2nd, 2018|04:40 pm]
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I ended up reading this article about the asymmetries in sex parties in Silicon Valley and this NYT article about 'live' water and the entrepreneurs who are promoting it in Silicon Valley today. Not good headspace.

Meanwhile, Evernote became very badly behaved on my work machine. That put me in a funk today.

I'm hoping for a better work day tomorrow.

Tonight i am food adventuring by fixing smelt. Fingers crossed that the small bone-in fish will be appealing.

I've ordered horehound plants after having some horehound candy this holiday season. I'm thinking about my herb garden to be and making all sorts of hard candy flavored with herbs. Lavender candy. I've ordered a mint that they claim has wintergreen flavor. And holy basil's clove scent: i wonder if that would make it as a candy? That's my escape from the thoughts of water that has a shelf life of a month (a lunar cycle, excuse me) because it will turn green.

The happiness i felt some weeks ago seems so hard to grasp today. I'm hoping after a little recovery from the holidays and the asthma flare, the happiness will be easier to find. Gratitude, compassion, and pride, i read recently, help one achieve goals (like New Years resolutions). I know gratitude and compassion are also spiritually powerful, and pride of a certain sort, the "job well done" pleasure -- well i can imagine that being very motivating.


Sentences that are hard to read at anytime but make brain go boom after the holiday include, "However if you transform a quantum key exchange to a supersingular Isogeny you can attack post-quantum RSA and thus apply our attack indirectly to secp256k1." https://robotattack.org/

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A quick note [Jan. 2nd, 2018|07:40 am]
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We took black-eyed peas and scrabble over to my parents for lunch yesterday. My dad has suggested game playing in response to the lifestyle changes suggested for someone with mild cognitive impairment.

Intellectual stimulation may prevent cognitive decline. Studies have shown computer use, playing games, reading books and other intellectual activities may help preserve function and prevent cognitive decline.

Social engagement may make life more satisfying, and help preserve mental function and slow mental decline.

I thought my mom would find scrabble more congenial than my dad's suggestion of hearts. My dad's response was horror: his spelling is much worse than mine. He recognized that it would be good for my mom though, so he gamely agreed. Mom, however, disappeared and called her sister.

I was very disappointed. One reason is just the hope for ever having a relaxed time with my mother that isn't folks trapped in a car....

but it's time to go to work.

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(no subject) [Dec. 31st, 2017|08:03 pm]

The asthma flare is taking a toll. I worked outside three hours on Saturday and was wiped out. My Dad called wanting to do a little road trip, so we rode up to Saxapahaw to have coffee and a nosh at the general store. http://saxgenstore.com/ It reminds me of a place you might find on the Sonoma or Mendicino coast except it's very North Carolina in content, that is, locovore foodstuffs and coffee roasted locally. lovely.

Pittsboro, my own town, has it's own renovated mill buildings and farm to fork options, but the drive up the Haw River to Saxapahaw was lovely. I'd looked with some nostalgia at [personal profile] zyzyly's California photos in the morning, but i do love the piedmont hills.

I'll get back to photos after my gardening stuff settles.... i hope.

Today was very quiet. I'd made up a batch of barley on Saturday in the pressure cooker, putting much of it in ice cube trays so i can have a small amount for the soup i've been making from dried veggies. With the cup left over and a jar of fresh oysters i made an oyster stew for lunch that was quite satisfying.

I've mostly spent the day tidying up notes in my inbox.

I hope for a New Year where i am creative and follow through on communication and paperwork. I for you a new year that brings peace and justice and happiness and health.

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(no subject) [Dec. 31st, 2017|09:33 am]

I found this summary of a Politico article on crazy American political years to be somewhat reassuring. In particular, the comment from Ron Chernow about how Lincoln was followed by Andrew Johnson (not Jackson) was particularly interesting. I have pondered whether the current Obama to Trump succession was some sort of bizarre echo.

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I am Procrastinating On All The Things [Dec. 29th, 2017|07:27 pm]
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In other weather news, the trail camera said it was 5°F when the doe wandered past at 1 am.

I've placed an Amazon order for additions to my little greenhouse: seedling germination heating mats, a temperature logger with internal and external sensors, and a remote controlled outlet thing that will let me turn off the heating easily.

I already have a temperature sensor, but without a guide as to the external temperature, i was left with a mystery of whether there was any "greenhouse effect" going on at all. The historical temperature logs i could find were far enough away that i had no idea as to whether it was appropriate for my location. With three sensors i can measure the bottom of the greenhouse, the top of the greenhouse, and outside. Then i can get an idea of how effective running a lightbulb is in there and so on.

When i say "greenhouse" i mean a 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse, 27" Long x 18" Wide x 63" High thing. It's not big, but it's enough. Unfortunately

(Oh, my, the temporary greenhouses.... I could shelter a dwarf orange and Meyer lemon on the west side of the garage some day, as well as the little avocado tree if it survives....)

Meanwhile, i decided i was taking today as a vacation day when i failed to really get going. Instead i was pretty focused on going through a virtual stack of "to do" items to look for any urgent and important items, to remove items i know i've done, and to leave the rest for a miraculous time when i might consider them.

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Anyone experienced with propane logs? [Dec. 29th, 2017|08:58 am]
Ours are just going off after running for a while. They didn't do that last year. One has to relight the pilot light (and we haven't tried keeping them on after they go off in the past day).

The thermometer out the window reads 9°F. Edward wants to go out. I didn't protect any plants outside, and i'm worried about the bulbs and peony crown covered up in the garage.

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(no subject) [Dec. 28th, 2017|10:08 pm]

Today's obsession: reviewing evergreen trees that might grow well enough here that i could grow my own Yule trees. There's an Arizona cypress called Carolina Sapphire that grows 16' - 20' a year. Eastern hemlocks could grow in the shade. It would be neat to get a Carolina Hemlock, which might be more resistant to a pest that's causing trouble with the Eastern hemlocks.

(Hemlocks, the trees, are not poisonous. That's hemlock in the carrot family. Apparently, "The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock. ")

After that, i placed my order to Sheffields, getting hemlock and species type Arizona cypress along with serviceberries and sumacs, then moved on to Richters, where i found a number of lavender plants i had wanted were sold out.

Not the most productive day back to work. Hoping my motivation will become directed in an appropriate direction soon.

Christine, on the other hand, weathered the chill and lopped autumn olive, pulled more trash out of the woods, put her mother's concrete bench back in the glade, and probably did more things than that.

She's watching An Inconvenient Sequel which has been ... both hopeful and depressing.

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I've been getting a little bit written every morning for days.... [Dec. 27th, 2017|07:47 am]

Christmas Eve:

I managed to go all yesterday without complaining about feeling under the weather, partly by reading all three books of Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library series. Good fun, not really asking me to stretch in any way. Add a dose of Sherlock Holmes to a many worlds universe where earths vary on a spectrum of chaotic and Fae controlled to ordered and Dragon controlled, sprinkle with books....

Yule preparations are minimal. I'd meant to go to meeting today and this evening. This morning was right out as I got up many hours later than usual. I suppose we will go to the candlelight (or gas lamp) Meeting tonight. [Which we did.]

Christine had an errand in Siler City, arranging care for Carrie for the 27th. Her route took her buy two stores, an outdoorsy themed store and a wonderful bakery. So i had Christine drop me off there and i did some last minute shopping, then got a cup of coffee and a sweet roll. Christine was back before i finished; Carrie will get to go play at the dog sitter's farm on Wednesday.

Christine dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, carrying through on all the usual commitments as well as other holiday needs. Despite running a little late, i thought she had managed magnificently. We sped off on the dark country roads to the worship at Meeting. The Meeting was mostly silent and well attended. (I don't think of Quakers as having a Christmas and Easter crowd: i don't know if that was who all the folks were or if they were extended family of Meeting members....) The meetinghouse was very lovely, with candles in the windows, luminaria up the walk. Inside the gas lamps on the wall were lit, candles on the piano, lights on the tree, and the overhead lamps turned down to match the general glow. At my California Meeting, we had the folks who were staying in the Meeting house that month to feed and visit with, but there wasn't much in the way of a worshipful gathering of the community. There would have been a Christmas party earlier in the month, but i found the gatherings like that too packed and crowded to be comfortable. This was delightful.

We had a pleasant desert and gift exchange with Christine's sister, then home under the stars, quite late.

Christmas Day:

We had a reasonable amount of sleep, so we were up late. I had a sudden wave of hostesss fears at having a little Google hangout gathering, but fortunately my guests were good conversationalists. I realized i forgot to post the URL -- my regrets if anyone was looking for it. I will do this again sometime, i think!

My sister, L--, hosted the family, and when we arrived only my father was there. Mom was feeling poorly enough that she stayed home. This sort of self care is AMAZING! We didn't have much time with my nephew and niece before their cousins on their father's side showed up and the house became a bit chaotic. Her husband's sister chatted with me and, when i left, i realized how generously she asked questions of me, and i didn't return the favor. Several lessons on being sociable: i hope i put them to use today at Christine's family's gathering.

L-- baked an almond bundt cake that had a roll of marzipan in the middle: OMG!

We left L--'s to go feed her family's horse that is at my parents' and to visit with my mom. It was a comfortable visit and Mom made much of my gift to her, a necklace i'd made to match a gumcha -- a scarf -- from India. We left as mom's coughing took over: i had shared that my asthma is flaring and that i regretted having not been taking my meds regularly.

Home, where we had been too well fed to want to fix dinner.

Yesterday i found my desk under piles of papers. I didn't make as much progress as i would have liked. I ran to the grocery to get pet food and then stopped at my sister's to walk Carrie and consult over potato orders. We had a delightfully long walk, and then a little romp with Carrie and my nephew.

When i got home i started making the dinner i'd planned for Christmas day. I made baked Hasselback potatoes with seared scallops with cranberry lime sauce. I found the lime ingredient too minimal, so i used all the lime zest AND the lime juice. And, because i used the cranberry concentrate (straight cranberry nothing else), i added a little sugar. Wow, that's a rich sauce. I'm not sure what to do with the remaining heavy cream. It's almost butter, it's so thick. Anyhow, it was a wonderfully decadent meal.

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Alphabet Soup [Dec. 21st, 2017|06:36 pm]
Anniversary: It’s our 26th wedding anniversary. 
Blow driers: I’ve used the blow drier twice this week — and I can’t remember when I used it before that. I usually just let my hair dry naturally. 
Carrie: She is probably around two now. She still sleeps in all morning, loves the front room which is her "crate", and knows to ring the bell for the back yard. At 4 pm-ish yesterday she began trying to get my attention. She was quite ready to take her walk, but she shies at having her harness put on. At least now she isn't playing a game to run away when seeing it. She's strong, pulls at the leash. I occasionally up my speed to a lumbering trot to let her move at her pace. (Lumber Woman, that's me.) She's still excitable. We met Gracie and her person walking yesterday. I remember Gracie from about a year ago, and thinking "What an unruly dog, the person should be doing better with her." Yesterday i was thinking, "I'm so over my head in training Carrie!" as Gracie sat so well with her person. Gracie's person suggests that Carrie has a few months to go and then will settle down.
Doctor Strange: I apparently have been ignoring the Marvel universe more or less since 2014. I'm going to make an attempt to "catch up" by May and the next Avengers film, which means roughly a film a month. Doctor Strange is streaming on Netflix (along with two others on my list), so we watched that last night. I was delightfully entertained.  In some ways it was Batman Begins meets the Matrix: scruffy Benedict Cumberbatch brings to mind scruffy Christian Bale, plus all the manipulation of "reality." Doctor Strange as surgeon seemed to channel a little Gregory House. But what was that accent?
Enchilasagne: When i was more strict about wheat products, i found corn tortilla made a passable replacement for lasagna noodles. Yesterday, i used them to layer as if a lasagna, but with enchilada sauce, beans, and green chilies. It was more a quick assembly than a gourmet construction, but it is yum.
Friday plans: More working in the yard. The second flat of pansies need to be put in the island. Oh my -- gifts to pack and ship. Late late late.
Greycie Loo: She’s adorable. I’m not sure I can do her justice in describing her clear communications with reaching out and moving your hadn’t or arm where she wants it, her love nips, her testing out which of us - Christine or I - who will be more comfortable to nestle up against during a TV show.
Holidays Movie Favorites? I was asked that today and replied that The Haunted Tea Cosy (Edward Gorey) and Red Rider (Berkeley Breathed) were favorite holiday books.
Jealous Dog: I do believe in a jealous dog.
Privilege: The CEO where i work has written a book with a blurb that begins, "Have you ever wondered why some people seem to catch all the breaks and win over and over again? What do the super successful know?" I am tempted to create an anonymous identity and publicly snark through the whole "parable." 
Record Keeping: I have had, in the past, a discipline for recording all sorts of health details. I’ve grown less inspired as it seems reviewing the results and drawing conclusions is poorly supported by the way i keep the records.  I’ve finally decided to give AirTable a try, and 
Tuesday night: The day had been surreally warm, and Christine had been at a client’s all afternoon. I called Christine to see if she would meet Carrie and i downtown at the pizza place, The Mod, and eat on the patio with us. They have a fire pit, but it was essentially unneeded. Carrie’s dinner was a side of roasted chicken bits ostensibly for my salad.
UPS Truck: too big to go around the new driveway loop (and concerned about hitting tree branches). I’m sad we didn’t meet its needs.
Work: not as productive as i would like this week. I'm going to take a few more days off.
Zinnias: I planted some unsuccessfully last year. I’ll be trying again. Probably need to do much better soil preparation.
This is also posted at https://elainegrey.dreamwidth.org/682633.html .
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(no subject) [Dec. 19th, 2017|01:15 pm]


I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”

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(no subject) [Dec. 18th, 2017|07:59 am]
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Friday: took the day off, tromping around in the yard a good bit. Small rocks lining the entrance to the new roof water drain*, some raking, some scouting the fence line. In the late afternoon i joined my sister's family to see The Last Jedi which we all thought was well done. (And likely to spawn another ninety films.)

Saturday: Christine and i tried to translate our Yuletide tradition of visiting the San Francisco Flower Mart to North Carolina. The restaurant was a satisfactory replacement, the nursery less so. It's possible we missed more yuletide bounty from earlier in the month. Just because it was less Christmassy didn't mean it was a disappointment: we hauled home three cat sculptures that now reside in the little courtyard area, two flats of pansies, miscellaneous phlox, and two spiderworts. I planted half the pansies, discovering that the soil (clay) was pretty solidly packed and mixed with gravel. Fie. As i dug to loosen it, i was worried i would cut the phone line again.

Sunday: As Meeting ended i felt a pressure to return home asap. I assumed it was my shyness kicking in. I just felt awkward. At home though, i found Christine in distress with the elephants. I'm glad i got home quickly. I don't think i was able to offer much solace; she did something new to cope.

While she coped, i worked in the yard, most successfully inscribing a 20' diameter circle within the driveway island and turning soil for the pansies and phlox in the area between the circle and the house. (The island is a blunted tear drop shape, with the fat end extending towards the house a few feet further than the inscribed circle.) Loosening the soil means finding more rocks: small chunks of quartz (walnut sized) and larger slate bits. One good sized rock turned up: maybe the volume of two coffee mugs? I do wonder if i am inefficient in messing around with such small rocks, but fitting them together to line the area around the drain intake gives me pleasure.

I've read another good speculative fiction work: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It's book two in a series. Book one has holds that will keep it out of my hand for a small forever. I'm glad i went ahead and read book two. I didn't feel like i was missing out: the character whose back story might have been outlined in the first book couldn't recall that back story. The story of survival that makes up the back story thread of another character in this novel resonated when the speaker at Meeting on Sunday shared his interactions with a street boy of Nairobi. The second story was one of identity and embodiment. I was quite pleased to find a second very engaging book in a row.

I also read Daytripper by by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Too quickly: i need to go back and look at the art and give it the time it deserves. I am appreciating the graphical novel selection my library system has made in Overdrive.

Am i still happy, despite the elephant visit? It certainly created an ache but i think i also continue to carry the openness and lightness i've become aware of. The ache for Christine is not that different from the irritations and discomforts and physical aches that punctuate my physical being.

I suppose i do have an awareness that one particular discomfort is one i hope will fade before i need any assistance dressing it. Maybe better medications will come about. I can hope.

Back to work!

* About 30% of the roof water drains into a small area outside the kitchen window in the tiny "courtyard" at the front door. There's not much room for water barrels even if it was a place i'd want them visible. We've managed to adjust drainage so it's not pooling near the foundation, but in a heavy rain i've watched it wash down the driveway. Part of the driveway re-work was to address this drainage issue, so there's a pipe to drain the roof runoff into the east yard. I'll probably design a rain garden near the outlet.

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(no subject) [Dec. 14th, 2017|07:40 am]
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Once upon a time, my procrastination was to read the Usenet. And Usenet obliged by having new posts by the time i'd finished reading all the posts that had accumulated overnight.

When i'm busy, though, my time spent reading the same sources on the internet has decreased significantly, so i've pruned things back. Facebook and Twitter are firehoses that COULD consume every waking hour: the short form is not engaging for me, though, so i am safe there. Now i can get through all my distractions.

I'm happy to say that i don't turn to the firehoses when i run out of distractions. I do watch myself reload, reload, reload. Has someone posted NOW? NOW? One of the things i know about myself in this state is that i'm not reading because i'm curious or want to be present with others. I slurp down words like someone binging on potato chips.

This week i feel i've been able to step back and observe my procrastination, and have compassion for it. I've also been HAPPY.

I am really HAPPY.

I find it a foreign state, but completely natural. And, in complete contradiction to calling it foreign, i wonder if i've been happy "all along." I think, part of it, is that the elephants seem to be more well behaved. It may be familiarity: ah, a stampede, well this will put a kink in our plans but ought to be wrapped up in a few hours. And i honestly think stampedes happen less frequently.

The issue i refer to here as "elephants" has been weighing on me for ages. I look back at my first entry tagged elephant, where i note that i needed to record how Christine's has an issue that was weighing on me for some time - summer of 2014. So i back calculate -- the crisis began in late 2013. So, wow, five years. And, as miracles go, i ceased reporting to my horrible horrible director in October of 2013. As i was coming out of my own crisis, Christine was entering her own.

So, the last time i used the tag "elephant" was this summer: maybe part of my sense of happiness is a growing trust that Christine's crisis is turning the corner.

So, in this happy state, i'm compassionate with my procrastination. Perhaps i've learned that sackcloth and ashes doesn't improve the outcomes of my productivity flows.

I'm also aware of my sense of gratitude: for my job, for our new home near family, for time with Christine in the morning as the winter sun slips up over the horizon.

There's probably some numbness to the national horror too. I've so much cognitive dissonance when considering the body politic.... I feel a bit of hope that we may be going through some cathartic vomiting of deep ugliness that has been festering. Maybe this is what healing the brokenness at the heart of the American experiment looks like?

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Deer [Dec. 12th, 2017|01:10 pm]

Last night, en route to the grocery store, a buck was standing by the road. We braked and watched him try to figure out how to escape. He had a very attractive rack of antlers.

I went out over lunch to put batteries in the little used camera trap that i've set up on one of the trees at the tip of the driveway island. It's somewhat tear shaped, with the point facing the road. There are a multitude of deer tracks in the raw clay of the island.

All this thinking about what to plant: it's really just gonna be deer food. Well, some random website lists phlox and spiderwort as deer resistant: yay. I'm not sure i could take yet another factor in my analysis!

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Training cats after they have trained Christine. [Dec. 11th, 2017|12:33 pm]

Edward REALLY wants to go outside and roam. At about 7 he begins ringing the bells to the deck. Just before Christine sat down to work, she let him out until he jumped from the deck railing to the Beyond. Apparently he made a break for the eastern woods, but turned back when Christine finally made it to the yard. And then it's time to stay in.

Christine's desk is by the door to the deck, so he's really harassing her. I've been scooping him up and dumping him through the cat door on the porch whenever he makes himself a pest. This last time he resisted, so maybe he'll figure it out? That asking to be let out doesn't work all the time?

Unfortunately, Christine is far easier trained than i am, so there's a track record of being let out.

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(no subject) [Dec. 10th, 2017|06:20 pm]

Yesterday, more snow flurries. I met up with my parents at Elizabeth's, a pizza and Italian food restaurant in Pittsboro. They do a lovely job taking care of you there, and it's a place my dad can be at ease. (He is not at ease in restaurants which might have mysterious ingredients, novel preparations, or a city-sized bill.) He insisted on paying, which i didn't quibble over as Christine wasn't there.

Elizabeth's is next to the French Connection, an import place that carries fabrics (and table cloths and tea towels) from Provence in France, beads and sculptures from Africa, and metal yard sculptures i assume are mostly from Mexico. Christine had sent me to look at (and measure and find the price of) the cat they have got in. It's in the style of this piece - http://www.arusticgarden.com/remecatlaory.html - except it's 9' long and 5' wide. The torso seems to be a 55 gallon drum painted purple.

I'm not sure how i feel about it. I think if it had a natural metal patina instead of a bright purple, pink, yellow, blue motley paint job, i'd be much more inclined. (Coat with primer? I dunno.)

I bought beads for a necklace for Christine's sister and a wonderful blue tablecloth with yellow lemons that goes wonderfully in the dining area in the kitchen.

I ran more errands including some Yule gifts from the farm supply place, looked in a gallery, looked at the pottery in the studio at then end of our road, and came home. Suddenly, my right ankle started hurting. Christine was home soon after -- so glad she's back.

Today there were bright stars and moon in the predawn sky, and by the time i left for Meeting, the sky was a bright blue with the long green needles of the tall pines glistening in the sunlight. It's been a while since we had a good rain to freshen everything. When i left Meeting i looked up and saw a flock of seagulls high overhead.

Before meeting i spent more time with the cross reference of plants that are not affected by black walnuts, are native, and are available at the nursery we are going to next weekend. Oh, and non't need to be in always moist soils and can do well in full sun. Phlox, phlox, phlox. (And some spiderwort and obedient plant.) Some of the meadow plants would do OK there -- goldenrod and blackeyed susans, etc -- but i think it want it a bit less rangy than meadow plants. I went through the bloom times of the different plants and think i've selected varieties that could create a lovely palette that changes through the season.

Another stop in the country store in crossroads town of Eli Whitney where i got pecans in the shell and a bunch of old fashioned hard candy as part of Yule gifts.

I made apples in the way inspired by one of Christine's mom's dishes: a sweet dish seasoned with the small candies known as red hots. Three apples (one very large), half the box of candy, half a stick of butter, too much sugar (no more than a 1/3 cup next time), microwaved for 15 minutes, then 2 teaspoons cornstarch (mixed in cold water) added for five more minutes of cooking. This batch was too sweet i think, but hit just the right memory of her mom's stewed apples.

I've beaded this afternoon, making Christine and her sister a necklace each. I should make one for my sister and my mom. And perhaps give my niece some of my bead stash.

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Join [Dec. 9th, 2017|10:07 am]
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Toutonghi, Steve. Join. S.l.: Soho, 2017.

I read Join via Overdrive last night and found it a wonderful speculative fiction novel. Craftwise, the ending seemed bumpy, but this did not detract from my enjoyment. It is interesting to compare to Haldeman's Forever Peace, which also addresses the idea of a technological merging of identities. There's a resonance with Leckie's Ancillary series, too, in addressing consciousness spread across bodies and awareness of the very embodied experiences.

I was delighted to have randomly picked a book that was so engaging. It probably needs a little trigger warning as death, violence, and fatal illness thread through the plot in meaningful ways.

To compare Join and Forever Peace is somewhat challenging, as the technological connection is fictional, so the impact of the connection on a human's sense of identity can't be said to be more plausible in one than the other. Forever Peace's form of connection does not seem to affect identity nearly as much as in Join. I wonder, though, how "true" that can be. If you sense the embodiment of another, would you still find your sense of identity to be isolated to your "own" body?

Might as well toss the Borg and Voyager's "Unity" episode.

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(no subject) [Dec. 9th, 2017|09:18 am]

I am not complaining: the ground is sodden out there. Mostly, though it's just percolating down deeper in the soil, not running off. We needed it.

Mom's been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and her internal tremors may be from her meds. My sister made a strong push, again, for a therapist, as there's a long list of behavioral changes to help. One is "being sociable" which is a challenge for my mother. She's usually orchestrating something and hiding behind being busy. I have been working through the layers i've learned that keep me from being social -- and not incredibly successfully either. Not only is there the introversion, there is a bit of social awkwardness, a bit of shyness (the only thing that i can use to describe the wordless sense that i need to be AWAY from a group of people after a certain amount of time), the ethic that you shouldn't be wasting time lazing about (sigh), the ethic you shouldn't waste money on food and drink that you can have more cheaply at home, the ethic that your home must be picture perfect for visitors. And from whom did i learn?

So, to find ways to bypass a number of those challenges, my dad is advocating getting together and playing Hearts. I know that Christine will enjoy having that sort of structure interacting with my parents, too. So, we're gonna give that a try, and i will role model not having a perfectly tidy house and so on. (Oh, that will be such a challenge. HA!)

Edward's gone out and braved the slush on the deck. I'll be running errands and meeting my folks for lunch. Christine is driving back from Asheville with her sisters. Her eldest sister is in a wheel chair, so Asheville to Mount Airy will be in the wheel chair van; then home in her sister's car. Apparently yesterday tensions between her two sisters were elevated over driving. I'm hoping for clear and safe roads for them and myself.

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(no subject) [Dec. 8th, 2017|10:13 am]

Christine is off with her sisters. She left yesterday morning and gets back Saturday evening. She's in Asheville, far western NC in the mountains. All week Pittsboro had predicted snow for tonight, but Asheville had nothing. "Unfair," i'd think, as Christine loves snow. This morning she texted me a photo of snow outside. We have an inch of rain predicted. Both of us happy with that. And the cold nights predicted early next week are creeping back up. 20°F seems so much warmer than 18° F compared to, say, the difference between 68° to 70°F.

And we have a new driveway! A circle with new gravel and a good system for dealing with the roof runoff that used to flow down the driveway into the road. The gravel has a great deal of dust mixed in, which i know is to make a more compact-able surface. I'm pleased.

I realized we have no explicit plans of how to landscape the circle. They retained a small copse of trees to which i will add a sassafras my sister has for me. The circle is close to a black walnut, so certain plantings are right out. The daffs i dug up Wednesday night by lamp light (along with a peony) can go out there though. (The peony cannot.) I'm leaning towards a June berry (Amelanchier lamarckii) and away from a native plum. I suppose it would be the best place to ever plant a pecan. (Would need to crowd two in there for nuts.) 'Course that would then compete with the black walnut. (It would be at the distance recommended for growing walnut for timber.)

I had a 5 am presentation to attend, which i did. I didn't start work until later, but i seem to have zero motivation. It's a rainy day.... Well, i've had poor motivation all week.

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Joys and thanksgivings [Dec. 6th, 2017|02:51 pm]
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I've soup next to me with dried squash and green tomatoes, plus fresh greens, from the garden.

I'm wearing my lemon dress and yellow chalcedony earrings.

I noticed a thing i needed to prepare before the meeting i needed to present it. (Ok, two other short term commitments are also poking me, one procrastinated upon and one forgotten. Making progress on the procrastinated thing.)

Christine's set up some long owned but currently unused speakers in the front room where i work, and rigged connections to the iPad. It's good to make some use of our extensive music collection.

We had a Yuletide tradition in California of going to the San Francisco Flower Market for brunch and yuletide decor. I think i've found a nursery which will have some qualities that will make it worth the drive, and there's a restaurant near by that has some fun North Carolina tradition-inspired but more refined meals. (http://www.chefhamm.com/cafe-121---the-menus ) Still kinda meat heavy, but i think we can find things we'll enjoy.

We've also ordered a beautiful glass Moravian star lamp for our front porch as our joint Yule gift. It's going to be a seasonal addition so spiders don't take too much joy in all the nooks and crannies over the summer.

One grumble about our droughty weather. When it was fine and sunny outside i didn't mind, but drought with overcast skies is ... sigh.

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