elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 06:09 am
Daily journaler is seeking other daily journalers. I'm looking for other diarists that share some aspect of their daily life, whether it's limited to a narrow aspect of creativity or concern or is wide ranging. The diarist should be open to reading my entries and ideally is already reading the entries of folks in my circle.

ETA: Diarist should have high tolerance for typos.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, April 18th, 2019 08:57 am
There was much rain over last weekend, five inches between Friday morning and Sunday. Our neighbors' road washed out, again, and everything was sodden. I did get some good for me time working in the yard. I admit a struggle with seeing the false hawkweed in bloom and the stilt grass seedlings and feeling overwhelmed. I'm trying to celebrate the progress we've made since we moved here on changing plant communities. The glade is far more mossy and ferny, there are large stretches in the east yard where the native, low growing grass i admire is carpeting stretches successfully. It helps that it goes to seed midsummer and the stilt grass months later. The little bits of help given to the natives to increase their competitiveness seems to be helping. So yay.

I'm not filling the feeders with sunflower seeds anymore, and so the bird visits are less - presumably, they can also find more to eat now, as well.

I'm sure if i took a week off, i'd still have yard work to do. Unfortunately, work has heated up to white heat. I am wrestling with insecurity and remind myself of imposter syndrome. I am procrastinating. I am also doing OK with some of the asks, but feel like a tsunami is behind me.

Mom and Dad are a puzzle. Mom has all her issues, and Dad his financial insecurity and independence. Hiring more in-home help will help them, but we're going to have to convince Dad to spend the money. Mom is making substantial mobility improvements, and making things easier now will improve the chances for long term stability. It seems obvious but Dad seems fixated on steady state planning.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, April 12th, 2019 07:50 am
The horizon is disappearing and instead views out the back are of the green and brown of the woods. I recollect that Thursday morning a week ago the deck was slippery with ice when i went to release the lions (erm, Edward and Luigi) at dawn. Last night i lay down on the picnic table bench to look up at the moon, stars, and fireflies. Fireflies! I guess no one goes looking for them in spring nights, busy with school nights and what not? This confirmed the glimpse i thought i had had the night before of a firefly.

I'd gone outside to be with the sense of grief inside me, instead of watching something or distracting myself. With moonlight and fireflies, though, the beauty of the night sat with me.

Since naming the heaviness on me, i feel a little more comfortable with it. My sister gave me another term yesterday, sisu, yet another one of these Scandinavian terms that seem to be trending across lifestyle websites. Finnish sisu is something i recognize: it's how i got through the couple of years of the terrible Director at work (official date 2011-05-11, but the months before that were colored with the coming change), then the couple of years after Christine's Elephants arrived. And before the merger of the Minnow with the Whale -- the couple of years i was the operations manager and essentially on call the whole time. It wasn't until after the merger with the Whale that i could put the pager down and actually sleep through all nights.

Between being moved out of management and moving to the eastern timezone, so much weight dropped off my shoulders. The Meeting here doesn't have the weight of concerns like that of the large Meeting i attended in California, partly because they have just come through the fire of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting schism. Christine's elephants are getting smaller and less demanding.

I've not needed to practice sisu since moving, really, and even Mom's stroke isn't demanding much from me, sisu-wise. But there are emotional things going on, and i think part of that is from the habit of sisu. Pushing perseverance requires certain coping strategies, and wrapping discomforts like sorrow, pain, and grief in fireproof blankets to keep going: i am good at that. But i also know the cost of that, as well. And right now i don't need to avoid my feelings about my parent's change of being.

What i don't know is what to do with these feelings when they aren't mummified. It feels like an infection. I'm fine, i could take on whatever. But in the absence of that all consuming critical whatever, this throbbing heavy lump and the sense of malaise is very distracting.

I wanted to see if i had a grief tag, and type ahead supplied the gratitude tag. Maybe that's a way through.

I am grateful to be here, to be able to see Mom and Dad in a day to day setting and know the details of what they are going through. I am grateful that i don't need to worry that this is going to overwhelm Dad beyond his capabilities (although i do wish he wasn't leaning on his sisu practice so hard). I am thankful for Christine's compassion, and for her spoon-management yesterday: she was able to be present at dinner with Dad without needing her shields up. I'm thankful for Carrie and the gift of dog-love and joy and energy she can give my parents.

I celebrate Christine's evolution in elephant wrangling, and the new additional project she's taking on.

I am grateful for the terrifying opportunity i will likely have on April 22nd, at work. I am terrified, and i know it's happening as i need to push the working group to be prepared for the meeting we will have in Estonia in mid June. I am thankful i used the time in March when everything was a lull to make my journey plans.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, April 11th, 2019 07:06 am
Christine agrees my mood has been a little down the past few weeks. Spring and my relief at how well things are working out for my parents would seem to be big boosts. (Work has been intense.) In therapy yesterday i found lots of tears, particularly over my parents' relationship dynamics and the echoes over my childhood.

I don't know quite how to cut free of this drag. I'm not sure it's something one can healthily do. On the other hand, i am tired of being brain tired. I have capacity to mostly get work done, and then a little something else. Various chores that just got done before are backed up. Some work things are backed up. I've journaled about the gardening so much because that is a delight right now, and most of all, the sun and chlorophyll and water and stored starches are all doing the work.

The trees have greened up significantly since Saturday. I feel i am noticing more and more new things than last year. This year, wisteria. I had no idea the tangles of plants just down the road were wisteria, but there are walls of purple. I saw some wisteria encroaching on a bamboo thicket. Bamboo vs wisteria: coexistence? or will one subdue the other?

Other invasive species not on our property: wisteria, bamboo, kudzu, English ivy (found a sprig once), vinca (growing thickly in a bit of the woods next door).

Anyhow, it's easy to loose myself in observing and naming. How the sensitive fern seemed to sprout a foot over night, catching up with the southern lady ferns. The tiny, white, native forget-me-not, Myosotis verna (and the temptation to see it as a weed).

Well, staying here writing about plants is NOT the way to cut free of the drag.
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Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 06:25 pm
Surprise free evening, as Dad called and waved me off of coming over. I can use the rest because i woke in the wee hours of the morning and never fell back asleep. I am not able to do much with this time because i am exhausted. Maybe some laundry? (Didn't happen.)

I wandered outside for an hour, and encountered two small snakes, smaller than garter snakes. A worm snake (Carphophis amoenus) twisted around in the garden plot. I choose to take my worm snake sightings as evidence of super healthy soil that has such large herds of earthworms that these predators can thrive. Then a DeKay's brownsnake was next to a floppy daffodil as i reached down to adjust it. The DeKay's was much more still, testing its camouflage i suppose.

I may have seen a third tiny snake, or perhaps a thrashing about newt or other amphibian near the drainage ditch by the road. It seemed like snake locomotion as it got itself down into the shelter of the culvert.

On Monday, another DeKay's camouflage failed in the presence of Edward, who went after the small snake just as he does with birds, mice, voles, lizards, and baby bunnies. Luigi, though, got nose to nose with Mr Morrison the supposed single rat snake that lives in the back yard. Mr Morrison was coming out from under the deck, and promptly returned, hopefully to go to the east yard for a peaceful afternoon of sunning.

Not a tick yet, which means... less deer? we've managed the landscape to deny them access? Some opossums heard our plea and vacuum them up every night? Probably just that the evenings have been crisp up until last weekend. In the past few days the classic daffodils have melted away after a delightfully long display, and the saucer magnolia became drab and dull overnight. Plants are growing at break neck speed (except in my garden). Spring growth is shooting up everywhere. While i look at the orchard and only see sprigs of the moss phlox i transplanted taking hold, the meadow (the septic field that was a thicket of tree of heaven, honey suckle, autumn olive) has mounds of what i expect are wildflowers - Echinaceas? Joe Pye weeds? Blackeyed susans? I'm not sure what these mounding rosettes of leaves are for.... They aren't the non-native ox-eye daisy or Queen Anne's lace: i celebrate THAT.

Elsewhere i see shoots of what are asters or goldenrod. Yarrows are distinctively present.

Violets are even more abundant now: the native grass lawn area is now well decorated with their purple glow.

Today the not quite native Stoksia arrive via mail order. They will be planted at the edge of the rain garden where half price marigolds reigned last summer. I hope for a more blue than purple stoksia, a flower native to wet areas in South Carolina and Georgia. Since i was buying, my impatience flared and i also bought a cardinal flower (a red lobelia) and the great blue lobelia, also to reside in the rain garden. Maybe the seeds i scattered will take hold, but i've got two plants to be sure of.

I've been surprised how slow the breadseed poppies have been to get past the first two true leaves. Perhaps they've been biding their time too.

The next months will rush by, and i will go to Europe, and i will return to a magnificent jungle of flowers. The stilt grass seedlings wave at me and are not calling truce, though.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 06:40 am
I hadn't written a news update since right around the time Mom came home:

[Mom] and [Dad] seem to be settling into their new patterns well.

[I am] currently getting the visit plans from the therapists, some who make arrangements to come the same day. The visits are generally a couple times a day from some combination of the three therapists and the aide. We seem to have a regular visit sometime between 1o to 11 am, although sometimes the arrival is a little later. The second visit varies, although i try to schedule just after lunch 1 or 1:30 pm. [Dad] has J--- coming in to be with [Mom] on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday late afternoons into the evenings so he can run errands.

If you'd like to bring over dinner and visit with [Dad] and [Mom], [Dad] would appreciate you making plans in advance so he doesn't plan a meal for that day. He's developed a spreadsheet with the different meals he likes to cook that then populates his grocery list for the week.

[Mom] seems to be recovering from the lack of interest in much that took over her while she was at The Oaks, and she's no longer watching CNN all the time. A speech therapist brought over Our State magazine one visit, and that inspired Mom to an outing with Dad where she rode with him to the grocery store and waited while he ran in to pick up a copy. She seemed less pleased with the magazine when i saw her on Sunday: too many ads. Early on the speech therapists mentioned to us how reading materials need to be clear without distracting fonts and images. The visual clutter of all the advertisements probably makes it too hard for her to negotiate the magazine on her own. When i tried to engage her with a book of North Carolina photography from their bookshelves, she sent me home with the book (because i recognized the plants). Even before her stroke, [Mom] was trying to find homes for their many books.

What i have been doing when visiting is showing [Mom] photos of my daily life (pets and gardening). She will be delighted to hear your stories of what you are up to and to see photos on your phone or tablet. Meanwhile, [Dad] gets a chance to either do paperwork or a little yard work.

It's not clear how much of her disinterest in her history and biography books ais due to vision issues: she has a neurological ophthalmologist visit in early May to see if there are stroke related vision issues or if simply she needs a different prescription for reading glasses.

[Sister L--] and [Dad] finally found [Mom]'s phone, so she will soon be available at her mobile number. (It is a flip phone, and doesn't support texting easily, and no media images.) Her iPad is charging up so she can use the stroke recovery software on it. I've tried to set them up with Apple's iCloud Photo sharing system. If you want to share an album with them, use [Mom]@gmail.com. That should display a message on the iPad for them to see the photos. NOTE: no one is checking email at [Mom]@gmail.com. [Dad] is just beginning to have time to glance at email and facebook, but I don't believe you can rely on him reading email at his email address yet.

Thanks for your care, calls, letters and prayers,

[me]
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 05:52 am
Monday Morning:

I'm disappointed that i may have done a bad thing to my baby apple trees in my selection of the fungicide i sprayed to fight the cedar-apple and quince-apple rusts that are bright orange on the cedar trees at the moment. Ho hum.

Last week was a blur of intense work days followed by busy evenings. Saturday was all yard. Yesterday was a mix of Meeting and a visit with my parents and then mowing.

I took Carrie over to my parents and as i was leaving, she looked longingly at the pasture. I let her run -- and she was so delighted and did not want to leave. Christine's had this issue leaving the dog park. I got in the car, started the car, turned the car. She kept her eye on me but continued to frolic. Finally i went inside to get a treat of some sort. When i came out she was at the fence where she could see the door. She went back to her frolic but FINALLY came when i offered the cheese. In good news, she seems to respect the fence as a boundary!

At home i mowed. I ran down the battery on the electric mower, but had finished the fescue grass by the time that happened.


Garden notes )

The high humidity is mixing with the pine pollen to make -- polog? Plog? Nastiness. We should have thundershowers tonight, which may help a little.

Tuesday Morning:

Boy, did we have a DOOZY of a thunder storm. First power loss of the summer season, from 5 pm to 6. We lost power with the winds that blew in first, and my, was the pollen billowing around, being blown off the deck and billowing out of the pines. Then came the rain: it was lovely to sit with Christine on the front porch.

My Amazon order of these light up lids for regular mouth jars arrived and i assembled a few while sitting on the porch. I'm delighted with them, and i look forward to the arrival of the hooks for hanging them in the yard. We've a variety of old LED yard lights on plastic stakes in various states of disrepair. I feel this solution will allow for easier repair of broken components and minimize the plastic impact. I'm going to see about liberating a few more jelly jars from my mother's collection. She has sent me home with boxes of jars in the past, but i mainly took the large mouth jars.

We had a half inch of rain in the hour, creating standing water in places and a stream, almost, on the east side of the house. Christine had made progress on ditching around the back porch, a step we need to complete before i install the rain cistern. Once we have the porch downspouts draining to the east of the house, the pooling behind the house will be mostly resolved, i hope. There may be just a little more ditching to do to divert the run off from up hill.

I do hope that the seeds i scattered on Saturday had found some purchase in the soil before this event.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 06:38 am
Sunday dawned dark with heavy clouds that threatened rain. I drove north west to Meeting, zipping on the country roads, a few spatters of damp moving the first visible pollen around on the windshield. The message was brought by an architect who talked about the Quaker term of the Light and the work of James Turrell as the sky grew darker outside. Meeting dispersed over the carpet of tiny bluets, with no rain.

I drove east, crossed the Haw, and followed its course south east then began meandering east, past my sister's place then circumnavigated Lake Jordan to get to my folks home. My sister's family had long been waiting for lunch because my brother didn't get communicated that it would be one pm or after when i would make my way. Fortunately, it was a compose-your-own salad and didn't come to harm as they waited. It wouldn't be a visit from my brother if there wasn't at least one failure to communicate about scheduling for my sister and i to roll our eyes over.

way much family stuff including elder care )
I did have a very productive work day yesterday, but personally i felt paralysis when it came to connecting with people (and my email box). I did wander back in the woods. I assessed a cluster of Tree of heaven and hope i identified the right large tree as the source of the sprouts. I went back to the garage, grabbed the machette and glyphosphate. I think the technique of exposing the pholem, the working transport tissue under the bark, and directly applying glyphosphate to be carried to the roots minimizes the amount of environmental release of poison and effectively targets the plant.

I came back to the house to realize the miniature roses are covered with aphids. I sprayed soapy water and reflected on my exterminations. Neither rests easily with me. Still, there's something blighted about the woods where the tree of heaven are. Ha "Ailanthus produces an allelopathic chemical called ailanthone, which inhibits the growth of other plants." I'm not imagining it.

I'd taken the covers of the peony and the blueberries yesterday, but woke to find it 30°F. Well. That's not what the forecast led me to expect.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, March 31st, 2019 08:42 am
We slept in yesterday and then i went out and finished my bean trellis: two tripods constructed of heavy twelve foot poles of sweetgum and dogwood, thanks to the power company cutting a path through our woods. The tops and crossbars are attached with proper lashing technique with completely inappropriate perled cotton number 3 "thread". I've some thin hemp rope and twine in my Amazon cart: i should get some if i plan more rugged structures. The perled cotton held nicely last year so, fingers crossed it will again. There's a very warped black cherry cross beam -- so light compared to the dogwood -- and then i've used apple and autumn olive cuttings, thin and pliable, to weave a random lattice.

I suppose the lattice could all come crashing down under a heavy bean crop. It's hard to imagine a heavy bean crop actually occurring. Admittedly, deer love beans and this will be the first protected bean crop.

After, i sat with Christine on the back porch. We talked a bit about the thicket beyond the porch and i noted it was deer habitat and Christine remarked we have plenty of that. It's autumn olive and honeysuckle choking black cherry and sweetgum trees. We will progress through it over the year, i suspect. I then stood up to see if the columbine planted just beyond the porch had bloomed -- and then let out a primal scream as i realized a deer had chomped the flowering stalks.

Christine laughed, "What part of deer habitat did you not understand!"

There are some lower stalks that might flower.

In the late afternoon Christine continued clearing up around the woods edge in the front, getting vines and dead wood away from a toppled young black cherry tree. I am curious how much deer will forage on the cherry branches and whether i will be able to reach cherries myself. I've pollarded a black cherry just beyond the back porch to see if it would sprout branches at the cut. It looks like it will. I think it fruits on second year wood.

I chipped and shredded branches and have finally caught up with Christine's and the power company's clearing. I look at the autumn olive and wonder if i will someday carefully maintain one or two for the whip like branches and the chipping productivity. Then i imagine that i will trespass on the neighboring land to exterminate the plant, leaving native fruit seedlings or cuttings in my wake.

No ticks yet, a surprise given all the mosquitoes.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, March 29th, 2019 01:04 pm
Spring: salad with the tips of young pea vines, violets and dandelion, sorrel and miner's lettuce, and a bit of my cultivated lettuces.

Aphids and cabbage moth eggs are on the turnip greens. The turnips seem pretty tough, the yellow flowers are waving above them.
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Friday, March 29th, 2019 09:11 am
Short story: Mom has returned home and Dad seems prepared to be her full time carer, with hired help three half days a week. When i visited last night, an off day for help, i found Dad seeming very tired. Admittedly, it was late for them as they continue to get up before 5 am. Sigh.

Mom went from insisting that adult diapers were just great and she would not use the special commode to actually using the master bedroom commode (no rails anywhere) over a few days. While we worry about the safety of her transferring -- and what she might do if she got the wheel chair stuck in the bathroom door with the toilet seemingly close enough -- using a household commode will relieve some of the care burden.

Sister story: My sister has had the insight that we should "let go" and walked me out on Tuesday morning. I spent the rest of the day in an emotional reaction: a tangle of guilt (shouldn't i be disrupting my life over this?), of relief, of having time to feel, and then the emotional hangover. I decided i would not get back to work but take the day.

There are still things we can or should do. My sister has a horse at their house and so "normally" stops by for little visits every morning. I'm planning on Tuesday and Thursday nights at their house through April. I am a little resentful that while my father understands missing work is an issue he doesn't consider how not-work time is necessary for our lives. It's possible that this is all transitional contribution, that in weeks they will have adjusted and we will move to a sustainable new normal.

And then the emotional digressions. )
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Sunday, March 24th, 2019 08:46 am
Let's see. A bit of a blur this week.
Thursday: felt moved to draw runes to observe spring.

A new version of Outlook exposed "shared calendars" that i had linked to eight or more years ago, which hadn't been (prominently) visible in the versions of the software i'd used since. All but one of the calendars was for retired, laid off, or deceased people or for conference rooms that no longer exist. I decided i would remove these calendars, and by doing so, cancelled every meeting i had initiated (past and future) AND deleted all my calendar entries. It is an odd sensation to look at a completely blank work calendar.

Thursday night: Had dinner out with Dad, who related that Mom didn't want visitors because she would be indisposed. I should have thought to call before we left Apex. Read the remainder of the evening.

Friday: Dad called mid day to say Mom is coming home on Monday*. The therapists have not built a rapport with Mom and she doesn't trust them. They say she doesn't take direction. She has always shut down around loud urgent instruction (except when she'd start fighting with Dad over his tone of voice). Her sensitivity to what is loud is a little on the dysfunctional side: enthusiastic and energetic conversation would get labeled as argument.

I wrapped up work as well as i could, and then walked Carrie while Christine was running other errands. We didn't get far back into our woods before i found the skull of a six point (western three point) buck. Carrie was QUITE interested. We've put it on a tall stump in the back of the orchard (in a little area we've left wild). I don't think it's completely cleaned out: i suppose a soak in bleach water would be sufficient at this point, but leaving it where insects can complete the last bit of work seems reasonable.

Saturday: i left very early to join my sister at Dad's to plan and strategize. We went over four hours, and i think we came to some common understandings. The best part was role playing getting Mom to cooperate with some toileting issues: we worked on some language we hope will frame things so that she feels she has some agency but also doesn't provide triggers for arguments and tantrums. We moved some furniture around so there'd be some easier access which involved a little overriding Dad's resistance. He did admit it was better after.

In the afternoon i apparently gave in to retail therapy as we bought a high wheeled string trimmer and a new lawn mower (electric, push). Christine mowed the back yard with the reel mower, and i used the now nonadjustable-height and no longer "self propelled" gas mower to get a bit of the west side yard. The electric mower only runs for an hour at a time, so i figure pushing that long will be good exercise. The string trimmer is for any rough areas and so i don't need to worry about the electric mower's "strength".

I also got loppable branches off likely the last tree to be cleared from the meadow nee septic field. It's off the field, but close enough, and was bent over by vines and not attractive. There's a red-bud and a black walnut that could be cleared away from the boundaries but i feel confident that they won't cause issues. We do have autumn olive to still clear from the border of the field. I worked a little on some trees that had come down in the woods in the winter or the fall tropical storms: they seemed to have been dead as the branches were quite brittle. I didn't want to chip them, so i started yet another brush pile to be critter habitat.

Today i need to assemble a helmet to use with the chipper and the electric mower, begin mowing, chipping and attend to some plant issues. Maybe also plant beet seeds. And and and.


* Proposed date was Tuesday, but Mom has a Monday medical appointment. By having her depart on Monday, she has two ambulance trips instead of four.
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Sunday, March 24th, 2019 07:21 am
Happy spring! We've had cold temperatures early in the week including Wednesday morning dawning with 25°F. Dew points were lower than the temperature, though, so no frost. Our saucer magnolia only has a handful of petals with frost burn: it is still delightfully pink. The turnips and daikon radishes in the driveway island have yellow flowers indistinguishable (at a glance) from mustard flowers. On our north sloping property the redbuds just got to blooming on Friday, but all week when i was out and about i see their pink and purple buds along with the rusty red of maple trees.

Rain came -- an inch over Wednesday night -- and the Haw hit flood stage, and the soil is saturated once again. Places where the soil is bare in the orchard have such a hard clay surface. I walk around wondering if any of my flower seeds will set, and then wonder what magic the bittercress and chickweed have that they are so successful.

We do have a haze of green in the autumn olives, beginning to obscure the view through the woods, and along the woods line where afternoon sun can warm the soil, stilt grass has sprouted, prompting much profanity on my part.

The black cherry trees, which loose their leaves first in the fall, appear to have broken their leaf buds. The one i pollarded has tiny little leaf buds, barely discernible, at the top cut.

Corydalis flavula, what i call yellow fumatory, is blooming. (iNature calls it Pale Corydalis, but if you look that up you find a pink and yellow flower.) Down at the creek there's carpets of spring beauty. There's enough i could imagine foraging a meal (http://www.eattheweeds.com/spring-beauty/) but i won't. I fantasize about an asparagus bed (where the majority of the Houstonia pusilla is now, sigh) and imagine growing spring beauty mixed in, sharing the rich soil. (I also imagine growing saffron crocus in the patch.)

Driving around i see areas all purple from Lamium purpureum, henbit or red (or purple) dead nettle. It's considered invasive so i'm not encouraging it here. Admittedly i don't immediately go to yank it up the way i do a similar invasive Youngia japonica, oriental false hawksbeard, a close relation to dandelion except its flowers are shot up on a tall stalk. I've seen grey-green rosettes all winter and have grumbled at them, occasionally trying to extract the long taproot. Yesterday, i saw the blooming stalks beginning to emerge and eradicated some.

I stopped at the side of the road to examine a different carpet of purple: it turned out it was a small viola, a native johnny-jump-up, Viola bicolor. I added seed for the cultivated European Viola tricolor to a seed order. While V tricolor has been observed in the wild in the Carolinas, it is "uncommon" and found in "lawns, garden borders, railroad rights-of-way," so i won't be creating a problem. I note one gardening site comments that Viola bicolor can be "invasive", which would be great for my ground cover desires.


A male goldfinch is resplendent in breeding plumage and Slugger, the male cardinal, seems brighter as well.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 07:03 am
I ordered a used copy of "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People" after someone quoted from it regarding tears and the different chemical constituents pointing to the release of stress hormones in some types of tears. Christine is incredibly empathic and i think i am too, a little bit.

I found it just a bit to much "try spraying rose water and lighting a white candle" for my taste. And it frustrates me, because i think there's some wisdom in the book. Part of me wants to yank the text apart and restructure it as a paced self exploration or as a first aid guide (admittedly, there is some inclination in the text towards the latter). I think of Julia Cameron's deft techniques for helping people lead themselves to self discovery: the content of Orloff's book could benefit from that. I can believe there's a need in self help books to stimulate creative problem solving by presenting a variety of solutions to help the reader discover the right solution for themselves, but i also think it helps to be clear about the general principle.

If i were to rewrite the book i think i'd have a section on refining strategies so they are meaningful for you with sections on senses, rituals, and visualization. The book had scattered sensory solutions: bringing them together in one place and systematically considering what stimulations are meaningful and then different ways to access them would support readers in creating a toolkit.

One visualization/practice in the book was to visualize washing away the stress in the showere. I've encountered a similar visualization in trauma healing, where the important point was a shower provides a whole body stimulation of the sense of touch. I know there are tapping therapies that similarly use touch stimulation. I imagine a chapter that asks the reader to first determine if the sensation of touch is one where they are oversensitive or is a sense through which they may find safety and solace. If touch was a modality that was helpful, the reader would be invited to explore different practices, and then a suggestion that the reader of come up with different ways to access that sense along with examples. "A shower," i would write, "might be accessible a few times during a day, but you can develop a practice of bringing your hands together so your finger tips rest in your palms as an immediately available focus while in a meeting or at a family dinner. Drinking water might offer a similarly accessible focus if the sense of cleansing or refreshment was what provided you the relief in the shower practice."

I am surprised i care so much.

I wonder if i was hoping for more help for myself from the book and i am disappointed.
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 08:23 am
Another 28°F dawn. The dewpoint is lower than that, so perhaps that helps keep the saucer magnolia from losing its pink petals?

Pine warblers: i'd been mistaking them for goldfinches the past few months. There ARE goldfinches at the feeder: right now a male, coming into breeding plumage, is feeding away on sunflower seeds. (Does anyone ever visit the fancy finch feeder? Rarely. Squirrel proof and unattractive to birds. Grumble grumble.) But someone suggested my blurry photo of what i thought was a female goldfinch was a pine warbler. I scoffed. But the yellowish bird at the feeder the next time i looked had a small black bill, nothing like the thick triangular seed cracking bill of a finch.

I skipped Meeting and Meeting for Business yesterday. I will need to reengage with community, but at the moment, there's a weariness i get from some of the family care i'm engaged in right now. I wonder if this meeting always had waiting worship whether i would be attending more regularly.

It was a beautiful day and eventually i stopped lingering at the computer. Less lingering and more wrestling with decisions around shopping for my mother. Eventually i found pants that i think will be suitable for my mother, to replace the many many pairs i packed up on Friday. Christine and i strolled around enjoying the spaces we have curated from the overgrown wildness we moved to in 2016. The sun was blazing war despite the cool air, and i realized that i would rather visit my mother during the bright part of the day and then work outside in the shadows.

I took Mom a thermos of tea and a serving of cake. Our little picnic was a pleasure. I was able to show her before and after photos of her study so she would understand what i did in her space. To my relief, she was appreciative.

At home, i got the chipper fired up while Christine began lopping down some of the thicket area to the west of the driveway. At the end of our work, i felt the garden has sufficient chips for the moment. Tonight i'll chip, and the results will go to mulch around the fruit and nut trees in the orchard. Leaves raked up in the autumn provided some initial mulching, but it's far from sufficient for the summer growth season.

The garden is organized somewhat like an E, with the top of the E facing North and the long "spine" of the E facing west and the house. Border rows wrap around three sides, like the outside lines of the E, except my garden has gaps on the long border so one can enter the garden on either side of the center divide. The upper and lower white space of the E i refer to as "the squares." Each square has three rows running east to west.

Right now the top of the E -- the borders, north square and the center divide -- are all well tended. I'd shoveled out the soil from between the rows onto the rows over the fall months. I mulch as i can in between the rows, and all that mulch had pretty much disintegrated and blended with the clay. This winter i mulched the isles in the square with pine straw. Brown pine needles, it turns out, aren't the source of acid that i'd been taught. I hadn't enough pine straw for either side of the center row. I'd gotten cardboard on the ground, and with the chipping yesterday, managed to get the cardboard covered. It looks tidy at the moment: Christine is delighted. I am dubious it's enough to keep back the weeds of summer, but it's better than nothing.

The south square of the E has two rows of potatoes. They're planted in the clay with a thin layer of newspaper and then some old plants -- marigolds and holy basil -- and autumn leaves on top. When it comes time to hill the potatoes, i will dig out the isles. I ought to sharpen the shovels before then. With soil on top of the autumn leaves, they will decompose quite quickly in my worm-populated clay. I remain amazed at how quickly leaves and duff decompose in the heat and humidity.

I kept that end of the garden fairly well mulched over the winter, keeping back a decent amount of weeds. I added some of the greener chippings as mulch -- the twiggy bits of branches, including the autumn olive that is already leafing out. The nitrogen content might be enough to compost a little more quickly.

I finally had a decent amount of worm castings from the household worm bin. It wasn't fully digested, but it was black and rich. I plopped blobs of the thick black goo down the top of the row i plan to use for tomatoes. Right now Austrian winter peas are growing as a cover crop there. Hopefully it will be rich and delightful for tomatoes. I missed tomatoes last year - something nibbled on the plants and ate the fruit. I assume some combination of curious deer and squirrels. I also think the soil was too poor for the tomatoes to thrive. The volunteer tomatoes from the previous year (2017) grew out of the rich compost i used to build the hugelkultur. Hopefully this row will be satisfactory for tomatoes with the pea and worm contributions.

No rain in the forecast for a week!

8:30ish 2 AMGO, mNORC(g), CAWR, TUTI, CACH, MODO(g), WBNU 9:45
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 09:13 am
FRIDAY: Wow, that's a grey sky.

Weather has been variable today. We had a downpour at dawn, and at lunch it was warm and bright (still more or less overcast). The violets and dandelions were all wide open. I picked a salad of loose lettuce leaves, sorrel, miner's lettuce, and Austrian pea shoots for later tonight, adding a small poesy of violets and mint leaves. I popped a dandelion in my mouth, enjoying the sweet hint in the lettucy-bitterness. For lunch i picked sage, onion greens and some of my "broccoli rabe" -- two lovely purple top turnips came up so that may be part of dinner.

It's pouring now.


SUNDAY MORNING

First, fie on the temperature. I woke to 28°F on the heat pump thermometer. A couple hours later it had warmed up considerably. It had been predicted to just get below 40°, so i was surprised. I'd left the green house windows open and orchids (that may have already been killed) in the car.

Yesterday i picked up the last two shrubs i had ordered: two Arapaho blackberries. As i told Christine, i exercised restraint and only made two impulse purchases: four cabbage starts and a Yaupon holly. I killed one some years back by not planting it promptly. This one was in a seedling tube and i broke off most of its roots when i pulled it out. I've gone ahead and planted it: maybe it will survive.

Yaupon hollies are the only native North American plant with caffeine. Some part of my interest is simply drug related.

At home, i planted while Christine went to her nephew's wedding with her sister. Once i had things in the ground, i went to my parents house. My goals were to get Mom's study so that she could go in there when she gets home, and to remove all her pants from her wardrobe so that we have one argument over the pants being removed instead of multiple battles of will over what to wear. It took all afternoon, but her study is not longer a storage room and she go in and do things.

I started watching Netflix's Umbrella Academy on Friday, and last night - -waiting for Christine to return home -- i binged on the show. It's rather complicated and intriguing, more adult and more engaging than i expected.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 07:04 am
Written with handwriting-to-text during Thursday's lunch at the picnic table in the orchard

Yesterday in therapy I did some processing about Dad and hiring help for the first week when Mom comes home. Then i talked a bit about feeling like my feelings were below the surface.

At meeting last Sunday the speaker shared thoughts about tears & crying. Succinctly, tears allow releasing stress and clearing the way for action. Cry then act, was the general instruction.

I felt fairly calm and clear through the first months of mom's recovery. Now that we are in a good place with her care, I think I am first most aware of the gap, the space now available to me.

With work I am using space there to plan the June trip - I am preparing now because both work & Mom's care will pickup SOON. ( When? Not sure.)

At home though I haven't really known what to do with myself - more accurately I haven't wanted to do anything with myself.

I think what I need to do is be sad, and I don't know any way other than to writer: SAD. I am sad.

My therapist asked why, prompted meto say I am sad for my father. And that I am. I am sad too that I am aging. I sit here in the orchard and look at the sticks that are young trees. I see the shape they may take in some years. And I see in my parents the shape I and Christine may take.

How much time do I have to feel this before I can say, "Done"?

Well.

The black cherry trees are just getting buds. I hadn't noticed the maplesin the wild corner of the orchard but they too have buds.
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Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 01:33 pm
In text messaging accent complaints, another example from QA person. It's not really title case because "The" and "A" and similar words are (mostly) capitalized but occasional "important" words (morning, going) are not:
Title Case Sentences )

TUESDAY

Moody household. Christine's elephants are tip-toeing around so i think part of me is tip-toeing around to not spook them.

Dad's gone to Florida to visit and care for some details with his mother. The stress of making that decision meant my sister & i didn't press him to make plans about the next stages of Mom's recovery: her first week home and the first month home. I eased my distress at not having plans for assistance by deciding i could do the assistance if we weren't able to (1) convince Dad of the need and (2) arrange for it.

Monday, just before Dad left, he was told she could be ready to come home next week. So, it looks like i'll be the fall back plan. Dad's level of overwhelm, his early morning (3am) wakefulness and need for a nap, and his denial all make him incapable really of providing full time care. I am stressed at the thought of having to take that on. Fortunately, work has been as quiet as any time ever....

And just moments ago i had the "home next week" explained as an off hand comment from a therapist on Friday when hearing her orthopedic appointment was on the 25th. I can drop a level of alert, i suppose.

WEDNESDAY

Travel: the CDC says i need a Hep A vaccine. Presumably the first dose is better than no dose, but i will ask my doctor.

I am practicing better posture this week as preparation for "ten weeks to better balance". I'm not sure how well i can do after years and years of "stand up straight!" failing to make any difference, but somehow, the exercise to lie down on a rolled up towel along the spine has been motivating. I am actually noticing while driving and working.

The temperature was 31°F this morning at 6:30: i hope that Christine's family's peony handled that. The wet soil should also help moderate the air temperature.
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Thursday, March 7th, 2019 08:27 am
...because time speeds along.

Travel approved by director with no reservations (including a "you don't need to stay in a hostel" that Christine read over my shoulder and now interprets as "you should not stay in a hostel").

Orientation briefing at King Rehab went well and filled me with warm fuzzies except the discovery that medicare is ONLY covering rehab up to the point where she was when she left UNC in January. Which could be PDQ. Which means we have to be prepared for that first week home. But...

Dad's received a call from his cousin and feels the need to get to Tampa to see his mom and deal with some of her affairs -- and he's not in a position to listen to my sister and i talk about bringing in outside help the first week.

I decided that until we can get the arrangements made, i will resign myself to being the second carer at my folks for the first week. It was just seven days ago i was convening a discussion with Dad and my sister about getting the transfer process moving after Dad had been apparently stonewalled the day before. (He had not.) The emotional ups and downs and stresses of just the transfer made the week incredibly intense. With the short turn around for discharge (48 hours, although it sounds like it's often more like 72) we may have another whirlwind when she is released. I'm sure it will be more like the departure from UNC's acute rehab where there was training before hand so one knows discharge will be "soon," but that left just one weekend for getting things in order. I suspect the house still has some of the chaos from Mom's week home.


And then last night on the way home from dinner and the grocery, we passed over an animal in the middle of lane. It was near where i have seen a cat dart across the road so we went back, and found it was a raccoon, still alive, but grievously wounded. We removed them from the middle of the road, considered the freezing temperatures, and then wrapped them in the dog towel and brought them home. By the time i had gotten out the heating pad for plant starting, the raccoon was dead. We'll bury them today. It was the most compassionate thing we could think of -- all the techniques of putting them out of their misery quickly seemed ... horrible to present to Christine.
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Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 08:31 am
I spent too much time yesterday working out travel plans for my trip to Europe this summer, but -- as someone whose travel has been limited in the past decades to family, familiar conference destinations, and road trips with everything one could need -- eek, i feel daunted.

I want to travel as light as possible. I decided my feet are the most daunting concern, so i'm going to wear walking boots with my dresses and get some practice in them over the next months so the blister horrors are avoided and i minimize the risk of spraining my ankle on cobblestones.

I'm pondering buying light luggage specifically for the trip. I'm thinking about the day in Stockholm between landing in the early morning and taking the overnight ferry to Tallinn, Estonia at dinner time, and the day in Tallinn before taking the overnight ferry back to Stockholm. I hate thinking about "disposable" cheap luggage, but i don't know that i need to invest. I am going to check with my traveling local family members to see what they have to suggest or loan.

Recommendations about really light travel accessories like rain ponchos and wraps and totes as well as European SIM cards are currently welcome. I will be using my iPad as my guidebook and notebook so the walk around bag needs to hold that as well.

Christine is very anxious about my travel so i need to find ways to help ease her worries.