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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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Last day in Ohio [Jun. 22nd, 2018|07:02 am]
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Rain fell yesterday as we went out to dinner, and this is the one time in recent travels that i did not carry an umbrella. The gathering was of a large team of folks, most of whom i have not worked with. The are the support team for a product i used to work on, and three of the four were ex-military with one a staff sergeant with a lovely tale of a "butterbar" lieutenant being taken down some notches and another a Navy seal. The culture change in support is interesting: i knew librarians who used to be in the role and to see how it's switched to a job in which ex-military thrive says something. I'm glad to see veterans with good gigs, to be clear, but wistfully think back to a different more academic culture.

As we left, the rain came down in buckets.

No elephants have troubled the homefront this trip, and that's been wonderful. Hard to tell if it was an absence of triggers or if my absence was not a trigger, or, in other terms, if previous trips away just unfortunately coincided with triggers and my absence wasn't the cause. Ah, correlations - so hard to tease out causation.

Christine and i have been discussing the orchard ground preparation and apparently she's made friends with the hardware store rental clerk who has sharpened our chain saw so many times. While getting the car inspected she dropped by and chatted with the clerk, showing photos of the results of their saw efforts. Apparently they got into a tiller conversation and have identified a rental tiller that would churn a broader swathe than my dad's tiller that has an aura of seeing better days about it.

I had pondered getting someone with a small tractor or renting a Toro Dingo with a cultivator attachment to take care of the area, but the presence of a box turtle that a fencing contractor suggested would be laying eggs has led me to be completely perplexed about how to manage the soil. I've corresponded with a herpetologist who says the eggs are buried 3-6 inches deep and hatch in 60 to 90 days. The herpetologist suggested that 60 days may be more correct for NC in the email i read this morning, which would be just in time for me to get grass seed down at a good time.

I really want to get ahead of the bloody chickweed which has carpeted areas each winter after we get them cleared. The problem with chickweed (non-native) is that it shades out anything that might out compete the stilt grass in the spring. There could be this mono"culture" of chickweed to stilt grass to chickweed, and i want to break the cycle with flowers and grasses.

I'm ready to go home to Christine and Carrie and Edward and Luigi and Greycie Loo -- who i noticed seeming less strong before i left and Christine has noticed also failing to leap effortlessly into chairs. She's only eleven, i hope we can figure out what is wrong.

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Summer Solstice [Jun. 20th, 2018|09:02 pm]

Happy Summer Solstice, in some hours from now.

My travel to Ohio has been, so far, uneventful. I read Neogenesis, twenty first book in thr Liaden universe series, late into last night and then finished it when i got into the hotel tonight. I then went through my "books to get" tags to look for other things to read and checking to see if Overdrive, the eBook library site, had any of them. I'll probably buy an eBook set in Bujold's World of the Five Gods tomorrow.

I seemed doomed when it comes to shoes, which is probably due to essentially wearing slippers or flip flops and doing most of my walking in yard shoes. I thought the nice pair of thong sandals would be essentially the same as the flip flops i've been wearing for a few months -- but the little bits rubbed raw on the top of my foot beg to differ. (Nothing like the blister from Baltimore!)

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Party with the parents [Jun. 17th, 2018|06:44 am]
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I indulged Christine and my mother for a father's day celebration at the city-prices seafood restaurant in Pittsboro in the old post office. Dad would be delighted to eat out of a concrete block shack off of newspaper on a picnic table, but i do think the food is well cooked at the Postal Fish Company. Everyone but myself ordered the shrimp, which are North Carolina coast shrimp, and all seemed pleased. I ordered a dinner, substituting potato salad for dirty (sausagy) rice as the side for the cat fish. Also, the key lime pie and blue berry buckle were just divine.

Anyhow, the miracle of allowing us to pay the bill occurred, so there's that. I think my parents enjoyed being treated? I hope so.

It's the second time of our three visits to the restaurant that we've been sat in the rock wall corner. I promise i will remember to make reservations in advance and ask NOT to be sat in the impossible-to-hear zone. I like the coziness of the corner, but what with the rock walls and the polished concrete floor, no one could hear a thing.

Morning was yard work. The hippy dude came by to talk about the fencing and wasted at least 45 minutes of our 75 min chatting. I got the pitch to put sealer on our siding again, to which, NO. His fence design has a less than well designed cat fence solution. I think his solution for the front facing part of the fence might be more attractive than the fencing company guys. I'm really not excited about either team.

I told the grading guys i would chip the tree tops and we could keep the logs of the sweet gums they cut down. Christine was not pleased with that decision and looking at the mound of poison ivy intermixed branches stripped by machine from the trees.... well it would have been far more aesthetic not to have this mess dumped in the meadow. Also, the logs are much longer than 8' and thus Christine was out trying to cut them into manageable lengths. I don't want her to feel she has to do that, but she's so irritated by the jumbled pile that one can see when one drives up: she wants it out of sight.

I tried getting some of the berms ready to plant in by piling the clods on the sides and evening out the tops. I encountered one very large black spider that creeped me out to no end and one black toad who should find the clods a good home once some plants are growing. I collected one wheelbarrow full of roots and graded a short stretch of path between the berms. There were some large roots in that path from a massive stump i didn't want pulled up, and thus there was a little drainage issue to address. I dug a drain under the root and lined the tiny drain with rocks, covered it with more rocks and hopefully created my own little culvert.

The hard clay in that path area seems unlikely to EVER sustain any higher plant life and i think it's too sunny for the moss that is under the dogwood at the head of the path-ette. I grow curious: do i have enough woody matter to chip enough chips for our landscape?

I'd like very much to work outside today, but 10-noon and later is Meeting and Meeting for Business, and i have to leave for the airport at 6 pm. Both time slots i should not be a sweaty, stinky, clay-covered thing.

Summer is here. Ugh.

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(no subject) [Jun. 15th, 2018|09:25 am]
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The stupid mouth discomfort is frustrating. I might still have low-for-me iron, as the blood test came back with a value that falls between the value when i had the diagnosis of low and the value measured some time after that when i was "better."

Therapy on Wednesday was interesting: my therapist says she notices me being much more vulnerable in the last few sessions as i taper off the SSRI. I know i am going slowly and it's helping me acclimate to having much more reactive emotions. Still not noticing highs, more affected by frustration and sadness. But maybe, maybe, i will want connection with people more?

I did have an insight about work and how i am no longer really "on a team." I think i miss that. Being remote doesn't help.


In yard news, OH EM GEEEE! The cleared orchard area is amazing. The rapid removal of stumps that had become little sign-posts, reminders of clearing one thicket or another, the weather at the time, anxiety-causing hangups of trees in other trees.... I could still see limit of where the goats worked, where i had cast down fescue seed the first winter. All of those markers are gone: it's just a rich red clay swathe, with a little island around the triple-trunked massive tulip poplar and a dogwood.

I remember when that tree seemed far back in the woods -- i thought it was three trees. I remember the revelation of the base of the tree, fighting through honeysuckle and autumn olive.

There are swale and berms just uphill from the house. The berms are made up of buried sweetgum trunks from the two massive trees we had the father and son team cut down. It's all very rough because the guys just do everything with their equipment, as if they were wearing transformer suits to haul and dig and pull. Watching them encased in their equipment as they pulled the poison ivy out of the tree, i think back to all the honeysuckle i've thrown my full weight against and failed to budge.

Between now and my trip to Ohio, i want to broadcast buckwheat seed and rake out the berms.

The other thing they did for us was dig the rain garden, a basin with down-slope berms for runoff from the downspouts that are in a poor place for rain barrels. One of the most surprising parts of planning this garden is finding recommendations for plants for rain gardens that other sites say want dry soil. I assume this has to do with the feast or famine (flood or drought) quality of a sand filled clay basin. I'm also curious about definitions of shady, as i see blue eyed grass listed as for a shady rain garden. Given where i found blue eyed grasses this year, i wouldn't call it shady, at all.

Yesterday, driving home from getting my blood drawn, i stopped at a garden supply place and arranged to have 54 cubic feet of sand and 54 cubic feet of ground pine delivered and poured into the hole they dug. After work, i tried to mix the sand and "compost" as best as i could and smooth it out. I worry there's too little "compost" but i followed the extension agency instructions. I've buried the giant litter pan we used for the cross country trip to act as a reservoir for the two plants i have ready: a pitcher plant and a cranberry. I've not purchased the rest of the plants for the area, which i want to be themed in blue.

In pet news, Carrie has discovered there is room enough in the bed for her to crawl in next to me. Unfortunately, she also startles and jumps away every time i stir. This then wakes me. And then she jumps back in the bed. I suspect this means she'll sleep in my spot while i am in Ohio and it's going to be entertaining when i get back.

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My brain, not working [Jun. 13th, 2018|12:00 pm]
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SO, i'll try to write until it is
Muddled mumblingsCollapse )

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Driving up to the house, two years later [Jun. 12th, 2018|10:05 am]
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Driving up our blue gravel driveway, the tunnel of green is still crowded to the driver's left by autumn olive arching into the drive. A pedestrian might notice the white perfumed flowers of spotted wintergreen low to the pine-needle covered ground and the sensitive ferns and clumps of sedge transplanted to the right side of the driveway from the orchard-to-be. The drive forks, where we will eventually have a sign that says "Go This Way" posted, so people will follow the fork to the right instead of going straight. The fork has a copse of trees, with fading daffodil leaves, violets, a clump of ferns and moss (also transplanted) that make the point of the egg- or teardrop-shaped driveway island.

In front of the driver is our garage, weathered cedar siding like the rest of our home, with dingy fiberglass garage doors down or up and revealing a space crowded with moving boxes and yard equipment. One or both of our vehicles would be parked in front of the garage. If the driver paused, they would be under the shade of one of the black walnuts. To the right of the house there's a meadow with what appears to be a traditional split rail fence (but none of the rails are split) and tall grasses beyond. That's what was the overgrown septic field. Daisies bloomed in May, and i've hope for bright blossoms from the bee balm later this summer. Right now it's seed heads of fescue drying.

And there's a giant chicken sculpture.

The purple blossoms of the crepe myrtle might lead one to mark the (also dingy) white plastic fence surrounding the back yard. The concrete riser for the septic system and a pile of gravel are also there in an expanse of mown green.

In a month or so, i'm hoping the green weeds to the right of the driveway reveal flowers. A Jerusalem artichoke has a fat bud this morning and the sword shaped leaves of gladiola spear out from other greenery. I've planted zinnas and sunflowers and lots of other plants.

If the driver continued round the island, they'd simply see a jungle of greenery in the round part of the island punctuated by a metal sculpture of a bumble bee. They might notice the few white yarrow blooming. Walking, one might notice the single spiderwort's blue blossoms or a yellow coreopsis bloom, and the stump with a rain gauge resting on top. I suspect most of the plants in the native flower mix i planted there last winter will require another year before they bloom. And the phlox i planted in the foreground have been well dined on by deer.

A brick walk to the front door is separated from the driveway by a small mossy ditch and some shrubs. The ditch, lined with local rock, disappears under the the drive.

Many drivers just stop here. It's reasonable for a delivery driver to sprint up the walk in the shade of the magnolia, up the wood stairs, and to plop the packaged down on the red concrete floor of the porch between the blue-green chairs before sprinting away. But there's a parking space on the other side of the walk way and the circle of the drive is wide enough that one can pull to one side or the other to park and allow others to pass. I just don't understand just parking in the middle of the drive. Brother N--, i'm looking at you.

Waiting on the porch, a visitor might take in the the little courtyard area bounded by the kitchen window, garage wall, and sheltered by the saucer magnolia. Three long haired cat sculptures in concrete, each a slightly different color, are congregated among ferns and violets. The wider yard -- one end of the raised herb garden, the tulip poplar with the large green leafy growth of the bears foot plant, the garden plot beyond with corn, poppies and onions blooming, and the mysterious pole with white guidelines, more crepe myrtles and a bed of flowers with a few lilies -- gold and burgundy -- blooming as well as something yellow. At this distance, one can't really make out the safflower plants, just the bright yellow tuft at the tip of each thistle-like flower.

--== ∞ ==--

Meanwhile, i can hardly talk today. Joy. I wrote to my doctor to see about getting a blood test for any particular deficiencies.

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(no subject) [Jun. 12th, 2018|08:14 am]

So happy to wake to handshake photos.

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(no subject) [Jun. 11th, 2018|07:58 am]

- i have an ulcer on my tongue. I am trying not to project out two weeks of misery. It will probably clear up in a day or so.

- i am worried about whether i have enough spoons to share with Christine for the next three weeks: we theoretically have land clearing this week and are uncertain what that will entail. Probably NOTHING but Christine is anxious and now i am too, so it looms over this week. Then i go to Ohio, which is fine but will be hard on Christine. And then the week i come back i'm having women from Meeting over. And i'm all aware that our home is a cozy nest for two and we are barely practiced having one person over let alone a mystery number.

Anyhow, it's silly anxiety and it will all be fine, but i'm a-dither.

- i used a sling blade on overgrowth -- evil stilt grass-- yesterday. It was extremely effective and quite a work out and -- so sore. I got discouraged about planting any seed in the area i cleared assuming it is so dry, then we got a quarter inch of rain last night. Be bold, self, be bold! Something will hang around in the seed bank to fight the stilt grass.

- Carrie jumped into bed with us last night when the storm came through. She was quite possibly trained NOT to get into bed in her previous life because when one of us move our feet under the covers she skedaddles away.

It's always delightful to find spell check has colloquialisms like "skedaddles" included.

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(no subject) [Jun. 10th, 2018|09:08 am]
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Yesterday we met with fence guy #2. Fence guy #1 seems mostly intent on giving us what we asked for, not improving on it. Fence guy #2 seems mostly intent on asking us to take the cat requirement out of the picture. On the other hand, once we gave him a consulting fee, he's going to do some research.

I suspect my cover crop of buckwheat will bloom before we have a fence. (Buckwheat is a quick cover crop, so that's not an exaggeration. I figure i'll seed by the end of the week, then it's 35 to 40 days.

We now have a hen named Alice. Alice is 5' 4" tall and made in Mexico. We named her Alice because my niece was with us on Friday when we picked the sculpture out at the fantastic little shop French Connection. (Should be "African, Mexican, and French Connection" as most of the interior is filled with African arts and crafts, the yard is filled with Mexican metal work, and then there are bolts of fantastic French textiles, tablecloths, napkins and tea towels from Provance.) The hen is named Alice (Cooper) since school's out for summer for niece E.

Last night's dinner included a salad foraged from the garden. In a few weeks i'll have tomatoes to add, but we had loose leaf and romaine lettuces (Parris Island Romaine is my hero), slivers of purple cabbage, slivers of the tiny carrots which are yellowish, slivers of tiny deep red beets, and slices of the tiny chioggia beets. The purple cabbage isn't as deep as grocery store red cabbage, but has a fascinating coloration with green and purple and -- i can't recall the technical term for the hazy blue cast that some leaves have? The cabbages seem to be almost making heads in the garden. Apparently phosphorous would encourage this (soil is deficient) as well as water and cool temperatures (yea, so going from cold to hot without a real spring is no help).

The carrots and beets make me aware that i really need to get more organic matter in the soil if i am ever going to have large root vegs.

I went through my seeds and have identified some packets to find places to plant. The squash (Tromboncino, that can be eaten like a summer squash as well as a winter squash), melon (Minnesota Midget), and (finally sprouting) nasturtium seem to be coming along. I think i will seed some crookneck squash where some herbs seem to have failed to sprout. Last night i put in a few cucumbers.

Plants are on sale at the garden stores. I bought four "bulbs" of "Cheyenne Spirit" Echinacea purpurea. I would have preferred "PowWow" (which is from the same breeder), but this bag of roots is less than the single plants i saw for sale. I also picked up a cranberry plant (with cranberries!) for the rain garden. I haven't had a marigold germinate yet, so i picked up two very sad 6-packs. There were some other sad plants as well, and everything looks much happier well watered and in the air conditioning. I hope they forgive me when i plant them outside.

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Retrospective timeline [Jun. 7th, 2018|08:30 am]
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Yesterday's reorg had me staring at the note in which i keep track of corporate changes. I apparently started the note in July of 2014 when the effects of new executive leadership at where i work, "The Whale," had reached a crescendo. I realize i needed a time line. This has been incredibly helpful to me since then, and i've added as much detail as i could tracking back to when the merger of "The Minnow" and "The Whale" occurred in 2006. I find myself wanting to add some other dates.

And then i thought that, while a number of you have shared the journey with me, many of you missed some of these adventures. So i thought i'd share here.

Cut for lengthCollapse )
So, here we are.

Not all of that reflection was about "the elephant in the room," but part of what inspired this was for me to get a sense of how long this elephant has been hanging around as well as how long i was in the crisis that put me on antidepressants to begin with.

I think Christine has made a great deal of progress out of her crisis. Admittedly, after this much time, "crisis" is no longer really a good term. Some time back i did accept to myself that this is a long term condition. I do see improvement though, and i see her making great efforts to cope. The most hard thing, i think, is that she wakes with panic attacks more often than not. She has changed from a CPAP to the more fancy thing (heated! humidified! variable pressure!) which has a little bit of improvement, but the change didn't solve the issue.

There are things left out -- my time line of involvement in Quaker meetings stands out as something significant. My Dad's surgery is important because it came just before i my body seemed to hit middle age. There are a number of things about my health -- when did i do the diet exclusion test? When were various therapists? -- but i actually think those are in another file. My siblings' marriages, their children's birth, deaths of Christine's father and my grandfather -- those are important markers, too.

What this does, though, it take some events that have duration -- the process of coming out and how long before Christine had confirmation surgery, my work misery, her crisis -- and helps me see how my sense of duration is so skewed.

--== ∞ ==--

So if i keep journaling here for another eighteen years, i will have documented half my life on LiveJournal and its descendant DreamWidth. LJ was launched nineteen years ago. (I was actually blogging on geocities in 1999. No one read it, but i was writing there.)

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Forgot to mention... [Jun. 6th, 2018|03:47 pm]
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The mother rabbit has been visiting the nest, so all the unmolested bunnies are OK. The one i returned to the nest that i hope wasn't injured had opened its eyes and stood up in the basket, so i suspect its siblings are close to beginning to explore on their own. I hope the one that survived Edward is able to move out of the nest as well.

Reorg at work today: it felt like all the development leadership when i joined the company had been moved out with a particular lay off, but a quick look at the org chart revealed that the folks who are involved with leading the data side are many long term folks. I suppose the application side is more visible at the executive level. The data is like the engine of the car, but the user interfaces are like the car body that gets all the attention. Same engine just gets move to a new body. Meanwhile engine improvements just keep happening.

I'm on half a dose of the SSRI i have been on since hitting bottom during the reign of the "New Director". I'm not sure about the change. Frustratingly, i have failed to log my state through much of May and so i don't have much data about distractability to compare with before making a med change. I can do a nice organization of the data, though, so if i HAD been keeping records i'd be able to review.

Recommendation: airtable.com It's a web-hosted spreadsheet that also has forms. I suppose google tables might do the same thing, but this "freemium" service isn't supported by ads.

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Sour sour [Jun. 5th, 2018|11:30 am]
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Yesterday i drank most of my water with a dash of slightly sweetened oregano vinegar. (I haven't added enough sugar to really think of it as a shrub). It's a bit like adding lemon juice in the level of tartness. The oregano comes through lightly. I didn't add so much sugar to the vinegar because i think it might be good in a sauce or dressing.

Last night we bought insulated grocery bags and packed our cold things in those and ate out after our grocery shopping. We went to a beer and burger place that has several vegetarian burger types (one quinoa, one black bean) as well as fish and crab burgers. We both had decadent cheese dishes. We've started eating at the bar there, and so i order a beer. I ordered "Sweetwater Tropical Lover," a Berliner Weisse style beer (says the menu).

I enjoyed the tangy taste but there was something familiar.... and then i realized that the vinegar flavoring in my water all day was what resonated.

When we got home, i took Carrie on a short walk down the grave road opposite our home. At the end, Carrie was greeted by dogs T-- and C--- with the usual raucous barking. Sa-- stopped mowing and came over to let me know that their neighbor is "freaked out" by the barking, and could we not bring Carrie all the way down the road. I will certainly comply, as it is their road, but i am a little taken aback. Does this mean we can contact all our neighbors with guns and let them know that shooting distresses us? I actually looked up the noise ordinance once, i think i concluded it was unlikely Carrie's barking would break the ordinance.

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Rabbit's nest [Jun. 4th, 2018|01:15 pm]
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Wow, rabbit nests are SMALL. Cut for carnivoryCollapse )

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(no subject) [Jun. 4th, 2018|06:53 am]
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In a shocking turn of affairs -- i worked outside all yesterday. Yeah, i know, not surprising at all. I used the bag on the chipper and stayed attentive, thus i didn't jam the system. I almost did one time. It certainly made it easier to use the chips and shreds in the garden. Much of the chipping and shredding was of rose of Sharon that was taken down in December: the fibers from the shredding were rather fluffy and reminded me that hemp is in the mallow family.

I sniffed the black walnut drops in vodka and compared to the vodka: i think i am going to like this infusion. It's less than a week, and it's already far more appealing than vodka. I have made sage and oregano vinegars. Not enough sugar to be shrub-ready because i thought i might want to use the vinegars for something other than drinking. I don't cook with oregano that often and it's gone wild in the garden. Sage, though, i enjoy, and a splash in seltzer was a lovely drink last night.

I noticed the first exploratory runner from the mint i bought from Richters. It's supposed to be wintergreen flavored, but i'm not picking up on that note. Horseradish is doing well, but the tarragon has been nibbled or something.

In the afternoon i burned the pile of vines. It was hard to get the fire started, but with half the paper from our recycling bin and everything from the shredder it finally got going. While attending the fire i found more partridgeberry, so One Last Rescue from the orchard-to-be, with the partridgeberry, another sensitive fern, more Christmas ferns, and moss. After putting out the fire i went through the area with round-up, feeling sad about the ferns and sedges but really wanting to do in the invasive stilt grass, Persicaria longiseta (Oriental Lady's-thumb), and honeysuckle, as well as the poison ivy, Virgina creeper, and grape vines.

There, looking at the diversity of plants i intend to plant in the orchard area helps me feel less monstrous in my eradication efforts.

In lessons learned, i really should have thinned the breadseed poppies. The largest of the volunteers, at five feet tall, is still blooming and has many fat pods. The ones i planted have single tiny blooms at a foot high and are falling over.

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Summer Saturday [Jun. 3rd, 2018|07:59 am]
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In homeowner woes, the garage door has broken--metal fatigue--so the power opener no longer works. It may be motivation to replace the bottom-of-the-line garage door with something that suits us better. I'm imaging reducing the opening to that of a one car garage and having someone build carriage doors with windows that open. I don't think we will ever actually use it as a garage, and the previous owner installed enough cabinets and that it would be hard to use it as a two car garage. We do want to use it as a workshop-studio. I'd imagined walling it off completely with windows -- it's a northern exposure -- but i couldn't quite visualize it agreeing with the rest of the house. More weathered cedar and windows that look like the other windows though would be very agreeable.

We are ready for the guys to get the stumps out and grade the orchard except for one burn pile of vines, which resisted one attempt at burning. I'm thinking i'm just going to douse the pile with gas. I feel guilty but it's wet. I chipped the last piles in the orchard area yesterday, and Christine carried a stack of four foot logs to the glade, where we installed a zig-zag fence. These are pioneer fences made by just stacking wood, traditionally split rails, still to be seen up along the Blue Ridge parkway. The one i made near the meadow is less aesthetic right now because i'm also stacking extra wood along its length in preparation of more zig-zag fencing under the walnut where we currently have a pile of stumps.

Once that pile is gone and the grading complete, i will be making a two year achievement image: i look back on an early panorama of the west side of the house and note just how much work we have done to reclaim the area from overgrowth.

Yesterday afternoon we went out and saw Solo and then went to REI. Solo was delightful, althought i remember the moment when i realized Read more...Collapse ). For Reasons™ we will be seeing it again with friends -- plans that firmed up while we were in the theater. I won't mind. REI I bought hiking boots for walking Carrie: ankle support and nice new springy footbeds. I'll continue to wear the shoes without ankle support to work in the mud. While we were out there was an hour power outage and 1.34 inches of rain. Christine worries that it will never dry out enough for Eddie the Grader to come visit.

I also made spearmint syrup and beet shrub. A deer has discovered my garden and nibbled down the peanuts, beans, and hibiscus. Fie. I think the beans may have had enough of a head start that they might actually survive. I'll spray the Plantskydd around today.

I'm going to skip Meeting today. I so want to make progress outside chipping the pile under the walnut. The more i chip, the less we pay to be hauled, the more chips i have for mulch.

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Walnuts, continued [Jun. 1st, 2018|08:54 am]

I started an attempt at unspiced nocino yesterday with June drop walnuts. I quartered the small nuts and found that most had a brown interior, but some looked quite good. I don't know if i've got an insect (i didn't see the crescent entrance the black walnut pest, the curculio, makes). I'll keep collecting the dropped nuts -- maybe they go brown inside after falling. Other causes are that the embryo didn't form or the tree was stressed. It's possible the long dry spell and then the very wet spell was stressful.

I'm going to still make a batch with the six i can reach: those i will peel as some recipes advise, and then i can see the difference. I'll leave the spices out because i do have a suspicion that the flavor might just be from the spices. So this year, get a sense of the nut flavor in the alcohol. There seem to be plenty of other things people make though, like black walnut ketchup.

Anything other than dealing with the ripened nut's iron shell.

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Technological Indulgance [May. 30th, 2018|07:30 am]
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On the weighing heavily on me list: elephants, humidity, overcast skies. Less heavy, but in mind: therapy and the discussion regarding the word "lazy." Procrastination on filing receipts at work. And a need to schedule travel.

In the lightness column: blister is much less uncomfortable and less weepy.

In the greatest entertainment news: bunnies! I noticed rabbits racing around at 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday and they continued until after 5 pm. I think i would have noticed them before this if this is usual behavior. I did notice herbivory on the lettuce when i returned from Baltimore so perhaps they were around last week. It still seems like a sudden invasion. The deer are out in the late afternoon as well.

My cell phone has been cranky about charging, probably due to me being not gentle enough with the micro USB plugs. I know that i could get a new phone, but i'd rather wait until the next release to upgrade. I've made it this far with the screen damage from Carrie teething on it: i'd like to make it longer.

So yesterday's distraction was purchasing a wireless Qi charger for the phone. And, because of the additional annoyances i have with charging i bought the wirecutter-recommended 4-outlet USB charge adapter and some appropriate cables. This should slightly ease travel in mid June. In Baltimore i found myself trying different adapters in different outlets looking for a combination that would reliably charge the iPad. I'm hoping this adapter will cope with phone (USB A to micro to Qi), laptop (USB A to USB C), iPad (USB A to lightning), and watch (USB A to micro to Qi, but NOT the same Qi that the phone uses because that would be too simple).

My favorite shopping discovery was a four USB port adapter with a built in watch charger and the warning to only charge three things at a time or risk overheating. I'm assuming this was discovered AFTER going to market....

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(no subject) [May. 27th, 2018|07:00 am]
I can see six small black walnuts in reach to be preserved as green walnut liqueur. And this morning, i saw apples in the tree next to the sidewalk. Three clustered together: i think the advice is to thin by removing two so the third can grow more easily. Surely, there's something to be done with little green apples? Probably pour vodka over them, too, and let them steep an age. Hmm, maybe just throw them in with the six walnuts.

In other food news, i brought back crabcakes from Maryland. The TSA apparently lets ice packs on the plane if they are still frozen. Last night's dinner was on a bed of romaine, including from the garden, with cubes of fresh mozzarella and kalamata olives. Two slices of Italian bread were dressed with balsamic vinegar, then topped with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, tomato, and a borage blossom. In the center, broiled Maryland crabcake.

Maryland crabcake is more like a scoop of slightly dressed crab with a tiny bit of saltines than any crabcake i've ever met before. Four crabcakes were over $50, but the two meals with them have been delicious. Oh my -- to have four shipped is $150.

I walked Carrie around the tenure track last night and was careful not to cause more foot woes.Collapse )

Everything is so lush. The lawn, that weeks ago seemed a riot of various spring blooming "weeds" looks like a lush manicured lawn. There are actually "weed" grasses mixed in, but mown it's a lovely green carpet. Blackberry fruits have set and are tiny green buttons, but mulberries are ripening in overhanging trees. I nibbled on a few, the first mild and sweet, another insipid. I think Carrie tried one from the ground. I look forward to planting mulberries in the orchard.

Yesterday's yard work was haphazard in the sense that half way doing one thing, i'd need to stop and do another before moving on. haphazard details & observationsCollapse )

Other observations:

* sometime around the 20th i saw three swallows over the yard at dusk -- i don't remember seeing them before.
* tiniest box turtle in the driveway on the 24th
* the self seeded Hungarian blue breadseed poppies have almost finished blooming. I'm keeping an eye on those seed heads to collect them before birds and bugs do. (Other poppies haven't started yet.)
* saw my first day lily blooming roadside on the 26th
* almost time to harvest cover-crop radish/mustard/turnip/whatever seeds from the meadow
* the patch of daisy fleabane blooming in the glade is almost done; near the first copse and the elm at the SE corner of the house, fleabane is just beginning to bloom.
* catnip continues to grow three foot long stalks
* i picked the carrot that sprouted last fall: the outside layers had split from the core of the root. Dry weather then wet?
* cut-leaf coreopsis and borage were blooming when i got back from Baltimore (24 May)
* pitcher plant has two glorious new pitcher heads
* one of the three groundnuts (Apios americana have sprouted
* planted the sunchokes my sister gave me near the black walnut in the western flower bed
* more poppies have sprouted
* no sign of marigolds anywhere
* zinnas sprouted in the hugelkultur
* i only see wormwood sprouts in the south row of the south square now.
* Egyptian walking onion tops -- the little topsets -- are nice to cook with.

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Public service announcement: deroofed blisters [May. 25th, 2018|07:49 pm]
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When i saw the term, "deroofed blister," i knew to what it referred: the square inch area on the back of my left foot, for one.

I've bought some of the blister bandages before and thought the main point was how they apparently cushion: not so! In fact, they should only be used on "deroofed blisters" and not on nascent blisters. This time i did some reading, and found another technical term: exudate. Apparently, the hydro-colloidal bandage absorbs the exudate to create the healing environment that makes them so effective.

This post by a podiatrist explains quite nicely, using "weeping" for exudate.

Anyhow, i hope i'm treating this very weepy deroofed blister correctly now.

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Last weekend [May. 23rd, 2018|06:30 am]


Assembled the chipper & struggled to start it. I worry that i don't have the upper body strength to start the ten hp motor attached to the rather heavy flywheel. I called my dad to make sure i had the throttle in the right setting. I did, but Christine came out and showed me the choke and got it started. She went in, i chipped a few branches and the bag managed to block the output. I filled up the fan housing, and the engine seized up. Dad had jumped in the car to drive over to figure out where the choke was -- he arrived in time to help me unload the chips and shreds. I had unplugged what i thought was the spark plug but wasn't. Fortunately that safety fail didn't lead to anything but a rush of adrenaline for both of us.

We had a chat over Dad's favored beer (Bud Lite, sigh, i stock it for him), and he reflected on Mom's mental health, his worries about losing her, and (independently) his own credo regarding a creator god.

The weather is wet and humid and muggy. I didn't really feel like doing much else, so i pulled out many of the greens that have gone to seed to make way for the last attempt at starting some herb garden plants from seed. I broadcast dill and lovage and caraway again, all plants that prefer cool weather. Presumably my early spring seeding two months ago was too early for this year's long lingering winter. And then we went to a long dry spell. Anyhow, i tried again, also including horehound (again), chammomile, calendula, lemon grass, and zinnas.

However, the wormwood seeds may have sprouted, so yay.


Meeting for worship followed by a jaunt over to M&D's for a quick visit. Then home, where we got the chipper going. I didn't use the bag and obliterated two large piles of branches. One was all the branches from a good sized sweet gum Christine had cut down the previous week. Branches the size of small trees were rendered quickly. It was the brushy stuff i had lopped off of off the firewood sized branches that was hard to keep moving down the chute. I can start a warm engine, i proved.

When i get back from Baltimore, i can quickly render what's left in the orchard and move on to the pile of rose of Sharon from clearing the driveway last December. It's going to be a joy to drag this machine down the driveway clearing the autumn olive away. And, i get to learn to sharpen the knives on the thing.

I wish i had had time and opportunity to mow; i'm leaving for Baltimore for a few days and won't have a chance until Thursday night. What with the wet and warm weather, a jungle will await me on Thursday.

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Triggery [May. 18th, 2018|06:23 am]
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Long ago applications of bile and current repercussions.Collapse )

Part of the dwelling on my mom's shaping of me as a child is that i am currently wrestling with the word "lazy." What does lazy mean, any way?Collapse )

I do note that i've reduced my SSRI prescription to a roughly 60% level (alternating between a 3/4 dose and a half dose). I think that instead of tapering down again next week, i will stay at this level another week.

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A long summer weekend [May. 15th, 2018|06:43 am]

My mouth is better! Hurrah! Just in time for little points of poison ivy on my arms. It's not a large rash, but small points that look more like bug bites. I think it's poison ivy because of the tiny blisters. I continue to titrate down from the SSRI. Mostly i am noting when i get impatient and frustrated. I don't know if that's a symptom of the withdrawal or the freeing up of emotion.

I managed to take a long weekend the first four consecutive summery days of greater than 90°F. Despite sweltering, much progress was made on the orchard. trees to fell, trees left to shadeCollapse )

I had hoped the new chipper would arrive, but the heavy part apparently sat around in Raleigh all yesterday. Fie. Snarls of honeysuckle and grape vine -- that i can't imagine chipping or shredding successfully -- were burned in small pyres of long-dead wood. Another pyre is ready to be set off for the last snarls pulled from the downed treetops yesterday evening.

I rescued some sensitive ferns (two by the drive and the rest at the north west corner of the glade near rescued southern lady ferns) and partridge berry (now in a pot), and then collected a number of Christmas ferns for [personal profile] annie_r's shady lot. I also found a clump of blue eyed grass (a tiny iris) that i moved to the meadow-to-be. I moved moss and small ferns to the bottom of the copse i hope will shade the deck. The rest of the rescue work will be digging up some very nice fescue i started a few autumns ago -- and something that looks like false Solomon's seal.

I look around at every plant i can't quite identify and suspect it of being something that i would pay $10 or $20 for. I'm trying to tell myself that when we clear the thicket between the glade and the orchard of autumn olive, stilt grass, and honeysuckle, all the sedges and ferns and other plants in the seed bank will respond to the light. I don't need to rescue EVERYTHING.

I've spent much time pondering plantings. I can't plant grass until August. What to do with mud and dust?Collapse )

One of the grading tasks is making a berm - or berms - that block the flow of water from the orchard flowing down the slope to the house. I'm going to ask for the berms run east to west - more precisely than the fence lines and house lines -- and they'll bury the rotting trunk of a two foot diameter tree that was cut down before we moved here. Maybe also some of the sweetgum, too. I've grown smitten with "Pow Wow" Echinacea. There's an dramatic magenta to orange thing going on, and that's inspired my selection of colorful berm planting seeds. In general, my plant choices are driven by practical and ecological calculations, less dramatic coloration. The nine packets of seeds i've ordered are a dramatic combination to hopefully start a very showy planting.

There was more than orchard work -- family and elephants and peppers in the garden and peanuts and beans and hibiscus coming up -- but i really ought to move all my focus to work.

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(no subject) [May. 10th, 2018|07:10 am]
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Tuesday night we went out to the Radiotopia live performance in Durham, which was enjoyable. Having a late night out and another early-ish morning meeting was less so.

There's a little thread of crankiness winding through yesterday, and even this morning i don't feel entirely rested. I wanted to leave the window open last night to let cool air in. I forgot that when we sleep at 60°F thermostat settings we also have a hefty comforter on the bed. And i'm not confident the air condition didn't run either (being too tired to have the sense to turn it off). The thermostat was measuring 70°F in the hall on the other side from our bedroom and 56°F outside when i peered at it blearily this morning at 5 am.

Aside: my theory is that in the summer we should cool the place down as much as reasonable over night, when the temperature gradient is lower. Then the thermostat shifts to a set point much warmer as the sun comes up. The overnight cooling lasts well past midday, then we hold at the warmer set point.

In my wakefulness i tried to solve a frustrating problem with my phone & smart watch by disconnecting & reinstalling software. The app crashed again after all the rigamarole, so i'm not optimistic i resolved anything.

Meanwhile, a 10 HP chipper that handles 3" diameter sticks is on its way to our home. At the moment, it's due the evening of the last day of my planned long weekend of yard work, which is disappointing. On the other hand, oh, we'll have our own chipper! While the 6" diameter chipper we rented was FABULOUS, it required stashing enough wood and stuff around to make it worth our while. And that was ugly. We can stash the 3" to 6" diameter wood in woodpiles that don't look problematic and, if we decide we want to chip those, we can wait until we have enough. Or, we can just give it away -- which is what we've done with a good bit of the winter logs.

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(no subject) [May. 8th, 2018|06:50 am]

Bored, not bored. Bored, not bored.

One of the things that my therapist has pointed out is that i might be bored at work. And i was beginning to appreciate that it might be the case, when i was invited to two big planning meetings in a row. I spent a couple hours talking to the organizer before the meetings, bringing her up to speed.

One thing that strikes me is that all the things we are scheduled to plan are things i figured we'd need to implement, so i've designed our infrastructure to support them -- or i thought teams were already using existing infrastructure to support them. (*cough* Team X doesn't support that already?)

But, because everyone in the meetings hasn't spent time thinking about these things, i need to communicate succinctly the existing (or prepared but waiting on other teams) support so folks can frame their desires in the same mental model. It was a pleasure.

This pulse of activity isn't going to last, though, so finding something appropriate to do in the interim before the next pulse is on my list.

I think i'm going to take responsibility for convening an international group to work on a future visioning project. It's NOT the type of thing i would prefer as a challenge -- more management less design -- but it's intimidating and would be good networking.

I do appreciate NOT being stressed to the limit. I feel i've recovered from the burn out i had for years. I am very aware of how much work the team has done to support functionality that the company backed out of supporting and then wants yet again. When i was burnt out that made me bitter, but now i am much more at peace with the pattern. The edge of bitterness is still there, because i know how hard people have worked to deliver urgently needed functionality to find that the product team has changed their mind -- it's hard to write up praise messages that go out to the company that say, "To the X team for building the Y, which the Z team wanted but isn't going to use after all." This planning discussion _may_ be a sign of a process that will be more functional.

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Sign of the impending internet apocolypse? [May. 7th, 2018|02:38 pm]
[Current Mood |cranky]

There's a beautiful iPad weather app from the Weather Underground called "Storm." It shows wind vectors, fronts, storm tracks, radar in an intuitive interface, which is also ad free because i've been a Weather Underground subscriber for eons (since 2006).

Today there's a notice that the app will be shut down on May 23 to be replaced with a lousy dumbed down app. Which has ads.

I believe that the coming shifts to protect privacy rights are good for citizens. I don't think the internet will behave the same on Friday May 25th as it has been. I don't know if this weather application shift is due to to the GDPR: my suspicion is that the Weather Channel brand is winning and they only wanted to deal with updating one of many apps.

The best hope is that random websites will just have blank spaces instead of ads because the webmasters did not get around to updating code for the ad networks. That would be a lovely outcome.

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(no subject) [May. 7th, 2018|08:51 am]
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I think i'm on the track for healing, so that's reassuring.

An iris bloomed Friday morning. The azaleas outside my front room window -- where i sit all day -- have fully bloomed. I think the Carolina Wrens are done with their nest. I'm sad to think i missed them fledging. On the other hand, i can get all the sensors out of the green house and take down the plastic. It's hard to believe it was 34°F last Monday morning, i repeat, with the next ten days predicted to have 50s to 90s. The thermostat has switched from heating to air conditioning. No reprieve.

The weekend threatened rain, but none of the localized thunderstorms deigned to visit our skies. The cloud cover did keep things moderately tolerable, even if humid. I was outside much earlier than usual on Saturday morning, which worked out well. I don't feel i got that much done, but i suspect i did lots of little maintenance tasks, in between. Christine and i also had a nice visit on the front porch, where a tufted titmouse boldly approached us so that they could pull strands of coir out of the hanging basket liners.

Saturday evening we planned to celebrate our friend J-- D--'s 50th birthday. Christine had bought a lovely gift that came in a rather large box. I recalled that the thrift store was a good place to get gift wrap on the cheap, and found the perfect wrapping paper and curling ribbon. That plus a three dollar shirt to wear as a jacket over a sleeveless dress i have came to five dollars. I spent more than that on the card in the drug store, selecting a goofy singing and animated card while listening to another couple exclaiming over the card prices. (Yikes, yikes, and yikes, i agreed.)

Just before we went off to dinner i walked Carrie and ended the walk by twisting my weak, right ankle and falling on my knee with the prepatellar bursitis. (That plus my mouth - geeze Louise.)

The celebrations of my and Christine's birthday with J-- and spouse L-- had been just the four of us. At J-'s brother's funeral a few weeks ago, we bumped into F-- and spouse D--. I didn't know F-- but he had been J--'s and Christine's dungeon master in long ago years of D&D. Christine had suggested they join us, so dinner had a sort of awkward getting to know one another energy.

I rousted myself for Sunday worship. Public Friend Chuck Fager first read from George Moses Horton's autobiographical note of his enslavement and teaching himself to read. I was expecting mostly waiting worship, but Chuck brought a message about Wisdom, and talked about the book of Proverbs. I have not been enthused about that book, as it evinces the sort of eye rolling as does Polonious in Hamlet. I feel a little more curious about it now in a "more things change the more they stay the same" sort of way.

Sunday evening i went to my folks to celebrate their anniversary with them. I may regret explaining a little about Christine's elephants to them as her absence now receives a response of "Please tell her ..." and so on, which is no help. While i was there i began attempts of air layering their magnolia tree, and one attempt with a camellia. Not as easy as it looks online with the sun beating down on my back and wrestling with the thick magnolia foliage.

This morning i am apparently off to a slow start, but since i've been away from the computer all weekend, i needed to spill all this out.

The State of the Garden for lengthCollapse )

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Middle-Aged Love Note [May. 3rd, 2018|10:46 am]

gliding over featureless clouds
it seems less urgent but
during turbulence at take off
i wanted to make sure you know
where my life insurance is

-- from my flight on April 2nd, leaving Denver

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Darling deer [May. 3rd, 2018|10:22 am]

It seems we're moving to daylight deer time. I've found it odd how i see deer in the middle of the day in the summer, but not in the winter.

Yesterday evening, Christine called me out to the deck to see a doe and a yearling through the screened porch at the edge of the eastern yard. They looked at us, ears alert, and we looked back. There's something about being seen and judged by these animals that -- at this time of year -- is magical.

Come July, when they judge me as i wave at them while they eat in the garden, it's not quite as magical. Maybe it's the time of day, just as much as their activity.

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Cranky cankers [May. 3rd, 2018|09:26 am]

Still miserably uncomfortable due to the ulceration in my mouth. I had a good cry last night then went and bought too much food: rice pudding, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, (gluten free) pasta, frozen mac & cheese, carrot juice. I would make risotto but Christine wants to do something for me, so she will make a traditional rice casserole with a can of soup binder. She had Elephants yesterday, so we were a bit of a mess together.

I think back to the last time i was in so much discomfort -- apparently it was in the summer and autumn of 2010. It went on for months and months, and work was also high pressure at that time. Eventually, i connected the issue with low iron, probably due to giving up iron enriched wheat products. But i remember the on-going ache, the eating anxiety over finding wheat-free options, and the pushing through the discomfort.

I know i can push through, but i am acknowledging that i have the opportunity now to relax and give myself space to not push through. On the other hand, this is such a transitional week outside: i resent resting and not going out and getting seeds in. Was it just Monday that it was 34°F in the morning? Yes, it was, and all the blossoms on the early azalea and on the lilac are burnt. But it seems the weeds are taking over in places, mowing needs to happen, etc, etc. Still, it seems best to just recline and keep my head low as that seems to ease the discomfort a little.

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