elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 07:07 am
One of my reactions to the election of Donald Trump was subscribing to the New York Times (digital version). What has surprised me most is the cooking section, a constant trumpet of "what to cook tonight." Clicking through reveals a huge cooking section with tons of how-tos, such as this encyclopedic soup how to: http://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/40-how-to-make-soup.

Day ... 4 of waking up to beautiful snow on the ground. We're going to leave freezing temperatures today, so tomorrow may not be so lovely. Last night, with the bright moonlight, the landscape was amazing. I think i would have liked to go walking, but Christine reminded me of the slipperiness. It's not really snow.

Indeed, when we did our daily perambulation for Monday, we finally saw deer tracks -- and these included a few long, skating skids. I prefer to imagine a bit of a frolic and delight, while Christine -- already worried for the poor creatures in the cold -- added yet another worry. We also saw a track of some critter cutting across the wide open of our yard. I think a canid, and i surmise a fox, as the distance between the paces seems small for a coyote. I suppose it could have been a cat, but the running prints seemed more canid like in the open space and direct choice. It went by the compost area without checking it out, and followed a path beyond which aligned with the kitty litter bags -- so there's that.

On Sunday we'd seen a rabbit track, and there's a fan of tiny tracks going in and out of holes beneath my raised beds. No critters seem to have found the seeds and peanuts out the back. Maybe today.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, January 8th, 2017 07:53 am
I remember cold snaps growing up and i remember accumulation of winter precipitation growing up, but i sure don't recall both here in NC.

The two together, "snow" first, is a good thing! I know the little green plants out there are all encased in the inch plus of sleet and ice pellets with a decorative coating of snow on top. It's 8° F this morning, but the ground is, i'm sure, still above freezing. We didn't get much in the way of the ice glaze that weighs down trees and snaps them, so continuous power has made this all the more pleasant.

My memory growing up was that one woke the day after the snow to a drippy mess. This morning it is spectacular outside. Tomorrow morning should be the same.

We are "stuck" here, though. Road plowing is a good ways off, i suspect: it's not snow plowing, either. It's the inch of sleet pellets that those who have been out in their vehicles have packed to ice. We have decent tires on our Ranger pickup Liandra, but as we don't need to leave, i see no reason to test just how good the tires are.

The HVAC is running on electric heat, so i've just cranked the gas logs. Should have thought of that earlier.

Hot cocoa to come.

I haven't been feeding the birds. In California i realized just how much we were paying for bird seed, and when we quit (due to the apparent ease of predation), i resolved not to feed birds unless i could grow the food. That's one nice thing to say about the Autumn Olive: it's bird food. I'm looking at oil-seed sunflowers and millet for next year, as well as popcorn and peanuts. For now, i threw out the bug riddled rye grass seed, some old peanuts i roasted in the shell, and buckwheat seed. No one has descended to inspect the seed, but i've seen birds come around foraging in the woods. Maybe today.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 06:44 am
The thermostat says it's 22°F outside, but when i stepped out, the dry air just registered as crisp. The stars were sharp in the sky. I looked up at the last quarter moon and thought how every dawn view of it over our home will remind me of arriving here in late May. I also reflected that 25 years ago, the moon was full, rising in the eastern window of the church, opposite the nave, when Christine and I were married. This home is our 25th anniversary celebration.

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

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

Still am.

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

So there's that venting off my chest.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 07:17 am
For some reason, it feels warmer outside today, even though the thermostat reads a bit warmer in the house. I suppose it's something to do with slight humidity levels. I'm on the deck, listening to the wind in the trees. We are promised a rain storm today, very welcome. I've a big pile of brush we cleared on Saturday that needs to be disposed of, which is by burning it here, out in the woods. I'm learning NOT to burn to ash but to stop at a char stage, and then use the charcoal/biochar in the garden. The ash is a fine amendment for our acid soil, but i can get lime for that.

My compost is in the red zone this morning, which is finally up in the pathogen and seed killing temperature. Huzzah. 

I need to make a new place for composting: the current location is too visible. I fantasize about creating a woven (wattle) screen around the area. It's not like i'm wanting for materials. The autumn olive branches are very flexible, and it would be nice to put them to use.

--== ∞ ==--

List of things i'm procrastinating over:
communication with extended family and friends
getting my to-do list back into order after a month of ignoring it
getting engaged with Meeting
photography
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 10:31 am
Family gatherings were the most concerning thing about moving back home. We did NOT miss being at big bustling day-long gatherings. Nor did we miss the massive meals. Indeed, we don't like making big food productions on the holidays. I like having the time off to make some special things, but we don't eat them all at the same meal. Feasts make sense in the times of want, and also in the times of poor storage options. That's no longer the life Christine and I live.

We also don't eat most animals: we have some fish and shell fish we chose to eat with environmental awareness. Sitting with omnivores' platters of meat on the table is not appealing, particularly for Christine.

It seems we are negotiating this holiday with aplomb. We'll have 'brunch' for Christine's sister & husband here, and then desert over with my extended family at my parents'. It will have the quiet and space we're accustomed to on holidays. I'm very happy it's working out to be low drama and low stress. (Except for Christine immediately assuming any food i mention is intended for brunch.)

I might try baking cannoli this weekend. I don't think i can stand to fry up cannoli, but there are a number of recipes for baked pastry that might be a pleasant adventure. A filling of pumpkin and ricotta seems like a wonderful treat.

I hope for those of you observe to able to enjoy the coming American holiday as you wish.

--== ∞ ==--

I didn't go protest last night, i didn't even leave to accompany Christine to the concert where she volunteers. I was pretty sleepy well before she got home.

Today i have a list of calls to make to advocate for the Water Protectors in North Dakota. I'm also trying to round up tasks and to-dos, clean out in boxes, etc.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, November 18th, 2016 06:03 am
Yay, i have my laptop back: logic board replacement needed. Then I needed to restore from backup, which i had gotten just before the last failure to reboot.

Skimming the wildfire incident reports in North Carolina is a bit too much like California. Currently there are five incidents, each involving thousands of acres, including onw that is 13 thousand acres. Four of the incidents have hundreds of folks assigned to the incident. I don't know if som of those folks handle multiple incidents at the same time (firefighters couldn't but someone managing logistics could be assigned to multiple). We're to the east of the drought, but it looms as a reminder to do something about collecting rain water.

I'm running SETI@home again. I have mixed feelings about the energy usage, but a nostalgic wish to be involved -- i was running the project in 1999 apparently. There's also http://www.climateprediction.net/ running on the same platform. If you happen to be running on either & on a "team", let me know. I'm on the Sluggy Freelance team and i haven't read that comic for YEARS.

Hoping for a good work day, in particular that the product manager is in a less aggravated state.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 06:39 am
My rhythms are all out. My laptop is gone to be fixed, so my morning laptop rhythm is all gone. Multiple instances of distressing news has distracted me and affected Christine. We have VERY different reaction patterns to traumas. Right now Christine is angry that college kids are being treated compassionately for an election trauma when she was rarely treated with any compassion. Since i was instilled with a culture of tough survivor behavior (Think black knight, "It's just a flesh wound.") i've had to learn self care, and so i can still get a great deal of vertigo in judging myself: am i being a lazy, work avoidant lump? Or is this reasonable self care? I'm still feeling guilty for taking time off work on Friday.

Christine's had to put up some shields, and her shields can be a little counterintuitive. That anger at others getting concessions is part of the shielding, and i accidentally knocked out that shield last night by creating a logical feedback loop in her thinking and self awareness.

My shields are different and what i most want to do is go bury myself in completing a gantt chart plan of next year's gardening and a resource map of available planting areas. I'm trying to decide what i think of various companion planting advice: do i believe the wikipedia assertion that marigolds should be separated from legumes? By how much?

Hmm https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/110135/Fagan_O'Halloran_Przybylski_Rentschler_2014.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, November 10th, 2016 08:03 am
My distant Swedish cousin wrote a few days before the election, sharing photos of her son and noting the All Soul's Day observation. I replied this morning

Thank you! [your son] has grown, and what a beautiful blue sky in the background. Is your weather behaving oddly? We have had an uncommon stretch of mild weather, and no rain since the hurricane hit. When it hit - oh my, there was much rain and the nearby creek was flooding the bridge to our neighbors' homes. We live on a gentle slope and a sheet of water was draining from the woods around our house across the entire yard.

We are still unpacking. Sometime this winter i will take the time to pull together the before and after photos of a great deal of our outside work. We have been clearing an area that had become very overgrown with non native plants, vines that warped trees. We started by having goats visit and eat much of the underbrush. We've since been clearing -- pulling up vines and cutting down trees.

I've planted onions that grow over the winter, and i am planning my garden for next year.

Our family here in the states spans the political spectrum. I'm not really sure how [the Florida family] voted. I know [my aunt's] husband often expresses right wing views to my father.

My immediate family-- Christine, my parents, my siblings and their spouses -- all voted for the Democratic Party candidate Clinton. My parents are concerned about the environment and climate change, concerned about justice for their Muslim grandchildren and for LGBTQ rights for myself and Christine. Yesterday I called my brother, my parents and reached out to my sister: we are all dismayed and grieving at the turn of events. [My brother] reported having to calm his sons who were very worried they could never come back to the US. My spouse, who is transgendered, is worried that she and I may need to escape the US if the radical right wing gets their way. One of my African American colleagues has shared that she and her family are all getting passports. There's a great deal of fear due to the extreme rhetoric of the past months.

I am leaning on my faith, consoled that we are close to our family and we can be together if the extremes of history repeat. I hope we have learned from history, and believe that more people are awake to justice for all.

I hope our country's chaos doesn't cause distressing ripple effects for you all. Do i recall correctly that you work for Ikea? I imagine seeing such a large market vote in protectionist government causes practical concerns.

May Love triumph, and with love to you and the extended family in Sweden,

[me]


I'm not quite sure how to articulate i really mean by leaning on my faith. It's a more existential faith i'm leaning on -- not a faith that somehow i will be protected. No, i am very aware of my privilege. Because i'm white, able bodied, educated, cisgendered, and don't present in a way that shouts Queer i have some insulation: it's hard for me to know if i am having faith in my privilege as protection.

Tonight Christine's sister's film has a short that is being screened at a festival event in Wilmington -- her sister received a grant from the festival last year. Color correction and audio balancing takes time. The film's depiction of coming together despite difference seems all the more meaningful today.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 08:40 am
Observing the wheel of the year has not been very active on my part. Last night i didn't feel like bestirring myself from the house, and did not drive up to see the pumpkins on the Old Bynum Bridge. Instead we watched the new Ghostbusters. I found it amusing but a little weak: i have a suspicion that there was interesting narrative left on the cutting room floor in order to keep special effects. The multitude of hat-tips to the original were delightful.

I've ordered two books about the area, one about trying to drive a small economy from the person who started the biodiesel plant and another about someone who apparently was "back to the land" in the 70s. I feel a little guilty ordering books as i have not read the book i bought at the beginning of the month: The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. Instead i do things like read the 1937 soil report for the county -- which was interesting in its snapshot of the county's way of being. (I ought to find the county soil reports for where my Dad grew up.)

I'm hoping i haven't killed the mother plant of candystripe moss phlox. I recently moved it from its container planting (since i hadn't decided where it should go) to a spot where we had filled in one of the many annoying holes with (clean) kitty litter clay. I then put the phlox on top. I think the issue is one of watering -- the weather has been very dry since the hurricane. My one consolation is actually 13: the number of rooted plants I have from the mother plant.

In depressing work news, the competent security guy has left the company (well, last day is tomorrow), which means we're left with the tedious fellow who has failed to impress me with any sort of context or systems awareness. Christine helped me characterize the remaining fellow: he's a bureaucrat.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, October 31st, 2016 08:59 am
I read the Weather Underground blog entry this weekend about how warm this October has been and reflect on my observations: lilac budding, four flowers blooming on an azalea, a violet. Looking at the trees that are almost bare (elms, tulip poplar) i assume they are driven by day length. The others must be thinking to photosynthesize while the process is still good.

On my drive to Meeting on Sunday, i passed critters that have been hit by cars. It seems there are more now than in the summer, although it may be i became very sensitized a few months ago when i hit a squirrel. I now drive with as much concern for little darting critters as i can.

I also passed a pretentious neighborhood entry way (likely filled with McMansions) where the cherry trees were in full bloom. Poor trees. I am appreciating not having to heat and having this extended period of idyllic weather, but we haven't had rain since Hurricane Matthew and really, cold is not a bad thing. I saw even more violets blooming as i worked in the septic field Sunday afternoon. I suppose i should find a candied violet recipe.

As a log of the weekend:

* Friday night raked the glade, dinner out with Christine's sister at The Mod.

* Saturday morning, appreciated being together given the rest of the schedule. Christine cooked part of a lovely breakfast while i created rather disappointing corn flour+rice flour biscuits. Christine had an afternoon gig; i burned brush (and got rather exhausted). I do wonder about the exhaustion and pounding heart i experience when doing a good deal of bending over. I would think that bending over would be easier on the heart? In the late afternoon i finished watching Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell . I'd gotten a bit creeped out by Thistledown's stalking of Arabella; i'm glad i returned to finish the series. Christine was home in time for a light dinner: we listened to the world series as i faded to sleep.

* Sunday morning i was to be at the meeting house at 9:30 for a lecture about the local Revolutionary war battle. It turned out to also involve a great deal of historical context, which was very interesting. Also, the battle was between neighbors, essentially -- not many British soldiers brought over for the war itself, but men born in the colony. I reflected on the neighbor vs neighbor quality of the revolutionary war, the civil war, and the local & current political rhetoric. I'm not sure what insight i gleaned from the reflection. Meeting for Worship had little waiting worship, and the person who visited to speak to us was from Durham Monthly Meeting -- someone who has a passion for addressing the injustices in our legal system. Afterwards we all went to the site of the Battle of L's Mill and had a lovely walk to the existing markers, listening to a recap of the morning's lesson.

I do want to know where the road from Hillsborough to L's Mill traversed. (And i keep getting distracted to see if i can find hints online: i've found groups who work on this sort of thing.)

Christine was in a bit of a dither when i got home as she prepared for an afternoon gig. I headed out and walked around the familiar areas of our lot, then decided i's work out on the septic field area "tidying." I now have a large pile of stuff to burn and have added to the chipper piles. I spent late afternoon on the screened porch reading until dark. I managed to bestir myself and get the front light on just as Christine returned.

We had some disappointments trying to use Sling TV to watch the World Series. Apparently, we need to get an attic antenna if we want to receive channels over the air beyond a very unpredictable PBS. Instead we watched a Kenneth Branagh episode of Wallander.

I didn't sleep well, and so this morning has not been very focused.

Hoping the week turns out well.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 07:47 am
This morning i stepped out into crisp air. CRISP! I think i was traumatized by the miserable summer. Everyone says it was specially bad, not normal, but i am not going to get my hopes up. However, crisp! Hurrah.

The tulip poplars are dappled yellow and brown, dropping leaves like mad. The leaves are loud as they come down through branches, causing me to constantly look for the critter crashing through the woods. I'm raking a little bit up just because the tree seems to be planning to loose all its leaves this week.

I don't think it's going to be a pretty autumn at all. The elms seem to have just given up on having leaves. Only the dogwoods seem to be doing any color. Still, many trees are still green, so maybe the color will come soon -- Last year the first frost was Oct 19th; average date is Oct 30th.

The crisp air at 6 am silenced most of the insects, and, as it is Saturday, vehicular noise was absent as well. There was some yipping critter in the distance: dog or fox or coyote? And i heard a rooster for the first time. It was still night, no noticeable hint of dawn. The quarter-cycle moon was still incredibly bright: i look forward to having trails through the woods to walk in the moonlight. The stars - wow, even with the moonlight there seemed more than i would see in the light pollution of the bay area.

Today i'll burn more brush: we need to line the chipper up soon. This evening we will go into Raleigh for a concert by the Raleigh symphony. We'll see how spoiled i have become by the Philadelphia and San Francisco performances: i don't think my ear is trained enough yet to notice. Tomorrow is a wildflower walk: Christine needs the new camera for an interview, so i'll be testing to see if the old one actually works after its wacky behavior in Death Valley.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, October 7th, 2016 06:43 am
TL; DR: yes, big bad hurricane. No, not likely to locally do more than cause a power outage of unknown duration, cause flooding in low areas (not a problem for us), bring a tree crashing into the house or vehicle (but we'd have a place to stay during repairs). Nothing like needing to be prepared for the Hayward fault to rip. So why am i so preoccupied with preparedness??!! OY.

--== ∞ ==-- )
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 07:21 am
I now own an excellent SAD lamp, with many thinks to the Sweethome review. I hope it is a good boost now that day lengths are short. I probably did not need it today, but we'll see if i get outside before i need to head to Meeting.

Yesterday was tainted with the annoyance of our real estate agent. She had forgotten to submit the inspection costs as part of the settlement. After sending email that they weren't there, back in May, and not getting a response, i figured she was doing real estate as a hobby and couldn't be bothered - that she'd take it out of her fee. But no, she's just going to take the amount that she had gotten the seller to cover (septic pumping) out of her fee.

For Christine, who became terribly frustrated with the communications around the settlement, and who dealt with the next door plumber who created a small black water flood in the bathroom during the closing, this has triggered a reprise of the distress and frustration -- and grief -- of that time. (I think she wanted something beautifully ceremonious.) I was irritated, but that would have passed quickly except for Christine's lingering triggered state. Later in the day we went out to cut down trees and found the case of the chainsaw terribly difficult to loosen (in order to tighten the chain). I noted we needed the "scrinch" -- the screwdriver-wrench tool mentioned in the Stihl training video. Christine called the nearby hardware store and found that the service and parts desk was closed. I figured it wouldn't hurt to drive up there. It turns out the service and parts desk was open, and they rolled their eyes when Christine reported the communication. I went off to familiarize myself with a second hardware store, while Christine got a chain-tightening tutorial and the "scrinch." She also got an apology from the store manager.

We both agree: if the real estate agent just went, "Oops, this should have been handled differently but wasn't. My bad, nonetheless can you help get this paid," we'd be far less irritated and triggered. On the other hand, i suppose business is a game of chicken at times where you hold out to see if the other side is going to cave first.

Some of the best customer service i've received has been at hardware stores, back to the Edenton, NC hardware store that took a look at the futon piece i needed, machined me a match right there, and charged me a nickel.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, September 29th, 2016 07:28 am
The California Friend GM complains again regarding the word "whiteness." It make me want to poke my eyes out with forks. "I mean the word," he says, "you misunderstand me."

I feel as if we are talking past each other. I’m sorry if my words were not well chosen. In my email I intended to talk about words only, not social institutions. In particular about the choice of the word w-h-i-t-e-n-e-s-s, and only that word.


I don't know that i've seen "I'm just talking about words not the social institutions" on derailment bingo.

I'm also cranky because i was awakened TWICE by my phone blaring out the world is going to end noise to wake me up and alert me to flash flood warnings. We're on high land and have no concerns from flash floods while safe at home. Ah, i can turn off severe alerts and leave on extreme alerts (i did like getting an alert for the tornado warning a few months ago). I wish the emergency warnings came with a time range choice.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 06:58 am
A friend at the Meeting in California hosts a mailing list. He writes out to some list of BCC and you have no idea who else is on that list. He occasionally replies to someone, bringing their response forward to all. It's different, but it is the culture of his list. The power dynamic is so different, but i think it's wise. He is a rare black attender in the mostly white California meeting, and he's willing to prick the white conscience with regard to racial privilege.

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

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

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

--== ∞ ==--

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

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

Monday and yesterday i corresponded - and also had an insight: i can start drafting digital Yuletide greetings NOW. I was considering what to write to someone back in California and was feeling like i had no place to connect a conversation. I'd sent the person my month one and two missives, so i knew they had a picture of where we were, but no real response. So i've drafted a note to send come Thanksgiving or Yuletide with a how are [things] going. Actually, as i write today, i'm not sure why i feel the need to delay sending that.)
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.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
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.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
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.)
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
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.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
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.