elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, September 24th, 2016 07:10 am
It's California weather out there this morning. I went out and stood in the moonlight. I thought i was gazing at a number of planets on the ecliptic, but only Jupiter was up per a star chart. Orion, one of the few constellations i can pick out with ease, gleamed in the first light of dawn.

I'll be heading out soon. I suspect it's still a bit wet (and too early) to mow, but i will be lopping down Autumn Olive (until the end of my days). I don't have documentary proof, but the evidence of stripped soil suggests to me that much of this area was farmed to an extreme. I don't expect i'd find native plants like pawpaw or persimmon on the property because i think any source plants would be too far away for seeds to have been carried here by critters since the farming ended. Bird carried plants abound. Dogwood and poison ivy would be natives (sigh), the autumn olive and honeysuckle are not. So if i could use the forestry service's seedling program to get persimmons and crab apples going, develop my own paw paw plan, bring in chinquapins and hazelnuts, perhaps critters could then begin to plant and seed those and replace the autumn olive.

We drove through a nearby outrageous subdivision last night, brick and wrought iron entrance gates, massive houses.... I realized that the other houses near us are also rather large. Our modest place is indeed a cottage in comparison. I wonder about twenty years from now: will these acres be a natural oasis? Will the family that holds the land to our east for hunting keep it (and all their cursed autumn olive)?

--== ∞ ==--

I am close enough to Charlotte that i could be there. Other Quakers i know have stood in accompaniment in other protests about race: too far for me, i excuse myself. Now i'm not. I keep listening, dreading a bit the time i'd have to spend if i was called to go there. I still think i am called to this place and to the work i'll be doing outside today and time with family later today.

--== ∞ ==--

I did win a blue ribbon for my photography at the county fair -- it's kind of an odd feeling though, given the absence of competition. Two rows of shelves contained all the fair items. I think the greatest competition was in okra: six entries there. There were a lot of canning jars but they all seemed to be holding different things (and many ribbons) so i don't think there was much competition there either. I'll hope that i can enter pawpaws and persimmons, apples and figs some day.

I'm not sure whether to encourage my sister and her kids to come this year and compete next year.

The best thing that happened was watching the camel (named Cash, there to give rides) make eye contact with Christine and come give her a kiss. Christine, who always has a warm heart for critters, met the long lashed deep brown eyes of that camel and made a connection. I didn't fumble my camera up for a photo in time to catch an image -- i had sticky fingers from my cotton candy.
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Sunday, September 18th, 2016 07:17 am
Naproxen sodium, how i love thee. Not quite as divine as prednisone, but ....

This effusion brought on by my doctor's advice that i take an anti-inflammatory for two weeks to deal with my plantar fasciitis. Just waking yesterday after taking one in the evening before was better (and amusing: because i had forgotten i had done something to improve the discomfort on waking and noticed how much better i felt). And then yesterday i felt like i was thriving. I wasn't noticeably hungry.

Just one data point and probably not enough of one to really conclude anything, but it was delightful. How did this energy get used? Breakfast out -- and a cup of coffee, which is also a possible explanation for vitality -- and some morning errands (which were unfortunately visited by elephants). Christine corralled them, and then we went to see my nephew W in his first soccer game of the season.

My sister and my niece were already off on the scout camping trip that W had passed over for the game so that his team would not forfeit. The sun came out and it was a bit warm. W was intense and fierce on the field compared to what i have seen of him in other context. I was shooting with my new camera set at 1/4000 a second (and not the most optimum focus mode), with a 18-200mm lens. I got to see more of his facial expressions than one would just from the sideline, and what an adult face. I think of him with a winsome smile, and here he was all concentration and focus and determination.

Home, where i promptly spent some hours in the yard burning vines collected over the past months. We still have piles and piles of brushy trees, but those we are saving for the chipper. This is the stuff that seems problematic for such a device, although the two inch diameter grape vines might not be that troublesome. Still, those are often connected to a bundle of messy vines and all went up in flames. I have a tangle of stuff that still sits back in the glade to begin my next fire pile.

I came in with enough time to cool off and join my dad out on the boat, but he called saying he was tired out from yard work. Christine was watching a documentary on Blue Note records and, after cleaning up, i relaxed with her and ate a late and light lunch.

The late afternoon and evening were spent processing the 500+ photos from the soccer game and studying plants available from http://www.usefulplants.org/. I am very very tempted to order some thornless upright blackberries. I also read up on the history of blueberries in North Carolina, trying to untangle what native berries are about compared to the many improved varieties. It seems that the truly native species Vaccinium pallidum would be reasonably suited for this gently sloping site, but i'm convinced that the "improved" types will not be an unreasonable choice for naturalization, either. I'm assuming the "rabbit eye" and "southern highbush" are genetically very close to the swamp and bog species that are native here, but have been selected for more flexibility in siting as well as berry size, etc.

All of this i hold off on until next fall. We still have a good bit to clear, and while i believe in a more dense siting of plants (and find the permiculture folks also have the same theory), i should like to be a bit more intentional. "The sooner we plant, the sooner there's fruit," cries out my inner six year old. Not if it's simply deer candy, though, so i need a plan.
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Saturday, September 17th, 2016 06:47 am
[personal profile] oursin has a post wondering about taking the travel to fairyland trope and turning it round to travel from fairyland to here. A commenter mentioned stories "that refuse the abstract and focus on mindfully participating in the present physical and natural world, " which spun my mind off in a number of directions, banging into a phrase the NYT used in an email announcement of playwright Edward Albee's death, "the roiling desperation beneath the facade of contemporary life."

What strikes me is a sensation in my mind that is hard to succinctly describe. Perhaps some of you remember learning spherical coordinates after solidly getting Cartesian coordinates? Here are two different ways of describing exactly the same thing, yet the one you choose can make certain relationships far more clear than the other. I remember the grind, the tearing and then the sudden insight learning this change in perspective.

Not unlike, perhaps, one's first trip to Faierie.

I am aware of the mental twist that occurs with changing frames: the frame change i find easy but hardest to articulate is the one of choice and agency when transitioning between justice and grace. (EG "It's your choice whether to be happy or not." "What, you're saying Jews in camps who weren't happy
failed to choose to be happy?"

Feeling inadequate to literary criticism and comparative lit this morning, i reflect on how both urban and rural places can be magically delightful or dreadful. How the millennia long transition from an agrarian-rural to urban species has tipped (2014: 54% of worlds population lived in cities). How stories of the rural to the urban and the urban to the rural entertain us.

That sensation of shifting frames tickles in my mind leaving me with the immortal words of Buckaroo Banzai says, "No matter where you go, there you are."

--== ∞ ==--

Speaking of going and being, i had a remarkable attack of what i call shyness yesterday. Remarkable enough to make me wonder if there's a more appropriate phobia label. Or not.

First visit with the new doctor. I'd come highly prepared with a printed list of concerns, medications, needs for various interventions and the status of others. Lovely doctor, pleasant chat, but by the time the appointment was closing i had an urgency to GET OUT. And i rushed out the door, back to the receptionist, the nurse calling after me "what about the immunizations?" As i impatiently waited for the receptionist to bill me, the grown up in my head started questioning the "Get out" -- "What about the recommendation for [this] and [that]?" "Gotta go." "What about -" "Gotta GO." I sat with this awareness of the inexplicable urgency to get home during the short drive to the house, and recognized it as very similar to my bolting from the social mingling at the end of Meeting for the past decade. When i told Christine about it when i got home, she asked, "Do you need to go back?" The answer to that was a grimace and a glare.

I've always called this my shyness, because i am not aware of general discussions about introversion touching on this sense of compulsion. (Revulsion, yes, compulsion, no.) On the other hand, all the shyness materials seem to assume some sort of lack of self confidence. I can easily imagine trying to justify the compulsion with excuses that imply a lack of self confidence, but that is not what's going on for me. It's almost like a timer goes of and my brain says, "DONE." And we are outta there.

Normally, this sense of DONE doesn't override other responsibilities or needs, so the remarkable thing about the bolt from the doctor's office was that i left things behind. (In particular, the immunizations...)

I wonder if working at home is lowering my tolerance.

--== ∞ ==--

Yesterday four wild turkeys in the yard around 3 pm, and a doe with two fawns around 5 pm. I actually took photos in the evening, albeit not very intentional ones.(Mainly using the 200mm end of the zoom for birds.)
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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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Friday, September 9th, 2016 07:54 am
Sunday had some elephants. I also killed the weed whacker -- and Lowes replaced it.

Monday's holiday and low humidity allowed for delightful working in the yard. I found a downy rattlesnake plantain (a native terrestrial orchid) much closer to the house as i worked in the mess that is right off the deck. Mess? Yes. It seems the sellers must have had someone come do something quick about honeysuckle and jungle right next to the deck. There are some tall trees cut down leading away from the deck, and stilt grass now grows in the area cleared by the fallen crown. An area about 20 x 20 foot is mostly cleared with a few stunted and twisted saplings -- evidence of honeysuckle infestation.

On the ground are long abandoned items of cloth, busted whirligigs and other plastic decor, dog toys, children's toys, plastic plant labels, and so on. They are hidden by a carpet of weed whacked weeds which include honeysuckle coming back.

My biggest issue is knowing how much shade this area, historically very shaded, will continue to have as we clear up the mess to the west. I am transplanting the native plants of which i approve (ferns, violets) into an area with a very sad redbud. There's not much of the tree that was sandwiched between autumn olive and honeysuckle.

Just getting a little work done back there, though, has made a world of difference.

Tuesday - blur.

Wednesday night i was cranky after work and the humidity had returned, so we went to see Star Trek Beyond: it was surprisingly delightful in entertaining me. Admittedly, the bar was low, so there's that.

Yesterday was disordered by the failure of an upgrade to my work laptop. So midday we ran into Carrboro to overnight the machine to the home office, and followed with errands and a very nice lunch out. We didn't go outside to work, and we watched the second episode of Julian Fellow's Dr Thorne.

Tonight we are going up to Wake Forest (which is not where the university is: hmph) to see a friend's crochet creations on display.

Late now for work! And feeding the cat, says Luigi.
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Sunday, September 4th, 2016 07:34 am
Today should be just about heaven. The rising sun is brightly illuminating the tops of the pines and there is a fair blue sky. I don't think there's a cloud until you get to Kansas. We're around 480' elevation here and a good bit up from the nearest creek.

Hunting season may have started, and i worry about how gun shots will play on Christine's nerves knowing the deer that visit us and that hunting lands are directly to our east. I should go buy purple paint to mark our boundary.

Last Sunday was moderately pleasant, too, and instead of yard work i took off into our woods. I crossed into the hunting lands and back a couple times -- there's a bag with three propane cans and something else i should go collect for the trash that i found. I assume they are empty, and i assume they were left by hunters and not the litterbug previous owners.

I started out near our eastern boundary and cut west, finding a massive sweetgum (liquidamber) and the large rock that had tickled my father. There's no loam in places - the clay shows through a bit. I saw a fairly common orchid and some wintergreen. The southwest corner is well marked with a pipe. Cutting back east i found thickets of autumn olive and the ground covered with stilt grass. I was waving my walking stick in the air ahead of me to clear the orb weaver webs and then whacking the grass, to alert any snakes. Despite looking at my location on my phone I got turned around more than once. It's Mirkwood, i tell you, Mirkwood back there. If there are Hobbit capturing spiders i will not be surprised.

Ugh.

It was a bit depressing, and i stalled on yard work this week. Today i will get back in the groove. In good news, there's no honeysuckle back there. I did see a place where one of the giant vines of poison ivy had apparently collapsed under it's own weight right at the edge of our clearing. I've no idea what to do with that: "nothing" sounds like the right plan.

--== ∞ ==--

Another thing that happened last Sunday: I attended my first Meeting for Business at the FUM meeting. Of two remarkable things, one was that they discerned about a slight change in wording in their minute to repeal HB2 (the "Bathroom" bill). An out transwoman in their community had concerns about how the wording made it sound as if the meeting did not reject the bathroom provision but all the others. No one was defensive (although there may have been a long email thread to which i was not party), there was compassionate discussion -- including for those who have been stirred up to fear -- and the minute was adjusted promptly.

The other remarkable thing was the informality. Over the week i've grown to realize that the formal practice of business meeting with which i am familiar is partly due to the large size of the meetings. I've not decided what i think, but i am becoming acquainted with the Quaker Police in my head, tut-tutting about the form.

The meta-Quaker police are going to tut-tut about THAT, as form is not the goal. And i think a spirit of Love and Justice moves unhindered in this community.
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Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 10:27 am
I have never quite been so delighted by autumn weather. I've been out on the screened porch for hours, and have no plans on leaving. We had a bit of sun between the low clouds and i danced. Edward has been frisky, tossing toys in the air and dashing around. He may have overdone it: he has a slightly disgruntled look on his face right now as he rests. Pulled a muscle, maybe?

I feel the need for rest, so i will try to rest.

I hope your weekend is pleasant, and hope coastal folks get their power back and recover from the flooding. For myself though, Hermine has brought cooler weather and some needed rain. Indeed, it's these hurricanes that recharge the water table here. After the California drought and reading about the 2008 drought in the book Down the Haw, i appreciate rain.
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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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Friday, August 26th, 2016 09:56 am
The cool dry evenings have faded and the dew point is back above 70℉. Back to being smothered with a wet pillow. On the last night with open window, i think i forgot to take my antihistamine. Yesterday, my head ached and i generally felt miserable. I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon.

Before giving up on the day, though, i went out to water at lunch time. I noticed that there are fewer of the "Rose of Sharon" Hibiscus syriacus blossoms. I'll see if it was the cool nights but i suspect that the summer show is shutting down. The crepe myrtles, butterfly bush, and pink magnolia all seem to continue as they have for weeks, though.

Roadsides have goldenrod and boneset as well as sunflowers. Queen Anne's lace seems curled up. I noticed some boneset just down the road from our drive: i will collect some seed for my septic field meadow. It's still most likely that if a yellow flutter catches my eye, it's one of the many tiger swallowtails that have had a population boom this year. Once though it's been a leaf from the tulip poplar. There goes another. I've noticed some American plane trees looking golden and some dogwoods with some bronzed leaves.

Leaf raking hadn't been an envisioned task, ever, but apparently it's pretty important for moss gardens.

The light seems to herald evening before i get off work.

Christine's grief from Mr M's death a year ago is refreshened: we will mark the day tomorrow.
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Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 07:13 am
When i read this i wonder a few things:

Would you agree that our world is in utter chaos and turmoil? When we watch the news, there is hardly anything good shown any more. Crime rates are at an all-time high. There is little respect for law enforcement. Teachers have little control in their classrooms. Political representatives are having a hard time agreeing on what is best for their constituents. We ask what we can do to make a difference.


Would reading the news and not watching help? (And what are the odds the author watches Fox?)

Is the comment that "there is little respect for law enforcement" a comment on race?

This morning i also read the first two stories in an investigative series entitled Deadly Force. The second story describes the deputies breaking into a woman's home to admit her inebriated tenant. My mind swirls with thoughts of gun rights and defending one's own home.

I'm listening to the anger and pain that Trump's campaign makes manifest, but with some bewilderment and what seem to me to be counter justifications. I remember  Lakoff's comments between the conventions this year: to frame the discussion in terms of freedoms and liberty.

Now to change focus, to the world i live in, so alive with joy. (I am so lucky, privileged). I think a hawk is arguing with the fish crows outside.
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Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 07:06 am
Dry, dry dry! Dew point is 60 °F this morning! And it was cool enough last night that we opened the windows.

I had a couple of blues yesterday: insecurity with work (i'm missing an obvious "figure this out" target, yet there are high pressure issues coming from multiple directions), and a sense of overwhelm when looking at a tangle of dead and dying trees and honeysuckle vines. The slow clipping of the vines must come first, i guess.

I don't know if we have enough room to pile the small trees while we clear. They take up a great deal of room on their sides. This is why i was burning periodically. There's definitely more stuff that needs burning -- the vines, in particular. Looks like rain at the end of the month and i'll have fuel for a fire waiting for then.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2016 07:29 am
The air conditioning was fixed yesterday morning, just in time. It was a cooler than usual night and we weren't so uncomfortable that we couldn't get through our usual evening and morning.

Yesterday after work i went out, clumsily hacked into tree and shrub trunks, and applied high concentrations of glyphosate to the wounds. I'd done some tests with autumn olive a few weeks ago, and it seems promising. I was delighted to find that the goats had girdled the mimosa and that it was quite dead. They'd done some trunk damage to the trees of heaven, but not enough. I do worry that there will be mimosa suckers for ages -- although maybe if we get the copper phosphate in the septic field that will be addressed.

In repairing the HVAC, Ken (the HVAC guy) noticed some other issues. He gave his advice, but i'm going to run it by my dad before acting on it. I also posted my thoughts to the county BBS. The county BBS certainly seems to have plenty of folks ready to dismiss liberals as the evil that is ruining the country. Then there's the right wing rumor machine at work: yesterday some one was pushing the theory that H Clinton is having transient small strokes. Nonetheless, i'm finding it fairly easy to filter the political noise from the neighborly signal. And for local politics, such as the preemptive zoning of the whole county, it is useful to read everyone's concerns.


So, before we bought our place in April, we had the sellers install a new condensation barrier in the crawlspace. Yesterday morning we had our HVAC friend out (heat pump had stopped due to a poor design of its condensation drain - again), and he noted that there was now condensation pooling on top of the barrier. He said he'd seen a lot of this recently, and the answer was sealing up the crawlspace instead of venting.

It seems to me that sealing up would be an amplifying choice: as long as it's dry, great, but if any moisture did get in, it would be harder to dry out. I suppose one could run a dehumidifier in the crawl space, but i'm not thrilled with yet another system to keep going.

Finding a way for pooled water to drain down through the moisture barrier seems like it would solve the current issue and still not allow much moisture to rise. Or maybe more effective venting? Some fan system? (Although that's another active system to maintain.)

I do like the hickory flooring, and i really hate mold.
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Monday, August 8th, 2016 06:57 am
Sunday morning: I keep wanting to go out in the cool of the morning to do yard work. This morning i note that it is 98% humidity, and the windows are frosted with condensation on the outside. It did dry up enough yesterday that i was able to apply Roundup to the "back yard." This is an area between the garage and the west side of the hose, wrapping around to the deck that is fenced in with a 4' high white (plastic) fence. It will be lovely for a dog some day -- and maybe even the cats. Currently the green weeds that grow in the area grow high and thick: hopefully i have put a stop to that. We'll put in a path this winter and plant grass for the spring. I might toss out winter rye or buckwheat if it looks too sad.

I've gotten to spend time with my sister's kids: they spent Friday morning here and then i took them to a mead festival to watch the knights, eat the crazy giant turkey legs (or, nibble at the outside of said legs), and visit the vendors. That was a pleasure, except for the damp enveloping heat. We came back to my home for desert and sodas before promptly returning them to my sister.

--== ∞ ==--

Monday morning: I actually stepped outside yesterday morning and it felt nice. We sat on the porch a bit and then i started some yard work and kept going for hours. There was digging, placing logs for the raised bed, weeding the edge of the logs on the "lawn" side of the logs so that only moss remained, and piling up of stuff to create a beginning of a hugelkultur bed. That's a raised bed that begins with a core of hardwood. We have hardwood! What we don't have is piles and piles of rotted compost or manure or any of the stuff layered on top of the logs. I have a start with sticks, branches, and a large chunk of a tree trunk that is part of the legacy from the previous owners. Some of their legacy manure went into that along with some stuff from the compost pile, then a thick pile of weeds -- it was pretty easy to get a great deal of green matter -- then the "turf," also known as chunks of red clay with grass. Later i went out and covered that with news paper. Eventually it will all silt into the gaps of the wood, but i think with out the paper one good downpour would wash it all away.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 07:19 pm
Monday the elephants in the room were spooked into a stampede; yesterday was much unrest. I hope that there will be a lessening of distress today.

It's also miserable outside. There was a lovely drop in temperature as a storm came through, but by the time work was over, the tempts had regained ten degrees. I've really grown to appreciate doing things outside after work. It's just that even though it's five degrees cooler by 7 pm, the heat index was still 107 °F.

I went outside just before bed. Either it's too hot for the fireflies or they have all settled down: the light show has drawn to a close. The concert, though -- i wondered if it was louder than earlier this summer.  
I've just found several websites that may act as guides for me to sort through the katydids, crickets, and tree frogs that make up the massive chorus.
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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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Saturday, July 9th, 2016 02:10 pm
I'm not sure just why everything seems so full -- i suppose having family near does create more events than while we were in California. It just seems i didn't get out to the yard this past week, yet my time disappeared. Christine notes that she thinks we are still tired: and we probably are. During the work days, i find myself drinking more coffee than i used to.

It was a short week, with a couple hours at my parents with my sister's family on the fourth and Thursday night in Chapel Hill celebrating my sister in law's birthday. The book reading we attended, from a novel about a woman who was raped and her journey for justice, was not really birthday celebration material. It was good to see a man, in this case an octogenarian retired family doctor, stand up and say this is something men need to work on.

A black friend who attends my California meeting sent a brief email about whiteness. Thinking about how i felt about the novelist -- i tell myself i will speak to my two black colleagues about the violence last week and how wrong it is. What were the things the Latinx LGBTQI communities wanted to hear after Orlando? Can i do that?

Today i went out to the farmer's market near the co-op, stopping to pick up cheese biscuits from Bojangle's for breakfast. After breakfast, i went outside and puttered in the yard, trying to keep to the shade. I discovered that one of the crepe myrtles had some sort of delicate white flower planted underneath it -- sort of like a miniature hyacinth? I weeded all the "grass" and the stilt grass from around the tree, leaving a large patch of moss, the mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica, sigh, nonnative) the lovely little flowers, and some clumps of a rush-like plant.
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Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 06:43 am
The year turns: Christine and i were married on a full moon winter solstice. The full moon summer solstice seems to mark the new chapter of our life together, with our 25th anniversary this winter and our return to NC (which i had left before i was married).

I'd hoped to feel ready for a ritual of some sort, but the ritual was a gathering for father's day.

We did make more progress clearing the way around the perimeter of the house. The perimeter is a bit hard to define: while the walls of the house are all mostly clear of plants, the way the back area is set up is a bit odd to me. When you come around the garage, you encounter a white (plastic) fence. If you enter into the fenced area you proceed around the garage, the west side of the house, begin going around the south side, climb the steps to the deck (maybe 2-3 foot off ground-level) ... and then you can go into the house, but not any further around -- the deck doesn't have an exit to the south.

Beyond the white fence, though, is jungle. Christine weed whacked on Saturday, giving me access to two crepe myrtles that needed pruning and dead wood removal and then to a corner which was overgrown with grape and honeysuckle. I took out two small trees that were significantly smothered. I am sad that one was an oak: I've only seen a few rather young white oaks. The other was a sweetgum (liquidamber) which grow like weeds. I've only started on the jungle there.

There were some elephant issues to deal with on Sunday; yesterday i was out of sorts -- probably lack of sleep. I'm hoping i begin to sleep better (ie: the cats are more settled).

Last evening though, oh -- i itch. Flea bites or chiggers/red bugs? I might have gotten the fleas at my sister's, and i might have walked around outside in sandals and a dress this weekend. I just ordered something with lidocaine in it in hopes of easing the discomfort, but i'll take another antihistamine today and tomorrow to cope. (Due to all my other skin conditions -- psoriasis and eczema -- an itch response triggers a cascade of discomforts.)

I found a way to pay the deer back for nibbling behind the house: i bought them a salt block. Unfortunately, the deer decided that the gladioli were a delicious evening desert. Lesson: pick them for inside as soon as they are blooming.

We now have a fully assembled bed and bedroom furniture AND a fully assembled guest room bed. We also have figured out an initial furniture arrangement for the office: i think this might help me begin to feel a little settled. We also have a tentative plan for the library, and we ordered a love seat (a muted and pale sea green-blue) on Sunday. Our next step is to pick out fabric samples from Cabinfield to compliment the love seat, and we will order a test mission-style recliner. Hopefully they are as comfortable as the price point indicates, and we will get a second. (Risking the investment on two is something we aren't comfortable with. I'd rather risk not having dye lots on upholstery and the woodstain match.)
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Sunday, June 5th, 2016 07:29 am
"This is to officially inform you that an Inter-Switch ATM Card with a fund worth($685,000.00 USD) Six Hundred And Eighty Five Thousand US Dollars only has been accredited in your favor by MICROSOFT in conjunction with OCEANIC bank as a result of the usage of the Internet ."

My usage of the Internet, eh? Is that because i've all but stopped using the internet?

--== ∞ ==--

The cats are still restless during the night. I think Edward is establishing his alpha-cat status by chasing Luigi & Greycie Loo all night. Luigi retaliates when he sees Edward resting, coming up from behind to grab Edward's scruff. Their vocal restlessness distresses Christine.

Christine despairs of ever catching up with the jungle wilderness around our place. I am becoming a concerned that The Goat Squad is out of business or too overwhelmed with business. I gave up waiting for an email reply and called. The voice mail is still up, so there's hope they are still in business.

Yesterday i burned all of the green trimmings, with fervent hopes that i was getting all the poison ivy out of the piles. After putting the fire out, i turned the ground where i had burned, loosening large hunks of the red clay and mixing in the ashes. (The local clay is supposed to be acidic, so adding a high pH amendment doesn't seem like a bad idea.)

The weed whacker is Christine's power tool of choice, and she's going after the stands of Japanese grass (Microstegium vimineum) that are left. We also bought a powerful mower and I, too, go after the M vimineum at the edges of the yard. I take it as good news that M vimineum can be controlled by getting to it before it goes to seed.

We've spent the past two evenings just enjoying the fall of night. It is a very different rhythm than in Mountain View. The best part is that i am getting so much exercise. I'm not sure my feet are very happy about it, but between the exercise, an inclination towards more responsible eating, walking on unpaved surfaces, maybe i'll manage to strengthen my ankles and recover from the plantar facitis.

In negative health news, there's some nasty bite on the back of my left calf, and a tick bit me on my left hip. The tick bite was probably from a dog tick and wasn't long enough to pass on disease. It's going to be fine, i'm sure, but yeech.

I'm listing many of our observations of the other inhabitants of our new home here: https://www.inaturalist.org/places/clowderwood Yesterday morning the cats alerted us to the arrival of Carolina wrens on the deck. The previous owners definitely kept bird feeders: i feel a little resistant to the idea. We spent so much money on bird food in California! I'd rather grow plants that have food for them, like sunflowers. I'm tempted to let a thistle go to seed for them to feed from, but i think that's a temptation i can withstand.

Off to sharpen my machete as a Sunday morning mediation.
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Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 07:39 am
Our household effects arrive next Monday. I'm somewhat preoccupied with the question of comfort since we are not exactly comfortable, definitely not overnight.

Long itemization of seating options )

From that list it seems we should be comfortable but the experience is not one of comfort. Probably we just need a few good nights' sleep. I hope we can figure out what the cats need soon.

We now have power tools for outside. I so wanted a reel mower, quiet and human powered. After a long chopping session ... Monday morning? ... i realized that right now we need all the leverage we can get in battling the invasive species. Christine has a weed whacker and i have a beefy self-propelled lawn mower. We assembled our tools last night and went to work. I was bright red and wrung out after mowing the large east yard, but i was also satisfied. I was able to easily lower the mower to two inches to crop the plants growing in the area we want to convert to a mossy glade, the raise it back to three or four inches to crop the area that will continue to have vascular plants as ground cover. Quite a bit of clover -- white clover (Trifolium repens) i presume -- as well as the invasive Japanese grass. I'm happy with the clover, and, if that's what we end up with mostly as "lawn" i'll be satisfied for a while. I made headway into the un-mowed areas my sister left. Today we may go out for the evening with Christine's sister, but if not i'll be getting the west side that has more unmown area.

So much, though, for the idea of gentle surveys and rescuing varieties of plants to right homes. The jungle quality of lush and rapid growth is impressive and we'd like to be able to actually walk the perimeter of the house. In the back, the vines and such are growing right up to the deck and the fenced area. I haven't heard from the Goat Squad yet: i may call today.

I do love having a clothes washer & dryer inside. I'm getting that chore taken care of more promptly, although the limited clothing and linens at hand may have something to do with it. Indeed, chores and settling in are taking all my free time, it seems.
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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.