Happy March 2021

Here we are, as Christine and i tell each other, in the future. I am on out screened in back porch, essentially unchanged since we bought the house, other than some electrical outlet work, removal sof some of the many many wind chimes, and the addition of some furniture to the furniture left by the previous owners. I'm on the lounge they left. It is about 60°F damp, and overcast. I hear trucks and cars as they pass on the road, and airplane over head, a very loud chorus of frogs from the creek branches north and south of our house, crows in the distance, chickadees and other songbirds up close.

I've not seen any bluets this year, and worry that in the area they were most numerous i have changed too much for them to have lived (trampling some parts and burying, mulching others). I check the glade, where i hope they would thrive, to no effect.

No sign of spring beauties, not where the bricks were stacked by the masons, nor in the back porch moss area, nor where i've seen them wild. No sprouts on the peonies.

The star of Bethlehem continue to sprout everywhere along with the daffodils. I see a few buds on the daffodils. The Lenten rose, transplanted to the garden plot to protect it from the masons, has bloomed. An elm and a red maple that have great southern exposure are budding. There's no hint that the saucer magnolia is going to bloom. It's seemed such a mild winter, i would have thought plants would be rushing along, but -- while we haven't had the cold snap that other places had last month -- it has been pretty consistently frosty in the mornings.

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I keep getting sucked into plant searching. I will not buy more bulbs for the berm: i need a place to plant the seedlings i am growing. I will not buy more trees: i will wait for next fall. (I so want Chickasaw plums, varieties selected for larger fruit and better flavor. The few places i know have them out of stock. And i want some selected elderberries. But i have Chinqapins -- a shrubby cousin of chestnuts -- and native crabapple seeds sitting in moist soil outside, waiting to sprout this spring.)

Yesterday i lugged branches from near the glade, where the arborist had left them after cutting down the sweet gums that were too close to the back porch. At the drive circle i chipped them and added them to the growing pile. Yes - -i did get the chipper running again!

But now i can't start the wheeled string trimmer.

On Saturday i walked through the woods (since i couldn't start the string trimmer. There are two colonies of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). I think two of the large trees i had noticed a couple of winters ago are dying from the scrape bark-apply glyphosphate technique. I have found a few other large trees (smaller than the big ones, but still mature) which i can treat, and i think i'll give the same treatment in a more select manner to some of the saplings or sprouts. The American linden i planted with my nephew back there seems to be OK.

Anyhow, all morning puttering here. I don't know where my time goes (well, some goes to looking at plants.)
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Exhausted: it's the general frame i have for what's going on with me right now. I told my sister that i feel like i have five things to carry but can only manage two at a time.

I'm taking this morning off and i do want to go outside and plant some over due for planting plants in the herb garden area -- plants i bought for the area delimited by the front room wall and the front porch where i ripped out the azaleas. That spot is very much in the way of people working on the porch though.

I also should call about the lumber i need for the railings and order the handrail cap.

In therapy this week -- i look at my scribbled notes -- Collapse )
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Exhausted (quaker notes, justice, garden, 354)


* read journal entries from Feb 2020 and reflected on upcoming birthday as anniversary of the end of pre-covid life
* pruned apple trees,
* put the cover on the greenhouse,
* prepared and ran meeting for business,
* read the first three Girl Genius novels,
* ...all accompanied by the masons putting the stone veneer over the foundation for the steps and the porch. So sawing sounds of brick and stone and the vague discomfort of others about the place.

Monday was gloom until the late afternoon, a meeting kept me from going outside. Tuesday the masons finally finished on a lovely day. I kept thinking they were about done, so hovered, and they didn't finish until just before 8 pm. Yesterday i did get outside and managed to jam up the chipper with my first branches: the exit flap stuck and now all the chips are packed around the fly wheel. That's a disassembly job. I manage to find new failure modes on the chipper all the time, it seems. I think it's me, not the chipper, but arrgghh.

Gas powered equipment and i.... My thought goes back to around 1993ish when i bought my first spark plug gap measure widget and set out to figure out how to do maintenance on the Bonneville myself. Then the Bonneville was stolen. With the insurance payout i bought my first computer that had, if i recall correctly, a massive gigabyte drive. All in all, a good trade. I'm getting a little training now.

I'm carrying some racial equity concerns for Meeting. A fair question was raised about an action, and we are going to use a process to get clarity. I recognize that there's a great deal of eye rolling from others with our bothering to think through the implications. I'm hoping that this process isn't divisive but an honest exercise. Three of us, including the curmudgeon, have some experience with wider Quakerdom (i'd be the least experienced of the three of us). The fourth is earnestly progressive, so i don't think the process headaches i've had will be an issue. Since the curmudgeon and the person who brought it up both have some experience with the divisiveness i think they are cautious.

"I believe it is acceptable for communities of dominant cultures to expend resources, take time, to evaluate impact of their actions with respect to marginalized communities. This is a skill set that needs to be exercised and practiced; if we can practice on a small stage it will help us be effective in the wider world. I also recognize that may be no single right action that makes all potential parties content: our choice to to engage in this process may itself be contentious. There is a time constraint that limits how long we may effectively labor on this, so the possibility of the slow transformation of our understanding into unity is not a tool at our disposal."

Working through that (on Thursday morning) helped me set the agenda for tonight (Friday's) meeting.
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Saturday morning (weather, garden)

It's gloriously lovely outside. The sun was surprisingly high in the sky: we're just over 11 hours of light. We've been 12 mostly gloomy days (a few clear mornings) and the sun is rising probably 20 minutes earlier than it was at the beginning of this stretch of gloom. (Bah, next weekend, which i was thinking of as a long birthday weekend, looks gloomy again.)

I've four freshly rooted sweet potato vines that i'd clipped from cuttings i took this fall a couple weeks ago. Four more original cuttings seem OK, although i don't see any new growth -- they'd need to sprout a new "branch" to have new growth. The Thai basil has survived, it's pot with built in saucer has cracked though. The large footprint of the pot takes up half a growing tray. The plant may be evicted. A similar pot holds lemon grass that has survived Marlow's morning gnawings. I think it could manage in the living room if i want to reclaim the space at the window for starting seeds. The Malabar spinach has not grown much into the fancy vine support i bought for it, but it has set a fruit (small berry) that is ripening.

Daffodils are sprouting....
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Another day of February gloom (morning writing, health, weather)

Despite my feeling i did nothing yesterday, as i wallowed in a sense of malaise post a rare night of insomnia, i did manage to clear out my inbox. I'm pretty sure it was because in my state of reduced energy it was easy to delete things and to declare other messages too old to bother with. I am not the correspondent i want to be.

Another day of gloom today, which i will fight with the sun lamp and by doing steps with the garden tub step in the bathroom. I think the teeny bit of exercise last night helped. I should do more.

I think we had less threatening weather last night than forecast. It seems temperatures hovered at 33°F -- no ice this morning. I hope the rest of the country's power grid recovers quickly, and that clean water returns to peoples' homes.
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(health, weather)

We are at the extreme edge of the second storm, totally missed out on the first. When i went out around 9:30 am i could hear a clattering sound from the wind in the pines: i think we did accumulate a little ice. But now it's just pouring rain as it hovers at 33°F.

Last night i spoke to my sister who was in disaster preparedness mode last night, and i was scoffing: it was in the 40s until 1 am. Tonight we have a risk of power loss, so i'll ensure a little preparation. I note if we were to loose power it is just at freezing and will warm up tomorrow. I do recognize that repairs will lag, given the national demand. Mainly, i realize i should have been starting the generator periodically. We should be able to get gas for it in a power outage situation, so, again, i think we are appropriately prepared. (Probably need to get gas soon anyhow for the chipper and the wheeled weed whacker.)

I had insomnia last night, which is a blessedly rare event for me. All Wednesday i wasn't feeling particularly well, and i had hid the whole evening in an e-book from the library (Dabos, Christelle. A Winter’s Promise. Translated by Hildegarde Serle. The Mirror Visitor Quartet 1). Tuesday night i had a back spasm. I suspect that if i do some exercise or yoga tonight i will sleep well.

I've been thinking back to a year ago and that's been disorienting. I've skimmed through last February's entries.

Hysterical giggles at, "I think the news of US politics and the coronavirus have become a monotonous relentlessness, that has deadened my curiosity. " -- Feb 14, 2020. Oh dear.

I also note, "I'm not feeling great, a miasma that is emotional, physical, and cognitive. I will try and write about good things." -- Feb 11, 2020 Am i just allergic to February?
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small talk (weather, cooking, quaker notes)

The custard over the ladyfingers is a hit, so yay. Maybe i will make something like that for my Dad, who loves banana pudding. (Baked is still far more appealing than mixing on the stove, although i think i might have a microwave recipe for an eggy-pudding.) I'm sorry there were no photos. It was a little flat: i think the ladyfingers absorbed plenty of the custard themselves.

The retreat went well. I have some clarity on my sense of working with Friends, and i also have some questions about whether i have become even more intolerant of being around people with the pandemic. I am a little concerned about how hard returning to society will be for me. Not that i was that much in society, but so much even less so now. I certainly react with, "Do not want" at the thought of going to meeting. (There is an ache for the drive and the plants i would see, i note.)

We have warm wet Gulf air buffering us from the winter storm. Christine is heart broken, because she misses winter, years in California she missed winter, should be getting winter here, but no. If she has comfort with Melissa being here today, we'll have the windows open. And i think we'll have sunshine, first since the 8th. We've got rivers at flood stage across the state. I do hope that the rain has been spread out enough that it's long stretches of rivers at floodstage and not a high crest that go past flood stage to severe flooding down in the coastal plain.
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Trifle (random, cooking)

I've taken some time off, mainly because i am exhausted, and Saturday and Sunday i am involved with an online retreat.

Because i am involved Saturday and Sunday, i am making my Valentine's gift of a dessert for Christine on Friday night. I've lined a pie pan with ladyfingers, around the edge with the little arched ends, and brushed them all down with syrup from a can of Amarena Black Cherries. Oh, Amarena cherries, so potent and flavor-filled! Then i've mixed a baked vanilla custard up, poured it over, and it's baking. Some of the ladyfingers floated. Ah, well.

The cherries came to mind as a Valentine's gift - decadent, red, sweet, uncommon but also no risk on getting not quite right -- and were ordered from Amazon. And then, as i realized there was no shopping trip ahead, i ordered Italian ladyfinger cookies. I had pondered whether i would use sweetened and flavored Greek yogurt as a creamy thing, but the custard seemed like it would please Christine more.

As i was preparing this, i thought of banana pudding, which in the south involves vanilla wafers. 'Nilla wafers are, kinda sorta like ladyfingers.  What was the proto custard cookie/biscuit desert? Was it before packaged cookies at the store? Tiramisu, it seems comes from the 1960s. In Google's ngrams, custard is far more common than cookie until 1964, pudding isn't surpassed until 1982. The linked article about banana pudding mentions trifle, and wikipedia's trifle history references the early 1800s as when the custardy creamy dish incorporated cookies, precisely "macaroons or ratafia biscuits." This history has the mid-1700s as when the baked good gets added.

Anyhow, i hope mine's edible. I cooked it in a water bath and it seemed done, but after cooling it seemed it might be uncooked in the middle. So, i cooked it some more. Very vanilla-y rubber, perhaps.

I did not grow up with these deserts, not that i remember. We had cookies, at Christmas and after school. Cakes with icing, ice cream, occasional pies.... Maybe Jello. I think any inclination for creamy desert was met with ice cream. Custards and puddings are things i'm discovering as an adult.
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Therapy yesterday (therapy notes, critter watch, bird notes, cats, dawg, work)

I'm not sure where therapy is headed, except in a few months my therapist is leaving the insurance group, Collapse )
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Yesterday, I saw another another hawk, this one a red-tail, just outside my work window at noon yesterday. They perched for several minutes, turning on the perch, allowing me plenty of time to look at the feather patterns and both sides of the tail. Then they glided into the garden, ate something, and then flew off. After eating i walked a bit outside and heard two hawks calling to each other. Spring is in the air.

Also on the walk i noticed more daffodils sprouting and a clump of star of Bethlehem leaves near the driveway. I guess it's time to go looking for bluets.

In the early evening, coyotes called over a chorus of frogs. I suspect that the hawk had found a frog or toad in the garden, given the audible activity.

Marlowe is collarless this morning, much hissy-fit between her and Edward. And i moved Luigi on top of the hassock so that Edward can't bite him.

Yesterday evening, as in other evenings recently, Carrie is crawling up on Christine's shoulder when they are on the couch. Internet says either "aww, luv" or "dog is demonstrating she thinks she's dominant, nip in bud!" We discussed: not sure we are ready to go full pack theory. She's also licking her lips (internet says sign of anxiety) and trembling. Hound dogs are so different from shepherds.

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There was a slight unpleasantness at work with someone taking my behavior to my boss. I'm pretty sure it was (probably unconscious) retaliation for not backing down. If A is going to work as discussed B must be done*; B won't be done until May. But the Someone doesn't want to wait months and months. So Someone will do a partial solution that can be done without A. Then, 45 minutes into the meeting i called, we returned to my topic. At the end of the meeting, Someone wanted to know when the next step that i needed to do would be done. Not for two weeks was my answer, and when i was pressed to give a solid date, i balked.

After hearing that Someone complained to my boss about not getting a when i felt shame -- until a few hours had passed and i realized that Someone had signaled that the work was of little consequence (having postponed the meeting once, having derailed the topic in the meeting for something else). If Someone had called the meeting and was driving the work, i am sure i would have behaved differently. My boss said he didn't think i was in the wrong, given the whole context. I didn't say i thought it was retaliation, but we did discuss Someone's snit over the delay.

* It is true that A can potentially be hacked with baroque programming that leaves possibilities for security gaps, but the division leadership we are in has made it clear that that sort of "debt" is not going to be supported. AND the person i was engaged with would NEVER agree to their team doing such a hack. So "doing it wrong for speed's sake" is not on the table.
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