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Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 06:56 am
Saturday i worked in the yard, mainly eradicating stiltgrass and stands of Boehmeria cylindrica (False nettle, by which they mean "non-stinging nettle") by mechanical means.

Boehmeria cylindrica clearly reproduces successfully, so i want to get rid of it in a number of places where it is "weedy." On the other hand, it is native, so i should find some place(s) for it to thrive. I see one resource claims it prefers sandy or loamy soil: i wonder if there's actually loam in the places it is growing. I generally assume everything is clay.

So, in the first area of work there was the manual pulling out. The stilt grass is about a meter high, and heaven only knows what has made a home in the thick stands. I've not seen any snakes yet, but spiders and toads and bright green leafhoppers seem disrupted. I found one milkweed growing in the stand, Asclepias variegata (White milkweed) or A syriaca (common milkweed): that was delightful! And i found a good number my current favorite little plants: moonworts (or grapeferns). These have a single frond, and then a spore bearing structure lifted like a flag above the solar panel that is the leaf. This 2014 literature review describes them as rare but (at least) one species is definitely common here. I believe i've had success transplanting them, despite comments about them being challenging. I take that to mean that the interdependence with fungi is supported over the small distances in which i have moved them. Transplanting to potting soil would likely be bad.

I also rediscovered one of the colonies of Goodyera pubescens (rattlesnake orchid). It too is usually accompanied by the warning against transplanting because of the mycorrhizal interactions: i may try moving some to some places i feel i can more easily protect from trampling over time.

Later in the day i used the sling blade and the weed whacker and the lawn mower. The mower can deal with the tall stands, but i don't want to hit hidden stumps, any more than i already do. The weed whacker gets the grass all tangled in the drive: it's not a particularly good tool on the tall stands.

I grew a little disappointed in the lawn mower repair. I don't think the mechanism for raising and lowering works the way it is supposed to: it's as if the front is now at a fixed height. The lawn mower repair process was so distressing for Christine, i don't want to bring it up. But, fie, it was useful to have the great range in height.

--== ∞ ==--

Sunday began with me breaking the stylus on my phone. The version of the Galaxy Note i have was reported to have a stylus issue in that if you inserted it in the storage bit backwards, it would jam and there was little that could be done. Now i understand: while one can pull out the stylus, the little springy top, like the "clicker" on a retractable ball point, breaks off and jams in, disrupting whatever signal the phone has to turn on the pen functioning. I am glad that the new note has been released but i believe it is a bit larger than this phone - so my nice case wouldn't be used. And we bought this phone outright. After spending some time thinking about it, i decided that i am ok giving up the stylus and just using the phone as any other phone for a while longer. All the critical phone functionality still works, and i can always take a pad of paper outside with me.

If i were doing real field work, i would have a reason to spend the money on a new phone, i don't really now.

And there's also the question of the iPad, which has superior drawing applications, and whether i really need a second digital pad (that's smaller and lighter and "always" with me, sigh).

I worked myself up into other dithers on Sunday morning as well. Things i hadn't done for Meeting, baking for meeting for business potluck with a recipe that i hadn't used before, realizing i hadn't really left time for the longer than expected baking time, discovering i didn't quite have the right quantities of ingredients, running late....

I indulged myself the rest of the day after Meeting, going to a historical society presentation (the president is a member of Meeting as well) and reading a novel (a Maisy Dobbs mystery). I finished the book after dark and needed to take Carrie for her walk, so i went into Pittsboro and walked her on the streetlamp lit sidewalks. I think Carrie was delighted with the novelty, and i enjoyed it too. It will be agreeable to walk there this winter.

Monday was a long work day, mainly meetings. We had the first visit of the young woman we have hired to clean our bathrooms. She's incredibly professional, and someday she'll finish her vet school training and will take her professionalism on to her own vet practice. Until then, i think we'll be delighted with her help.
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Saturday, September 9th, 2017 06:37 am
I started thinking about myself in 2000 and how some news would be familiar, and some other news, surreal.

EG2017: huge hurricane about to hit south Florida.
EG2000: Another Andrew?
EG2017: Bigger.
EG2000: Is Grandmámá ....
EG2017: Still alive and well and in the same retirement area.
EG2000: And-
EG2017: And married to a real jerk.
EG2000: Wait, what? Married again?!

EG2000: So, who is going to win the election: Gore or Bush?
EG2017: Ummmm, that's a long story.
EG2000: ???? How can the outcome of an election in two months be a long story?
EG2017: Next topic please!

EG2017: You'll be amused to know you have two laptops and three desktop computers, two devices like the PADD on Star Trek: TNG and the cell phones are similar to the PADD but smaller. And i don't know how many terabytes of storage in the house.
EG2000: ....why?

But how to break to her the news that President Donald Trump (Wait, Trump Tower Trump??) beat Hillary Clinton (Wait, Bill Clinton's wife??? We had a woman nominee?!!?!!) potentially due to fake facebook accounts (???) and twitter accounts (???) run by the Russians? At least there would be the news of two terms of the first black president to share.

EG2017: I'm blogging this on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal.
EG2000: So, i leave tripod.
EG2017: Yes, very much so. It's easier, but you still have your own website. It's hosted on Amazon's servers.
EG2000: The bookseller? Am i a writer?
EG2017: Um, well the bookseller sells EVERYTHING now including computing infrastructure, and, no, sorry, not a writer.

EG2017: Equifax was hacked and most of the data seems to have been accessed.
EG2000: Damned credit companies.

(It's hard to be sure, but i really think i would have been unsurprised.)

EG2000: How's X?
EG2017: You haven't called your spouse that in a long time. She's Christine now.
EG2000: And ... happily ever after?
EG2017: Well, for you two. But a whole culture war has passed where same sex marriage was vilified, prohibited, and then won the day. So now transgendered people are being vilified. Christine is really distressed by it.
EG2017: But you're living in your mortgaged home, with two orange cats, a black and white cat, and a dog. You've four acres and a garden. You're listening to roosters crowing in the distance.
EG2000: Wow, that sounds like happily ever after. People know we're married? It's OK for two women to be married?
EG2017: People recognize two women can be legally married.
EG2000: Wow! That's amazing! I guess the grey boys* can't live forever. Do we have a jeep?
EG2017: Um, no jeep but a pickup truck. I can't talk about the jeep.

* the three grey cats we had.

In 2000, if i was imagining life after Christine's transition, i know i would have been sad that people wouldn't assume we had a life commitment. I would have known that our marriage was legal -- the understanding at the time was that the marriage contract could not be broken by outside parties, so her transition wouldn't change the contract. I don't think i imagined that same sex marriage would become legal, though.

Looking at the wikipedia article on the topic, i found this phrase, "undermine a right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father." I'm sorry, what?? Please explain adoption to me.
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Saturday, September 9th, 2017 06:36 am
Thursday morning: more Irma. There's not much news from Puerto Rico.

Thursday: Mom's birthday. My sister, father, and i conspired a celebration at a local seafood restaurant, with my sister bringing flowers and a balloon, and i the cake (or cupcakes, as it was). I could not remember what sort of cake my mother liked: she took one of the chocolate cupcakes to my surprise. Getting four different types of cupcakes was a lovely solution to how to address the what sort of cake to get question, so there was that. And the cupcakes were delectable, with creme or custard in the center. I had one of the mocha cupcakes and was well indulged. (The cakes were from the local Phoenix bakery

The restaurant's fish was also delicious, as well.

Friday morning: more Irma.

In therapy on Wednesday we talked more about changing my frame to see the positive, delightful, and joyous. It's not what i carry around with me usually, and Christine too has a strong tendency to dwell on the disappointments and pains of interactions.

I think one of the things that means is that i shouldn't think that outward experiences need to change for me to consider them happy or delightful or joyous. It's easy for me to identify pleasant sensory experiences: the cake, the basil cocktail that i later topped off with ginger beer. My sister's locally brewed basil beer. The blackened swordfish, and so on.

And next i think it's easy for me to identify my satisfaction. Thanks to Christine's coaching, as she is wonderful at gift-giving, i picked out a silly card with a crab that sang and danced and a bottle of locally produced  "Damn Fine Chocolate Liqueur". (North Carolina, where branding appears to have a strong "Damn" component... wait, no, maybe it's just the current hipster branding.) It was good to indulge my mother, although her first instinct is to announce she'll wait to try the liqueur when i'm there.

She'd forgotten how she'd serve me coffee and Kaluha after i'd driven home from college. Exams, plus an 8 hour drive, plus that drink: i'd talk for hours and couldn't remember a thing i told her. I joked it was her truth serum. (When i say, "she'd forgotten", it's tinged with a wary grief. Mom has, by her accounts, forgotten so much of ... everything.)

I think the meal was a happy family occasion. I think that is what it means to be happy with family. In my normal frame i would focus on the too loud restaurant, the lack of deeper connection. But noth the place or time for that.

The most important thing is that i am thankful to have this time with Mom, to celebrate Mom. We're all a little worried about her. She's always been dysfunctional (diagnosis is not my job), but it's clear to me that she is so much more befuddled and fragile. She's aged.

The weather is glorious. I'm looking forward to a good bit of yardwork tonight and tomorrow.

[posting saturday morning, geeze, hit post, will ya?]
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Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 07:29 am
It seemed that way yesterday. The lawn mower, only recently back from repairs, has had the belt slip off. The blade has been put on so tightly i couldn't get it off to repair. So back to the shop.

I moped about it a good bit yesterday, although i also gave the reel mower a go. (And, wow, new muscle aches!) Christine is pretty frustrated as well.

I did get enough mown on Sunday that the glade was pleasant and mossy for an evening sitting out with friends. From my vantage, i could see a pine snag in the woods and witnessed red-headed woodpeckers as they made a racket around the top. It was lovely to have the glade as i have dreamed for it to be. I'm hoping i scalped the stiltgrass at just the right time that it's gone for the season.

Evernote pushed an mac upgrade through the app store that doesn't search successfully. I've documented what i could and opened a support ticket. I've not had an opportunity to use the upgraded tables support.

Then i decided to work on my webdesign -- and the current state looks all wrong. Did i loose a bunch of edits working across machines? (Editing on my laptop with the desktop's hard drive mounted on it?)
Fie.

I then spent a great deal of time using the Valspar paint company's color tools to come up with a color scheme for our front porch. Currently, the porch has a red cement landing, raw cedar ceiling and a basic white door and porch posts. The floor needs a repair, and once that is done we will repaint it. It's a fairly common cement paint red right now: we want something different. On Saturday we went out for breakfast & looked at colors while we waited. Christine picked out a peach for the floor, and i think it was an inspired choice. It's novel yet actually works well with the clay.



Since carpenter bees are working on the ceiling, i've wanted to paint the ceiling and have dreamed of a blue -- something surprising and delightful. A blue green is the compliment of the peach, and works well. We'd picked out enough colors for a Queen Anne to have every detail highlit: it was too much for our rustic cottage.



We finally settled on replacing the white with simply a warm white and echoing the peach floor in the trim around the door. (Maybe also highlight some of the turnings in the posts?)

It looks like we've got a dry stretch coming up Thursday to Saturday. I'll need to see if that's long enough for the hydraulic cement to cure. We'll just be painting the cement to start: not a huge project.
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Sunday, September 3rd, 2017 07:42 am
Friday: Up very early to watch a presentation out of the Netherlands. What i have learned so far could have been skimmed off a diagram, i think with grumbles, but there are probably subtle details that i am actually picking up. ... Ah, participation in the QA for remote folks is adequate.

I've awakened EVERYONE, apparently, although i think Christine was actually awakened by Luigi. He started his morning yowling in the entry hallway that has such a lovely acoustic quality that amplifies his complaining. I've read that cats "meow" to communicate with their owners, that it's a communication developed between the two. Years ago, when Luigi was our neighbor, he learned that he could get Christine to let him in to his apartment when his owner was away by yowling piteously at his door (which shared a landing with our door). He now does this in the mornings, hoping that some miracle will occur and he will be able go outside. I guess my going to my work desk made him think it was 8 am and time to start asking to be let outside.

--== ∞ ==--

I spent some nice chunks of Saturday afternoon in the yard. I have a new tool, a two pronged hoe, which is nicely effective. I found the pitchfork great for deep turning of the soil to get the garden started, but now i'm in the cultivation mode. (Also, i've ruined the pitchfork getting rocks out.)

The Seminole pumpkin, escaping the bounds of the garden, is finally setting fruit. I think it's possible there's a fraction more sun to the west of the plot? I'm thinking i'll just let it go until frost. The yellow squash succumbed to powdery mildew plus too much baking soda treatment. The long stems, jointed with leaf nodes that only had stubs of stems, looked like an algae covered sea monster carcass. I'd started some seeds in hopes that maybe i'd get some more squash before the frosts due in October. I set those out in a new bed: maybe they'll settle in and set fruit. (Little flower buds were on a few of the plants.)

The autumn garden starts i'd made in August are not encouraging. The seed tapes germinated, but nothing seems to be thriving. A dill seedling seems to have taken, and some tiny red cabbage seedlings persist. The radishes came up but the fleshy part of the root seems to be above the dirt and long and stringy.

I've been pondering my assessment.

It seems legumes are a deer food and thus not really going to produce unless we do some serious deer repellent or exclusion work.

The popcorn is a win: while some stalks got nibbled on early, once it gets going it's too tough for deer and the corn itself isn't sweet enough to attract anyone's interest. Sweet corn wouldn't be worth the work.

Squash was great before the powdery mildew, and the dehydration seems a reasonable way to deal with bounty. It seems also to agree with getting a seedling start. The cucumber seedlings from a friend finally seemed to do OK once out of the shadow of the yellow squash. The melons haven't set fruit (shade issue as with the Seminole pumpkin?) but are worth giving a go again.

The collards were great until they became insect magnets. I really miss my daily greens. I probably need to be more aggressive with control. The collards are still sort of producing, so with control i could have had collards all year! Right now i'm wrestling with getting rid of the plants vs hoping that the bugs will go away and i'll have mature collards producing in the autumn. "Hoping bugs will go away." Ha, i guess it's obvious written out like that.

I'll try fame flower again, with seed tape and greenhouse starts....

At this point i went into much more detailed planning elsewhere.

--== ∞ ==--

Large orbweaver spider has made a web in our door frame. Is it planning on catching me? Geeze, spider season has begun. Carolina writing spiders are at work (aka Black-and-Yellow Argiope, Argiope aurantia). Two large wolf spiders watched me work in the garden yesterday. And yes, watched.
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Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 06:53 am
I enjoyed our eclipse trip, sandwiched between visits with my mother and her sister here at home. But, instead of a sensible narrative, i give you (with appreciation to George Carlin) brain droppings.

My email box is full of intense messages between white Quakers and one black Quaker. I've tried to pull the entire discussion into a filtered folder, and right now there are 57 messages from the last week. I feel the only way to do justice is to sit and really read, and that's overwhelming, and this is a little microcosm of the larger world and and and and.

My dad was in Florida with his mother last week, and my aunt flew up here to be with my mother who was too sick to travel. Mom had my sister's family and myself over Saturday night for gumbo. (Dad's prolific okra for the win; Christine didn't have the spoons to deal with my family.) A strange and wonderful thing happened in that my mom asked all of us how we were doing and what was going on with us. How incredibly pleasant! I must discuss this with Dad, in part because i don't know how much this novelty was due to his absence. It could also be due to my mom having had hours and hours to talk to her sister. But also, Mom was sitting down with us before dinner! Also a strange new and pleasant experience. I thing that might be because my sister and i said we'd arrive between 5:30 and 6, and we both arrived at 6. This could be a tool my sister and i use in the future to help my mom not be bustling up to the meal.

Or it was a miraculous alignment not to be repeated in my lifetime. I dunno.

My mom looks so old. I need to see what at what age her mother died: 74. Hmm. Ah, and Mom is 74.

Ah.

My mom's sister is just a year younger than Mom, but looked years younger at lunch yesterday.

(When i use "mom" as a generic noun, "my mom" i should not capitalize it, but as a form of my name for her, "Mom", i should, right?)

--== ∞ ==--

The eclipse trip included some very intentional routing to avoid traffic and other intense human context. Probably the most awkwardly crowded human and vehicular press of the whole trip was at the Flat Rock Wood Room restaurant. The place was packed and making reservations simply provided for a table, not a parking place. We were in plenty of time, though, and had our spot on the patio where Carrie was welcome along with our party of four.

The intentional routing was to take US 64 west, through many little NC towns. I think i only saw two confederate flags flying in front of homes. There is the vacuum that interstates caused: I-40 arcs northward to hit the mill cities of the triad (Greensboro, Winston Salem, High Point) and all the traffic ends up there, along with the gas stations and fast food places. 64 gets a little traffic from Raleigh to Asheboro, where the state zoo is located, but east of that is even deeper in rural NC.

I enjoy such "blue highway" drives, and i think Carrie did too, standing with her back feet on the back wall of the truck cab, front feet of the console between us, nose working the air brought in by the air conditioner, and alert for hours. Christine, though, experiences anxiety (carrying with her awareness of her "deviant lifestyle") and depression (the lack of human culture beyond church after church). Christine was much happier with interstate driving. I think Christine passes, and i expect we get read as sisters or friends, not as a couple. Her heaviness makes me think of the heavy concern people of color must feel driving through similar areas. JD Lanham gives a good accounting of those experiences.

Gotta go to work: the most adorable photos of the trip were of Carrie. Everyone gushed about her. In the hotel someone exclaimed about how happy she seemed. On the trail, she received constant attention for packing in her own water bottle and treats.

Carrie dog, with green panniers

We had a cloudy eclipse, but it still brought with it the experience of darkness, like just at the end of twilight when all color drains from your vision. And the horizon with clouds of pink and gold, a 360° dawn, compressed into moments when light returns.

I'd spent much of Saturday, unpacking boxes from California, looking for where i stashed my camera filters. I failed at that (but unpacked some useful things). I wouldn't have been able to use the filters as it was, and the clouds compensated for my lack of filter.

Camera showing back display of cloudy eclipse


Lanham, J. D. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. Milkweed Editions, 2016.
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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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Friday, August 4th, 2017 08:46 am
Thursday: I think i'm identifying a pattern to my nadirs, a pattern i had hoped to have aged out of. Ah well. And so, here i am.

Christine has been helping her sister out by watching movies that are being vetted for a festival. One recently earned her description as being about the "tyranny of the mundane." I think i felt victim to such a tyranny in Mountain View at times, and i reflect that perhaps part was how it took an effort to get away from suburbia. Not a large effort at all mind you, but when depressed effort is magnified.

Here, even in a funk, i can witness the pollinators dancing around the bright yellow flowers of the bearsfoot, a doe stepping through the yard -- and by following her gaze and going to another window -- witnessing a small herd of deer in the glade. There's a magic to it all that i can rest on.

Friday: today a new sort of magic: new to me monitor, new webcam. All this to compliment the new chair i bought at the beginning of the month. I sit properly now, with my hands at the right level. Next will be to consider whether to get an ergonomic keyboard, so that i don't have the laptop monitor somewhat obscuring the bottom of the larger monitor. I'm not sure any of this will address the persistent elbow ache, but hopefully it will help me open up instead of working curled over and into the laptop. I'm able to lean back a bit right now. It feels good.

Although i never learned to type. So now i'm finding out that i can sort of touch type from the years of keyboarding. It's a little odd, like finding one's way through a familiar house in the dark. I doubt myself, but find i am not blundering around.
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Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 05:46 am
Animals. Carrie and the boyos woke me up in the wee hours. I think Edward was snuggled against my back and Carrie had settled in by my legs. When i turned and woke them, Edward was startled to find himself so close to the dog. Tossing turning, Carrie wanting out, Carrie bringing a chew toy to the bed and crunching on it, cats walking across me, hot, cold....

So I went outside in the blessedly cool air and the boyos (Edward & Luigi) followed. Before bed, last night, i stood in the yard, delighting in the owl's call, the stars and moonlit clouds, the moonlight in our yard. The owl was still calling moments ago; first bird song at 5:45.

In more amusing pet news, we were watching Netflix's series "Stories of Light" -- episodes documenting a photographer at work. This episode included tiger photography. When the tiger appeared on screen, Carrie growled. The photographer went to look for another tiger, this one carrying prey out of the woods. Carrie stood on the hassock, hackles and hair along her back to her rumpraised up, and barked and barked.

Wow.

She really does watch the TV; it's been very entertaining to watch her watching.

Mulling over tree purchases. Bloodmeal protectant or plastic tubes? Order seedlings from the state this year and plant willy-nilly? (Premise, now is the second best time to plant a tree?)
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Monday, July 31st, 2017 07:03 am
Oh divine low humidity day!

I spent it in the shady glade, following the shade around the northern border, weeding the moss by hand. We have a Adirondack style bench we stained over the 4th of July weekend that we intend to place back in the glade. I've not mown in ages, it seems (since before my brother's family came) and the glade is overrun with stilt grass. Where we want the bench and then, around the edge toward the ferns, i felt weeding by hand might be the best way to manage.

I'm glad i did. Moonworts are leafing out now -- genus Botrychium, a tiny cousin of ferns in the Adder's tongue family (Ophioglossaceae). (We have Adder's tongue, too, they came up in the early spring and have faded.) The tiny leaves would likely have been whacked, as i mow as low as i can in the hopes of exterminating many of the plants growing out of the moss. I also found some other small ferns in the process of getting established.

I'm hoping that i'm rested and back to myself. July seems to have gone by so fast, but swept my attention to a variety of things with it. I feel like i am still recovering from 2016's move and election.
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Sunday, July 30th, 2017 06:37 am
Sleep is good, and i think i finally had a good night's sleep.

Tuesday night i was out late at a networking career thing of questionable value beyond practicing speaking to people.

Wednesday night i read a novel, but didn't go to bed promptly. Christine and i had a very late dinner and it was another late night.

Thursday we went to see an outdoor drama, home late, etc.

Friday night i think i went to bed at a reasonable hour, but Carrie woke me in the wee hours.

Last Saturday night Christine was triggered enough to open the gates for more elephants. The trigger was not elephants, and i think she's kept the elephants away from the trigger. Elephants didn't help this past week with my bad sleep patterns, but i think things will settle back down.

Last night i was to bed on time, woke on time, and the temperature outside is wonderfully cool.

I feel like skipping meeting again: i'm not sure this is a good habit, i know an edge of procrastination is running underneath (i said i'd do something and it ain't happened), but the past week did drain me. However, a quiet day with some waiting (silent) worship with Christine on the porch will help feed me.

Yesterday, i worked outside on things that didn't take much consideration and spent time watching butterflies flutter on the large Bearsfoot plants (Smallanthus uvedalius). The flowers are a bit like tiny sunflowers; the plants eight foot high with dinnerplate sized leaves. Pollinators seem to adore the blossoms. I wish i could think of more landscape uses for these perennials that disappear in the cool months and become so massive in the summer. Duh - where the sunflowers failed this year -- on the western exposure of our house, where i'd hoped for the shade to help with cooling. I guess the same challenge of the hard baked clay that didn't seem to support the sunflowers remains; although the Smallanthus are tubered plants. Maybe that will help them succeed?

I also made gluten free chocolate chip coconut cookies. I was dubious as i brought them out of the oven: crumbly, they didn't spread out, etc. But when they cooled they had a lovely texture. I put half the batch of dough in the freezer, so there will be more.

Dehydrated squash yesterday. That might be all i have to "preserve". I'd finally learned how to defeat blossom-end rot (remove the blossom) when i realized i have a terrible case of powdery mildew. Fie. I burned much of the infected foliage, but it doesn't sound like that's going to be sufficient.
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Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 07:30 am
Odd, how a perfectly reasonable night's sleep can have one more grumpy. I think it's all about antihistamines: in that i had only one left (forgetting to ask Christine when she did a grocery run). Fortunately the loooong commute from the hotel to the office across the highway means i can swing by a grocery and pick up a bottle of pills, plus band aids for where my shoes are rubbing my feet.

The B52's Love Shack is playing as muzak.

I should have brought a few tea bags with me. I thought i could make do with coffee, but i am not a morning coffee drinker. Either that or the drip coffee in the room was vile.

I paid for a month's use of AirDroid pro so i could easily move files to my phone. I have a "Music" folder, and in the "Music" folder i made a "_Keep on Phone_" folder. The music app couldn't find that folder, so i ditched the underscores and created a "000Keep on Phone". That too is not being found. With this last phone i've just had no luck with audio files. It's good that my preference is for audio books.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
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.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, June 18th, 2017 11:13 am
I've spent some obsessive time developing filters for my personal email. I had had filters, but many were made long enough ago that i didn't really know what they were doing. I tried to name these more clearly. Meanwhile, in my "miscellaneous" folder i had 200 journal comments i meant to reply to, some from a year ago. Um, not going to happen - i mean to reply, but i think it's better to work on going forward, not the past. So all those went into the archive and now i "only" have 100 emails lingering.

More on digital backlog )

Friday evening i took Carrie over to my folks so she could run in their pasture - and run she did. Mom committed her usual "here, take all this" but this time the book was one i remember dearly from childhood: Euell Gibbons' Stalking the Wald Asparagus. I didn't know until just now that he was a Quaker, but the resonance with my inclinations becomes more clear. I'm tickled.

Saturday was muggy. One drips working outside, even without much exertion. I planted my peanut and melon seedlings, moved marigolds from thick plantings to other areas, and dug  up the last of my Huckleberry potatoes. I will buy those again. Definitely a good producer! I hope for the marigolds to be deer deterrents: no nibbling on those. I'll check to see if the peanut starts made it through the night. I also planted melons -- "Minnesota midget" muskmelons -- but perhaps i should add some seeds as the article i just found said they don't transplant well.

I made a "potato salad" seasoned with lemon and mint, inspired by a NYTimes recipe. I tried to follow the pressure cooker recipe for cooking the potatoes: i think i could have cooked them less than the 7 minutes. Also, i wasn't thinking and vented the steam inside. Next time i'll carry the pot out and vent it outside. Despite the potatoes not holding shape, the flavors were a pleasant change from the usual mustard or mayo based potato salad preparations -- and, let me tell you, we do have plenty of mint.

I'm watching a pair of Carolina wrens build a nest in my "greenhouse" -- a rack of shelves for seedlings that comes with a clear plastic cover -- long since removed -- and is now covered with a sheet. I've mixed feelings about letting them nest there. It's tempting to watch them -- and let Edward watch them, but it is so close to comings and goings and i need to water those plants. But not so much the ones on the top where most of the nesting work is going on -- a seedling persimmon, some seedling button bushes.

We do have a go pro, we could be watching them....
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 06:18 am
The drive to Ohio on Sunday was very pleasant, except for a few moments of panic when my phone blacked out and a separate time when it seemed unable to connect to map data. I'd not turned around when, a half hour from home, i realized all my paper maps were still in my home office. I'm downloading "off line areas" to my iPad and to my phone -- I also ran over my data limits during the trip.

Bah, that was the negative -- which i am working to ameliorate for my return. The positive was that i had brunch with my parents in Chapel Hill (inadvertently choosing just the right time for Chapel Hill to be a ghost town: it was graduation and many folks were off in the stadium). The day was beautiful and, as i ascended the Blue Ridge escarpment, it was like watching spring run in reverse. I can't believe i've never noticed fringe trees before. Chionanthus virginicus is what i've seen around my new home. I thought i was seeing it as i drove through Virginia and West Virginia but apparently it's some other tree that flowers in a similarly delicate dangling manner -- at least at highway speeds.

I took a nice break in West Virginia driving down the New River Gorge to Thurmond. It's a National Park and almost a ghost town. I stopped for dinner in Chillicothe, Ohio. Some time i'll need to arrange my travels so i can visit some of the mounds remaining from the Hopewell cultures.

Yesterday i had a lovely lunch with KQ, a woman who i used as my pretend manager during the time working for the horrible horrible director KS. She's not managing now, as well, and i wasn't sure what to say. I thrive not being a manager: i'm not sure she's doing so.

Dinner was with my California colleagues and one of the local folks. I ordered a salad that was delivered with bacon bits on it. I chose not to make a fuss, and assumed i'd made the error in missing the meat in the listing. Having not had meat for such a long while, i found the bacon unappealing enough that i may begin double checking salad orders in the future if it's at a restaurant where they might add bacon as an elegant finishing touch.

Regarding the news, mutterings. )
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:54 am
Continue to feel disrupted by the absence of my laptop. Happily, the mirror i made of the system mounts on my desktop machine, and i can use my work laptop to access the interface from my lollygag locations. Better than nothing.

Taxes completed in time, after some confusion from the software regarding the multistate taxes. I resent the confusion because the software should have warned us it wasn't what we needed. Pfft. Christine's parents must have had drama every tax time because she's always had huge anxiety around taxes. My family's tradition was to procrastinate. Hm. So, clearly we keep to how we were raised.

At work, my team builds the systems that support authentication into the various services The Whale [1] offers. We're doing work to become compliant with a number of certification systems, most of which require us to amp-up our minimal password management. "Ah-ha," said our security analyst, "why don't we just buy a system that already does this. That would save this money." I in turn shudder at the thought of how much work it would be to integrate with such a thing, if we could find one that meets our requirements. Yesterday evening and this morning i wrote up the requirements for such a theoretic money saving system. I think it makes clear how much integration work is required. I don't know if it made clear some of the maintenance risks. I felt a certain sense of pride as i reviewed the requirements: we've done a great deal of good work.

Yesterday evening's yard mowing was pleasant. I was a little concerned because the east yard seems to be a urban center for ground dwelling bees. I don't think the mowing disrupted them too much. I didn't mow much of the low growing bunch grass that my sister says is a native. We love this grass! I'm delighted how well it integrates with violets. It's not a dense carpet like lawn grasses and it has a coarse texture, but maintenance is low.

A video of the bees from this weekend is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwP9rg2b1QL3aHBJcDJmT1Z3eVk/view?usp=sharing for at least the next week or so (probably months). (Pfft, the low sun doesn't do my shadow any favors.)

Boy, do we need rain. It keeps being promised. I think i'm going to do a flood of the areas between the beds today. Here's an attempt an an ascii diagram to depict how the soil is loose beneath the level of the paths between the beds, so flooding the paths causes draining into the sub soil of the beds. I find that the water gets pulled up into the bed above the path level after some hours. Eventually, i'll come up with something more efficient, but i think the flooding beats a sprinkler at this point.
           
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I'd set my mind to disliking the azaleas up close to the house so i could remove them as a fire hazard. One of them, though, is a glorious deep pink with large blossoms, just out my work window. The salmon color shrub doesn't appeal to me, and one that is cotton candy pink is still only buds. I think i'll be able to want that one gone. It seems propagation of the bright pink one from cuttings would be feasible, so there's that.


[1] Haven't used that pseudonym in a long while. It's due to the scale difference between my original library services employer and the company we merged with, now noted as "largest online public access catalog in the world."
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 08:44 am
I'm cranky my mac is at the shop... and that nothing turned out to be wrong with it in all the diagnostics. I'm happy this happened in just a few weeks before the warranty expired: i still have time to add two more years of Apple Care.

I'm delighted to discover pappadum make up so well in the microwave. I'm having boiled eggs seasoned with curry paste and pappadum for breakfast: delightful!

I also discovered that many of the oxalis and cudweeds around are natives: huzzah! On the other hand, my sister reports that crimson clover spreads -- when i thought it was an annual and doesn't set seed here. Gah, https://www.smithseed.com/seed/legumes/clovers/crimson-clover reports "excellent" reseeding. I wonder if i confused crimson clover with buckwheat. It still can't be as bad as the stilt grass. In "Other Non Natives That Are My Fault" the mixed cover crops that include brassicas are going to seed. I've gotten a good bit pulled up, but i thought i had a little more time.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, April 17th, 2017 08:20 am
It was a fairly pleasant weekend, despite it being warm. I couldn't think of anything to do on Saturday outside that wasn't in the sun, so i ended up sitting on the screened porch going through a year's worth of photos on my phone.  I spent some time on Sunday at my parents with my sister's family and her husband's sister's family. Cousins at play! Altogether not a gathering where you have much time with folks: my mother is delighted to have people gathered and she isolates herself in preparations. My dad is beginning to appreciate that she's happy, even though she's not actually spending time with anyone. 

The king size comforter sat in the large bath tub long enough that one of the cats "did his business" on it. It's been taken to a nearby cleaner for a $40+ cleaning. Next year -- if we use it -- it will be cared for more promptly. But what a hassle. My grandmother also had a feather duvet with a simple cover. *THAT* is a practical item. I might look for a heavier duty cover for it and skip using this maroon/burgundy satin thing altogether. 

Slugger, of Slugger & Louise, our cardinals, is showing around his fledgling son. I do hope he doesn't teach Junior to attack his reflection while sitting on the car  & truck side view mirrors. 

My laptop is unexpectedly shutting down once again. I count myself incredibly lucky that i got a decent backup yesterday. Now it's just the hassle of getting to the apple store. I've turned that into a visit with my sister plus a dog outing. Yay. 

List of things i want to research that aren't my job:
  1. Plant IDs
    1. Tree that i've thought of as a "cherry" that probably isn't in the rose family, now that i've seen the inflorescence.
    2. a DYC Dad has observed spreading in his pasture. It looks pretty much like a hawkweed, but a single dandelion-like blossom.
    3. a borage family flower growing under the dead tree of heaven
    4. a composite growing in the glade with white aster-like flowers
  2. Grace
    1. Did early Quakers write of grace?
    2. What concept of grace was around in England pre Cromwell?




elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, April 15th, 2017 07:45 am
So both Asteraceae-Cichorioideae-Cichorieae: Youngia japonica & Lamiaceae-Teucrioideae-Ajugeae: Ajuga reptans in the yard with rosette behavior. Both are non-native. Both are potentially invasive but not listed in NC. Is it hypocritical of me to keep (er, not fight) the bugle plant and not keep (attempt to prevent spreading) the false hawksbeard?

I'm now recording the Family-Subfamily-Tribe of plants in big families in the Evernote entries about my observations. After taking the Asteraceae class - daisies and dandelions and sunflowers - i knew being able to key out a new plant by recognizing the tribe would be helpful. Beans, mints, and the apple family are also so large and varied that i am finding it useful to subdivide there, as well.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, April 14th, 2017 07:02 am
I missed my niece's birthday yesterday. Glad i glanced at Facebook and found that out, but i carry disgust & dismay with myself. Working on tempering that: don't want to dismiss the feeling altogether because i want to motivate myself to get back to the patterns that helped me, well, KNOWINGLY miss celebrating dates for folks. Sigh.

Did i mention i have a therapist? I have felt myself getting resentful of the elephants and wanted to make sure the elephants -- as it seems likely that they will be around for a long time -- don't damage our relationship. Christine is working as hard as possible on them, and i have to balance her desire for privacy (hence elephants) but i'll say much is out of her control. Anyhow, therapist.

We talked a bit about procrastination last visit. She's mainly acting as a coach. I know what i need to do, it just helps to have someone who can remind me of what i know and not let me weasel out. Straight talk about procrastination: just stop frittering away the time! Yeah, that is what i have to do -- and there are tricks to make use of and so on -- but ... sigh.

I realize i don't know when the redbuds went away because my glasses are broken and i'm making do with my close work glasses. I'm glad dogwood blossoms are nice and large. The lilac has bloomed -- BOOM -- and smells divine. Christine has found the shrub to be in an annoying spot, and i thought it was a boring thing. But now, wow. One azalea, as well, has been blooming like mad. Like the saucer magnolia, the azaleas that are planted are not the natives but ones from Asia that have been bred up as an ornamental. They are rather flammable, and i rather think i want the ones right up next to the house gone some day. The one that has been blooming, though, is away from the house and is a lovely red (on the blue side) and looks wonderful with the lilac. If the frost hadn't hit the saucer magnolia, it would still have wonderful pink flowers as well.

Onions and mystery bulbs are about to bloom, the peonies are as well. The pansies i rescued from the remainder bin are gorgeous, except slugs are nibbling away at them (and probably the collards). I know the potatoes are nigh a month from maturity, but i went to look anyhow, willing to give up future bulk to serve my own potatoes this weekend. Pfft, not a chance. Nothing that looked like even thoughts of tubers. So, there's that.

I am reminding myself that last summer i didn't have a place to plant ready. THIS summer i will be able to get in the autumn garden and will actually have greens to eat all winter. The baby collards and onions and one lettuce made it through the deep cold we had (thanks to the "snow", i'm sure): i am confident that it will be worth it this fall to keep them going.