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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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View from the window [Jul. 15th, 2019|02:00 pm]
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Just watched a deer browsing & then go over to the treeline where her fawn joined her to nurse. Busy little tail! Also, the bearsfoot [some generic photos here] is now ten-plus feet tall under the tulip poplar, and it's blooming. The eastern tiger swallowtails adore the disheveled yellow flowers with a couple feeding on the flowers at almost all times. The native bearsfoot may not be as showy as the rose-of-sharon hibiscus trees we removed, but the butterflies love this as much -- and then the birds feed on the seeds in the fall.

In news i am not proud of, i participated in Amazon's prime day. Most of it was purchases i couldn't make near by and had saved in a list to make during the sale. That's a low grade action in disagreement with principles that i do all the time. The part i want to hold up to myself as "let's not make THIS a habit" is that i saved time by getting neem oil from the behemoth and not driving into town to get it. I promise to myself the next refill will come from the independent store (with no evening hours & closes at 3 on Saturday, closed Sunday) in town before i run out.

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Process [Jul. 15th, 2019|08:39 am]
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For the first time in months -- February or so -- i have gone through my "ticklers," tags i put on Evernote entries to either indicate i should throw them away at that point (easy) or consider them at that point (oof). The tags are for the first or fifteenth of a specific month, so loosely it's intended to be an every two week exercise. Past ElaineGrey really is optimistic about how much free time current ElaineGrey is going to have, i tell you.

This process is good, because if i do the ticklers in a timely manner i am reminded "Cherries are in season and this is a good place to order them from in Oregon to have shipped to my grandmother to remind her of her childhood there." There aren't many things that i think she enjoys but the cherries are a wonderful treat for her.

But it's bad (stressful, time consuming), too, because suddenly a stack of "to do"s suddenly show up, and my memory is refreshed regarding the importance. All the things i was carrying around in my head as being important suddenly get crowded by past ElainGrey's speculations of importance. It seems easier just to ignore everything than examine each to see what to do with it.

But that's what i spent much of the weekend doing. There are all the sorts of things that are important but so-not-critical, like getting carbon credits for driving miles,and how does that compare to other things on my list? I made progress on that (finding a place to buy the credits from as the link i had from some years back didn't seem reliable any more - no links to it from the organization's main pages).

I have to say, i appreciate past ElaineGrey when she had time to put an expiration date on things. I'm slowly getting into a habit of recording when i thought something went on a list and when i think it should be removed (as well as, when relevant, a get-done-by date). I'm slowly training myself to not think about it if there's a removal date in the past and remove it. There will always be more articles to read, more birthdays to celebrate*, and not my documentation of reading and gardening and what not will always be incomplete. (That's not all the things on the list but it's a sample.)

I looked ahead a little: the tag for the first of August doesn't seem very heavy. I'm heading to Ohio shortly after that. Anyhow, it seemed an incredible investment of time, but i hope if i can return to the habit it will ease things. Lists will get shorter, things done.

Inhale, ..., exhale. Inhale, ..., exhale. It may seem impossible and overwhelming, but it will be what it is. Ditto the yard. I went out yesterday at 7 pm and was soaked with perspiration just picking beans and okra. I'm feeling a huge wave of doubt, as the stilt grass reaches up and the goose grass smothers wild flowers, and so on. But there are little flowers here and there, surviving deer and Japanese beetles and competitors and neglect. And i am getting a meal of garden vegetables today at lunch. Let me affirm it's progress.

Somehow i need to find the spoons to harvest potatoes, whether i plant things there or not.

And of course i bought fall seed, which should be started soon.

* well, not _always_.

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(no subject) [Jul. 13th, 2019|05:24 pm]
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Edward brought a shrew in this morning to the "feeding station" and was gnawing on it. I took it away and was going to lead him outside to eat it there, but as soon as i took it, he turned to eating his kibble. Ok, then. We really want the hunter to eat his prey outside.

I thought to search for "cliché" regarding the bamboo flute sound cue. In Hymns for the Fallen: Combat Movie Music and Sound after Vietnam a composer named Kyle Eastwood speaks of avoiding bamboo flutes along with other clichés. I wish i had access to the whole book: it looks like one chapter might answer my question.

There's a plant i have been watching warily, growing just off the deck, crowding my scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). Today i took the time to key it out and was surprised and delighted to find it is sochan or green glow, Rudbeckia laciniata. It's a celebrated edible green by the Cherokee and a late blooming relative of blackeyed susans. I will probably transplant the plant this fall to my garden plot and hope that the hibiscus can thrive next year.

I took a loaf of my rye sourdough bread over to my parents' today. My brother was fixing lunch, and my sister's family was stopping by before she flies her kids to Montana and their other grandparents today. Mom seemed much better (yay!). There was expressed admiration for the bread so i sliced it all up and left it.

So for you all, here's a picture of three small slices from the more wet batter/dough that adhered to the tin sides and pulled off all the non-stick coating. Bottom and sides removed and thrown away. This is a salad plate: the slices are more like big cracker sizes than bread slices. I cut these for open tuna salad sandwiches, and i'd had all the crumbles toasted with yogurt for breakfast the past two days.

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Curiosity: foley tropes [Jul. 13th, 2019|07:07 am]

We were watching an X-Files (OMG, actors so young, hair so fluffy, mobile phones so clunky) last night and a little atonal two note flute motif played to hint to the viewer "Vietnam veteran." (Christine isn't sure if it's a minor second or perhaps an augmented fourth, not in a major key. She says there's a flutter involved as well.) I swear i've heard that same little motif used before to indicate "Vietnam!"

I presume it is the flute Wikipedia describes as
The sáo (also called sáo trúc or "sow trook", pronounced [ʂǎːw ʈʂǔkp]) is a small flute found in Vietnam that is traditionally thought to contain the culture and spirit of Vietnam's countryside.

That explains the instrument but not the two note motif. I assume the particluar interval between notes is common to Vietnamese music, but why do i know that? How did this auditory shorthand get to American culture so that i can hear two notes and know "Ah, this has to do with Vietnam"?

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Hans and the scatterbrained baker [Jul. 12th, 2019|07:42 am]

Yesterday at lunch i reread all the following steps for making the bread, but somehow missed the "And leave ca 6 hours into the warm place under a towel to rise." So after much wrestling with the large quantities of everything, i popped the un-risen loaves in the oven and baked them.

There was some ambiguity in the instructions about the dough consistency. You were to add flour until the dough didn't stick to your hands, but pour the dough into the pan. So i poured the mixed-to-recipe dough-batter into one pan, and then kept adding flour for the other three loaves. Loaf number one adhered to the side of the pan so solidly that it pulled the teflon off the pan. I cut all the sides and bottom off the loaf and tossed that, and the pan, in the trash. The three other loaves were made differently: one was made with dough i could sort of handle and plopped in a pan, another was made into a round boule and placed on top of grits in a covered cast iron pan, the third more loaf shaped and on grits on the pizza stone. A half sized cookie sheet with grits made for a perfect device to slide the loaf onto the stone.

I'm eating the bread from the pans first. The free hand bread has been wrapped and put in the freezer. The pan loaf is wrapped and in the pantry. The "wet" loaf with sides removed is in a tub in the fridge. I may move the pan loaf to the fridge: that's where the packet on the commercial pumpernickel says to store that bread.

The bread tastes a bit like grape nuts.

[Intense & long work day otherwise. Did chat with mom's occupational therapist.]

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Hans, the yeast colony [Jul. 10th, 2019|09:41 pm]
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So, It's been well past the advised 5 days of feeding and nurturing a colony. Hans is bubbly and makes "hooch" (as some blogger described a liquid that collects on the top of a colony that could use more feeding). I increased the flour in response to the "hooch." I haven't witnessed it surging in volume, though. Impatient, and not trusting my attention span, i decided to mix up the first dough today.

Well, this recipe i have: it is HUGE. 1.5 kilograms of flour, 3 and a third pounds. I don't know why i didn't think to halve it until i was attempting to mix, split between my largest bowl and another giant cake pan, the instructed half the flour (.75 k), the 1.5 liters of warm water, and Hans. Bubbling commenced as soon as i was mixing. Once blended i could pour it all into the cake pan and there was some room at the top. I've put it in the oven and have periodically turned on the light to keep it warm. The house is above 70°F, but i'm feeling like perhaps a little warmer won't hurt Hans, as they seemed quite happy when the warm water was added.

The scent when i open the oven is fairly strong: yogurty came to mind at first, but it's richer now. The "preferment" has risen to the very top of the pan, but seems stalled at the top. (That's pre-ferment, not prefer-ment, as i misread it for a while.) I have a sheet pan to catch anything that spills over.

I guess it's working?

--== ∞ ==--

For the Singing Revolution in Estonia, the documentary (https://singingrevolution.com/) is available to rent via Amazon's streaming service.


I hope to at least sketch out notes for speaking in Meeting, so i will write more.

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(no subject) [Jul. 10th, 2019|07:02 am]
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I'm not obsessed, but i am fascinated by the Estonian Singing Revolution. Last night i went over to be with Mom, sister-in-law M---, and niece S---. Mom asked me to share more about my trip, and i told the story of the Estonian Singing Revolution and the song festival. We watched the opening of the festival on YouTube entertained by the variety of costume, amazed by scale.

I'm planning on speaking about it as one of my topics for Meeting in August, inspired by the non-violent nature of the revolution. This morning i pieced together a timeline prior to the 1917 declaration of independence, and came to understand more how Estonian history is dominated by Russia and Germany. In a sense, even though Estonia was part of Czarist Russia in the 1800s, the nobility were German.

Mom still looks so faded with the exhaustion brought on by the complications from the biopsy. Dad too is exhausted. My brother's clan departs today, while he stays on a few more days.

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Really?? [Jul. 8th, 2019|03:45 pm]
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You deserve a new tee. And a hoodie. And a trucker hat to match. Check out the [Place I Work] Apparel Store and get your hands on the hottest label in fashion. Ordering is easy and you’ll always be in style at the office.

Erm. I dunno. I don't recall the Ohio office being quite that casual.

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(no subject) [Jul. 8th, 2019|08:17 am]
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Yesterday managed to be full with Meeting and accompanying my sibs and their kits (and my brother's wife) to Pittsboro's Summerfest. It was definitely a kid-stimulation event and less interesting for adults (admittedly, we skipped the music and laser show). My nephew D was a good sport and took pies in the face and later, suffering from the sticky, asked the dunk tank folks for a couple goes at being dunked.

The storefronts on the little two block main street are shifting a little from funky local upcycling to a little more boutique mass manufactured. My continuing vision of making soft goods from fabrics with surface designs from locally themed photos could still find a home. I need to work out efficient hemming or edging for silk and chiffon scarves as well as for tea towels.

I was happy that the restaurant i picked, The Root Cellar, suited everyone. It's a sort of southern deli with farm-to-fork leanings. The seating area is open enough that we weren't going to feel crowded. Salads for those who wanted (me) or needed (brother N--) them, a turkey Ruben my sister (alpha gal) could have, and a broad selection of beef and poultry to keep the Muslim carnivores happy.

The humidity outside is significant, condensation to the top of the windows. I had a nagging worry about condensation on the external wall board, but surely the point is that is insulated, and the air gap between the wall board and the sheetrock buffers the temperature difference?

Carrie seems better with antibiotics after her digestive upset following the flu shot. Who knew dogs got flu shots?! Ah, outbreaks in NC: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx

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(no subject) [Jul. 7th, 2019|08:37 am]
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I am groggy this morning, partly because i stayed up late watching Unlocked. I didn't pay attention to the beginning of the film while Christine was watching, assuming i would finish editing some photos and go to sleep. Then the action picked up, and i engaged. Reviewers seem to have not found the movie particularly good, but it seemed like a reasonable performance of a espionage/suspense film where the budget didn't cover outrageous locations, dress, and vehicles. What i delighted in was

* how the protagonist CIA agent and her collaboration with the head of MI5 were both competent and believable women,

* how the protagonist as interrogator succeeded by NOT being abusive but skillfully manipulative,

* how the person who was initiating the attacks is a "trust fund" convert to Islam and spoilerCollapse ),

* how only Orlando Bloom played the eye candy.

The only negative stereotype unsubverted was for Rottweilers. So, there's that. Well, i suppose spoilerCollapse ).

My evening watching was meant only to include an episode of Good Omens which i am enjoying, fairly uncritically. I find myself speculating about how Amazon and Netflix, as studios, seem to be producing such visually lavish stories: i suspect a large CGI budget. The animated openings, including the glorious crown for The Crown to the more comic animation of Good Omens seem hallmarks of the studios, although i was fascinated how in episode 3 of Good Omens the opening credits run half way through the episode.

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(no subject) [Jul. 6th, 2019|07:30 am]
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Brother's family has arrived for summer visit, and i went over for dinner and fireworks last night. The fireworks were acquired "South of the Border" although likely not at "South of the Border." South Carolina's stretch of I-95 is extremely long across the heavily farmed, flat coastal plain, and i imagine stopping for fireworks was a welcome respite. I recall one Christmas or New Years we went to see my dad's step mother in Georgia and arrived there with fireworks. I presume we also acquired those in South Carolina, although my main recollection was my father's fuss at us to all stay safe. No such fuss was occurring last night.

As a non-parent i observed and affirmed it was OK to be worried when my niece expressed her concern. Consider my eyebrow raised at my sister's willingness to bring her dogs out (although they were barking left inside the house, so) and for her horse to be trotting about in a little ... well, some of it could have very well been curiosity and not agitation.

I used to delight in fireworks but i've lately become quite stuck in the mud. The visual spectacle is accompanied by critter-distressing sound and toxic metals explosively distributed around, along with other increase to particulate matter in the air. At least it had rained recently: i was still nagged by a worry of a fire starting as well.

My brother's athletic son earned the Boy Scout sharpshooter badge at some camp last week with no previous training: i assume he managed to get all the coordination genes i managed to miss. Meanwhile, his older brother spent the week charter fishing, catching amberjack and barracuda.

This morning the windows are covered with condensation (outside humidity condensing on the exterior). Other than acquiring more neem oil at the local farm store to keep the Japanese beetles in check (Why o why do they not eat the stilt grass?), hiding inside appeals to me. I should minimally get my expenses from travel complete, and if i could actually get some real work done it would be good. My week was not productive.

Hans had their fourth feeding of flour and water this morning: recipes say they should be bubbling up in volume tomorrow. Or in the next few days. This uncertainty is surely part of the attraction to instant yeast, but with rye, the fermenting apparently works some wonders with the different levels of protein.

I stopped sprouting the rye "berries" yesterday and put them to dry on the dehydrator racks, but not in the dehydrator. Apparently, the enzymes are easily deactivated by heat. My dehydrator seems to work very quickly and doesn't have any controls on the heating temperature: i suspect it runs too warm for the enzymes one wants from malt. I am tickled to make my own malt and understand what it's about. In future loaves i hope to just add sprouted grain.

Breakfast will again be vacuum packed German pumpernickel which is just not as delicious as it could be. I'm spreading my yogurt on it. All the reading about fermenting dough has put me in proximity to reading about cheese, yogurt and other dairy ferments: i think i'll stick to merely draining more whey out of yogurt and not take up yogurt or cheese making. Paneer is tempting, although reading it's "nearly identical to Mexican queso fresco" raises the prospect of using that instead.

Mom is looking very wan. The x-ray notes about "small pneumothorax," now a "small hydropneumothorax" and a new "basilar atelectasis" are distressing when i look up these words which all lead to descriptions like "collapsed lung." Dad, too, is drained. The bounce from the "non cancer" diagnosis has faded. I feel a small guilt: if i hadn't read about the spot on the February CAT scan she would not have undergone the two invasive and tiring biopsies. Is this going to trigger a "fibrosis flare"? Spending more time in bed is not a good outcome for stroke recovery. I watch her folding up into a little package, and think about the long term care she would need, and how poorly she responded to loosing her independence.

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Thing i didn't know i needed: butterfly net [Jul. 5th, 2019|07:36 am]
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I have used the butterfly net three times in the past week and a half since returning from travel. Two evenings i scooped up flying bugs in the living room and evacuated them. Just now i scooped up a vole that presumably Edward had brought in and evacuated it (to the front of the property, away from my fruit trees).

I don't mind Edward eating voles -- outside. But this one looked (relatively) uninjured as Edward tracked it going back and forth along the base of the wall.

We have moths and other flying bugs in because they are attracted to the lights through the window of the deck door and, as Carrie comes and goes, the flying critters come and go as well.

It's been so easy to capture the critters and get them outside with the net. I'd gotten it because we leave the door open on the screened in porch for the cats to come and go, but i've used it inside more than in the porch so far. I think i could even scoop up a snake with it. Maybe. The rat snake that was in the house was quite large.

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(no subject) [Jul. 4th, 2019|07:50 am]
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For your fourth of July amusement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXZGsqy-sRA

I just startled a small herd of deer in the meadow when i went to dump the compost bucket. One was very visible and gave the snorting alarm call (which startled me) and then bounced away with those springing leaps to clear the high growth of wildflowers and grasses. Another darted out and i heard several more moving in the undergrowth. Perhaps this herd has been hanging about the house all night, and are what Carrie was barking at in the wee hours?

Yesterday, there was a snakeskin on the side of the house, running along the foundation with the head end stuck under the siding. Christine managed her discomfort with that observation, with the siding just on the other side of the wall from our bed, with aplomb. I explained how there was a sheet of insulation board between the inside of the wall and the siding. Snakes in the house: one was enough, no more please.

Carrie has been odd about going out the deck door in the evening. One theory is she is perturbed by The Toad who sits on the door sill, in the shadow of the interior lights spilling through the French windows. I assume The Toad is hunting. How they found their way up on the deck to hunt impresses me, but i guess they must hear the fluttering of moth wings?

Carrie's nighttime agitation disturbed my plans to wake early and get going outside. The will has drained away.

Last night i forgot to feed Hans, my sourdough yeast colony, but they seemed happily bubbly this morning. I did drop some blue berries in yesterday morning, so that probably helped. Next to Hans is the sprouter with the rye grains that soaked most of yesterday and spent the night in a thick layer around the side of the tilted sprouter. I also started some red clover sprouts too. I'm missing greens from the garden. I keep trying to repeat the year where i had such good kale and collard growth.

I bought oat bran at the co-op yesterday. Oat bran is remarkably more expensive than wheat bran. I figure i will try and make the recipe as written once and then move on from there, quite possibly going straight to "why add bran at all?" I do love how this bread recipe is written: "A few deciliters of oat bran." I guessed, looking at a liter bottle in the store that "a few" would be around a cup, and the internet confirms that.

[Day interrupts]

I did make the falafel waffles from https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2015/12/fantastic-falafel-waffles/ (well, a half batch) and find that it's missing the oil that it would have been fried in. Next time i'll use oil in the mixing of the dough.

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Estonian Leib [Jul. 3rd, 2019|06:10 am]
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Yesterday i started on two culinary adventures. One is less dramatic falfel waffles from here.

The other is making a rye sourdough starter from wild yeasts. Some recipes [here] indicate that there are yeasts enough in the flour. I found another recipe that used rhubarb from the garden, which called to mind Pascal Baudar's advice of using foraged plant matter (juniper berries or other berries or grapes) that have a bloom [here].

While the sourdough starter gets underway, i should receive sproutable rye seeds today. I'll sprout those and then dry the grains to make my own malted rye flour. After reading the internet for a bit, i understand the point of diastatic malt in bringing enzymes to the party.

Once i have my malt and starter, i can move on to actually making Estonian black bread. I bought a packet of Must Ronk leib as i was leaving Estonia and ate it as part of my picnic meals for the rest of my trip. Oh i did love that bread, and the black pumpernickel vacuum packed in the international section is a pale semblance.

I'd thought of making my own rye bread before, but life is short. However, if i can pull off the rich tenderness of Estonian bread, well, life is enriched by a good bread.

I also think that the rye bread agrees with me far more than white bread. I'm not sure what it is about wheat breads that is problematic. It's not gluten. Someone suggested it might be yeast, but i'm not confident that's it either. I felt fine with rye during the trip, so i am hoping investing time in lieb, the Estonia black rye bread, will be good for my health, too.

Back to the Estonian recipe: i wonder how important the oat bran is.

Now i want pickled herring and black bread for breakfast. Sigh.

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(no subject) [Jul. 2nd, 2019|07:21 am]
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Lots of things backed up in my mind.

It's hot and dry. I'm trying to plan for the day off for the 4th so that i can be outside in the early hours. What i actually do then is open: I think the longest term benefit will be actually getting the water tank rigged up. If we actually get a rain storm in the afternoon, i'd be prepared.

Yesterday i was back to work: a little overwhelmed by it. A colleague laughed when i said i felt slow: we have a chance to keep up, she then said. I can take that in stride, i think.

Friday: harvested one sixth of the potatoes and felt daunted. Not the most rewarding return on the Dark Red Norlands. 1:2.7 lbs. I remind myself that my current goal is feeding the soil to get it more loamy than clay. Then there can be an effort to increase the nutrients in the soil. Then i might see a better response.

I'm growing sweet corn for the first time. The corn is tasseling -- the top pollinating "flower" has appeared -- but i don't see any ear development. "Tassels normally appear 2 to 3 days before silk emergence." [here]

I'd like to get some purple popcorn in on the 4th. I have enough time if i can find the room for it. What i tried planting in the drive circle suffers from not being irrigated and from being deer trampled, i think. There might be some sorghum or corn sprouts but what the deer might have ignored in previous years -- tender green shoots when everything was tender and green -- is probably highly attractive at this time of year.

The deer are eating everything tender except the stilt grass and the goose grass.

I read a book on foraging that included using grass frequently. I wonder if stilt grass or goose grass have any pleasant flavor notes.

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Still recovering [Jun. 28th, 2019|08:25 am]
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I'm thankful i took this time off, disappointed i have to use it recovering -- but not surprised. I did dehydrate green beans and a handful of okra yesterday. I also found some advice on what to do with old okra pods here. Since i was stripping out bean and pea pods, stripping out okra pods was no big deal. In rosemary steeped water (used to steam blanch the green beans) i cooked fresh beans, a variety of random peas, and the okra seeds and half of the young okra pods. Lunch for today: we'll see if it's edible. The peas are probably Australian winter peas, remnants of my green mulch that over took the snow peas.

I'm hoping the green beans kick back into productivity with all the heavy pods removed.

My worms, i think, have died, or at least they haven't moved up the stack of food and bedding.

Shall i dig potatoes today? Mow? Weed the flower bed berm? Weed whack?

I don't think i'll end up binging on TV shows like i did yesterday afternoon, because i've remembered to take my antidepressant, Bupropion, which gives me an edge on motivation. I finished the Netflix series High Seas aka Alta Mar, a period mystery that became a bit more soap opera than i prefer. The story isn't finished so i suppose more episodes might come along.

I also finished The Good Witch a cloyingly sweet, small town magic makes everyone better series. I got hooked hoping the witchy part would become a story arc, but no. I kept watching because it was a known quantity that was not depressing even if i found it an incredible fantasy laced with feel good moralizing, with incredibly challenging relationship problems resolving in one or two nights at the Grey House Inn. OMG the wealth needed to make the story plausible. Everyone's businesses just thrive unless it's part of the moral point.

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Morning in Sweden [Jun. 23rd, 2019|06:25 am]

The hostel I am staying in is apparently where my great great grandfather worked, making paper pulp from all the forests around. They would either walk the route I drove between Noli in Ekena:s on Lelang* lake and Gustavsfors ( Gustavs' Ford?) here on the canal.

Yesterday I watched the east coast islands of Sweden go by. Small homes dotted the shore, flags flying proudly on Midsummer, a nationa flag day. A terribly expensive taxi from the ferry to an urban neighborhood Hertz, where I had a short panic that I would be stuck. First figuring out how to get to the kiosk i trusted to be there, then that I had a creditcard the kiosk would take. That settled I risked the door code was single use to go to the grocery for a lunch. Caffine was a packet of instant co ffee in carbonated mineral water. Then out into the lightly travelled Midsommer roads, thank heavens. Five hours across Sweden including a break to call Christine and Mom.

Since I crossed at the same latitude I didn't see too much dramatic difference in landscape and plants. My cousins explain most of the agriculture is to the south which is flat (and presumably less dotted with glacial Erratics.) Various con ifers and birch es, meadows, and horse fields. Flowers - daisy s and larkspurs and then fields of lapine s.

I have apparently left the power converter . for wall to all my USB cables on the ferry. I powered my phone from my laptop last night and will likely turn things off. The car has its own GPS so I will usethat for the return. I was a little flustered on discovering the gap but - it will all work out I trust. Still...

The light is glorious so i will have a bit of a walk before breakfast before rejoining my cousins. They apparently had grown up hearing much of their American cousins. Photos and visits to houses and churches today.

I am so longing for home, but such a special visit here at the end. My genealogy booklet was a hit!

* a with circle above

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(no subject) [Jun. 21st, 2019|07:37 pm]

I am so lucky: i have wifi in this cabin! I'm on the 8th deck instead of the 5th, and i think i sense a bit more motion. There's not much. The purr of equipment persists, which seems odd. I thought one of the party lounges was below me.

I started the day tired, uncertain how i would spend the hours free in Tallinn. Despite my sore feet, i walked and walked: 16651 steps as of now.

I left the hotel about 10:30 by taxi to the ferry terminal. Traffic was a mess with construction. There i stashed my over-stuffed back pack in a locker. (Did i actually lock the locker? I was able to get my bag out without paying.) I set out, encountering even more construction. I had thought of returning that way, and i was glad to have dealt with the chaotic path early on. I am a little jealous of visitors in a year or so. The construction i encountered was part of the installation of a beautiful promenade on the coast. I got a little trapped: the path to a monument (built in 1902 in memory of the loss of the Rusalka in 1893), which had no exits back to the other side of the construction for a long way. I did have a sprite at the monument: it tasted very different. I suspect it had an artificial sweetener, but i couldn't see any indication of that. I persisted along the trail, and eventually ended up across from the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, site of the Singing Revolution in 1988. I find the thought of a nonviolent revolution quite inspiring and heartening.

From there i walked to the art museum via a little residential street Kuristiku which turned into a trail in the Vabakujunduslik ("Free-form Park"). [12:48 pm] I assume "free-form" refers to how it is meadow-like with high grasses. I found it quite lovely. At the art musuem the restaurant was closed, but the cafe was open. Iced coffee, falafel and a rum-chocolate cookie restored my energy. I considered visiting the exhibits, but i was weary and felt staying at the art museum would put some pressure on getting to the ferry on time. I wandered the formal gardens and the park for a while, and then fiddled with the phone. I finally got a response when attempting to get the usage statistics on my Orange Holiday SIM card: i have plenty of data to sustain my drive across Sweden. Relieved, i called Christine and Mom and my sister.

I took a bus from the park to the Rotermanni area: an area of urban renewal with old brick warehouses reused and glossy contemporary buildings built right next to them. It was just a little too hip and polished for me. I decided to spend the last hour in a mall next to the ferry terminal, and visited the Rimi hyper market. I managed to spend most of my last euros on a light dinner for myself (to add to the fine aged Gouda i had picked up a few nights ago) and some Tallinn branded sweets as gifts. No licorice.

[I swear the weather man on the Swedish news channel looks like and has the mannerisms of a young Hugh Laurie -- particularly the wry smile.]

Here on the ship though, there is licorice in large containers. I've bought some, and walked the decks enjoying the sunshine and long golden hours. We should be in the Stockholm archipelago when i wake.

Hopefully the music from the lounge won't keep me up.

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Tuesday Morning! [Jun. 19th, 2019|07:57 am]
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Written Tuesday Morning:

Yesterday was enjoyable presentations and intense break periods and a long working dinner. I did wander old town for a bit in the morning, mostly seeing the historic Estonian governmental area and then visiting the apothecary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raeapteek). The long working dinner was at farm-to-fork restaurant, Leib, named after the local black bread.

I again made a meal from the small plates: the beetroot tartar with grilled sourdough and spruce sprout cream and the fish sausage with black bread, seaweed mayonnaise, pickled onion and cucumber salad. The fish sausage was more of what i would have called a paté. I was less than impressed with it, even accounting for the lack of what i consider sausage-ness. The food was quite pleasant, but did not have intense flavors from the spruce or seaweed coming through. On the other hand, it was a working dinner, so my attention was more on the complexity of the system i have to bring into being.

My colleague described the breakfast at her hotel, which sounded even more amazing than this hotel's. Reindeer sausage!

OpenWeatherMap does not work for Tallinn. I look at other websites that predict highs in the 80s on Thursday and worry that we will swelter inside the conference venue. Like older places in the Bay Area, there's not enough of a need to air condition to handle many people in a space on a warm day. The contemporary hotel i am in doesn't offer air conditioning, either.

Things i an unlikely to use this trip: my shawls, my sweater, the new shawl/sweater i bought for myself, and the long sleeve shirt. Actually, i will probably use some of them on Saturday morning as the ferry travels the coast of Sweden. The raincoat, too, looks less valuable than planned. I'll get use from that at home.

I am pondering whether i will wear a tank top under the tank dresses for modesty or just live with the scoopy neckline: scoopy neckline it is. (The camisole bra doesn't come up high enough to look like an intentional layer. Fie. I have a light shirt i can wear as a jacket over until i get too warm. Today is my bold "You can't miss me" outfit of a tangerine orange tank-sleeved but long-skirted dress. I feel absurd, and i know this makes me far more memorable than i want to be. (Yesterday, in my bright pink floral top i knew i stood out in the sea of muted blue, greys, and blacks.) The knit shows all my lumps, and i need to stop before working myself up over appearance. I don't think people usually LOOK at middle aged women anyhow.

Months ago I'd let Christine know that if she wanted to get me something for the trip, some new fun socks would be welcome. Socks plural, because one needs the pair. She bought me seven pairs, far more than "traveling light" would dictate. Five were inspired by artworks, and today i am wearing "The Scream" with the almost matching orange sky.

The bead containers i bought to store jewelry pills and dabs of various lotions and creams have worked wonderfully. I've happily used all the tech i've brought with me, although i am dubious about my photography. Snaps on the phone might have been just as effective? But i'll tote the camera along for the dinner tonight at the maritime museum.

This morning i could not force myself to make it to the first sessions. The instant coffee is also turning out to be a good thing to have packed.

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(no subject) [Jun. 17th, 2019|07:32 am]
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My sleep Saturday night is best summed up as too hot, too narrow, too achy, and too much light. Sunday morning as too much anxiety about public speaking.

Sunday's breakfast in the hotel was amazing. Surely a special day buffet i thought as i restrained myself from binging. Being in a state about work, i didn't think to take a photo. I described it to a colleague who advised that, no, this is not unusual, and i'd probably see the same the next day. And lo!

Baltic foods for breakfast

Clockwise, from top: brown bread, cheese, and tomato, a second brown bread, cheese, and tomato, herring in mustard sauce, a green salad with cherry tomatoes, black olives, and generous amounts of lox.

Indeed, it is all here again, except i think there was a sweet, layered pastry (cake!) that isn't here this morning. Oh, and 7 minute eggs, which i think are probably runny in side? Soft boiled? I wont miss them. There's a fine tray of scrambled eggs from which i helped myself yesterday, today i was bold enough for salad for breakfast. The tomatoes are from Spain; i am advised by the fresh market i went to on Saturday. They are delicious. So much beautiful food. I shudder to think of the hotel breakfasts in America where the height of dining is making your own waffle.

Dinner last night was improved heartily by bumping into tow women from the conference who were going to a locals restaurant at the end of the street from my hotel. My random choice of a restaurant was closed: they swept me up and we went to Pööbel, on Google maps as a bar, but with a fine menu on the first page before three packed pages of beers and cocktails. I dined on Estonian sandwiches and a salmon salad.

"Barley bread with egg butter and beef liver pâté, black bread with mushroom salad and spiced sprats" which they adapted for me to leave off the beef, put the sprats over the egg butter and the mushroom salad stood on it's own. I did not notice the mushrooms.

"Salmon alder - smoked in the morning served with green salad" The fresh smoking was a revelation: a glaze of smoky flavor on the rich fish -- how can i describe how fresh smoke tastes?

We ate outside where the long evening light was wonderful, although the sun in the trees at nine pm was disconcerting.

I slept better last night, pushing the beds closer so i wouldn't toss everything to the floor. The feather comforter was already folded in the corner. And i kept the eye mask on more successfully, probably due to less tossing.

Yesterday was filled with crystal clear sunshine. Today it's overcast and i wonder if i will need a sweater today. Probably tonight. It is, of course, this morning that i have to wander a bit before the conference proper begins with the plenary at 11. I'll take the camera and wander more through the old city.

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Saturday night [Jun. 17th, 2019|07:30 am]

An advertisement runs on the TV: A young handsome father is reading the paper, young children run past him to where the beautiful young wife is reading the same paper on her iPad. The house interior has rustic Baltic charm. Husband puts down the paper and joins the family at the breakfast table where the brown bread is lovingly slathered with butter and lingonberry juice is poured with lingonberries dancing in the crystal pitcher. The family gets in the car, husband now wearing a pull over in the Estonia flag blue with traditional patterns, aerial photos of the car driving through birches and other trees, wind blowing the branches, then the family parks with other cars beside the road, joining a great crowd. The father lifts the son up to his shoulder and the scene shifts to the view of the filled Song Festival Grounds.

I tear up.

Curses, sentimental patriotic advertisements (for the local paper) works in any language.

OK, now the weather announcer is giving the weather from the beach -- she's young, blonde and in a bikini. I swear all the temps are in the Celsius teens. But today's high was 20°C (67°F), and i was so toasted walking in the sun in a sleeveless top.

The energy in the town was very festive. Today they are celebrating the first mention of the city in chronicles from 800 years ago. Perhaps that was why everyone was so festive, or maybe it's just that it's midsummer week and a lovely Saturday.

From the Visit Tallinn websiteCollapse )

The fashion sense is diverse and creative where i was wandering.

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Adventures continue [Jun. 15th, 2019|10:21 am]
Here are two selfies from yesterday: one waiting for the never-to-arrive bus near wild roses, the other departing Stockholm. I have failed to get any work done. I thrashed on where to be (cabin with no wifi, on deck?), how to pack, and so on. I hope the wifi will keep working for some time after the ferry docks. The preoccupation with settling and not being able to ... ah well. I expect that the trip back will be a little less befuddled.

I did sleep wonderfully. I woke only once to a very loud engine: perhaps leaving Mariehamn. My room was in the stern of the ferry and the gentle rumble filled the cabin like being inside a cat’s purr box.

I seem to have successfully dealt with jet lag with my day of walking around Stockholm.  I welcomed the breakfast buffet  at 7 am. The crowd at that time was mostly seniors and a few Asian families. I suspect jet lag with the Asian families.  The Scandinavian woman i sat with mainly ate fruit for breakfast: i wonder if it her choice was that of a diet or if the fruit was more of a treat than the many dishes laid out. I had the following

Karelian fish pie: no flavor, really. After yesterdays salad from the grocery store with so much salt in the tiny shrimp and the dill cream, i was surprised at little salt in the pie
Pickled herring, silky and fish-y, and lox, with pleasant intensity.
Tomatoes  -- surprisingly good with a tart bite of acid and some flavor --  and cucumber slices.
Spinach Quiche
Tiny popovers that looked like very puffed quarter (the coin)-sized pancakes: eggy and subtly sweet.
A wonderful dark rye bread (no gluten) with cheeses.
Lingonberry juice
Yellow label Lipton tea

I should have tracked teas so far although the most delightful were in the Air France lounge. The cafe tea (i'm on my second cup as i write now) is Teavana English Breakfast.

I still have a bun from the grocery store yesterday that i will likely have for lunch. I expect i will meet up with a colleague for dinner.

 OK, now that we are docked, let me work a little on the presentation. PANIC.

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(no subject) [Jun. 14th, 2019|02:14 pm]

Flight almost as expected but with better food and "landscape cameras"- a video feed of the airscape forward from the plane and the landscape under.

Success switching sim card!

Syncing data on the bus from the airport wasn't quite as successful. I've odd behavior with Evernote on the data signal. I Expect it will be better on wifi.

The transfer from subway to bus to - go to the ferry and Stash my luggage has not gone as well as I would wish. Too many bus shelters. I missed one and then there seems to be a major delay with the next. Not the most lovely place to wait but I have a seat. ( And given my .sleep deficit: Whatever.)

-__ TIME PASSES -- -

Ok, when the arrival time came and was changed the third time I got a cab. Expensive stashing of luggage, but now I have my boarding pass and know when I can go to my room. I have walked 12k steps from the ferry to downtown and need to leave enough foot energy to get to the ferry bypassing the stop with the missing connection.

There are many cyclists, few wearing helmets. Also scooters. Also sort of use your best judgement at intersections- few stoplights. I am going to drive here?! OMG

The afternoon is quite beautiful-- great light.

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(no subject) [Jun. 13th, 2019|12:50 pm]
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Air France lounge at OHare

So, yesterday evening my flight from Raleigh Durham was cancelled. I found out after i came in from working in the yard, wet from rain and decorated with grass clippings. I will admit to some frantic behavior as i dialed the corporate travel agent and then tossed the phone to Christine so i could get a shower. By the time i was out, i'd been rebooked on an earlier ... 5:30 am ... flight. That added two hours to my six hour layover.

The lounge has wifi, free food and drink including champagne, and comfortable seats next to a power outlet. Excellent tea! The tea descriptions even distinguish China from Indian blacks.

I fear i have mainly been productive in going through Google Docs and trying to make the documents available off line. I suspect i will have intermittent networking access until i check into my hotel in Tallinn. No wifi in the rooms on the ferry, even though the operator notes, "As people need Internet access nowadays almost as much as air...." There is access on the public decks.

Presentation angst.

Well, i am going to read and eat couscous salad and drink the red wine before saddling myself back up and getting some waking in.

I would feel far more comfortable if there was a gate for my flight.

In reading news, let me point you to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/420370544/shadows-of-hyperion. I've enjoyed the Grand Central Arena series by Ryk E Spoor and would be delighted for Ryk to have the capacity to write another entry. It's a fascinating universe and i'm curious about it and the characters. You can start the series with a free Kindle copy: https://smile.amazon.com/Grand-Central-Arena-Ryk-Spoor-ebook/dp/B00APAH4ZO/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=ryk+e+spoor&qid=1560448747&s=gateway&sr=8-3

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(no subject) [Jun. 12th, 2019|02:40 pm]

It is fascinating how my body can go from one worry to the next.

Yesterday Christine drove me to the hospital so i would arrive with Mom and Dad at the arrival time (30 minutes in advance of the appointment). detailsCollapse )
In short, assuming the biopsy indicates cancer, Mom will receive the highly targeted radiation treatments for the larger nodule. The radiation treatment plan for the smaller nodule is still to be determined: wait and see or go ahead with a second series of treatments.

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(no subject) [Jun. 11th, 2019|06:22 am]
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In today's language adventure news, the survival phrases in Swedish audio book gets "Please" wrong, and repeats "Tak" ("Thank you").

It's a dialectal difference perhaps? Because otherwise i don't even know how one could make that mistake. It undermines my confidence in listening to the rest of the recording.

I note my temptation to rely on Google to be the definitive source for the translation. Oh the subtleties of idiom! "Jag är ledsen" is the translation of "I'm sorry" (from a phrase list, which is confirmed by Google). "Förlåt!" however is Google's translation of "Sorry!" (where i added the exclamation point to be sure that it is the translation of "Ooops, i didn't mean to do that-sorry!" not "You just told me something that makes you sad, I'm sorry."

In writing up my genealogy notes, i translated several paragraphs through google, going from English to Swedish and back to English, changing the source English until it lacked challenging idiomatic phrases.

I realize just how weak my listening skills are as i wonder why anyone would learn numbers as part of survival phrases. "I have fingers!" I think. But most people probably expect to understand the words they hear. I have curious issues with listening to others. It's not i am hard of hearing, but i am hard of parsing, if that makes sense.

This is such a distraction from what i should be doing: preparing for the conference.

I do hope that Mom's appointment is not as painful as my body seems to be making it out. (Although that may be travel and conference and public speaking stress.) Read more...Collapse )

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(no subject) [Jun. 10th, 2019|09:56 am]
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9:56 M is not here yet. Christine is cleaning all the things. And anxious about appearances. Tut.

I have a little sense of lead in my tummy and a general tightness about the body and a pulled feeling about my face. I know how i would name the feeling, but i have a suspicion feeling the feelings is going to be more helpful than naming. I suspect i misname feelings, much like how i would be so sad leaving the grocery store we now go to. I thought it was missing the one in California, which i found odd, and then realized it was the stress of beginning at the right where the bakery (and temptations) lay. Once i identified it was "bakery-first" that was the problem, we changed our route through the store and everything was better. I wasn't sad, i was stressed by the temptation at the beginning of the shopping hanging over me the whole excursion.

Now i think i'm empathizing with Christine while feeling overwhelmed about work expectations (which are not unreasonable). And, you know, triiiiiip. The new theft-resistant purse isn't quite as capacious as i was hoping. I can get the iPad in an outside pocket. The very lightweight, potentially flimsy, small messenger bag i have sitting around is a nice rectangular shape so even though some of the dimensions are smaller than that of the new bag, they are consistent throughout the bag.

Also in being away for 12 days: the yard. After the dry May, rain has inspired growth. It's a jungle out there, including so many bugs. There was some black cicada-like bug out there with a yellow abdominal spot on its side -- kind of like the pollen sacks on a bee. I think the wings were solid and not translucent. Swarms of small black caterpillars eating the leaves on the sunchokes and related bearsfoot. Iridescent and rapacious Japaneses beetles.

Hmm, if the bugs could appropriately trim things back......

Also, probably deep in my psyche, the oncologist visit tomorrow.

So many options!

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Genealogy [Jun. 10th, 2019|07:17 am]
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My mother, grandmother,  great grandmother, and infant self (December 1968)

My mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and infant self (December 1968)

I spent so much of yesterday poking at my genealogy database, generating reports, cleaning up photos, and writing some notes up. I've a 50 page booklet I intend to leave at the family home in Sweden outlining the descendants of my great grandmother who was born there.

It was also wet and dark. Ugh. We've had a perfectly acceptable amount of rain, but other areas seem to have been hit much harder: the river was high and muddy as i drove to my folks' house.

Today we have M coming to clean for us. She seems a bit of a character, keeping horses, has cadaver search dogs and goes off periodically to do cadaver searches, as well as piecing together a group of clients who engage her not just for cleaning but handling all sorts of details. An odd jobs woman. Anyhow, we'll see if we get along. She's a strong personality, and Christine seems a little daunted.

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(no subject) [Jun. 8th, 2019|08:25 pm]

In language amusement, the words for coffee, tea, and wine in both Swedish and Estonian sound familiar. Obviously, imported words for imported foods. Beer, however is öl in Swedish and õlu in Estonian.  Ah, this clarifies it for me, i should think of these as the words for "ale."

It's wet again, after the dry May. The Corepsis tinctoria is blooming in the orchard, the most successful of the wild flowers, so far. Fireflies have been abundant, visible out the windows even from well lit rooms.

I did pack a little more yesterday. But mainly i think i moped a good deal. I finished reading Dan Simmons' Hyperion. While clearly well done, the narratives -- it's the stories told by six pilgrims al la Canterbury Tales -- depressed me. A disappointed poet's life, a Heart of Darkness religious horror, some surreal interplay of war and sex with the grotesque imagery of Gerald Scarfe's work for The Wall, cyberpunk noir, planned revenge against the colonizers.... That was no help. The gloomy weather and oppressive humidity offered no escape outside. Christine and i are not looking forward to the long separation. I worry about my folks, about my yard. I trust that Christine's capacity for dealing with the elephants will be sufficient while i am gone, but memories of traveling when the elephants had the upper hand poke at my heart.

All will be well.

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