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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) [Mar. 18th, 2018|08:42 am]

It's hard to believe it snowed last Monday, harder still to take the forecast for snow on the 21st seriously (although, given last Monday, i will). Managing my little green house temps is hard and i did loose seedlings letting things get too dry and warm.

It's still easier than the clay, i think?

Meeting for Business today.

I am feeling all time pressured with a trip to CA in early February [ETA: April, the trip is in April]. Gonna go change and put on suspenders and play farmer.

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(no subject) [Mar. 15th, 2018|07:51 am]
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Despite my defiance of tech snafus, the day went on with taking the drier off life support and declaring it time for a replacement. And my therapist was AWOL.

I let myself sulk, which is a way of expressing anger, i guess. Ah, "passive anger" per some random emotional competency web site. I don't think it is *quite* as destructive as the site makes out. Sulking in someone's face is one thing, sulking at home is, i think, another. I don't want to fire my therapist over this, and i don't know what's happened: it could be nothing to dreadful. Sulking was a way fo feeling my disappointment -- which wasn't so much disappointment because [mind game of my own].

The daylight savings time shift did mean plenty of time to work outside in the brisk air and read curled up on the couch. Dinner was the other half of the pot pie i'd made yesterday, a very ordinary but delicious bit of comfort food.

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Tech nemesis [Mar. 14th, 2018|09:20 am]

Ah, my tech thought it would distract me today. Phone froze up, went dark, and stayed hot. "Well we'll just let your battery run down while not letting you over heat," I said to it in the early hours when i have nothing better to do than anthropomorphize my tools. It's back now. And the external monitor went crazy, flashing on and off, and then went dark. Fine. Just use the laptop monitor. And when i woke up the system moments ago, the monitor is back.

Take that 35mereld4. You can't get me so easily!

What, everybody doesn't have an imaginary, named nemesis to blame all tech failures on?

ETA: argh, all the links are gone from my to do list! ✊🏻 35mereld4!!! ✊🏻

ETA: after reflection on race and emoji, changing from default yellow. QV https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/white-people-dont-use-white-emoji/481695/

ETA: ' in "can't"

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Moonrise [Mar. 13th, 2018|06:31 am]

I carefully inched down our front steps, the wood rail glazed with a bit of ice, a slight slipperiness to the wood steps. "You're going to break your neck," my inner mother predicted. I considered that the back deck was likely all glazed except where i had sprinkled deicer for Carrie. When i reached our brick walk i found it clear, as i expected, and i walked to the end so i coul see a good bit of the sky. Stars were cast around, none of my familiar constellations. To the east a glow to the sky where the thinnest sliver of old moon was rising. A plane began crossing the sky, west to north northeast, silently, and it made it to the opposite pines before a hint of the jet roar reached me from the west. Back in the warm house with my pot of tea, i raise the blinds in the dark bedroom to watch the moon move behind the silhouettes of trees.

Edward sneezes. i think the poor cat has a cold. He didn't beg to be let out at all yesterday.

I think of the cars speeding down the road. It's in the next hour that the black ice will likely form. Hope folks take it easier than those drivers. I can't quite tell by the glimmer of moonlight whether the deck still has the snow on it from yesterday evening's snowfall. When i went out last night under the overcast sky, all i heard was dripping as snow melted from the trees.

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Rain gauge [Mar. 12th, 2018|09:20 am]
Also in the shipment from Amazon (yes, guilty of exploiting the warehouse workers and not supporting locally; i do try to mitigate) a precise rain gauge. I will practice reading it a while before signing up to be a monitor -- also need to install a post for mounting it, and so on.

Its precision is quite lovely, i could read off .353" of rain and a small bug. So, precise but inaccurate, because of bug.

To measure snow and sleet, predicted in five hours, i should remove the inner precision tube and use that to measure the melted frozen accumulation in the tube.

I hadn't thought i'd need to think of that so soon.

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(no subject) [Mar. 11th, 2018|03:08 pm]
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I'm rather cranky at the time shift, and ended up sitting in bed listing out the plants i want for the orchard, checking on vendors and wishing. Blackberries are amazing these days: cultivars have been developed that make it pretty easy to grow. There are so many cultivars! So, i've made tables of cultivars for blue and black berries, sorting through a variety of characteristics to get an idea of what i would want to grow.

We had finally measured one stretch of future fencing, and so now the area is significantly larger on Google maps. It's going to be over a third of an acre. I go back and forth over worrying about it still being too shady for an orchard to worrying about the impact on the cooling bill from getting rid of the shade.

I didn't really do too much else yesterday. I didn't make it to Meeting, sulking about the time change and loosing myself in the distinctions of floricane and primocane fruiting blackberries.

What will i do with too much of a good thing? I suppose take them to family and Meeting to share. I've never bought fruit leathers, but i think i would enjoy them. It's hard to imagine too much, but there was a point last year with the yellow summer squash, but powdery mildew set in and saved me. I'm sure something will eat the berries if there's an abundance.

The smart watch has made it through its first week with much appreciation for the activity monitoring and coaching. Every hour or so it prompts for some movement, counting the reps of "torso twists" or other simple exercise and vibrating when the five are done. If i ignore the prompt, it vibrates when i next get up from the desk to celebrate my being "active" again. I wish there was a bit more programming i could do with it to help prompt some other behaviors. There are ankle strengthening stretches i'd like to be reminded to do.

Amazon brought a new strap for the watch, designed to hold in place with a powerful magnet. I can't decide if i miss the days when holding a magnet to the monitor would make it get all distorted. I keep wondering if i'm going to ruin some piece of tech with the magnet on my wrist.

Also from Amazon, suspenders. I want to wear baggy jeans while working outside; now it's much more convenient. Yay. I wore the suspenders Saturday afternoon as i cleared up behind Christine felling trees, and they worked well. We worked through an area the goats did not get to a year and a half a go. I continue to believe the chunk of change spent on those critters and their handlers was a good idea.

This manual work we are doing is slow and time consuming, but it lets us know the land. I transplanted three ferns - ebony spleeneworts - and mosses to the shaded part of the drive island from the orchard to be area, as well as other moss transplants. I need to move some of the tiny rattlesnake plantain orchids as well. This rescuing wouldn't have been possible without being gentle with the clearing. The orchard is going to be a bit of an invasive footprint -- wait, NO. The apples and figs aren't native, and the chestnuts maybe native-Asian hybrid, but mostly these are native fruits and berries. I might, if i ever get down to the end of the list, get hybrid hazelnuts and a hybrid mulberry (mainly because i haven't found a native mulberry vendor). Ah, the blackberries probably have some global genetic ancestry. OK, the orchard is a cultivated footprint, and i'll feel better knowing that i rescued as many wild natives as i could. (At this point i think uncharitable things about sweetgum trees and ponder that the only niche thing to say is that they probably choke out tree of heaven.)

Orchard plansCollapse )

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Note to bird guide authors [Mar. 8th, 2018|09:13 am]

Male Northern Cardinals are NOT "brilliant red all over." Just look at the illustrative photos included with your text! They have a brilliant red heads and bodies, but the back and wings are a duller to rusty red.


Rant thanks to seeing a male Northern Cardinal at an unfamiliar angle and being struck by the rusty back and wings and wondering if it was some alternative plumage.

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(no subject) [Mar. 6th, 2018|10:20 am]
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I'm wondering if my sensitivity to discomfort is changing: yesterday i was near tears due to back pain. I think i'm better today, yay, and i wish i knew what i had done that caused the pain. Saturday i dug more trenches for potatoes, trying NOT to get out of control and go too deep.

Here is an Evernote entry for you to see the view of my garden from the camera trap. I've marked up the digging from Saturday.

Sunday i vigorously raked up the last leaves that had blown around.

Either digging or raking or my sleep could have triggered the back pain. I enjoyed the digging and raking, and my birthday gift from Christine -- a smart watch -- happily logged those efforts as exercise.

Saturday started with a dash off to the NIA class, where i could feel my mother's frustration. I tried demonstrating happily adapting my movement to something do-able when the footwork in class was too much to match. I don't think Mom can do that for herself. After class my mom, sister, and i chatted over drinks. My sister desperately tried to find a way to participate in providing lunch for the Sunday celebration, and was dismissed by my mother. Then it came out that my mother had fixed (was planning to fix?) a cake for me. This was after she had called and said Christine could arrange a cake for me. L got a little agitated about the issue and i knew miscommunication and confused communications around a family gathering would be a little triggering for Christine.

As i drove home i called my father to pass on the cake conversation. Later that day he called me back to relay how my mom understood it (she didn't really, found it confusing), and to relate a story about mom's confusion around the disposition of two bibles of his. (One was his father's, one he carried flying over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.) At one point in the story, my mother is looking at his father's name and is confused whether it is my father's. It's not quite as blatant as forgetting his name, as he and his father both share the less than common first name Laurier, and my father goes by his easier middle name.

Nonetheless, it was hard for my dad. They're both on their way to Florida today for him to do some care-taking of his 101 year old mother. While Mom has some long lived genes on her father's side, i have doubts that i'll see her turn 100. My dad, though, is fit and strong and healthy. I think i'll see him to 100. Would he remarry if my mom passed? Hard to imagine, but it's possible. If he did, i hope the potential spouse would have more sense than my grandmother's third husband.

Christine's genes don't seem so long lived. I fiddle around with some math to see how old we will be when my dad is Grandmámá's age. Mortality. I so want a lovely old age with Christine.

Saturday night we drove up to Wake Forest for more oysters -- these from the St James in Virginia. I had them raw and steamed and fried -- and the fried was pretty miserably fried. Christine had fried seafood too, and we regretted it in the wee hours of the morning. The company of friends Christine had known from music camp and whom we have connected with since over the years was a pleasure.

I made it to meeting on Sunday morning with plenty of time and sat by the spring for a few minutes. I burst into tears and realized the ache i was carrying for my mother. I shared that during our time for concerns. Home to pick up Christine and Carrie, then to my parents. My sister has claimed a dog-shaped hole in her heart: she and her kids were delighted to see Carrie. Apparently Mom was struggling a little with getting the meal ready, so L pitched in. Christine had some tension with my mother over how my mother took charge of the cake. Their dynamic may never heal: certainly my mother has passed the place where she can meet half way in resolving the past.

I guess it's clear the second half of my long weekend was bitter-sweet.

After remarkably warm days in late February, the nights are now in the upper 20s. Today i notice the browning of some of the saucer magnolia leaves (aka tulip magnolia) from the freeze. The daffs are doing well; the sprouting peonies i cover each night.

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The various engagements of my long birthday weekend. [Mar. 4th, 2018|08:40 am]
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I am guessing time recently was spent:
in transit

There was also some amount of messing with devices.

I took Thursday and Friday (my birthday, a milestone) off work. Thursday was very very wet, and i eventually gave up on gardening and went to the thrift store in town. I found jeans that more or less fit and will be reasonable for yard work. There was a sale on women's tops at dollar each so i just bought what seemed like i might enjoy. I suspect i am going to unpack my summer clothes and roll my eyes; so it goes.

At 3 pm i left for my folks where i rendezvoused with my sister. The four of us left for an oyster bar two hours away. The drive down was in a miserable downpour, and we arrived probably at peak rush instead of just opening. This meant we had a near hour wait for our seat at the eighty three year old horseshoe shaped bar where our personal shucker, Alan, set us up with sauces and incredibly fresh horseradish and then shucked our oysters for us. Alan has been at Sunny Side Oyster Bar for twenty years. This is what my dad and i wanted to do to celebrate our shared birthday, and so we split a peck of steamed oysters from Texas, a pound of shrimp and a pound of scallops.

The oysters struck me as mild and creamy, sort of like an oyster stew.

Then there was the drive home. The skies had cleared, and a bright moon cast shadows in the trees. A herd of deer were hanging out on the main road near my folks', and a possum considered crossing the street at the cul-de-sac where they live. I may have seen another possum on my drive home.

Friday dawned clear, bright, and windy as all get out.

Christine made pecan sour cream waffles for me and gave me my gift from her, a Samsung smart watch. Not a gadget i had wished for -- i thought she would like one, but i didn't really imagine myself with one. We set it up and i put it on. It's huge on my wrist.

I dug violets out of the garden and garden to be area and put in various more ornamental locations. I dug a dark green grass or "lilyturf" out of random locations (including the garden) and planted that under the freeze-burned gardenia. I do hope that it's a native tuft forming grass and not the non-native ornamental lilyturf. Nonetheless, if it defeats the stilt grass, it's my friend.

Christine texted me while i was in the garden and, because i was wearing the watch, i received her missives and could reply. One message noted that we'd lost power. It wasn't a surprise with the wild winds blowing: i found myself watching the swaying pines, towering a hundred feet above me, pondering the distance the tops traveled. It was mesmerizing like watching ocean waves, with the same sense of massive elemental power. I did wonder how safe it was to be out where a branch or tree could fall....

Not the most productive afternoon and, when i was hungry, we decided to go out to lunch in town. Our first route was blocked by the power-killing fallen pine across the road, which explained the vehicular shenanigans i had been aware of while working in the yard. (A semi had backed up some distance which seemed odd.) In town, we ate at the Pittsboro Roadhouse, a place we go less often. I had a salad with fried North Carolina oysters. The oysters had a tangy quality -- metallic? -- that the Texas oysters missed. I watched the restaurant's sign hang at 45 degrees from plumb, supported by the wind. Gusts sent it to 60 and 90 degrees, with an audible wobbling noise that could be heard over the (slightly tedious) singer songwriter soundtrack. We lingered over the meal, and desert. It was a pleasantly spontaneous celebratory meal, ticking the oyster check box.

In the evening we watched High Fidelity, which was more progressive than i remembered, with delightful grounding in the analogue world i grew up in. The phone book! The pay phones! The girlfriend picks up her laptop from the apartment DAYS after walking out! (As well as the vinyl and the mix tapes.)

Well, that's two days of the four, and i am off to meeting.

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Whipped cream cheese [Feb. 27th, 2018|07:06 am]

I am delighted with the results of whipping my own cream cheese. It's far better than the stuff sold as whipped cream cheese -- smoother and more cream cheese-like. And yay, reduced plastic waste.

It was simple, with a hand held mixer, to fluff up a block of softened "Neufchatel" with a little bit of milk. I feared that the once i put it back in the fridge it would firm up and be just as hard to spread -- but no! Easy to spread!

I look forward to adding herbs from the garden this summer.

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Yard yard yard [Feb. 27th, 2018|06:22 am]

I've forgotten to take my antidepressant this weekend. I was well motivated nonetheless. When i would overheat on Saturday, working close to our very hot brush fire, i wanted to cry. I just thought i was a little overdone, but there may have been something with meds going on too.

I do go onCollapse )

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Season observations & garden notes. [Feb. 22nd, 2018|08:43 pm]
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I noticed the first blooming daffodils and forsythia on Feb 14th in Pittsboro. The following Saturday, on the 17th, i noticed redbuds blooming at Fearrington's entrance. I believe those trees were far earlier than others last year. I've noticed more and more daffs and forsythia since then. Yesterday i also noticed some ornamental fruit trees on 15-501 that have frothy pink blooms. Other trees are budding: i presume they're maples but i'm not sure.

I hope i have some more precise notes about our daffodils. The single one near the road has a bud, as does one of the five in the moss bed in front of the azaleas. One of the Crocus chrysanthus "cream beauty" has bloomed from the five or six i planted in December; the crocus and daff bulbs i planted so belatedly in January are sprouting above the soil, too.

I think i've mentioned digging up the proliferating Star of Bethlehem -- it's everywhere. Fie. Currently the targets for casual eradication are Youngia japonica (Asiatic Hawk's Beard) rosettes, clumps of Star of Bethlehem and native cudweed and spring onions. I'm digging violets up from the garden to fill the holes left when i dig up the onions. I stood around this evening with a limp clump of onions in my hand. It's the randomness of the tufts that is not particularly desirable, not the plant itself. I wish there was some way i could use it to some good effect. It's life cycle seems opposite of stilt grass so i don't think i can use it in my battle.

I'd seen a single violet blooming over the weekend, i think, but mostly the violets are coming back up from where they were killed back by the freeze. I don't remember them dying back so far before. I noticed more blooms today.

I think one of the prior owner's peony plants has sprouted from my somewhat abusive splitting of the crown. Christine's heritage peony shows no sign of growth yet.

I've planted my two camellias. Getting them out of the pots was not graceful: i worry that if the freeze hadn't done them in, i gave them a shock dumping them out. The Camellia sinensis (tea!) is planted in a old stump hole, and the hybrid 'Senritsu-Ko' is planted to the west of the tea.

Last week, or maybe over the weekend, i noticed that the driveway autumn olive had leaf buds that had broken open; as i was planting the Camellia sinensis in the glade tonight i noticed the bud break on those Autumn olive. Honey suckle is greening up as well.

The saucer magnolia has pink lipstick buds showing outside the kitchen window. Drama!

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(no subject) [Feb. 22nd, 2018|03:53 pm]

Me, before and after subtle highlights were applied to my hair

I don't think it's that noticeable without the before and after, but "before" is more dishwater and "after" more red gold. Brown? Blonde? I dunno. It's just enough, like cleaning the baseboards. One doesn't necessarily notice noticing the baseboards, and yet it makes a little difference to a room.

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(no subject) [Feb. 22nd, 2018|08:21 am]

So, in adventures of self care, i now have highlights in my hair. No one will consciously notice. I don't think anyone who sees me via video will notice even subconsciously. We went two shades lighter and throughout all the hair. If anything, it's like she dyed half of my hair, strand by strand, and it looks incredibly natural. 'Spensive in both time and money, but apparently low maintenance, and thus should last four months.

I need to wait for it to be lighter outside to take the after photo. I am not confident even after the light gets brighter outside that the "after" photo will be distinctive from the "before".

I'll share, whatever the outcome.

The department of transportation is back fixing the road. I wish i knew whether what we have experienced was phased fixing - first must do X, then Y -- and they just left the job between X & Y. Maybe the first phase was excavating areas and filling and now they are repaving the whole surface?

Last week, on the 14th, Christine's brother called me. I was reserved and resisted all the responses i've been socialized to make that take the responsibility off the other. Part of my mind accuses, "Rude!" but i resist that label. Christine's brother pled ignorance and blamed his wife and offered the wishy-washy half-apology of "If i hurt your feelings, i'm sorry." He did say the letter was clear, so there should have been no "if". At the end of the very brief call he said we should get together, sooner rather than later. Knowing how Christine has written and called to propose things, the statement sounded more like a request for assurance rather than a genuine desire. And i did not provide the assurance.

It felt good to be able to act as this defense for Christine. I know she aches over the empty relationship and wishes it was otherwise. For her to have received the half apology with no acknowledgement of her experience would have been terribly painful - -and i think it would have been very hard for her to not provide the gracious responses.

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Turned inward [Feb. 20th, 2018|07:08 am]
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I'm trying to come out of a turned inward paralysis phase. I think i'm beginning to recognize a sort of pattern of behavior with a variety of habits dropped and a resistance to interacting with others. There's a procrastination/paralysis mind set: a noise of "must do mumble, don't wanna do mumble, let me distract myself" where the actual avoided activity is not clear. It's vague and all encompassing, so the usual advice of "small steps" and teasing out what i am afraid of is a challenge.

I made myself go to Meeting for Business and Worship on Sunday.

I'm trying to resurrect my todo list from a week of just throwing things on, resurrect a few self care habits.... it's harder because 2017 was marked by not doing these things and i was finally feeling the opening that getting back to the habits creates when i slipped.

I recognize this pattern as "depression" and "procrastination" but i think i'm going to start calling it the paralysis pattern. That sort of unloads the history and baggage.

February's not a great month in general, and it's been more grey than i've seen in years. (NC drought followed CA drought.) While i appreciate the beauty of "dreary" days, the boost of energy is missing. Finally, Christine's therapists said to her that the people she saw who had the "crud" in January are suffering a low energy period now, so there's that, as well.

So writing this is moving through the paralysis. A step.

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(no subject) [Feb. 16th, 2018|07:25 am]
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In 2017 I used the optometrist on the road towards Chapel Hill in the commercial area just outside the giant planned subdivision. Slowly irritations mounted about the place, in general not feeling like a patient but a commodity. Getting off their text messages and emails has been a headache, as the automated optimization of business seems to be something they do well. Feh.

So i finally made an appointment with the optometrist in Pittsboro. The assistant seemed to be giving the receptionist a bit of a "Do you northerners say this?" quiz (Something like "this ol' mule still gots some life in 'er") and she proceeded to call me "sweet lady" as in "So sit down right here sweet lady."

It's a new permutation on "honey" and "sugar" and i've never understood the need, but i've got the social skills of a physicist, so what do i know.

There was NOT a battery of machines to sit down at and be processed through. Not the dread machine with the peripheral vision stripes, no dots, no puffs of air. Everything was delightfully analogue. Which means dilating my pupils and the time sink that is.

I've mixed feelings about that.

On one hand, the optometrist we were last seeing in California had the laser widget that developed the three dimensional map of the back of my eye. He could show me the optic nerve anomaly. I appreciated that. On the other hand, i felt the local doctor's direct observation was just as careful and thorough. So, technically, i think the examination is a satisfactory standard of care. The difference is the time - waiting for the dilation, waiting for it to wear off. Because it's only a handful of minutes away, i don't mind. The alternative would be the time it takes to get to Chapel Hill. I think i'll keep going to these folks, but I let Christine -- who goes up to Chapel Hill far more often than i --know that she might choose someone else.

I spent some of my time with dilated pupils walking Carrie. It was right at sunset and bats flitted down the road. I stood at the bridge over the creek, looking at the black branches silhouetted against the molten orange sky reflected in the water, and found two bats swirling above the water at bridge height.

I let Carrie run off leash from the back of the yard in the twilight. We're developing a balance of trust: even if she won't come when called, she does stay within hearing as she crashes through the woods. She comes by me enough that i can pretend i am permitting her to run by telling her to "go, go" (as if i could really stop her) and i can give her a treat to reinforce her checking in. Eventually, i can grab her harness on a treat stop and put the leash back on her. She seems to understand that going down the driveway to the road is not approved.

It was so mild yesterday: she spent the whole day on the deck. Maybe i should spend the day on the porch.

(I've felt so out of it since Saturday. Am i always out of it? )

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(no subject) [Feb. 14th, 2018|06:50 am]
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Went to bed early; woke on time. Christine worked late into the night, so hopefully she's escaped the migraine pattern.

I went out after making tea to look at the predawn sky and listen. Stars! It's clear! I look forward to the sun rise and some daylight. I think the creek that runs behind our house creates a marshy or pond-like area in the large wood lot beside us because i hear frogs from that direction and not from the closer larger branch of the creek.

I fantasize about buying the 75 acre wood lot next to us from the hunting folks. I'd get a nice southern exposure going down to the creek and a long stretch of creek (with wherever the frogs sing) and could eradicate the additional invasive species (vinca, sigh)....

Speaking of invasive species, i found more tree of heaven in the back. I'm hoping pulling saplings out of the soaked ground will be effective -- those seem to have been starting from blown seeds, not an underground network of roots. The first tick from last year was March 10th. Going back in the woods will rapidly become less attractive once those things are about.

I am apparently scared of doing the thing i need to do to create the demo for the presentation, leading to a bit of procrastination. I'll need to get around that shortly.

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(no subject) [Feb. 13th, 2018|06:55 pm]
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It's been grey. It's going to keep being grey. Ugh. This is typical, i know, but it didn't happen last year and it didn't happen with the drought in California and oh it is so DREARY. Also, muddy. Mud mud mud.

Today's eBird list has 11 species including an Eastern bluebird and Red-bellied Woodpecker that were on the nearby tulip poplar. Both of those i checked out using the binoculars. The others -- Northern cardinals, tufted tit...mice?, Carolina chickadees and wren, juncos, brownheaded nuthatch, goldfinch, and white throated sparrow -- were feeder visitors. The mourning dove was cleaning up underneath. The feeder is now in a very agreeable (also distracting) location easily viewed while i am working. It's a bit too close to use the binoculars on. Mr Piggy Squirrel did NOT show up -- maybe the Cayenne pepper was a slow acting deterrent?

The past few days have also had a drag on them independent of the weather: i was not myself on Saturday and Christine's had migraines Sunday, Monday at waking, and the wee hours of today. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, i've been making sure i did some gardening bits.

I identified a clumping "grass" that has an attractive quality about it. Disappointingly, it is the non-native and fairly common "lilliturf" or Liriope muscari. I've decided i'll move it so it carpets under the non-native gardenia and crepe myrtles and around the transplanted peonies. That should create a weed supressing carpet that doesn't need mowing.

My little greenhouse is all toasty. The flat i started on the 4th of February (#2) had sprouts of lettuces, broccoli, cabbage and chamomile by Saturday, when i moved the sprouts to a tray of little pots (#2'). More seeds have sprouted in the flat including slower seeds in the lettuces and brassicas. I've also a tray (#3) of just seeded small pots of brassicas and lettuce -- i'm not sure a week's difference now will make a difference two months from now, but my hope is to spread out the maturing of the plants. And another flat (#4) with flower and herb seeds.

In the garden i am trying my self-made seed tapes of brassicas, lettuce, carrots, and beets as well as a seeding of mesculun, carrots, and beets. It might be early, but the next ten days are forecast to be averaging in the 50s, with a lowest low 37°F and a highest high of 77°F. I'd rather be out there covering up in case of a freeze than weeding.

The button bushes i started last year have finally been planted where their feet will be kept wet. They're a native shrub and i think i got the seeds at a native seed swap in late 2016. I'm pretty tickled something has made it. The crabapple almost made it, but i think the hard freeze in early January was just too much. Remembering advice, though, i'm not giving up on the crab apple yet.

I've been digging up Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), a pretty and poisonous pest. My main goal is eradicating it from the orchard area, as the cats and Carrie the dog will roam that fenced in space. It looks too much like grass and is on many "poisonous to pets" lists. It seems a reasonable concern that someone will nibble on it. But oh how pervasive the clumps of little green sprouts are! I'll need to transplant out the daffodils as well for the same reason.

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(no subject) [Feb. 9th, 2018|07:26 am]
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Up late last night, in a small part due to enchantment with Carrie's anticipation when she hears one using the youtube channel search function on the TV. After watching Steve Colbert we turned to various Crufts recordings -- the "pastoral" finals where all the different shepherd dogs parade around, and then agility finals (more interesting for Carrie).

I think we are unwinding from the TV showing of the family documentary. I remain a bit on edge, wondering when some unpleasant person will go out of their way to dox us (as it would be fairly easy thanks to the way NC voter data is sprawled across the internet). If anything, though, i think our story remains only seen by folks who go out of their way to find it -- and that would be folks who are sympathetic and not outraged.

Today is forecast clear, and then it looks like a sodden weekend. I'm pondering signing up to track rainfall for CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. The biggest issue is that they want you to record the rainfall at the same time everyday. This makes sense if it's raining, but ... whine. The rain gauge isn't cheap, but the accuracy looks wonderful. The one i bought last year broke (glass, froze) so i'm game for a new one. I am also pondering the Skywarn training. I was enthusiastic at first because i sit at a window and note the changing light during the day, but it seems one needs better perspectives on clouds. Our tall pines screen much of the sky from me. Then there is feeder watch, which could be interesting. My uptick in interest in citizen science is nice to note.

I have finally got the trail camera working smoothly. I encountered so many issues using it that this first year has been only barely used. But i think i have finally resolved the battery drain and finicky camera card demands, and expect this coming year will be delightfully documented.

Finally, in noting the natural world, at the beginning of this week i saw the first signs of daffodil leaves poking out of the soil. I'm becoming vigilant for ticks, and will get our collection of preserved ticks from last year to find when we first recorded them. (I've seen random advice about preserving ticks just in case one gets sick.)

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(no subject) [Feb. 8th, 2018|08:51 am]
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If i understand correctly, anyone may now watch the documentary streaming from the website: http://video.unctv.org/video/3007225920/ . We watched it over the air last night, marveling at broadcasts' continued existence.

My sister-in-law & her spouse came down to see it at our place because the channel wasn't available to them (because it's not on cable and they don't have an antenna?). We dined at the nice new seafood restaurant in town, apparently at the same time as Roy Underhill of PBS's The Woodwright's Shop -- his classroom, in a 1900's storefront, is just around the corner from the restaurant (in a refurbished 70's era post office).

We'd used an optometrist up closer to Chapel Hill near one of the giant subdivisions last year. They "automated" away their customer service, so i waited for a month to hear my glasses were ready while they sent text messages to our land line. They offered no support fitting my glasses. I might as well have bought from one of those online services at a minimal charge instead of paying for the premium of in office care. Staff bordered on rude, crossing the line once. So, i've chosen an optometrist in the small town. Yesterday i showed up for my appointment & found a "closed due to family emergency" sign on the door. I tell this story, to reflect on how this small town delights me while irritating Christine. She sees the lack of sidewalks, the minimal lighting. And she didn't take kindly to the way they handled the appointment for me. My consideration is that while they didn't contact me to let me know the appointment was canceled -- the other office would have probably sent a text -- the staff are probably like family and what ever the emergency was, they were probably supporting each other.

Someday, that might all be efficiently eroded away. Silicon Valley showed me the cost of convenience and efficiency. I'm not sure i want to pay it.

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Morning mental meanderings [Feb. 5th, 2018|08:52 am]
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I am happy to be back on my work laptop after spilling tea on it during a sweeping gesture Friday morning. But not glad enough to focus on work. Oh me.

I am happy to see the bright blue sky after yesterday's rain. I finally got to watch the gutters drain down the ditch-ette we dug when we first moved here and then continue under the driveway to the east yard. Our driveway was not washing away, hurrah. Now to dig a formal retaining area for that run off. There's nothing wrong with letting that end of the yard become a great puddle -- it percolates into the soil quickly enough -- but i'd prefer something intentional. Also -- less to mow!

Other delights from yesterday -- planting a flat of seeds and firing up all my adjustments to the greenhouse. I'll need to be careful not to cook all the seeds. On the other hand, i do have little worries about what to do with so many seedlings if they all sprout. There is a "coldframe" i received at the same time as the greenhouse. The "coldframe" seemed ... poorly designed ... in that it is held up in the air, not down on the ground, thus prone to chilling all night. I suppose i could use that to shelter some of the tender seedlings.

We also had a fellow come over and look at the cabinet in which the catbox resides. The cats can't keep to the pan, and while it's better to have misses end up in the cabinet, it still has the issue of odoriferous elements ending up on more or less porous surfaces. We will now have an aluminum box that lines the bottom and sides of the cabinet with a little partition to separate the litter area from the area where they can shake off their feet. It's about a dollar a day for 13 months, which is well worth it to not hear Christine's disgust and frustration every day. I initially thought "yikes" at the price, but it certainly is an effective place to throw money to improve day to day life for all of us.

The part i should celebrate most is that i dealt with a particularly unappetizing glutinous cold yam, writing a letter to one of Christine's family members to communicate how their choices had signaled disrespect. It's something i've carefully been thinking about, carefully drafting, trying to ensure i own the interpretation, that i have been as generous in the interpretation as i can be, and ensure i'm not putting anything but, "This is the signal i have received from you, and you can have the method of signaling back," in the letter. I did my best to minimize the opportunity for drama, particularly spilling over to the family. I was offended, and now they know that i was offended. "EG told me she was offended [by the thing i did]!" I'm sure there are ways to turn this into drama, but i'm clear that my action is simply drawing attention to what at best was a thoughtlessly cruel behavior.


It had been on my to do list for a week.

Boom, done.

Also, i sure hope i'm reading the regulations re forever stamps correctly. Apparently first class 1 oz mail is 50¢ now, so 4 Forever stamps on a possibly 4 oz mailpiece that is less than $2 to mail should be sufficient?

I sure hope this clears my mind enough that i can get to work!

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Camera Trap [Feb. 4th, 2018|12:46 pm]

Raccoons, a deer, and an opossum!

Click on the image, possum bottom center.

Deer wanders into view and scampers out.

Raccoons -- TWO! -- in right frame. The second is towards the back on the left edge of the frame.

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Photo exercise [Feb. 1st, 2018|08:15 pm]

Composition of a black circle and lines -- a concave mirror and window frame

I don't know if i'm going to keep up, but i recalled [personal profile] zyzyly mention some black and white photo every day in February challenge before all the day's light left. I can try!

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(no subject) [Feb. 1st, 2018|08:34 am]
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I respect that working with a real person has its benefits, and Tuesday we spent a small forever working with a banker getting a variety of things set up. It was quite useful, actually, to have her advice.

On the other hand, for her to be forced through the same sort of web site hops that a random person signing up on line would need to fill out.... OY. Tedious.

My boss told me yesterday, "You don’t judge a persons happiness by whether they complain, but rather by when they complain about." I often complain about the myopia of the main office when dealing with the staff who are not located there, and this time was no different. Not sure what that says about my happiness.

But i do complain fairly frequently in my head. The handful of weeks back, when that miraculous happiness suffused me -- the complaints were still there. I am rather convinced that noticing the less than ideal is not the cause of the absence of that miraculous state.

And then there is knowing others' distress. Particularly Christine's. On top of a particular distress born of a rather blunt statement captured in the documentary and the local PBS station's image selection for promoting the documentary which compounded the sense of risk in putting our lives out there for the hateful to see -- migraines.

In gardening news, the top of the green house was 40°+ degrees, the bottom 51° and outside 32° after running the two 100W heating bulbs over night. I probably ought to cover the structure, too, just for the additional insulation. It shouldn't be too much of a bother in the morning & evening to remember. I've a heating mat for under a flat to add, so i should get starts begun ... tonight. Erm, i need to mix up some potting soil.

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(no subject) [Jan. 30th, 2018|06:46 am]
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Yesterday's grey skies put me in mind of firming up plans for a rain garden. We finally had enough rainfall for me to see the effects of the new drainage pattern: i'm pleased. So i spent too much time looking at native plants that might happily exist in such a place. I have found a nice selection of blue flowered plants that should presumably keep color from April through October. I'm hoping to have the location picked out and marked by the time we have the folks come to grade the orchard (and get up all the roots). Digging down a foot by hand in this clay for 78 square ft isn't an exiting prospect.

My punishment for distracting myself was that when i took a few moments on the "most important thing" and i tried to steer it in a more expected direction, it looked like i was a major contributor when we met later in the day.

This is like when i would procrastinate in grade school, then rush the project, and get an A at the end. My therapist is encouraging me to see this as my way of being, and well YES it is. Abstractly, it is a optimization for pleasure and efficiency. I manage to leave just enough time to get the thing done; as long as the procrastination time is spent on something productive from some point of view maybe it's good. But from another point of view, it's cheating. Someday i hope to be able to be paid to play with native plants, but that's not what's going on now. And from yet another point of view, part of it is that the project that i had set to work on and was procrastinating on is being mis-led and i'm not entirely sure we're doing what is asked.

Listening to some of the folks dither on in the meeting ... i just dunno that anyone is taking it seriously.

Christine brought home Chinese food for dinner, but did not have time to eat any herself. It was delicious. Hmm, this recipe makes frying the tofu for General Tso's Tofu</a> sound like it's not a deep fryer sort of situation. Hmm.

Then we went off to a screening of Christine's sister's documentary in Chapel Hill. The theater is one of these schmancy better-than-your-living-room, QR code to order and have delivered to your seat sorts of places with assigned seats. Perplexing. Mistaking the orientation of the seating map, my sister and her kids thought she would be seated behind us on the back row, but was instead in the very front on the loungiest seats. During the Q&A i slipped in to sit with them.

Everyone gushes so afterwards, and i just want to curl up in a ball and hide. I think i am rather comfortable being with one or two people, whom perhaps i don't know that well, and being vulnerable. Or typing my vulnerability. But i think i know i would be too honest. Listening to Christine deftly answer folks' questions, i realize i would blurt out things that are not ready. She was asked about her brother, and she was honest that his discomfort with her continued. She did not give the concrete example of the very hurtful way he excluded her from all the scarf Yule gift to the other women of the sibling group, clearly communicating that he doesn't see her as a woman. And when the conversation went to the culture wars and how one feels, Christine could point our her privileged and the vulnerability of so many other transwomen -- instead of sharing how vulnerable it feels to know how easy it is to find our address if someone wants to act out their rhetoric towards her/us.

I know we're not alone in our fear: a local potter commented about her fear of having her shop set on fire if the wrong people learned she was a married lesbian.

Apparently the film will stream on Amazon soon, and it's going to be on UNC TV's North Carolina channel on Feb 7 at 10 pm with repeats the next day. And apparently it will be streaming on the UNC PBS website? I'm fuzzy on that.

People are very sweet to me after, acknowledging my support for Christine. The story told doesn't share how she helped me become a person who could be authentic, who escaped the game playing of her family. Christine held up a mirror to me that gave me an undistorted (at least, less distorted) reflection of myself, correcting the extreme monster-princess view i was given growing up.

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Saturday exertions [Jan. 28th, 2018|08:56 am]
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Some time ..last week? the week before? i noticed the "collection" of citations for my general reading was gone. Since one can delete a collection but leave the citations, i thought that's what i had done. Then Friday night i realized the citations were gone. Several years of reading notes, and 2017's watching notes, gone.

I spent much of yesterday morning trying to find the latest stale copy of the database to use to recover the citations. I found one from Jan 1st, so i've only lost about 20-25 days -- and i think i can recover the books i've read from Overdrive.

That was absorbing enough that i needed to bolt to get to the NIA class i'm attending with my sister and mother. NIA is a aerobic-ish class that mingles yoga, tai chi, aikido, and dance. My sister realized it would be a good thing to do with my mom, and, indeed, i think it is. Not top of my list of things to do, and my mom's a little resistant as well, but it is a lovely joy and love and compassion filled community. As a duty it is delightful.

I begrudge a little the energy not going to the yard.

Yesterday was very mild, and so i also got out and planted the daffodil bulbs i'd dug up in Dec, crocus bulbs and onions i'd bought on a whim, the peony i'd dug up, and the peony from Christine's Aunt Rachel i was certain had died in the long freeze, sitting in a planter. The peony i dug up i failed to have patience to properly divide. We'll see if the smaller root bits manage to cope. Digging was yet another energy expense, although the slow melt of the snow meant the clay was just the right moisture to be easy but not a mess.

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Beating myself up [Jan. 24th, 2018|10:32 am]

I am relieved to have a prescription for antibiotics for my sinus infection. I'm beating myself up over not going earlier, which isn't helpful.

So, i'm going to try some of those countering techniques. My asthma has cleared up, and that might have been confusing to the diagnosis. Looking back at my calendar, the clearing up of my asthma was between the 12th and the 17th. The 17th was when we were slammed with snow. I wrote my doctor on the 19th and waited through the weekend, and Monday's response was Not Helpful. But i called on Tuesday and saw the doctor today.

So, i really haven't had that much time where i could be sure my malaise wasn't because of the asthma, and The Snow would have put a crimp into addressing the malaise any earlier.

Take THAT you inner beating up on me voice!

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Birdwatching experience [Jan. 20th, 2018|10:06 am]
LBJs larger than life.

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Winter wonderland and other notes [Jan. 19th, 2018|07:18 am]
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It started snowing Wednesday at 8 am and just didn't stop. We received around 9" of fluffy and sticky snow which created great billows in the tops of the pines. This is just the thing to cause power outages, and indeed, my sister's family were without power around noon Wednesday to the early evening on Thursday. With their wood stove and gas range, i think they did well, but with lows in the single digits, it's concerning.

Between the many power blinks and knowing my sister was without power leads to a little bit of vigilance. I don't believe the power outages are over, and so i'm still making sure devices are charged, etc.

Wednesday in the late afternoon i stood on the front porch for a while, just watching the pines sway and the occasional avalanche of snow cascading through the branches. Eventually i put on boots and a hat and went out. First, Christine and i pulled out plastic Adirondack style chairs and sat a little beyond the house -- but not beyond enough that the drip in one of the downspouts to be audible. While Christine went somewhere else with her mic to record, i went down the driveway to stand under the pines. Branches weighed with snow creaked, hung in unaccustomed positions, and rubbed against neighbor branches also not in accustomed locations. I listened wishing for a poem to come to mind, but it was more important to soak in the company of the pines, listen to the soft thuds of snow falling out of the branches.

Despite the hard freeze Wednesday to Thursday night, birdseed still sinks down into the snow. Wednesday I cleaned up a bird feeder the previous owners had left and was surprised to find it was pretty high quality: in its filth it looked cheap. I may get addicted to feeding birds outside my work window. I'm trying to tell myself it's just for this weather. I really wish they had shown interest to the sorghum i grew. I assume the birds have worked on the millet in place. Slugger, our male cardinal, looks incredible against the backdrop of snowy trees. The birds found the seed on Thursday and i had the constant company of juncos out my window while working. Tufted titmice are adorable, and there were a few sparrows - hard to distinguish from the juncos as the plumage wasn't particularly striking in contrast. With binoculars i could make out what i think were distinguishing marks on one that would be a savanna sparrow. I noticed birds with yellow plumage several times: i don't know if i'm able to strongly distinguish a pine warbler from an American goldfinch in my memory as when i saw the bird i just assumed it was a goldfinch. A chickadee was probably present, but i only noticed it as a smaller bird than the juncos and only had a fleeting moment with it in the binocular view. The birds aren't far away -- maybe 10'-12' away from the window? But perhaps the windows do need cleaning, and i know my eye sight isn't what i wish it would be.

The crisp clear skies changed the color of the snow: deep footprints became bright blue, shadows a soft blue, and the snow in sunlight a creamy gold with diamond sparkles. When the avalanches of snow fell out of the trees, diamond dust drifted against the bright blue sky.

After work i circumambulated our home's clearing (so greatly extended with our work the past eighteen months). Birds have left marks, and the falling snowballs from trees left pockets, but i didn't see anything looking like the tracks of larger animals. I assume small mammals like voles are happily tunneling at the ground level, snug under the thick blanket.

As of the past hour, i think i'm getting better at junco vs sparrow. The sparrow variations are vexing. Particularly because there's no way of knowing whether one observation is the same individual as the next. Were there white stripes on the wings or was i imagining it? Well, not on this one, but.... [HA: there's at least one white throated sparrow calling out there.]

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