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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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Tallinn [May. 19th, 2019|06:52 am]
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Four weeks from now i will be in Tallinn. I spent a good bit of internet time yesterday exploring what i might do there. I am arriving in the morning by ferry, with all the Saturday to spend in the city before the Sunday through Thursday conference begins. I'll have most of the following Friday to explore Tallinn, as well, before boarding the ferry back to Stockholm. I've found the flea market in the "creative city" is only on Saturday, so my first plan will be to head there. I don't normally buy gifts when traveling -- but it's been a long time since i traveled somewhere that might have distinctive shopping possibilities.

I also spent a little time looking at my good camera which i have not been using. I cleaned off the memory cards, and started looking into instructions on how to use it. I don't like the default light levels it exposes for when it is in aperture priority mode. I'm not sure why it seems so different than the camera i used to use. I learned to shoot ("expose to the right" aka ETTR) so that you pushed the photo to over-exposure but not so much that you blew out the highlights. The washed out digital source file contained all the details (unlike film would behave) and one could reduce exposure of the bright areas and still have detail in the shadows. I've been having a hard time handling the camera that way.

Christine recorded her radio show at home, finally using the "on air" light and her microphone set up (with a wall mounted digital display of the script) that she's been so delighted to create as a home studio. I'm hoping her show and her networking will put her in contact with people she might collaborate with.

I did a tiny bit of yard work, the heat having started up after a week of divinely pleasant cool sunny days. I could resent that i wasn't in a place where i could maximize those days, but as you friends have advised, i am being as gentle with myself as i can be.

I'm trying not to grieve prematurely. I have to remind myself there are no symptoms from the "nodules." It's not like with sweet Greycie Loo, where we didn't know about the cancer ravaging her spine until after she was showing symptoms.

I also am unable to find outrage over the outrages going on in the country, the political world, the planet.

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(no subject) [May. 17th, 2019|06:52 am]
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Four weeks from now i will be in Stockholm. Eeee. Fear or excitement, it's the top of mind distraction as i seem to be ready to throw money at every worry i have with long bouts of comparison shopping.

That distraction takes me away from Mom's scan results. I wrote the doctor midday yesterday just to share i'd read it but hadn't talked about it. The doctor replied she was talking to a pulmologist, and my sister texted me to let me know she'd read the results too. By the time i was on my way over after work, the doctor had replied to my sister and i again to say she had spoken to my Dad and Dad wanted to talk to us.

Dad hadn't read the report, i think, so i think he was in shock when i arrived a little after 5 pm. If i hadn't read the report i would have been baffled by their communications. L-- texted me and asked if she should come over: Dad said yes, so L-- was present for some of the discussion. Mom's cognitive decline plus remaining aphasia manifests partly in failing to set context leading to a good deal of "Are we talking about...?" questions. Mom had noted how sweet the staff were after the scan so she had clued in that something was wrong. But i don't think Dad's really explained what the concern is to her, the word cancer hasn't been uttered. He did figure out how much the lower nodule has grown since the January scan, so i think he has a good understanding of the potential aggressiveness. (The nodule size change was added to the report yesterday afternoon, presumably by the pulmologist.)

Dad blurted out that he had told the doctor he wanted to be fast in addressing "this" and wanted to fight it. Dad's shock and his problems with unfamiliar multi-syllabic words created a similar barrier for communication, though: i didn't think it was going to be useful to ping him for more details. L-- and i compared notes after we were home. It's clear a PET scan is the next step. Then there is a thoracic "laparoscopic" procedure to get the upper nodes. I thought Dad was saying that's how they would treat the tumors, but it only makes sense as a biopsy (and the lower nodule sits there untouched). I can't recall now if we talked about proton radiation only in the context of the PET scan (which i thought was protons but it's positrons) or as a possible treatment. Mainly i remember a brief puzzlement over how safe proton radiation would be for a scan. Alpha radiation is horrible but blocked by skin, a proton is one fourth of that.... Well, positron emission makes more sense.

Dad also had a long digression about a study on aphasia mom had been invited to participate in. He was concerned about how using a current to measure brain function would release hydrogen and oxygen. I answered (making up stuff) that cell membranes isolate water as water and that release and buildup of hydrogen and oxygen wasn't an issue. I'm not totally right: apparently 1/3 of the water is in the extracellular fluids [here]. I'm going to have to follow up on why water splits with a current because i think Dad's assertion that it always does is wrong.

I suspect Dad hasn't consulted Mom at all about what she wants, and i have a nagging concern about the pulmonary fibrosis reading. Mom had such a terrible cough for years. L-- remembers it as around twenty years. Mom didn't follow the asthma treatments she was prescribed, so i can imagine a practitioner assuming the diagnosis was obvious.

Hrm, "Aggressive Treatment of IPF Patients with Lung Cancer Rarely Best Option, Experts Say" [here]

I've written the doctor to inquire whether the pulmonary fibrosis observation is a concern, and i'll see what she says. Reading the article above, i see that the PET + laparoscopic-like thoracic biopsy planned is the recommended step in diagnosis.

Poor Dad. When Mom had her stroke he found out that her wishes were that he make the decisions. On one hand, that trust says something about their relationship. On the other, it puts the complete responsibility on Dad in negotiating cognitive decline plus cancer treatments.

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Fie [May. 15th, 2019|07:10 am]

Mom's CT scan of her lung -- because she had something noticed on a CT scan for some other issue back in February or January -- has come back as "compatible with primary pulmonary neoplasm" with a recommendation for a biopsy. The scan notes something that might be mucoid impaction or bronchopneumonia (follow up in three months), and structures "compatible with ... pulmonary fibrosis."

I think of her years of coughing....

I'm holding off on any cancer worries - biopsy is next. But reading about the pulmonary fibrosis and considering her history of coughing.... The average life expectancy after diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis is four years, says the internet. I wonder about cognative decline and small mercies.

What will be will be.

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Procrastination notation [May. 13th, 2019|09:26 am]

Started late due to getting off a call with my sister at 8:15. She tends to anxiety (like our mother) and was very anxious about our parents. The root of the trouble seems to be something her son said to her about how busy she is as part of his very teenage, callously expressed but fundamentally compassionate mother's day wish. I was in a good spot to talk her down from her alarm about our parents and to comfort her about her overwhelm.

Then i read the internet, not even all, but left a long comment about plants.

Similarly, last night i wrote in praise of my favorite native grass and this morning got a belated condition monitoring report (mainly list of plants in bloom) out this morning.

In the background i have been building up the work angst, while thinking a little about depression vs anxiety. I eventually made friends with my depression. I'm not sure i could make friends with anxiety. Admittedly the self doubt i have been grappling with is a type of anxiety, but it seems to take a different form than the type i watch others grapple with.

Around 10:30, i dug into work, and it's 6:30 pm and i am still going. It's lovely outside and i did move to the porch to enjoy the fresh air.

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Quiet weekend [May. 13th, 2019|06:31 am]
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There were ups and downs with the weekend, but mostly i cruised along. Outside i mowed until the mower battery gave way and then used the string trimmer to edge before the moderate rain we received on Saturday evening. I glanced at the totals folks on the Gulf coast got on Thursday and saw one county where there were two reports of over 9 inches.

Christine worked on some music for a CCMixter challenge where one is assigned another's samples to use in a composition. She started the year making compositions for birthdays, but the week of my birthday things got a little chaotic. I'd worried that she was letting herself get "backed up" by that, so i was delighted that she dedicated this as a belated birthday composition: http://ccmixter.org/files/PerchanceMusic/59734

We celebrated my folks 54th anniversary with dinner at a nearby fish place. It was Mom's first meal out since her stroke. I fear she over-indulged on fried food. I spent time with Mom on Sunday, and Dad went upstairs and had a talk with a friend. I was particularly glad Dad took time during my visit for a break like that.

My sister had taken her to church in the morning, and Dad had taken that time to clean house. My mother's comment about seeing the tidy bedroom was so judgemental and critical. I debriefed a bit when i was home with Christine: mom's current obsession with tidiness is probably a reaction to her being unable to control her own environment. Heavens knows she's certainly gone long periods with stuff stacked up in places as she had much to do. She doesn't realize, i don't think, the asymmetry in Dad's time and hers. Not only is he helping her with therapy, exercises, and bodily needs but he has his own needs plus care for the whole household. How much is lack of comprehension and cognitive gap and how much is her unrelenting critical frame for my father? I suspect a good deal is cognitive, but the long history of criticism colors the experience.

I'm hoping i've laid a good groundwork for less procrastination self torture this week.

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Adventures in night watching [May. 9th, 2019|09:02 am]

Monday night's observations included two satellites passing south to north overhead, one flashing infrequently, the other with long stretches where the brightness grew to Venus-like intensity. I've no idea what i saw, as it appears the Iridium satellites -- most known for flares -- have almost all been retired. A few fireflies were high in the trees. Eventually i noticed strange lights near the road, almost as if people had powerful flashlights and were waving them around. I went through the house (just as my Dad called at 21:17) and out the front into the dark. As i was talking to Dad, so less sensitive to what was going around me -- when i startled a deer that went crashing off, i didn't miss it though. Turned out two sherrif's cars were pulled up down the road with their lights on.

Last night i was out later and noticed a firefly high in the pines with a pattern of four flashes, faster than one a second, then a pause, and then the four flashes. The pause seemed more like four seconds than fourteen, which doesn't match anything in particular (although if there were two males....)

I wrote up my identification here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24832286 . I wondered if my write up would get any attention. Since it's the first observation for the species recorded in iNat (gasp) maybe i'll get some feedback?

In personal news, i find myself posting more privately these days about angsty stuff. There's one pile that is work related insecurities and procrastination, another pile about elephants where "elephants" is insufficient.

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(no subject) [May. 6th, 2019|07:23 am]

Before B-- and K-- got here, i noticed the sweet corn was sprouting in the garden along with a few sunflower seeds. K-- recognized the Egyptian walking onions, so that was cool: i will need to send some onion sets to them along with a variety of sunflower-like tubers this fall.

Wednesday night we recovered from B-- and K--'s visit. Thursday we fixed dinner and took it to my folks -- all the lettuce in the salad was from my garden. Yesterday evening we had my sister's family over, including her two dogs. Carrie and her dogs got to have some fun play time, and i got to show off our orchard area with its lush fescue lawn. My niece did cartwheels and everyone (but Christine) seemed to have a good time.

Christine was bugged. I think we'll be digging out all the woodchips that are under the picnic table and replacing with pea gravel.

I tried to keep very relaxed this weekend. I feel overwhelmed with work and just not up to pouring myself into the yard.

Saturday I spent time keying out what the grass is that i like so much: Dichanthelium laxiflorum common name "Open-flowered witch grass" or, as i call it, best grass ever. I also watched hours of "The OA," given B--'s recommendation, and read a light mystery novel.

Yesterday i skipped meeting, and spent time as usual at my parents. This time getting a new keyboard hooked up to Mom's computer.

I've filled out my first "condition report" for the weather service, weekly observations to help understand the weather conditions across the country. https://www.cocorahs.org/Maps/conditionmonitoring/ is where one can read them. Mine is ridiculously long because i wanted to note everything in bloom. I'll keep doing it, for myself at least. It's a way to regularize those observations. I can add notes during the week as i notice things.

I discovered there's a firefly citizen science protocol: https://www.massaudubon.org/get-involved/citizen-science/firefly-watch/how-to-participate I can't decide about participating: on one hand, firefly populations are important to me. I love their magical displays. On the other hand, i've loved the rawness of standing in the dark in the evening and just listening and seeing what little glimmers i can observe. To add observational fuss seems just another thing.

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Tired, peopled out [May. 1st, 2019|09:21 am]
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This past weekend i unexpectedly discovered a dear friend and partner were driving down the eastern seaboard and would be able to stop for a visit. So we made arrangements on Sunday, i spent the whole Monday evening inside tidying (woo, there's a table under all that stuff in the kitchen!), and Christine did the same yesterday. B-- and K-- arrived yesterday at 3:30 and we hung out until i had to get to work. There was a night's sleep in there, but a little shorter than i am used to. K-- is relatively extroverted and was also up at 6 am, so we chatted all morning over tea. I have escaped to work and am trying to scrape focus up from somewhere.

I have to lead a working group in an hour and a half and am horrified at the thought.

... done, lunch time walk outside & meal, comix read, more caffeine consumed....

Ugh, i don't think well. I can't believe this is merely due to getting 6.5 hours sleep vs my usual seven plus hours. There is also the being "on" from 3:30 in the afternoon yesterday to 8:30 this morning excepting only sleep and the necessary. Christine and i both reflect on how very very quiet we are.

It's possible we absorbed some of the emotions B-- & K-- were carrying back. I was unaware just how sick K-- is, on a waiting list for a pancreas and kidney. I knew K--'s sister had died and they were returning from helping the husband and kids. K's sister had apparently been hiding similar health issues which lead to a death that was unexpected by everyone. The sister was apparently also a hoarder, didn't teach the kids (youngest 14) to cook and clean, and generally had had a dysfunctional household with her blind husband. That's a nontrivial amount of issues with which to deal. Christine and i are both pretty open people, so we may have taken on some of their emotional baggage, even though they weren't expressing any emotional drama.

--== ∞ ==--

The outside tour revealed that the pitcher plant's first blossom is fully open. The clump of pitchers is ragged, but the flower hangs from a shepherd's hook shaped stem like a dark red lantern. The cranberries near by have tiny blossoms on the low growing stems. Venus' looking-glass (Triodanis perfoliata) which has foot high "weedy" single stems, which i was ripping out a few weeks ago before i realized i was confusing them with Persian speedwell, a winter non-native weed. Venus' looking-glass is a lovely blue-purple five-pointed star of a flower. It's not "showy" but it could actually be noticed in a vase, unlike the native forget-me-not.

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Fantasy book hunt [Apr. 29th, 2019|05:02 pm]

I vaguely remember a book about a kingdom that only allowed men to ascend to the throne, in fact women are not allowed on point of death to sit on the throne. Ruler had a daughter. His brother, far away, disguised and raised his daughter as a son. The hidden daughter becomes heir apparent and eventually travels to be present in her uncle's court. Her cousin flirts with her. One day the king encourages the heir to sit on the throne for one of those "everyone present their grievance to the king" occasions. The cousin shows up and accuses the heir of getting her pregnant.

And i don't remember - -was that the end and i never read the sequel? Did i forget the end? WHAT HAPPENED.

And i want to reread it, with my many years behind me.

Anyone recognize this?

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A three day weekend [Apr. 29th, 2019|07:06 am]
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I'm hoping i'm rested after a three day weekend. I tried to be open to that. Christine had elephants. I had gardening doubts.

Friday i did some shopping, running by the thrift store in a fortuitous trip to get rid of some stuff we'd been accumulating in the front room (my work space, the guest bed, Carrie's room, and piles of boxes still unsorted from the move). We have our first company coming, so getting a little bit out of the way is a win. At the thrift store i found a few clothing items for myself that seem useful. Then i went on to the farm store and ended up buying far more seedlings than i expected. I have an unlabeled set of pepper plants, and did i really mean to get four jalapenos?

I have so many solanaceae in the garden: peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. To rotate... well, i suppose i could manage a two year rotation, except i have second year potatoes coming up in places that are supposed to be potato free.

list and locationsCollapse )

I looked at some photos of my garden from last year: the poppies were much further along and i did have better luck with the brassicas. But the garden looks so much more attractive this year. Last year there was so much bare dirt, and i've been so aggressive with various forms of mulching this year. Pine needles, woodchips, straw, and (least attractively) cardboard cover the ground. Maybe, maybe, i'll be able to keep the weeds at bay.

Saturday morning i think i'd not slept well? Or was up too late? But first thing i started looking into some research for work. I'll need to write that up today. Trying to rest for work ... not sure i was am it right.

In the yard i worked on the north berm -- i'd bought tons of seeds for it lst year. Scattered some of the seeds that i'd chilled for two months in the fridge and became certain of failure. I'm trying not to give in to that feeling. At least i've weeded. I mowed as well, but did not sharpen the chipper blade, which is a chore that is stopping Christine from going at some trees with the loppers.

In the evening we went out to meet [personal profile] annie_r for dinner and a movie. Annie_r's pick of "Amazing Grace" -- the live performance recording of Aretha Franklin's gospel album -- wasn't something i would have normally selected but i did enjoy it. Christine said i was beaming during the first half of the film. (Not sure why i wouldn't have been in the second half.)

Sunday i cooked for meeting, went to meeting for business the first time since Mom's stroke, and worship. Home and puttered a little before going out to take my niece a belated birthday gift and chat with my sister, then a long visit with Mom. She was going through a pile of news paper front pages she has saved: Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy assassination, Apollo moon landing, Agnew's resignation, and the release of Nixon's tapes. She (and separately, unknown to each other) and Dad were both in Key West for the missile crisis. Mom has a page of notes she wrote to herself -- she refers to Castro as "that bearded nut."

Christine is doing a radio show on https://wcomfm.org/ Sundays at 6 pm Eastern.

Sundays 6-7PM @WCOMFM. The Buzz at the crossroads of emergence & innovation in music/sound in indie spaces + Creative Commons. " -- @BuzzingSound

I sat in the backyard, listening and relaxing.

We have surprise houseguests on the way. I'm hoping Christine won't stress too much.

Plants that are blooming include:Collapse )

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In preservation news [Apr. 25th, 2019|08:07 am]

I ordered the Braun 9 Multiquick Hand Blender which also functions as a food processor yesterday. I wanted a small food processor and was particularly open to multi function gadgets because we also don't have a blender. This gadget may replace the hand mixer, as well as provide blender and food processing functions. First tasks will be chopping onion and celery for dehydration. Some might then be ground up to go into a SOS "Soup or Sauce" mix [Here, also veggie powders].

I started the glycerine treatment of lemon balm last night. Not sure i *like* lemon balm. It's certainly not leading with lemon notes, but i twill give it some time.

I've decanted part of the glycerine from the lemon balm (as the leaves shrunk up) to execute another flower preservation experiment. Glycerine is mentioned frequently on the web, but it's not clear to me how general it is as a preservative. I've air dried daffodils in the past (by accident, in the vase as water evaporates) and kept the crepe paper reminders of spring for some time. I tried glycerine with daffs, and the glycerine (which i now understand as a solvent) dissolved the stems. Ew. So, my current speculation is that woodier stems are needed. I've started an experiment with lilac and azalea. I might add a columbine as the wiry stems seem less like the daffodil's tender stem even though "woody" isn't a good descriptor either.

One thing about the web: the number of how to bloggers out there has essentially flooded the internet with third and fourth hand documentation that really doesn't seem tested.

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(no subject) [Apr. 25th, 2019|06:41 am]
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With some surprise, i ended therapy yesterday.

I went in because the Elephants were wearing me down. Between advice and Christine's growing skills in elephant wrangling, that has passed.

Then i took the opportunity to go off one of my antidepressants, which has given me access to my emotions. The poor things and i aren't really used to each other, but i was well off when mom had her stroke.

And Mom had a stroke.

In the process i have become better practiced at being accepting of myself and not getting stuck in the negative frame. I still go to the negative frame --

... as i wrote, i used the term "extreme negative" and with just a moment's thought i can see there are much more negative ways to frame things. A meta example, nonetheless an example of the new inner auditor who pulls me back from framing everything as doom.

-- but i catch myself and reframe.

I don't know if i will ever be a person who immediately goes to "my life is wonderful and everything is doing great." Even. Though. It. Is.

The same auditor rolls their eyes and says, "Back it off there, Blondie."

So, "great" is perhaps not qualified well enough. But despite my mother's dysfunctional behavior through our whole life, my siblings and i all have stuck together and my father still loves her. While this caregiving relationship is hard and brings up heartache, we all are together with it.

Work is very challenging at the moment, but it's a challenge for me to grow into, not dysfunction challenging. (I wish i didn't have it at the same time as Mom challenge, but whatever.)

Meanwhile Christine and i both enjoy our quite times together, each of us taking care of the other where and how we can. We are both somewhat awed by what we actually have created in our landscape. Yes, there could have been much easier ways to achieve similar outcomes by paying folks with heavy equipment, but not only did we make this change, we made it with as small an environmental impact as we could. (I think of the many small plants i found and rescued from the clearing work, how we started with the goats, how much we tried to keep the biomass here and return it to the soil.)

Yesterday evening we sat under this amazing triple-trunked tulip poplar, the shape of which tells of how the original trunk was knocked far over and sprouts grew up from that trunk. Edward chased something in the grass: probably one of the tiny cricket or tree frogs the size of the tip of my pinky finger. Carrie ran and danced and pranced. Luigi sat on the table near us. The weather was exquisite, not too humid.

I'm surprised to have ended therapy yesterday, but i am managing my mental health well. The waves of procrastination and depression occur, but i'm not in a riptide of vortex where those waves overwhelm me.

How incredible.

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(no subject) [Apr. 24th, 2019|06:36 am]
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Yesterday's work had me in tears at one point. Therapy this afternoon and i'm taking Friday off because burn out.

My sister is planning on taking a day off a week to relieve Dad. She tried working from their home and is clear that's not happening (and i'm not surprised).

There's this tension being with Mom: yes, let her independently roll down the hall, but show up when she gets to the door to the bedroom to help her make the turn by pivoting the wheelchair with a little lift. Dad is too tired to really let her do the independent thing. If she's carrying a glass and drops it, it's more work for him -- particularly knee bending arthritic work.

And i'm pretty sure that she's decided Dad and i are in it together, telling her doctors what to do and what not. Apparently, if Dad is home, Mom won't let the hired caregiver give care. And she's berating him for slacking off etc.

I just don't even know.

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Yesterday's Procrastination [Apr. 24th, 2019|06:33 am]
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This morning [Tuesday!] i learned about glycerites and glycerine in cooking. Apparently glycerine can act as a preservative, is used in icings like fondants and in granola and protein bars.
Glycerine doesn't cause insulin spikes [here] and used as a sugar free sweetener [here] It also is the solvent for alcohol-free extracts.

I'm pondering using glycerine to extract the flavor from lemon balm. Sounds like it would be straightforward to then mix into teas and seltzer. The use in protein/granola bars sounds intriguing; i'm finding references but since it's not a common home ingredient, not many recipes.

I'm pondering my very productive sage plants. It has occurred to me that dehydrating sage with onion and celery could be useful. I can't quite decide on cooking the sage and onion in advance. Sauté with
butter or oil? Blanch? Dehydrating celery generally would call for blanching. Then there will be shallots, sooner or later: a shallot sage powder could be a delightful seasoning.

There are some herbs i've been successful with but i don't really use that often. Rosemary and sage are challenging texture-wise and having them pre-processed would make me more likely to use them. All the mints.... by the end of last summer i was picking a little to make my own fresh tisanes. Anyhow....

I planted lots of sunflower seeds [Monday] evening. I have no idea if they will grow. I have blamed all the previous failures on deer. I suppose even smaller critters could be eating the seeds, too. I thought sunflowers fell in the "easy" list. Well, i'm trying again.

All this is procrastination. I am feeling better than i did [Monday] thanks to the miracle of antihistamines.

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I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore [Apr. 20th, 2019|06:57 am]
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That was a dramatic end to a week. Phones went off with blaring noises at the end of the workday, warning of tornado threat. I executed our tornado plan with cats in carriers in the garden tub and Carrie on a leash with me in the most inner bathroom. Once i finally got a look at the radar i slowly let the pets have more room to roam. Christine came home and we watched the local extended coverage news, with a bit of eye rolling as the anchors scrolled through local social media and webcams to find images that looked scary.

I have pondered, on occasion, a trap door so we can get to the crawlspace from inside, and creating a small nook of comfort. Any motivation to actually follow through would be far more dystopian than tornadoes. I will get one of the crank powered radios in the bathroom though, along with treats for the pets.

Status of....

Dad -- as an engineer, he has constantly lectured us on stress damage to bridges, roller coasters, ferris wheels, and the like. This Thursday i noted how he argues for designing for the unexpected and pointed out he was not managing his and mom's help that way. He said, "You think i'm planning for the worst" when i suggested a strategy of spending more over this year with the expectation that Mom will be more able to care for her physical needs in a year. I replied that i did NOT think he was planning for the worst but for steady state -- he wasn't planning for the unexpected. When i left he said i'd given him something to think about. I called my sister and we agreed to hold off on the intervention this weekend to give him time to reflect.

Mom -- she showed me how she can stand and take three tiny steps -- giving dad a panic when he realized she was going forward with it without any knowledgeable supervision. It was lovely to see her stand up and move her leg but also telling: she's going to be in more danger before she gets out of danger. And her cognition is clearly impaired. Dad, by the end of the day, wants her to just stay still and not do anything so he doesn't have to be on alert. It's not fair to either of them. With their long relationship history, Dad asking Mom to stay still is like a starter's pistol at a race.

The Working Group -- Long weekend in Europe acts a barrier to a few logistical steps. I wanted to have the survey out, but feel stymied by the organizational wiki being frozen and the absence of an email we can use as a public address.

The Strategic Plan for the CTO -- this went well, and i think i had a good graphical interpretation of current state idea.

The Product Proposal -- the executive leadership team judges it on Monday. Depending on their decision, the CTO plan gets a general change in how i will advocate.

Lunch with Ladies -- the mayor from Meeting had suggested we get together for lunch and i accepted, and she also invited the Meeting Newsletter editor who lives nearby. The Mayor apparently knocked herself out with an antihistamine, leaving the editor and i to lunch together. The editor's husband had Alzheimer's, so she could comfortably discuss caregiver issues. She used to be a paper artist and is returning to that, so we had that pleasure to discuss. The Greek food was fine, and i bought Turkish coffee to make in the coffee pot my brother bought in Saudi Arabia.

Elephants -- mostly quiet but with some moments where they were on edge. Christine took care of them.

Reading -- a Maisie Dobbs novel was automatically checked out when my turn in line came up and i read that last night. I continue to appreciate the psychology despite what i expect is complete and utter anachronism. And i continue to appreciate a self aware main character who is not tortured or self destructive or miserable, but engages in self care. I also respect how she wraps up her projects: may it inspire me to be a little more responsible. I also read a 1991 novel An Owl Too Many by Charlotte MacLeod. I didn't know the date of the novel when i started, but i became curious. What kept the novel from being set in 1970? The environmentalism front and center would have been at home. The prudish university persident's wife seemed more at home closer to the 70s than the current. A coded notebook elicited a comment about computer code: that was the only appearance of a computer. No mobile or cell phones: my father had one in the 8Os. Ah, the series began in 1979. Well then.

The outside -- green green green. The cold snap this week didn't snap to a temperature that cause any harm. Thursday after work the seedlings in the greenhouse looked melted. I'll see soon if any revived. I forget what is planted in the trays but germination hasn't been rapid. I suspect some cases are just that it will take a long time. I am not impressed with my seed starting skills. Perhaps next year i will ensure i buy seed starting mix and perhaps fiddle more.

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(no subject) [Apr. 18th, 2019|08:57 am]
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There was much rain over last weekend, five inches between Friday morning and Sunday. Our neighbors' road washed out, again, and everything was sodden. I did get some good for me time working in the yard. I admit a struggle with seeing the false hawkweed in bloom and the stilt grass seedlings and feeling overwhelmed. I'm trying to celebrate the progress we've made since we moved here on changing plant communities. The glade is far more mossy and ferny, there are large stretches in the east yard where the native, low growing grass i admire is carpeting stretches successfully. It helps that it goes to seed midsummer and the stilt grass months later. The little bits of help given to the natives to increase their competitiveness seems to be helping. So yay.

I'm not filling the feeders with sunflower seeds anymore, and so the bird visits are less - presumably, they can also find more to eat now, as well.

I'm sure if i took a week off, i'd still have yard work to do. Unfortunately, work has heated up to white heat. I am wrestling with insecurity and remind myself of imposter syndrome. I am procrastinating. I am also doing OK with some of the asks, but feel like a tsunami is behind me.

Mom and Dad are a puzzle. Mom has all her issues, and Dad his financial insecurity and independence. Hiring more in-home help will help them, but we're going to have to convince Dad to spend the money. Mom is making substantial mobility improvements, and making things easier now will improve the chances for long term stability. It seems obvious but Dad seems fixated on steady state planning.

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The Green Walls Go Up [Apr. 12th, 2019|07:50 am]
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The horizon is disappearing and instead views out the back are of the green and brown of the woods. I recollect that Thursday morning a week ago the deck was slippery with ice when i went to release the lions (erm, Edward and Luigi) at dawn. Last night i lay down on the picnic table bench to look up at the moon, stars, and fireflies. Fireflies! I guess no one goes looking for them in spring nights, busy with school nights and what not? This confirmed the glimpse i thought i had had the night before of a firefly.

I'd gone outside to be with the sense of grief inside me, instead of watching something or distracting myself. With moonlight and fireflies, though, the beauty of the night sat with me.

Since naming the heaviness on me, i feel a little more comfortable with it. My sister gave me another term yesterday, sisu, yet another one of these Scandinavian terms that seem to be trending across lifestyle websites. Finnish sisu is something i recognize: it's how i got through the couple of years of the terrible Director at work (official date 2011-05-11, but the months before that were colored with the coming change), then the couple of years after Christine's Elephants arrived. And before the merger of the Minnow with the Whale -- the couple of years i was the operations manager and essentially on call the whole time. It wasn't until after the merger with the Whale that i could put the pager down and actually sleep through all nights.

Between being moved out of management and moving to the eastern timezone, so much weight dropped off my shoulders. The Meeting here doesn't have the weight of concerns like that of the large Meeting i attended in California, partly because they have just come through the fire of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting schism. Christine's elephants are getting smaller and less demanding.

I've not needed to practice sisu since moving, really, and even Mom's stroke isn't demanding much from me, sisu-wise. But there are emotional things going on, and i think part of that is from the habit of sisu. Pushing perseverance requires certain coping strategies, and wrapping discomforts like sorrow, pain, and grief in fireproof blankets to keep going: i am good at that. But i also know the cost of that, as well. And right now i don't need to avoid my feelings about my parent's change of being.

What i don't know is what to do with these feelings when they aren't mummified. It feels like an infection. I'm fine, i could take on whatever. But in the absence of that all consuming critical whatever, this throbbing heavy lump and the sense of malaise is very distracting.

I wanted to see if i had a grief tag, and type ahead supplied the gratitude tag. Maybe that's a way through.

I am grateful to be here, to be able to see Mom and Dad in a day to day setting and know the details of what they are going through. I am grateful that i don't need to worry that this is going to overwhelm Dad beyond his capabilities (although i do wish he wasn't leaning on his sisu practice so hard). I am thankful for Christine's compassion, and for her spoon-management yesterday: she was able to be present at dinner with Dad without needing her shields up. I'm thankful for Carrie and the gift of dog-love and joy and energy she can give my parents.

I celebrate Christine's evolution in elephant wrangling, and the new additional project she's taking on.

I am grateful for the terrifying opportunity i will likely have on April 22nd, at work. I am terrified, and i know it's happening as i need to push the working group to be prepared for the meeting we will have in Estonia in mid June. I am thankful i used the time in March when everything was a lull to make my journey plans.

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Grief [Apr. 11th, 2019|07:06 am]
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Christine agrees my mood has been a little down the past few weeks. Spring and my relief at how well things are working out for my parents would seem to be big boosts. (Work has been intense.) In therapy yesterday i found lots of tears, particularly over my parents' relationship dynamics and the echoes over my childhood.

I don't know quite how to cut free of this drag. I'm not sure it's something one can healthily do. On the other hand, i am tired of being brain tired. I have capacity to mostly get work done, and then a little something else. Various chores that just got done before are backed up. Some work things are backed up. I've journaled about the gardening so much because that is a delight right now, and most of all, the sun and chlorophyll and water and stored starches are all doing the work.

The trees have greened up significantly since Saturday. I feel i am noticing more and more new things than last year. This year, wisteria. I had no idea the tangles of plants just down the road were wisteria, but there are walls of purple. I saw some wisteria encroaching on a bamboo thicket. Bamboo vs wisteria: coexistence? or will one subdue the other?

Other invasive species not on our property: wisteria, bamboo, kudzu, English ivy (found a sprig once), vinca (growing thickly in a bit of the woods next door).

Anyhow, it's easy to loose myself in observing and naming. How the sensitive fern seemed to sprout a foot over night, catching up with the southern lady ferns. The tiny, white, native forget-me-not, Myosotis verna (and the temptation to see it as a weed).

Well, staying here writing about plants is NOT the way to cut free of the drag.

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Slithery friends [Apr. 9th, 2019|06:25 pm]
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Surprise free evening, as Dad called and waved me off of coming over. I can use the rest because i woke in the wee hours of the morning and never fell back asleep. I am not able to do much with this time because i am exhausted. Maybe some laundry? (Didn't happen.)

I wandered outside for an hour, and encountered two small snakes, smaller than garter snakes. A worm snake (Carphophis amoenus) twisted around in the garden plot. I choose to take my worm snake sightings as evidence of super healthy soil that has such large herds of earthworms that these predators can thrive. Then a DeKay's brownsnake was next to a floppy daffodil as i reached down to adjust it. The DeKay's was much more still, testing its camouflage i suppose.

I may have seen a third tiny snake, or perhaps a thrashing about newt or other amphibian near the drainage ditch by the road. It seemed like snake locomotion as it got itself down into the shelter of the culvert.

On Monday, another DeKay's camouflage failed in the presence of Edward, who went after the small snake just as he does with birds, mice, voles, lizards, and baby bunnies. Luigi, though, got nose to nose with Mr Morrison the supposed single rat snake that lives in the back yard. Mr Morrison was coming out from under the deck, and promptly returned, hopefully to go to the east yard for a peaceful afternoon of sunning.

Not a tick yet, which means... less deer? we've managed the landscape to deny them access? Some opossums heard our plea and vacuum them up every night? Probably just that the evenings have been crisp up until last weekend. In the past few days the classic daffodils have melted away after a delightfully long display, and the saucer magnolia became drab and dull overnight. Plants are growing at break neck speed (except in my garden). Spring growth is shooting up everywhere. While i look at the orchard and only see sprigs of the moss phlox i transplanted taking hold, the meadow (the septic field that was a thicket of tree of heaven, honey suckle, autumn olive) has mounds of what i expect are wildflowers - Echinaceas? Joe Pye weeds? Blackeyed susans? I'm not sure what these mounding rosettes of leaves are for.... They aren't the non-native ox-eye daisy or Queen Anne's lace: i celebrate THAT.

Elsewhere i see shoots of what are asters or goldenrod. Yarrows are distinctively present.

Violets are even more abundant now: the native grass lawn area is now well decorated with their purple glow.

Today the not quite native Stoksia arrive via mail order. They will be planted at the edge of the rain garden where half price marigolds reigned last summer. I hope for a more blue than purple stoksia, a flower native to wet areas in South Carolina and Georgia. Since i was buying, my impatience flared and i also bought a cardinal flower (a red lobelia) and the great blue lobelia, also to reside in the rain garden. Maybe the seeds i scattered will take hold, but i've got two plants to be sure of.

I've been surprised how slow the breadseed poppies have been to get past the first two true leaves. Perhaps they've been biding their time too.

The next months will rush by, and i will go to Europe, and i will return to a magnificent jungle of flowers. The stilt grass seedlings wave at me and are not calling truce, though.

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My message to Mom's friends [Apr. 9th, 2019|06:40 am]

I hadn't written a news update since right around the time Mom came home:

[Mom] and [Dad] seem to be settling into their new patterns well.

[I am] currently getting the visit plans from the therapists, some who make arrangements to come the same day. The visits are generally a couple times a day from some combination of the three therapists and the aide. We seem to have a regular visit sometime between 1o to 11 am, although sometimes the arrival is a little later. The second visit varies, although i try to schedule just after lunch 1 or 1:30 pm. [Dad] has J--- coming in to be with [Mom] on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday late afternoons into the evenings so he can run errands.

If you'd like to bring over dinner and visit with [Dad] and [Mom], [Dad] would appreciate you making plans in advance so he doesn't plan a meal for that day. He's developed a spreadsheet with the different meals he likes to cook that then populates his grocery list for the week.

[Mom] seems to be recovering from the lack of interest in much that took over her while she was at The Oaks, and she's no longer watching CNN all the time. A speech therapist brought over Our State magazine one visit, and that inspired Mom to an outing with Dad where she rode with him to the grocery store and waited while he ran in to pick up a copy. She seemed less pleased with the magazine when i saw her on Sunday: too many ads. Early on the speech therapists mentioned to us how reading materials need to be clear without distracting fonts and images. The visual clutter of all the advertisements probably makes it too hard for her to negotiate the magazine on her own. When i tried to engage her with a book of North Carolina photography from their bookshelves, she sent me home with the book (because i recognized the plants). Even before her stroke, [Mom] was trying to find homes for their many books.

What i have been doing when visiting is showing [Mom] photos of my daily life (pets and gardening). She will be delighted to hear your stories of what you are up to and to see photos on your phone or tablet. Meanwhile, [Dad] gets a chance to either do paperwork or a little yard work.

It's not clear how much of her disinterest in her history and biography books ais due to vision issues: she has a neurological ophthalmologist visit in early May to see if there are stroke related vision issues or if simply she needs a different prescription for reading glasses.

[Sister L--] and [Dad] finally found [Mom]'s phone, so she will soon be available at her mobile number. (It is a flip phone, and doesn't support texting easily, and no media images.) Her iPad is charging up so she can use the stroke recovery software on it. I've tried to set them up with Apple's iCloud Photo sharing system. If you want to share an album with them, use [Mom]@gmail.com. That should display a message on the iPad for them to see the photos. NOTE: no one is checking email at [Mom]@gmail.com. [Dad] is just beginning to have time to glance at email and facebook, but I don't believe you can rely on him reading email at his email address yet.

Thanks for your care, calls, letters and prayers,


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(no subject) [Apr. 9th, 2019|05:52 am]
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Monday Morning:

I'm disappointed that i may have done a bad thing to my baby apple trees in my selection of the fungicide i sprayed to fight the cedar-apple and quince-apple rusts that are bright orange on the cedar trees at the moment. Ho hum.

Last week was a blur of intense work days followed by busy evenings. Saturday was all yard. Yesterday was a mix of Meeting and a visit with my parents and then mowing.

I took Carrie over to my parents and as i was leaving, she looked longingly at the pasture. I let her run -- and she was so delighted and did not want to leave. Christine's had this issue leaving the dog park. I got in the car, started the car, turned the car. She kept her eye on me but continued to frolic. Finally i went inside to get a treat of some sort. When i came out she was at the fence where she could see the door. She went back to her frolic but FINALLY came when i offered the cheese. In good news, she seems to respect the fence as a boundary!

At home i mowed. I ran down the battery on the electric mower, but had finished the fescue grass by the time that happened.

Garden notesCollapse )

The high humidity is mixing with the pine pollen to make -- polog? Plog? Nastiness. We should have thundershowers tonight, which may help a little.

Tuesday Morning:

Boy, did we have a DOOZY of a thunder storm. First power loss of the summer season, from 5 pm to 6. We lost power with the winds that blew in first, and my, was the pollen billowing around, being blown off the deck and billowing out of the pines. Then came the rain: it was lovely to sit with Christine on the front porch.

My Amazon order of these light up lids for regular mouth jars arrived and i assembled a few while sitting on the porch. I'm delighted with them, and i look forward to the arrival of the hooks for hanging them in the yard. We've a variety of old LED yard lights on plastic stakes in various states of disrepair. I feel this solution will allow for easier repair of broken components and minimize the plastic impact. I'm going to see about liberating a few more jelly jars from my mother's collection. She has sent me home with boxes of jars in the past, but i mainly took the large mouth jars.

We had a half inch of rain in the hour, creating standing water in places and a stream, almost, on the east side of the house. Christine had made progress on ditching around the back porch, a step we need to complete before i install the rain cistern. Once we have the porch downspouts draining to the east of the house, the pooling behind the house will be mostly resolved, i hope. There may be just a little more ditching to do to divert the run off from up hill.

I do hope that the seeds i scattered on Saturday had found some purchase in the soil before this event.

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(no subject) [Apr. 2nd, 2019|06:38 am]
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Sunday dawned dark with heavy clouds that threatened rain. I drove north west to Meeting, zipping on the country roads, a few spatters of damp moving the first visible pollen around on the windshield. The message was brought by an architect who talked about the Quaker term of the Light and the work of James Turrell as the sky grew darker outside. Meeting dispersed over the carpet of tiny bluets, with no rain.

I drove east, crossed the Haw, and followed its course south east then began meandering east, past my sister's place then circumnavigated Lake Jordan to get to my folks home. My sister's family had long been waiting for lunch because my brother didn't get communicated that it would be one pm or after when i would make my way. Fortunately, it was a compose-your-own salad and didn't come to harm as they waited. It wouldn't be a visit from my brother if there wasn't at least one failure to communicate about scheduling for my sister and i to roll our eyes over.

way much family stuff including elder careCollapse )
I did have a very productive work day yesterday, but personally i felt paralysis when it came to connecting with people (and my email box). I did wander back in the woods. I assessed a cluster of Tree of heaven and hope i identified the right large tree as the source of the sprouts. I went back to the garage, grabbed the machette and glyphosphate. I think the technique of exposing the pholem, the working transport tissue under the bark, and directly applying glyphosphate to be carried to the roots minimizes the amount of environmental release of poison and effectively targets the plant.

I came back to the house to realize the miniature roses are covered with aphids. I sprayed soapy water and reflected on my exterminations. Neither rests easily with me. Still, there's something blighted about the woods where the tree of heaven are. Ha "Ailanthus produces an allelopathic chemical called ailanthone, which inhibits the growth of other plants." I'm not imagining it.

I'd taken the covers of the peony and the blueberries yesterday, but woke to find it 30°F. Well. That's not what the forecast led me to expect.

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(no subject) [Mar. 31st, 2019|08:42 am]

We slept in yesterday and then i went out and finished my bean trellis: two tripods constructed of heavy twelve foot poles of sweetgum and dogwood, thanks to the power company cutting a path through our woods. The tops and crossbars are attached with proper lashing technique with completely inappropriate perled cotton number 3 "thread". I've some thin hemp rope and twine in my Amazon cart: i should get some if i plan more rugged structures. The perled cotton held nicely last year so, fingers crossed it will again. There's a very warped black cherry cross beam -- so light compared to the dogwood -- and then i've used apple and autumn olive cuttings, thin and pliable, to weave a random lattice.

I suppose the lattice could all come crashing down under a heavy bean crop. It's hard to imagine a heavy bean crop actually occurring. Admittedly, deer love beans and this will be the first protected bean crop.

After, i sat with Christine on the back porch. We talked a bit about the thicket beyond the porch and i noted it was deer habitat and Christine remarked we have plenty of that. It's autumn olive and honeysuckle choking black cherry and sweetgum trees. We will progress through it over the year, i suspect. I then stood up to see if the columbine planted just beyond the porch had bloomed -- and then let out a primal scream as i realized a deer had chomped the flowering stalks.

Christine laughed, "What part of deer habitat did you not understand!"

There are some lower stalks that might flower.

In the late afternoon Christine continued clearing up around the woods edge in the front, getting vines and dead wood away from a toppled young black cherry tree. I am curious how much deer will forage on the cherry branches and whether i will be able to reach cherries myself. I've pollarded a black cherry just beyond the back porch to see if it would sprout branches at the cut. It looks like it will. I think it fruits on second year wood.

I chipped and shredded branches and have finally caught up with Christine's and the power company's clearing. I look at the autumn olive and wonder if i will someday carefully maintain one or two for the whip like branches and the chipping productivity. Then i imagine that i will trespass on the neighboring land to exterminate the plant, leaving native fruit seedlings or cuttings in my wake.

No ticks yet, a surprise given all the mosquitoes.

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(no subject) [Mar. 29th, 2019|01:04 pm]

Spring: salad with the tips of young pea vines, violets and dandelion, sorrel and miner's lettuce, and a bit of my cultivated lettuces.

Aphids and cabbage moth eggs are on the turnip greens. The turnips seem pretty tough, the yellow flowers are waving above them.

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Care taking and not taking care [Mar. 29th, 2019|09:11 am]
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Short story: Mom has returned home and Dad seems prepared to be her full time carer, with hired help three half days a week. When i visited last night, an off day for help, i found Dad seeming very tired. Admittedly, it was late for them as they continue to get up before 5 am. Sigh.

Mom went from insisting that adult diapers were just great and she would not use the special commode to actually using the master bedroom commode (no rails anywhere) over a few days. While we worry about the safety of her transferring -- and what she might do if she got the wheel chair stuck in the bathroom door with the toilet seemingly close enough -- using a household commode will relieve some of the care burden.

Sister story: My sister has had the insight that we should "let go" and walked me out on Tuesday morning. I spent the rest of the day in an emotional reaction: a tangle of guilt (shouldn't i be disrupting my life over this?), of relief, of having time to feel, and then the emotional hangover. I decided i would not get back to work but take the day.

There are still things we can or should do. My sister has a horse at their house and so "normally" stops by for little visits every morning. I'm planning on Tuesday and Thursday nights at their house through April. I am a little resentful that while my father understands missing work is an issue he doesn't consider how not-work time is necessary for our lives. It's possible that this is all transitional contribution, that in weeks they will have adjusted and we will move to a sustainable new normal.

And then the emotional digressions.Collapse )

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bury the lede [Mar. 24th, 2019|08:46 am]
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Let's see. A bit of a blur this week.
Thursday: felt moved to draw runes to observe spring.

A new version of Outlook exposed "shared calendars" that i had linked to eight or more years ago, which hadn't been (prominently) visible in the versions of the software i'd used since. All but one of the calendars was for retired, laid off, or deceased people or for conference rooms that no longer exist. I decided i would remove these calendars, and by doing so, cancelled every meeting i had initiated (past and future) AND deleted all my calendar entries. It is an odd sensation to look at a completely blank work calendar.

Thursday night: Had dinner out with Dad, who related that Mom didn't want visitors because she would be indisposed. I should have thought to call before we left Apex. Read the remainder of the evening.

Friday: Dad called mid day to say Mom is coming home on Monday*. The therapists have not built a rapport with Mom and she doesn't trust them. They say she doesn't take direction. She has always shut down around loud urgent instruction (except when she'd start fighting with Dad over his tone of voice). Her sensitivity to what is loud is a little on the dysfunctional side: enthusiastic and energetic conversation would get labeled as argument.

I wrapped up work as well as i could, and then walked Carrie while Christine was running other errands. We didn't get far back into our woods before i found the skull of a six point (western three point) buck. Carrie was QUITE interested. We've put it on a tall stump in the back of the orchard (in a little area we've left wild). I don't think it's completely cleaned out: i suppose a soak in bleach water would be sufficient at this point, but leaving it where insects can complete the last bit of work seems reasonable.

Saturday: i left very early to join my sister at Dad's to plan and strategize. We went over four hours, and i think we came to some common understandings. The best part was role playing getting Mom to cooperate with some toileting issues: we worked on some language we hope will frame things so that she feels she has some agency but also doesn't provide triggers for arguments and tantrums. We moved some furniture around so there'd be some easier access which involved a little overriding Dad's resistance. He did admit it was better after.

In the afternoon i apparently gave in to retail therapy as we bought a high wheeled string trimmer and a new lawn mower (electric, push). Christine mowed the back yard with the reel mower, and i used the now nonadjustable-height and no longer "self propelled" gas mower to get a bit of the west side yard. The electric mower only runs for an hour at a time, so i figure pushing that long will be good exercise. The string trimmer is for any rough areas and so i don't need to worry about the electric mower's "strength".

I also got loppable branches off likely the last tree to be cleared from the meadow nee septic field. It's off the field, but close enough, and was bent over by vines and not attractive. There's a red-bud and a black walnut that could be cleared away from the boundaries but i feel confident that they won't cause issues. We do have autumn olive to still clear from the border of the field. I worked a little on some trees that had come down in the woods in the winter or the fall tropical storms: they seemed to have been dead as the branches were quite brittle. I didn't want to chip them, so i started yet another brush pile to be critter habitat.

Today i need to assemble a helmet to use with the chipper and the electric mower, begin mowing, chipping and attend to some plant issues. Maybe also plant beet seeds. And and and.

* Proposed date was Tuesday, but Mom has a Monday medical appointment. By having her depart on Monday, she has two ambulance trips instead of four.

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Happy Spring! [Mar. 24th, 2019|07:21 am]
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Happy spring! We've had cold temperatures early in the week including Wednesday morning dawning with 25°F. Dew points were lower than the temperature, though, so no frost. Our saucer magnolia only has a handful of petals with frost burn: it is still delightfully pink. The turnips and daikon radishes in the driveway island have yellow flowers indistinguishable (at a glance) from mustard flowers. On our north sloping property the redbuds just got to blooming on Friday, but all week when i was out and about i see their pink and purple buds along with the rusty red of maple trees.

Rain came -- an inch over Wednesday night -- and the Haw hit flood stage, and the soil is saturated once again. Places where the soil is bare in the orchard have such a hard clay surface. I walk around wondering if any of my flower seeds will set, and then wonder what magic the bittercress and chickweed have that they are so successful.

We do have a haze of green in the autumn olives, beginning to obscure the view through the woods, and along the woods line where afternoon sun can warm the soil, stilt grass has sprouted, prompting much profanity on my part.

The black cherry trees, which loose their leaves first in the fall, appear to have broken their leaf buds. The one i pollarded has tiny little leaf buds, barely discernible, at the top cut.

Corydalis flavula, what i call yellow fumatory, is blooming. (iNature calls it Pale Corydalis, but if you look that up you find a pink and yellow flower.) Down at the creek there's carpets of spring beauty. There's enough i could imagine foraging a meal (http://www.eattheweeds.com/spring-beauty/) but i won't. I fantasize about an asparagus bed (where the majority of the Houstonia pusilla is now, sigh) and imagine growing spring beauty mixed in, sharing the rich soil. (I also imagine growing saffron crocus in the patch.)

Driving around i see areas all purple from Lamium purpureum, henbit or red (or purple) dead nettle. It's considered invasive so i'm not encouraging it here. Admittedly i don't immediately go to yank it up the way i do a similar invasive Youngia japonica, oriental false hawksbeard, a close relation to dandelion except its flowers are shot up on a tall stalk. I've seen grey-green rosettes all winter and have grumbled at them, occasionally trying to extract the long taproot. Yesterday, i saw the blooming stalks beginning to emerge and eradicated some.

I stopped at the side of the road to examine a different carpet of purple: it turned out it was a small viola, a native johnny-jump-up, Viola bicolor. I added seed for the cultivated European Viola tricolor to a seed order. While V tricolor has been observed in the wild in the Carolinas, it is "uncommon" and found in "lawns, garden borders, railroad rights-of-way," so i won't be creating a problem. I note one gardening site comments that Viola bicolor can be "invasive", which would be great for my ground cover desires.

A male goldfinch is resplendent in breeding plumage and Slugger, the male cardinal, seems brighter as well.

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(no subject) [Mar. 19th, 2019|07:03 am]

I ordered a used copy of "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People" after someone quoted from it regarding tears and the different chemical constituents pointing to the release of stress hormones in some types of tears. Christine is incredibly empathic and i think i am too, a little bit.

I found it just a bit to much "try spraying rose water and lighting a white candle" for my taste. And it frustrates me, because i think there's some wisdom in the book. Part of me wants to yank the text apart and restructure it as a paced self exploration or as a first aid guide (admittedly, there is some inclination in the text towards the latter). I think of Julia Cameron's deft techniques for helping people lead themselves to self discovery: the content of Orloff's book could benefit from that. I can believe there's a need in self help books to stimulate creative problem solving by presenting a variety of solutions to help the reader discover the right solution for themselves, but i also think it helps to be clear about the general principle.

If i were to rewrite the book i think i'd have a section on refining strategies so they are meaningful for you with sections on senses, rituals, and visualization. The book had scattered sensory solutions: bringing them together in one place and systematically considering what stimulations are meaningful and then different ways to access them would support readers in creating a toolkit.

One visualization/practice in the book was to visualize washing away the stress in the showere. I've encountered a similar visualization in trauma healing, where the important point was a shower provides a whole body stimulation of the sense of touch. I know there are tapping therapies that similarly use touch stimulation. I imagine a chapter that asks the reader to first determine if the sensation of touch is one where they are oversensitive or is a sense through which they may find safety and solace. If touch was a modality that was helpful, the reader would be invited to explore different practices, and then a suggestion that the reader of come up with different ways to access that sense along with examples. "A shower," i would write, "might be accessible a few times during a day, but you can develop a practice of bringing your hands together so your finger tips rest in your palms as an immediately available focus while in a meeting or at a family dinner. Drinking water might offer a similarly accessible focus if the sense of cleansing or refreshment was what provided you the relief in the shower practice."

I am surprised i care so much.

I wonder if i was hoping for more help for myself from the book and i am disappointed.

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(no subject) [Mar. 18th, 2019|08:23 am]
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Another 28°F dawn. The dewpoint is lower than that, so perhaps that helps keep the saucer magnolia from losing its pink petals?

Pine warblers: i'd been mistaking them for goldfinches the past few months. There ARE goldfinches at the feeder: right now a male, coming into breeding plumage, is feeding away on sunflower seeds. (Does anyone ever visit the fancy finch feeder? Rarely. Squirrel proof and unattractive to birds. Grumble grumble.) But someone suggested my blurry photo of what i thought was a female goldfinch was a pine warbler. I scoffed. But the yellowish bird at the feeder the next time i looked had a small black bill, nothing like the thick triangular seed cracking bill of a finch.

I skipped Meeting and Meeting for Business yesterday. I will need to reengage with community, but at the moment, there's a weariness i get from some of the family care i'm engaged in right now. I wonder if this meeting always had waiting worship whether i would be attending more regularly.

It was a beautiful day and eventually i stopped lingering at the computer. Less lingering and more wrestling with decisions around shopping for my mother. Eventually i found pants that i think will be suitable for my mother, to replace the many many pairs i packed up on Friday. Christine and i strolled around enjoying the spaces we have curated from the overgrown wildness we moved to in 2016. The sun was blazing war despite the cool air, and i realized that i would rather visit my mother during the bright part of the day and then work outside in the shadows.

I took Mom a thermos of tea and a serving of cake. Our little picnic was a pleasure. I was able to show her before and after photos of her study so she would understand what i did in her space. To my relief, she was appreciative.

At home, i got the chipper fired up while Christine began lopping down some of the thicket area to the west of the driveway. At the end of our work, i felt the garden has sufficient chips for the moment. Tonight i'll chip, and the results will go to mulch around the fruit and nut trees in the orchard. Leaves raked up in the autumn provided some initial mulching, but it's far from sufficient for the summer growth season.

The garden is organized somewhat like an E, with the top of the E facing North and the long "spine" of the E facing west and the house. Border rows wrap around three sides, like the outside lines of the E, except my garden has gaps on the long border so one can enter the garden on either side of the center divide. The upper and lower white space of the E i refer to as "the squares." Each square has three rows running east to west.

Right now the top of the E -- the borders, north square and the center divide -- are all well tended. I'd shoveled out the soil from between the rows onto the rows over the fall months. I mulch as i can in between the rows, and all that mulch had pretty much disintegrated and blended with the clay. This winter i mulched the isles in the square with pine straw. Brown pine needles, it turns out, aren't the source of acid that i'd been taught. I hadn't enough pine straw for either side of the center row. I'd gotten cardboard on the ground, and with the chipping yesterday, managed to get the cardboard covered. It looks tidy at the moment: Christine is delighted. I am dubious it's enough to keep back the weeds of summer, but it's better than nothing.

The south square of the E has two rows of potatoes. They're planted in the clay with a thin layer of newspaper and then some old plants -- marigolds and holy basil -- and autumn leaves on top. When it comes time to hill the potatoes, i will dig out the isles. I ought to sharpen the shovels before then. With soil on top of the autumn leaves, they will decompose quite quickly in my worm-populated clay. I remain amazed at how quickly leaves and duff decompose in the heat and humidity.

I kept that end of the garden fairly well mulched over the winter, keeping back a decent amount of weeds. I added some of the greener chippings as mulch -- the twiggy bits of branches, including the autumn olive that is already leafing out. The nitrogen content might be enough to compost a little more quickly.

I finally had a decent amount of worm castings from the household worm bin. It wasn't fully digested, but it was black and rich. I plopped blobs of the thick black goo down the top of the row i plan to use for tomatoes. Right now Austrian winter peas are growing as a cover crop there. Hopefully it will be rich and delightful for tomatoes. I missed tomatoes last year - something nibbled on the plants and ate the fruit. I assume some combination of curious deer and squirrels. I also think the soil was too poor for the tomatoes to thrive. The volunteer tomatoes from the previous year (2017) grew out of the rich compost i used to build the hugelkultur. Hopefully this row will be satisfactory for tomatoes with the pea and worm contributions.

No rain in the forecast for a week!

8:30ish 2 AMGO, mNORC(g), CAWR, TUTI, CACH, MODO(g), WBNU 9:45

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