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Thursday, August 17th, 2017 08:39 am
[Sunday morning] I'm not sure it was rhetoric distressing me on Wednesday: i got myself into a right good funk though. Therapy was good, with gentle coaching through procrastination and the identification of a reward system for me.

I took Friday off, inspired by an errand i needed to run and, with the day cleared, i decided to spend the morning with my nephew & niece. We had breakfast at the classic small town restaurant (blueberry waffle & banana pancake for them, respectively, hashbrowns & eggs for us), a little visit to our home where they hadn't been for a while, and then -- yay, i found my beading tools! -- to their house for playing with beads for a bit. It was lovely, and now that i have all my kit, i should do it again in an organized way. Also, when my sister is there, so we can use her beads, too.

I'd made a bit of a mess trying to find stuff, so i spent some of Saturday in the residual moving task of sorting out jumbled stuff. We have many residual moving tasks lingering. I also fixed some jewelry of Christine's i'd said i'd fix and made the necklace and earrings to go with my Easter dress with the faceted yellow chalcedony and vermeil links and pendants i bought with birthday money from my grandmother. The dress is a 50s influenced, A-line dress in a print of lemons, so this necklace and earrings is a sparkling accent for that.

--== ∞ ==--

The week is flying by. Sunday i stopped by my parents after meeting, where "stopped by" means driving an extra 35 or more minutes. My parents are in the opposite direction of meeting. Later, as i was spraying my yellow squash and other cucurbits with a milk-soap-baking soda mixture, my dad stopped by to take a look at the crack in the slab in our front porch. He agreed with my assessment that the "fix" someone had applied in the past was part of the problem. He also knew a much better way to repair it than someone had told Christine. (That instruction was to essentially replicate the bad repair.) He confirmed it was a cosmetic and not particularly structural issue, and wouldn't stop thinking about the issue until he came up with a cause for the crack.

We also have an issue with the light that is not quite over the island in the kitchen: i think "Mr Handyman," the previous owner, caulked the halogen light bulb into the socket. I am happy for the excuse to replace the otherwise attractive but poorly located pendant lamp with a ceiling fan with lights.

Yesterday, my niece and nephew stayed with us during their parents' workday. They had to entertain themselves mostly, but over lunch we made oobleck, a non-newtonian fluid with interesting shear properties. That is, we mixed one part water with around two parts corn starch and examined how the behavior changed when you stirred it slowly vs quickly and a variety of other messy experiments. My favorite was watching an apparently solid chunk fly out of the container, hit me, bounce off, land on the counter and then slowly melt into a puddle.

Making gravy will never quite be the same.

I tried mowing last night, but somehow our lawnmower has lost the adjustments to the front two wheels and all one can really do is scalp the grass. There are some areas where that is desirable, but it was even scalping the moss, which isn't.

It's miserably humid, by the way. Miraculously the forecast for Monday is "clear", although the detailed prediction for Brevard, NC is 50% cloud cover in the afternoon. I've been trying to pretend like it's no big deal and have not been practicing camera stuff, etc. I guess i ought to be getting out the eclipse glasses and filters now, though.
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Sunday, July 16th, 2017 07:26 am
My brother's family's last day in NC was yesterday.

The morning i had hoped to get somethings done outside, but saw a message from my sister. I'd sent her the news from the local farm store: all Guinea hen keets and a collection of annual plant starts were all free on Saturday morning. She was on her way over, and i got her to pick me up. The keets were all gone -- and, no, i dunno why baby Guinea hens are called keets -- but there were still plenty of plants. I picked up basil and peppers and flowers. I've no idea if they will thrive now that they are planted, but the peppers have not (yet) been nibbled by the deer, unlike the ones i've got.

Home to see Christine on her way out to a work meeting, and there wasn't much time before i would head to lunch. Hmm, i don't recall what i did. I was rattling around a bit, and i finally decided i was going to go, and if i was early i'd fiddle with my phone. I arrived as my parents and brother's family arrived, which was a little early. It turned out my brother hadn't told my sister WHEN to meet for lunch.

That morning, my sister had shared her anger and distress over some theorized and proven behaviors of my brother's boys. Apparently, i need to mull over this indirectly. )

I spent a little time worrying about the kid stuff compounded with my brother's fairly typical failure to communicate, wondering how poor my manners would be if i ordered the catch of the day (grouper) instead of a more modest dish (trout), and shared the story of the freebies and making seed tape with my parents.

I ended up getting the trout, and in the first bite i managed to do myself injury. The pelvic and pectoral fins had been left on, but i didn't see them. In my first bite, i felt something sharp and i realized i had swallowed a fin in the pointy-side first direction. I worried a bit about issues in the later parts of gastric system, but my sister simply said "Stomach acids are wonderful." I put it out of mind.

Home, I had a cup of coffee and realized that the fin had made its mark on my throat. Discomfort set in.

Summer thunder clouds periodically darkened the skies outside. The weather pattern is so familiar to here, but so different from what i experienced in California. I've found "partly cloudy" to be such an inadequate descriptor. In the shade of the tall clouds, it seemed comfortable enough outside, so i leashed Carrie and went to do some light work in the yard. When the sun poured through, i moved to shade. While it wasn't very hot, it was still dripping wet humid. Spending time bent over doesn't leave my digestive system feeling very good, but i can't not pull up weeds here in there. (When i mean to weed, i have a kneeling pad, which is a more agreeable position.)

The tasks i had and Carrie on leash worked well together. My kneeling under a dogwood and weeding the moss seemed particularly agreeable to Carrie. I held out hope that she might help me weed -- i've seen her try pulling up plants before -- but she just snuffled around.

Oh, i don't know why i am going on. Suffice it to say that despite a nap and a good nights sleep i am still tired. That yesterday evening my joints ached, my eyes itched, my psoriasis itched, my throat hurt, and going to bed i felt like a bundle of broken parts. This throat discomfort is just enough to make all the other usual discomforts clamor as well.

I think this was just an exhausting week. (I took a very long walk with my sister on Thursday night: that's probably why my ankle is aching.)

OK: i'm skipping Meeting this morning. I need the rest.
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Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 01:40 pm
An extended family member, on Christine's side, had a crisis yesterday. Christine's been carrying the concern that this person was headed for such a crisis since before we moved. I'd been spared the details. I knew there was some reason to be concerned, but i didn't want to be nosy or gossipy. Now i know how bad it was... is... and i find myself with a sort of free floating distress today.

It's not helped by less focused distress, captured like the NY Times headline from today, "‘Unbelievable Turmoil’: Trump’s First Month Leaves Washington Reeling."

An opening for discernment is whether i should volunteer to serve on the county Climate Change Advisory committee.

Meanwhile, in dog news, the mailman thumps a package on our steps before Carrie or i notice. And by notice, i mean, lifts head up. But bicyclist ride by some distance away while Christine starts the truck? Ba-roo! More barking than i've heard from her.

Last night she made a short bark outside. I went out to hear baying of hounds somewhere to our south east and dogs barking in other areas. Also, rustling in the woods consistent with deer browsing. Perhaps we'll still have visitors if they've all learned that dogs are penned up critters.
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Friday, February 10th, 2017 04:40 pm
Tonight, a concert with Laurie Anderson & Philip Glass. My 49th birthday is some ways off, but Christine considers this an early salvo of the celebration. I've not been much for celebration in recent years, and this year it will be the first anniversary of the rent increase that triggered the move. I'm beginning to find space to hold both the delight in our new home & being close to family and the loss of established connections. I share my birthday with my father & i would love to have a cake decorated with the fine skills my mother developed in handling gum paste and making flowers. I regret, though, that the rest of my family had too much of the very good thing and have dissuaded Mom from making such elaborate cakes. And now i wonder if she can manage any more. Still, being with my Dad on our birthday for the first time in years: that will be a delight.

Another joy+loss is probably one parents find: the dawg consumes attention and time. I've lost some quiet moments and i'm aware of the attention i need to keep on her. It's been almost a month. We still need a bit of supervision around the cats because Christine does not like the cats acting spooked. It's not entirely overprotective, i guess. And Carrie is getting a bit more boisterous and seems likely to chew on random things and pull things out of boxes, etc. No harm yet, but there is the care in attending to where things are left. I expect most of the hyper vigilance will fade away as we have better voice control. She is delightful to watch when she frolics and plays!
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Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 10:39 am
I am back from my trip to Florida to celebrate my grandmother's 100th birthday. I now have over 8 hours of music from the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. I used some lists of best American songs of the twentieth century to make sure i had appropriate classics. I'm not sure it registered for my grandmother, but my parents were delighted. Watching my youngest niece be inspired to dance by Rag Mop was a hoot.

I managed to spend much of the driving around in more rural routes than interstates, which was a pleasure: pines, palmettos, and cypress knees. I had brunch with a friend B in the market town of Webster FL. Only the buffet place was open. A few cows lingered in the cattle auction barns, and friend B, Carrie and I wandered the empty open market stalls. Family visits were pleasant, watching the kids fish wonderful. The place i had found for my parents and sib's families worked out wonderfully: i was gratified by a number of acknowledgements as to how pleasant it was. Tampa area weather was balmy. There were some significant emotional demands. I've returned home with one of my facial inflammations: a tiny ulcer in my mouth and an ache that consumes half my face. (Not the burning pain, at least.) Not particularly rested -- i'm glad i didn't over do it earlier in the week.

Carrie was a great road trip companion, and we visited four different dog parks. All were pleasant, and Carrie was a good participant. Winter Park's dog park has lake access and MANY squirrels. That was the best. Also, the first, and i became happy to see how willing Carrie was to stay close while off leash. I would like to have her off leash while i am working in the yard, but a road is moderately close. I was coached on dog park etiquette and dog psychology by my aunt and her husband, which eased me past my anxieties about how Carrie would take it. Then i was able to ease Christine's anxieties.

I do wonder how i could entice squirrels to play with Carrie.

Now struggling to get caught up after my absence.
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Monday, January 30th, 2017 08:33 am
My dreams tend to have surreal landscapes. Last night's involved river-like waters and odd fishing. The night before i dreamed of a new home that had a second cottage attached. I was finally checking out the cottage and it was a maze of additions and ad hoc construction, including a school bus. It was furnished in a weird sort of dollar store luxury, odd dog kennels built in (and then i would see how plastic laundry baskets and towels were involved. And then we discovered that an older women (or women?) still lived in the maze.

I'm not sure why i would want to remember my dreams. I have a strong sense that the visual symbolism is not tightly coupled to the process that is occurring: the seeking and exploring experience seems more significant.

However, sleeping in the past two mornings i actually have snippets to remember, so there's that.

Friday night Carrie and i went over to my sisters, ostensibly to go for a walk. Instead i plopped down and had a few glasses of wine with my sister. Yesterday morning i spent with my sister at my parents, ostensibly to go through a pile of my mother's craft stuff. I cam home with block printing tools and stuff to preserve flowers. My sister: much more stuff.

We also had a long chat with my Dad who remains distressed about his mother's husband, C. C was scheduled to come home from rehab this week, but had yet another stroke. Meanwhile, Dad's mother has been paying all C's bills (including his broker bills), running her into an overdraft state. I think Dad's resolved the urgent part, but he's anxious about getting C's sister to pay his mother back. All in all he's anxious about C and his people exploiting his mother's generosity. (And C is not in need of financial generosity to survive.) (Although Grandmámá's gifts of gold to C ... eyeroll.) The long story of how C has only partially managed his affairs, such as appointing those responsible for financial & health decisions, but not telling them and not being willing to tell my father who they are, just leads to more indignation.
Because now i'm indignant that this man's selfishness and paranoia puts my dad in the uncomfortable situation of being the competent person on the scene with no authority. I know C has accused my dad of being after my grandmother's money, and dealing with such accusations weighs heavily on my father.

And, this is very comfortable middle class money: my grandmother worked for the phone company when it was an monopoly. We're not talking fiscal empires here.

The rest of the afternoon and evening i just relaxed. We did take Carrie for a walk at the walking track at the near by community college.

At home for me, elephants have been a concern. The rest of the clowder have had their own small dramas: Greycie Loo is coming out of the traumatized reaction to her teeth cleaning. Carrie was going to be spayed, but after being left at the vet, it turned out the vet & back up vets were unwell.

I've finally settled up for my road trip with Carrie, reserving places for us to stay. I remain closed up, not reaching out to family other than those here and not reaching out to friends. Hard for me to parse what is going on with that. The governance issues of this country can't be blamed for everything -- yet ....

[and then i had to go about my day]
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Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 08:54 am
Due to a combination of triggers, elephants had a rough handful of days. Greycie Loo, too, had a tooth cleaning. Between her vet visit and the cleaning it looks like she smashed her face into something breaking a tooth and chipping a few others. Dog scare seems the most likely cause, so i'm feeling a little guilty about that.

A major trigger looms on the horizon for the elephants (and my mother & father, depressingly enough): we'll be clear in two weeks, i expect.

Carrie Dog has a bit of surgery ahead. We did ask about laparoscopic spaying, but, wow, a bit much. I hope Carrie can do some dog park activity before then so we can get an idea of whether she's OK with dog parks. On Tuesday Carrie goes to play with Christine's sister's new puppy: that should be a good outing for them.

I will be talking some time off and have a road trip, just me and the Carrie Dog, so there's that for me to look forward to. It will be just a handful of days after her surgery: i hope we're able to relax and not be stressed about stitches management, etc.

I need to become more attentive to the garden. Seeds have all arrived, it's time to start collards and plant peas. I spent time on the raised bed yesterday: not enough time, due to rain. Today, rain or not, i need to make progress. I've 50 lbs of fescue seed for the orchard, 100 lbs of lime for the garden and, well, everywhere, and some clover seed. It's not natives, but my goal is to defeat the stilt grass. I'd been worried about the chickweed and the hairy bittercress before i ID'ed them: it was clear these were weeds on a mission. They are low growing winter annuals, neither introduced plant is yet considered invasive here. Still, i'll see how much of the chickweed rakes up before putting down the grass seed.

I'm tempted to skip Meeting, but there are donations i need to take for a collection.

I'm doing bits of civic minded work. A small group has organized in my workplace, and i'm setting up the google group etc for them. (I did offer a mailing list that wasn't google, but everyone preferred the tech giant to not.) I'm not sure what i was expecting: maybe with time we can talk about bias in our own workplace. It's more an Indivisible group than a Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group. Ladt night i listened to a phone call sponsored by the AFSC: https://www.afsc.org/sanctuaryeverywhere I think the concept behind #SanctuaryEverywhere is what i was thinking about with safety pins.

Ugh: just thinking about #SanctuaryEverywhere makes me think about the ComingEvent and the myriad of unpleasant side distractions that are involved. The seed of the ComingEvent is my Grandmámá's 100th birthday: her husband's illness, her husband's family, miscellaneous Florida family, and awareness of less than progressive qualities in Florida all lead to a dampening of enthusiasm around what ought to be a delightful celebration.
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Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 06:44 am
The thermostat says it's 22°F outside, but when i stepped out, the dry air just registered as crisp. The stars were sharp in the sky. I looked up at the last quarter moon and thought how every dawn view of it over our home will remind me of arriving here in late May. I also reflected that 25 years ago, the moon was full, rising in the eastern window of the church, opposite the nave, when Christine and I were married. This home is our 25th anniversary celebration.

I had expected silence except for traffic sounds, but the owl seemed rather vocal this morning. And i heard the cat flap. After making tea i went out on the back porch to join Edward who seems to love the brisk weather. Poor thing, i think he must have spent all summer in dismay at the heat. The vet says that at 22 lbs he's about 3 lbs over weight, and i suppose that he, like i, can take the cold with the extra insulation we carry.

Yesterday evening Christine went out to see Rogue One with her sister. I didn't mean to, but i watched the three episode story arc that end season 9 of Doctor Who. The story arc was compelling, but i was procrastinating about communicating with people directly.

Still am.

News from yesterday is that my grandmother's husband had another TIA, mini-stroke. I'm angry, not sad, because i don't think he treats my grandmother right. )

So there's that venting off my chest.
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Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 05:51 pm
I thought i might ought to clarify a little about the current Christine - Mom dynamics.

Mom is truly not well mentally and emotionally. Pressure to get her into therapy has yet been unsuccessful. Requests that she get a memory baseline measurement also get turned down.

She's currently in a "getting rid of stuff" mode. It's part legacy of when my sister's family was living with them and they were crowded, part worrying about downsizing for moving to something smaller. She's also very stressed and anxious, and that is definitely affecting her memory. There's an edge of panic to her.

If she is experiencing dementia i don't think the panic, stress, and anxiety are going to get any less.

So, there's that.

And there's a much longer standing inability to recognize that her intentions can be misinterpreted -- and that doesn't mean the other person is WRONG in their reaction. And Mom is really very very judgmental.

So the type rejections going on are:

After Christine's Mom died, Mom brought lots of food to Christine & her sister. Christine then gave mom a souvenir glass from an art exhibit. The very next time Mom sees Christine, she tries to give Christine back the glass. For Christine, this is a gift all tied up with her grief and memories around her mother's death. For mom it's a thing from someone. They must like the thing, thus it should be returned to them when the receiver doesn't want it.

I've just received from Mom two boxes of papers. In the first folder are inserts to candy boxes that presumably i gave her. Along with cards, emails from me she's printed out, etc. My favorite surreal returned item so far is a printed out email that was a chat transcript between me and my parents that my dad asked me to email to them.

Also, there were CDs of Christine's father's funeral and a Christmas sermon he gave. Christine sees them and, again, feels the sort of thrown back in her face sort of reaction. Christine just realized the source of the CDs sitting on the box and is reacting.

Through some miracle, my relationship with my mother healed some years back. I can be around her when she says something that can be interpreted as insulting or judgmental and it just slides past me. I worked at that healing though, very deep work, and i can't expect Christine (or my siblings) to have the equanimity i have. (Dad has done therapy too: he's found a similar place of peace with her.)
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Friday, December 9th, 2016 11:47 am
Yesterday i wrote

Today is grey, but a pair ... no wait, it's a whole mixed flock of birds coming through. Cardinals, juncos, sparrows, some sort of grey tit? The birds, unless they land on the shrub right outside my window, or are as distinctive as cardinals, are hard to identify as they flit about. It's grey though, which means warmer, i should think.

The mixed flocked came through again: Eastern Phoebe flew backwards as it left a branch!


It cleared overnight, so it chilled into the upper 20s. I have a little "green house" and i'm using a 60W bulb to heat it on freezing nights. I've ordered a temperature logger so i can find out how effective the heating is.

The demands of negotiating interfamily tensions has escalated over the past months. Thanksgiving worked out, but there are lots of issues Christine has with my parents. My father's [derogatory adjective] decision to get a concealed carry permit distresses Christine to no end. And really, no end, because i don't think there's any way to relive her stress (given my father's erratic respect for others). We've asked him not to bring it here, but it's not clear that he remembers or respects requests like that. I need to remember to ask him next time he comes. And the time after that. And again... and again....

Meanwhile, Christine's gift giving instincts and my mother's sense of what is just so has also collided. Mom, "You gave me this thing: here i am giving it back." Christine, *feels rejected*. (I'll note the gifts of question had nothing to do with holiday gifts.)

And then there is the long history of brokenness, with my parents' cool reception of Christine into the family. I think my parents are more aware of needing to mend that now -- they've grown some! But the pain for Christine is very persistent. So, as we approach our 25th anniversary, i'm trying to find a way for my parents to celebrate our marriage (in a way, perhaps, they didn't 25 years ago) while negotiating the ache Christine feels.

It's tiring.
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Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 06:58 am
A friend at the Meeting in California hosts a mailing list. He writes out to some list of BCC and you have no idea who else is on that list. He occasionally replies to someone, bringing their response forward to all. It's different, but it is the culture of his list. The power dynamic is so different, but i think it's wise. He is a rare black attender in the mostly white California meeting, and he's willing to prick the white conscience with regard to racial privilege.

I struggled a bit with the power structure of his list last night, as i replied to a reply someone else had made to the host's use of the word whiteness. In an amazing act of white privilege, this person had complained that the use of the word made him feel something was wrong with his skin. My response was a bit more developed response of "Sit with the discomfort and think about it." I eventually simply replied to the host and the other correspondent, not BCC'ing or CC'ing anyone. I thanked the host for providing the discussion space.

This morning i am more able to see what is going on: we must trust the host to curate ... fairly? justly? It is not transparent, a word that comes to mind as echoing the Charlotte Mayor as she tries to negotiate between the police and the people. My discomfort with this list is it isn't transparent, and i need to trust the host. The people of Charlotte ... they have a situation with trust and transparency, too. I've no idea how many responses the host receives, how often his BCC list is "all" or "some", how wide or diverse the community of discourse is. I think it's wise though, because it is a way the black voice will be heard in the white space. Our host's moderation reminds me of the moderation of nuclear reactions in a power plant: the clamor or white voices as we, in our many different places of facing our privilege, feedback upon each other and melt down. Our host absorbs and paces the discussion, keeping it from being overwhelming, keeping the silence between messages that is hard to do in an asynchronous medium.

I knew last night i recognized something "Quakerly" about the space our host had made. This morning i see the pacing he creates, keeping the space between the responses, choosing whom to recognize as clerking the discussion. And just as one holds the clerk in the Light, recognizing the difficulties they face in the challenge of moderating, i hold our host in the Light too.

--== ∞ ==--

In other news, i have avoided the debate and much (i suspect) of the rehashing of the debate. Each morning i read the analysis at http://www.electoral-vote.com/ trying to skim past most of the eye rolling at The Donald, but occasionally following the links to news articles, such as the one about the Trump campaign trying to find a mosque The Donald could publicly visit. I admired the responses i read about: no we will not create a photo op, but yes we will sit down and talk with you. The local Meeting's women's group is gathering tonight and the invitation includes "bring your favorite quotes from the debate." I will not go. I wasn't feeling inspired, as yesterday i was dragging with a cold (it's too soon to see today how that will go). But until debates are about policy and not performance, i'm opting out.

I spent the weekend lopping and have indeed created a huge pile of brush to eventually send through a chipper as well as tangles of grape and honeysuckle vines to be burned. I haven't quite figured out my metric for "worth the time to send through a chipper" vs "burn" but i have one, some instinct about the balance of effort and reward with a bias to chip. I got quite worn out on Saturday, working in the sun. Sunday i reserved energy and spent some time just appreciating the cleared space and the trees of the understory. I selected spindly oaks to keep and hope will grow up above the dogwood and redbud, lopped out sweetgum, found what might be spicebush -- a native plant that fills the same niche as the autumn olive and is host to spicebush swallowtail butterfly larvae -- along with ferns and pipsissewa. (I'll note i was taught to call Chimaphila maculata pipsissewa, not, as Wikipedia redirects, Chimaphila umbellata.)

Monday and yesterday i corresponded - and also had an insight: i can start drafting digital Yuletide greetings NOW. I was considering what to write to someone back in California and was feeling like i had no place to connect a conversation. I'd sent the person my month one and two missives, so i knew they had a picture of where we were, but no real response. So i've drafted a note to send come Thanksgiving or Yuletide with a how are [things] going. Actually, as i write today, i'm not sure why i feel the need to delay sending that.)
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Sunday, September 11th, 2016 08:58 am
Christine was up very late last night and i ended up sleeping in to an hour that didn't easily allow going out to work in the yard. Instead, i started up the stew for tonight. As i waited for the pressure cooker to reach it's working temperature, Greycie Lou came and mewed at me. She's no Lassie, but i asked what was wrong and followed her, to the couch. Ah, so i came and sat and she delighted in scritches and pettings. How sweet to be invited!

Right now she seems to avoid the bedroom as it is Edward's kingdom (in which Luigi often intrudes). Greycie seems to rule the living room, and Luigi also hangs out in here. Poor Luigi, i wish he had a kingdom, but he's not much for territoriality. (I suppose being the third to join the family, and only just a year ago, he's still negotiating.) Luigi does visit me in the front room during the workday far more often than the others. The bed in there is covered with random linens as i sort out how to store them. You'd think a cat would be loving that, but no. None of the cats ever get on that bed of their own free will: Luigi is sleeping under it on a fold-up yoga mat.

--== ∞ ==--

Yesterday we followed through on our original plans to take my mother out to eat to celebrate her birthday, just my sister L and i. We went to a local farm-to-fork white table cloth restaurant. In keeping with the old mill stylings, the tables were actually reclaimed wood with no cloth. L & Mom had no idea that the place was there. We made gentle fun of my father's dining preference performance ("Oh, do you just have a bowl of rice and beans with onion on the side?") as we indulged in an very indulgent cheese plate, and then delighted through our entrees. Desert was an extra bergamot Earl Grey creme brulee shared amongst us, brought with a candle. Mom was overcome by the whole thing as we plied her with prosecco and pottery.

Mom has this slight edge of bewilderment about her that sorrows me, but she also delighted in seeing sister L and I together: her two adult daughters. We must do more of this.

I took Mom home (Dad had driven off in her car for some reason, and she hasn't gotten comfortable with the other car) and listened to her stream of consciousness worry. I wish i knew how to introduce her to some sort of inner peace.

--== ∞ ==--

It turns out the county may pay for 3/4 for a rain garden and water barrels, if the water barrels are over 250 gal. I made a rough estimate of how much water our roof collects in an average year: multiple 250 gal collectors wouldn't be silly. Given how much processing our well water requires, and a deep instilled instinct for self sufficiency, i am attracted to collecting the rain even sans drought conditions. We are planning a turf lawn for the "back yard" -- a fenced area behind the garage and to the west of the house. Hearing how frequently one should water to get turf established is an inspiration in finding alternative water sources.
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Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 06:49 am
Saturday was a play in three parts, but i don't think that much of the playwright as there isn't much of a theme to tie the parts together.

Act 1: Grief.

I'd gotten the shelf and shelf lighting set up the night before? Early that morning? We placed the urns and other little relics in a place of honor and sat for a while in waiting worship.

Act 2: Friends

We went out to lunch with L&J at a nice Italian place that was echoingly empty. I really don't understand - perhaps it's packed by dinner and workday lunchtime folks? These two are Christine's friends from back in her orchestra days, and so there was much relating of Christine's attendance upon teen auditions the week before. We then headed out of town a little bit to a potter's kiln opening. For [livejournal.com profile] annie_r, i'll note the details.

First it was dreadfully, miserably hot. When we arrived the sun was pouring down and we may have missed the display of bowls as we made for the relief of the barn. The "outer" barn is lined with the apprentice's work, which is fine work itself, and I think we all found our purchases there. Inside was Hewett's work. I am NOT a pottery expert, but i think most of Hewett's glazes nod to traditional NC salt and ash glazes. Ah "They are using these new glazes, as well as their traditional salt and ash glazes for this current load for Firing 95 of the ‘old’ salt kiln." Whatever "these new glazes" were, they were not dramatically different fom what is familiar to my eyes as traditional NC glazes (Ah, here - https://hewittpottery.com/galleries/preview-gallery-august-2016/ )
The embellishments included pressed indentations and primitivesque free hand whimsical line drawings. There was just a touch of cobalt in places to accent, and there was a pale pale green grey glaze. The forms were masterful. There was nothing i loved so much that i wanted to overcome the price barrier.

The pitcher and cup i picked out was in a very dark brown glaze - i suspect it's from an older firing and not this seasons work. It's a birthday gift for my mother.

Fortunately, heavy storm clouds had gathered in time for us to be shaded while standing in the purchase line. With the increasing volume of rolls of thunder, i did look with some concern at the iPads and other tech being used to manage purchases. We ducked into the working barn for lemonade and found a heavily gullied clay floor, polished by years of traffic. As i picked my way carefully to the refreshment, i figured the insurance lawyers had never seen the place.

As we stepped outside, gusty winds picked up, and i figured we had time enough to get to the cars before it dumped. We did, and we didn't see rain at all on the drive home, although the road we live on was slightly damp.

Act 3: Family

While at the potter's, my dad called to make check whether we had been invited over. My mother had forgotten whether she had. I find that a new behavior, in part because growing up mom was always certain she'd told us things but hadn't (exactly). It adds more weight to my concern for her mental health, and heightens my awareness of the opportunities to spend time with her.

We had a hour or so to rest before heading off on some errands before heading over to my parents for dinner with them and my sister's family. Mom had created a feast. Stories were re-told, dead birds were declined at the dinner table, and a generally pleasant time was had.

The heavens finally opened up and rain poured down, dropping the temperature dramatically.

Epilogue

We left early enough to get home and manage a few chores before finally retiring.
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Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 11:15 am
One last family event with the four year old who talks at the top of her lungs is ahead. It's at a loud Mexican restaurant, so i suppose i won't notice.

My other niece, E, is at her wits end. At one point this morning, my brother tried to dismiss his loud child to go play with E, and i caught the look in E's eyes. Too sweet by half to cry out, "What fresh hell is this?" I suggested that perhaps E had other plans. A little relief crossed into E's eyes, but i suspect she won't be at ease until S is on her way to Tampa to visit with my 99 year old grandmother.

Regrettably for the beginning of a many hour drive, my father is quite stressed. His mother's third husband (younger than his mother) has some worsening health issues, and my father wants to ensure his mother is not in a care taker role. (They still live on their own.) I hope all goes well for my dad on this trip, and that perhaps he can encourage them to move into an assisted living situation. He'll be sending Mom home early, and i'll be picking her up from the train station. With my own experience last year, i know to prepare for the delay.
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Thursday, July 21st, 2016 12:47 pm
I did ponder how much this move was going to create less time in my life. time sinks )

--== ∞ ==--

This week my brother's family is visiting. Read more... )After dinner, the boys went to play XBox and I took niece S to visit Edward, the one cat not in hiding.

four year old vs cat! )

--== ∞ ==--

Christine managed her spoons very carefully in California. Read more... )

--== ∞ ==--

I had a headache yesterday Read more... )
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Thursday, May 12th, 2016 06:43 am
The drama about the plumbing took a different turn on Tuesday. The plumber had left the bathroom tidy and we set off into the hills to visit various vistas, Los Trancos and Russian Ridge in particular. Periodically my phone would beep with some received message but it wasn't until we pulled into the parking lot at San Gregorino State Beach that we were in signal when someone tried to call.

Dad asked, what is this about Laura finding vandalism at the house?! Our adrenaline surged and i promptly got off to call my sister -- but as i did, i realized i had texted her about the bathroom drama. It turns out she asked Mom, who didn't know about the black water and plumbing snake during the closing. Laura was exasperated: she had repeatedly explained to Mom that nothing was wrong at the new hose. I called my Dad back and let him know it was the known issue with the apartment.

What a game of telephone!

My mother's confusion -- and her certainty of incorrect information -- is part of why i am glad we are moving closer to them, and is going to be one of the challenges. I've found her to be an unreliable narrator for many years, previously predicated on the extrapolations and interpolations she would make and then treat as fact. I certainly extrapolate and interpolate, myself, but i try very hard to keep my speculations clear from the facts. Mom would impute some psychological drama to a family member and reason from there, coming to various conclusions and then treating those as fact.

Now it seems that the leaps are getting a little more wild and correction even harder. I think Mom knows this to some extent. The amount of deference to my father is novel, she is more cautious in the face of new things.

Shifting from exasperation -- from years when it seemed she almost willfully misheard or misrepresented or selectively forgot details -- to a recognition that Mom's capability is diminished is important now. My first challenge, i think, once settled, will be to get her a baseline cognitive screening.

--== ∞ ==-- Meanwhile --== ∞ ==--

I placed most of my plants out for people to take last night. My heart was heavy as i did so. All the plants look so scraggly when pulled out of context, and so many of them are volunteers or survivors -- not carefully groomed specimens.

And i need to leave my Meyer lemon tree. I read the USDA recommendations and NC plant importation rules. While i wouldn't be moving citrus from a quarantine zone, the last thing i want to do is bring something harmful to our new paradise (because it appears i will have plenty of weeds and established invasives to deal with). In particular "phytophagous snails" seem to be a concern for NC, with California a source, and i know i've got slugs in the garden and there are plenty of snails around here.

Phytophagous was a new word for me: Greek for herbivore, i guess? Hmm, "Plant" is from Latin, but "eater" seems like its good Old English.

Anyhow, my heart aches and, as i smell a lemon picked from the "tree" (very very dwarf shrub), i tear up. Christine has cried on my behalf: i feel my stoic wall go up against the feelings, i know i have little signs in my mind: "Do not enter, distressing feelings here."

I've been avoiding the deck garden for months, knowing this time would come.
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Sunday, May 8th, 2016 07:50 pm
Bing's homepage art today [Sunday] -- an adorable photo of mama sealion and pup -- is a nod to the day without making it any more difficult for those for whom contemplation of motherhood brings grief or pain. I am thankful my maternal relationship has healed so over these past five ... eight? years. It took much work but i have such calm clear feelings when i think of my mother now....

I do wonder whether any of the sense of grief i felt earlier today had to do with my mother's betrayal in reading my journal and attempting to blackmail me with it while i was in high school. I had been thinking about bringing the journals out from the closet corner, where i had to disassemble the shelves to get at them, and into the shelves in our living room. Suddenly the thought of unsupervised family members in proximity to my journals came to mind -- and that is certainly out of the question.
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Thursday, April 14th, 2016 12:44 pm
I'm trying to be less distracted than i have been of late.... and today's excuses are that during the team check in, someone was in a snit, and the conversation got a bit heated. I wasn't paying attention to myself, so i was responding in tone.

By the time i'd unwound from that, i was supposed to attend an hour and a half training session on how to use the new online tool for my "performance management." After registering for the class, i'd asked about the webex information so i could attend. ("The registration email doesn’t have a webex: are all of the trainings available to non-Dublin staff or did I miss annotations about which were available for telepresence?") I received a snippy email about how the course information explained the webex information would be coming later. Fine, i thought. Well, it didn't come. I spent some time being really peeved at being forgotten.

I've gone back to look and found, indeed, i missed the indicator that the class i signed up for was not available to remote staff. The person who gave me a short response missed that i had made a mistake.

--== ∞ ==--

Meanwhile, as i troubleshoot a critical production issue, i got a call from my Dad. He called to let me know he found a big rock on our property-to-be near the top of the rise at the back of the lot. He says the poplars back there are at least 100 ft high. (I trust his estimates way better than my own.) He's out walking with my brother who is visiting them for a couple of days. Looks like a lovely spring day in the photo of Dad with his foot on the rock. (This is all relevant because i asked Dad to walk the property line when he was there with Christine last week. He is delighted to find a section that isn't just recently overgrown farm land.

Remind me, when it's the nth time Dad pops by for coffee while i am working, that this is a lovely thing.
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Monday, April 11th, 2016 09:15 am
It's fifteen minutes into my do my most important **work** thing slot ... and i want to write. I haven't written for days.....

Top of mind is that this past week has been "off." I have a multitude of excuses:

1) Christine has been back in NC, and
2) The home we're under contract to buy was inspected Thursday, and
3) there's now six weeks until we move

but also

4) i forgot my meds two days in a row, and
5) i was drinking green tea (which is apparently caffeine deficient), and
6) one day last week i had very interrupted sleep.

This morning, when i was awake at 2 am, i dreaded that i would have another day with interrupted sleep. I was up for a few hours, then printed some paperwork. The running printer apparently woke Greycie Loo who came to snuggle me back to sleep. Good cat! Except for where she uses one sharp claw to get you to move into just the right position for her to settle down: ouch!

--== ∞ ==--

I saw my brother last night. I think he is comfortable sharing the stresses of his 21st century marriage with me -- i don't know who else he has to talk to. (I'll have to check with my seeester to see if he also shares with her.) They appear to have a fairly traditional marriage, with him in the high powered job and her taking care of the kids and doing volunteer legal work. They aren't, however, traditional, and it's not what they want. I called him on it though: they jointly prefer the security of his income more than what would be satisfying and meaningful. I hope it was helpful to say things out loud: i'm sure i didn't tell him anything he doesn't know, he just gets trapped in a mental circle of seeing external forces making him/them not have the life they want.

Hmm. Wow, that's familiar. How horrible a sister would i be if i pointed out it's the pattern our mother modeled for us? (Saying "you're being like Mom" is not a compliment between us siblings.)

--== ∞ ==--

I've retired from Meeting, pretty much. I have a huge backlog of associate clerk email to go through. So many people are saying such nice things. How does one gracefully accept the "we're happy for you and sad for us because you do so much?" I will attend the after meeting lunch so people can talk to me and will let a friend have a small party. Really, i would prefer to just fade out.

This has been a lesson for me in my shyness and how it affects my sense of connectedness. I have seen tears in friends eyes, and i'm shocked that they feel so strongly about me. People have taken the time to write wonderfully tender notes. I feel on one hand i'm a rotten person because i don't reach out to people like that when they leave: am i so self centered?

Yet, i feel like the real lesson is that there is a a very big difference between how i see myself (mousy and invisible) and the reality. I'm not sure WHAT the reality is, but i don't think i am as invisible or peripheral as i think i am. It's an unsettling feeling.

....

and as tears well up i'm pretty sure that i've been avoiding thinking about this for some weeks. I know i have been avoiding the email.

I don't know what to say.

--== ∞ ==--

Gratuitous librarian fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLaWsjv92E0&feature=youtu.be
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Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 06:22 am
Email to my sister after a phone conversation about Emotional Labor:

I do have a "Ha!" moment reading this, when it's alleged that it's just men who don't know what emotional labor is. For Mom's generation, it was just what being a woman was about. Christine's been reading David Foster Wallace and shared his This is water essay with me (See
http://faculty.winthrop.edu/martinme/Thisiswater.htm; there's a nice book form.)

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

Emotional labor is the water of a woman's life in patriarchal culture. Now that we can name it, we can see ourselves swimming in it.

Very nth wave feminism. I think about the advice i got from the women with tenure in the physics department at Penn and smile. What is the quotation? The tide of justice is inevitable? Hmm, the internet is not helping me this morning.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2015/07/27/emotional-labor-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it/


There is one thing in the discussion that i wonder about, and that is house cleaning. It comes up in the sharing of chores and in the resentment expressed in the emotional labor discussions. However, part of a clean house is that has been how a woman has been judged for ages. My last twenty years or so i've wrestled with finding the line of where cleanliness is a true desire and where it is a social imposition. I suspect many women have been as acculturated by their mothers as we were for a cleanliness standard derived from ancestors who were servants in great homes (Mom's grandparents), the military (Granddad), or folks who had their own servants (Dad's grandparents). When is cleanliness a sort of conspicuous consumption (Downton Abbey and i have the means to keep this giant house clean) and when it a health and comfort thing (asthma, dust: hmmm)? It's hard to go against the conditioning: it's rebellion against something that has represented a valuation for ages. But is it all this cleanliness a luxury? How much is an engine of consumption (witness soap operas)? Women in the US are sold over and over cleaner and more sparkly and more lemony: how much polish is necessary to protect an investment, how much is pride?

I don't know that i've found the line.
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