elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, April 10th, 2017 09:21 am
Insight! I'm gonna grow sweet potatoes as a ground cover. Sweet potatoes vs Stilt Grass: fight!

Christine finds vines creepy, but i think i can argue that vines six inches high or so hide less mysterious crawling things than the stilt grass. Sweet potatoes don't seem to be escaping to nature much -- reported in one NC county in the coastal plain, similarly not that common else where in the south east. Perhaps it's problematic in the deep south.

I'd love to give the ornamentals a try, but the patented plants are more expensive singly than a bundle of 25 slips from the local farm store. I figure i'll get a bundle of the purple root in hopes the foliage is distinctive and a bundle of some pest resistant type. I'm not expecting them to grow well as i'm not going to pamper them, but i suppose i'll end up with some sweet potatoes at the end of it. Christine likes the root, at least. The greens appear to be edible and enjoyed, so i might like that.

In other weed news, i think i've found Polygonum cespitosum (Oriental Lady's Finger or something like that) sprouting. UGH. So many of my nemeses gone over winter. Also, there is a tiny something sprouting thickly in places. I'm hoping it's just the bitter cress. Somehow, the bitter cress just doesn't seem quite as horrifying. I suppose it's because i imagine i can get it before it goes to seed. (I just haven't in a number of places.) It does EXPLODE it's seeds when you walk through it, which is very disconcerting.

In happy news, i found some spring beauty and have transplanted it into the "courtyard" area of ferns. I also dug up some Christmas ferns and put them in hanging baskets. They look fairly nice, but i planted them in the native clay. Too heavy to hang. So, i'll need to repot with wood chips mixed in.

--== ∞ ==--

In inside news, king size beds have a high TCO. How am i gonna wash the winter comforter? Apparently the bathtub is the answer. (The laundry machine refers to washing sleeping bags and *small* comforters in the bulky mode, so there's that.) We're going to dry it on the car.

I've bought another dog toy from the same PetSafe Busy Buddy folks who have made the best toy so far, a "barnacle" that holds kibble in it and makes the dog work for it. In the same order was a very (to me) expensive case for the phone Carrie damaged. I don't think i want to go to the bother of replacing the phone until begins being problematic: with tape over the crushed corner to keep the pulverized glass from slowly escaping, i think it will work a good while. Now i pick up the phone and caress the leather instead of looking at the chew marks and gnawed corner of the old case. I will eventually stop noticing the broken screen, right?

The last part of that purchase is a little mirror, designed to be added to side view mirrors to reduce blind spot issues. I've put it on the window frame opposite me so i can (kind of) observe the porch. The porch is far more "busy" that the area beside a car! But i should be able to see people at the door.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, April 8th, 2017 06:48 am
It's just below freezing out there. Poor little green solar panels that have pushed through the heavy red clay. What'cha going to do?

I pondered thinning the salad mix, but decided that the taller sprouts (ooh, here's one with a real leaf!) would shelter the shorter.

I wish i could believe that many ticks were dying and all the sprouted stilt grass was withering -- i'd give up my (pop)corn for that. I don't think, though, that any of the three will be harmed. Or the salad sprouts, to tell the truth. I've not planted anything early per the charts for piedmont North Carolina, and perhaps the collards will even like the crisp weather.

The peonies -- one from the previous resident, one from Christine's maternal grandmother -- had set buds, so i've covered them up. And a friend had given me pepper sprouts: i covered those with domes from grocery cookies etc.

I'm not sure what's happening to the apple trees. They were butchered at some point -- topped -- and i pruned the snarl of water sprouts dramatically in early January. The leafing out is highly irregular, tufts of leaves in some spots, tight scales in others. I don't see anything like flower buds. I wonder about investing time in the trees, but i figure i can make mistakes on these trees before making them on new trees.

Thinking back to the corn, it's time to get my scare"crow" up. Except it's to scare deer. I don't think dog hair works, but i'm going to mulch the collards with a bag i collected yesterday. It might scare mice?
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, April 3rd, 2017 10:31 am
I just received notice that my medical flex account claim was received. I had to email it on Saturday, a day after the due date, as the fax failed on Friday several times. They don't say whether the claim was accepted, but they don't say, "too late, the money is OURS."

So, some hope that that will sort out.

Unlike my phone, which the dog has chewed on. The screen is cracked but it seems all works, except for a crack across the lens of the "selfie" camera. (And even that works fairly well.) Given how rarely i use that camera, i may be able to get some more use out of it.

Then there was the rosemary i bought yesterday. I read the tag, after it was planted, and it says "Not for Human or Animal consumption. " Here's a larger plant with the same warning (under the image). Best i can guess is they pesticide-ed it to death in the nursery? Surely that would go away after, i dunno, a year? I'm rather irritated. (Lowes says one year. Might return it and get the much smaller plant, but it might not be as big as this one in one year. Hrmph.)

I discovered the phone and the rosemary warning shortly before water boiled over on the stove and sent the fire alarm off for a rather long bit yesterday evening. Loud sounds stress was an unwelcome addition.

Eventually, we got things settled and had a lovely dinner.

--== ∞ ==--

It was a bit of a roller coaster weekend. Venting, in brief )
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Monday, March 27th, 2017 10:12 am
Spring is going to go gangbusters now.

I walked around the yard yesterday several times - so much growth is on the way. After weeks of watching daffodils creep out of the soil, i feel like everything is going to explode this week. The autumn olive and honeysuckle are already greened up; i found the first seedlings of the cursed stilt grass yesterday. A few potatoes are peaking out of the soil. I just started watering and wonder if i should have started earlier. I suspect that there will be fully leafed out trees next weekend.

We have redbuds and dogwoods aplenty. I went out one day - maybe weekend before last - tying red silk ribbon on redbuds. (The ribbon is rough stuff, meant to be used to bind edges, i think. It has unfinished edges. I bought it to dye & crochet, but it seems an environmentally friendly way to mark the trees.) I still have plenty to mark. I think the trees i found were early bloomers: there seem even more now.

Again, i note how our property with its gentle incline facing the north, seems to be slower to bloom than yards and treelines i observe while driving around.

gardening )

Hmph. Straight from heat to air conditioning? (At 3:30 it's 90°F on the south side of the house, 80°F on the north side.)

--== ∞ ==--

The "Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation" on Saturday didn't use my queries. I have decided it was because i was an unknown quantity to the convener and drafted them last minute. The convener might also be a fairly disorganized/distracted person.

Posted by one of the resource teams was this list: http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/resources/nonviolent/methods.php . "Lysistratic nonaction" was a new one for me. I did recognize it was a Greek term, for what it's worth. I have depressing reflections on the effectiveness of such nonaction in a culture where women's bodies are not respected.

--== ∞ ==--

Meanwhile, goals. Last week i found it terribly hard to wake up. I think it was the cold, because yesterday and today i woke well before the alarm. I have managed to mostly attend to the "basics" habit. The new schedule has been a little harder. I am getting to my work desk at 8, which is good. Once i'm at my desk has been a different matter.

I break the year up into seasons for goal setting. This spring is getting a hold of myself.

I have a therapist lined up. It was amazing: i have an appointment less than a week from my first call. I'm really uncertain as to how this will be helpful in dealing with being in a supportive/caring role while not getting burned out, but i do think i need to do something before i burn out.

May rapidly approaches, and with it two travel periods.

Goals: between now and Beltane

* execute: basics + plan next day's most important task to do first thing + do most important thing (practices that have slid since the election)
* execute: new am schedule
* experiment: evening habit changes
* plan Beltane season: travel & yard
** need to plan to meet up with people when traveling
* plan Summer+Lammas to be social focus
** Summer social event/s here?
** other summer plans?
** discuss a Summer Solstice gathering with C
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Monday, March 13th, 2017 02:00 pm
Weekend flew by << this was the FIRST weekend in March. I've been dragging on this post.

We had dinner up at Christine's sister's, and i split a bottle of sparkling wine with her. We were home late for me, and so Saturday morning was a very slow start. Mower had the blade replaced with assistance from the local shop (they undid the bolt for me), and then i mowed. The back yard had long grass; everywhere else was just tidied.

Spring onions are the main "culprit" of an untidy appearance: it turns out that the best way to get rid of them will be to dig them all out. (Or some annoying pattern of poisoning.) Since they are theoretic deer detractants, i ponder waiting until i have plantings of fruit trees, etc, that could use a circle of onions (as ground cover?). They are attractive plants, just a good bit taller than anything else out in the yard at this point.

The main reason i mowed was to minimize bittercress going to seed.

--== ∞ ==--

I have discovered sudoku. The NYTimes website puzzle interface for sudoku is just as appealing as for crosswords. I never found these attractive diversions with paper and pencil: with the efficient interfaces i am much more engaged. Also, i seem to be not so stressed out by work that puzzles are unattractive.

--== ∞ ==--

I AM SO DIFFERENT from me a year ago.

There. I had often wondered if i would really have time for a yard. Well, i do. I just don't have time for anything else. Yesterday evening i just wandered around outside, appreciating the fading light, looking at the state of various plants, worrying about the freeze coming....

I am also very happy to sit an watch the dog or cats or just sit.

Contentment? Maybe. There's an edge of procrastination/avoidance going on hinting at dysthymia.

I've dropped so many habits that used to anchor me: some just since the election, some since the move. I know i need to reinitiate them.

--== ∞ ==--
[personal profile] owlmoose tagged me for the ten random facts meme. I decided it needed to be an acrostic, for some unfathomable reason, so there's that.

Also, i need to tag some folks, so : [livejournal.com profile] amaebi, [livejournal.com profile] gurdonark, [personal profile] zlabya.

Training has included hunt seat riding (not much jumping though), how to handle radioactive materials, andhow to record the location of weeds.

Environmental preference is currently on the cool and shaded. While I have SAD and like the sun, i wilt pretty quickly.

Arithmetic is a weakness of mine. Manipulate symbols? No problem. Actually add? Let me get my fingers.


Shopping is not a delight of mine. I was a catalog shopper before the internet. I imagine that had the internet not come along, i'd have file cabinets or bookshelves full of catalogs.

Tea was one of those shop-by-mail items, although i don't know if i found out about the company i've used for the past 30+ years by USENET. That's Upton Tea by the way. I know there are many different tea companies out there, but novelty in my tea isn't something i've desired.

A glimpse of me without the internet is offered by my mother, with her files and files of paper and all her books. I'm thankful to have been raised by someone so interested in information, and i appreciate the cautionary lesson she offers as she now goes through all her clippings. I was just referencing USENET "clippings" from the 1990s, but i have full text indexing.

I can still remember, shortly after Christine and I were married, explaining the internet to Christine and having her ask, "How will you find anything?" I can't remember when Yahoo started its directory of information. I do recall the "what's new" page where new websites were announced.

Novelty isn't a driver for me. I don't really care for rereading novels or rewatching videos, but given the narrow  genres i choose, i'm not sure I can claim a delight in novelty there. At one point, i would have claimed delight in novel restaurants, but.... Well, if a Noma-esque restaurant opens nearby, i'll save my pennies. I guess i've eaten widely enough that novelty in dining is now pricy. Milk snow at the Umstead!

Eating, while i do enjoy trying new things, is more often very mundane. The fairly basic meal planning we have reflects an amount of depression and overwhelm on my or Christine's part. Christine is not a very adventurous diner, either, so i tend to be the one to cook things that go outside the usual dishes. Part of my delight in getting a garden is the hope that surplus will lead to creativity.

During one summer i lived in New Mexico and ate fruit salads day in and day out. The produce choices just seemed better than what i had seen in NC near my college, and it delighted me. Again, it was very simple -- fresh or steamed (in the microwave). I didn't seem to have the desire for a carb or fat to be added along. I also dropped in weight -- i hadn't realized what constant cream sodas and Pepperidge farm cookies while studying was doing to me.
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Saturday, February 18th, 2017 03:55 pm
I lingered a bit longer inside than i meant to Saturday morning. We're trying to let Carrie out of the front room at night, but in the wee hours of Saturday she slipped under the baby gate to make a raid on the kitty litter cabinet. Fortunately the cabinet doors made a sound to wake us as she tried to get in, so i was able to scoop her up and deposit her in the front room. Last night she seemed to stay on the couch all night.

I thought lingering might be a good idea, as it had gotten down to almost freezing last night. My suspicion was confirmed in the garage, as it was 40°F when i went out. But no, i had lingered too long because outside of the garage it was 60°F.

My great pile of brush went up in flames very quickly, no struggle getting it started. While it burnt i cut down a bunch of autumn olive and pulled down honeysuckle. There's now a tidy patch of woods beyond the screened in back porch. The honeysuckle is definitely greening up. I've found the young yet very long shoots of autumn olive flexible and have made a loose "fence" from the "whips" for the peas to climb. I am not making a super-tidy construct: i hope its irregularity is more charming than sloppy, in a wabi-sabi sort of way.

In the front, the pink saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is suddenly exposing lipstick pink buds. I'm sure they weren't there yesterday. I've forced some branches -- not as attractive as other forced branches, but they're what i have. The next ten days look terribly pleasant and mild. I don't suppose i can go shouting around "another month and a half till average last frost" to the plants. Instead, i have created a form to use to log the status of all the plants, in an attempt to capture first and last bloom dates, etc.

Today i ponder another fire on the other side of the house. There's also the annual meeting of the county history association, which is tempting. Monday is the chipper.
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Friday, February 17th, 2017 09:02 am
Yesterday we came back from a disappointing errand and i wandered the yard before returning in. While i was out, Christine let Carrie into the back yard. She was so excited, so i went to play with her and accidentally lobbed her toy out of the fenced area. I bet she'll stick with me to go get the toy, i thought.

Ha, so wrong.

That dog raced around the house multiple times, looping around in the cleared areas, sprinting like a horse. She lunges as she runs, both front legs extended out in front of her. She paused to look down the driveway, which Christine and i have been carefully treating as "not-yard". I was relieved when she just raced around some more, eventually racing into the back yard again.

--== ∞ ==--

Other animal drama includes Slugger and Louise, a pair of cardinals. Slugger perches on the rear view mirrors of both car and truck, frequently enough that plenty of sign is present, and attacks his reflection. I'm a little worried that they may be planning to nest in one of the brush piles, so i have finally arranged for the chipper on Monday.

--== ∞ ==--

In the yard, i am saddened to see Autumn Olive leafing out. I'm not ready. North Carolina in winter is still more green than the bay area in summer. I've enjoyed being able to see through the woods, get a sense of the shape of the clearing. I need to remind myself we've made much progress and it will never be the wall of jungle it was last May. When we are out driving, it seems spring is even more on the way. Forsythia, quince, foaming cotton candy pink trees (cherries, i think, not red buds), some white flowers on trees - not dogwoods yet, i think. Daffodils are blooming elsewhere, too. Our yard seems slow, perhaps because our slope faces north. I think i am thankful for the reprieve, especially if it means future fruit trees won't rush to bloom and get caught by freezes. Average last frost date is April 4th.

--== ∞ ==--

I am greatly enjoying the NY Times mini-crosswords. Their application makes crosswords more enjoyable for me - some element of immediate gratification, i suppose, along with easing the clue to box visual logistics. The full crosswords require another subscription, so i have refrained -- and i am not sure how much self control i would have to not do crosswords all day. I've never liked crosswords in the past, so it seems the mini was just the right size to get me hooked.

So tempted to buy a novel and blow off the rest of the day.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 08:54 am
Due to a combination of triggers, elephants had a rough handful of days. Greycie Loo, too, had a tooth cleaning. Between her vet visit and the cleaning it looks like she smashed her face into something breaking a tooth and chipping a few others. Dog scare seems the most likely cause, so i'm feeling a little guilty about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh: just thinking about #SanctuaryEverywhere makes me think about the ComingEvent and the myriad of unpleasant side distractions that are involved. The seed of the ComingEvent is my Grandmámá's 100th birthday: her husband's illness, her husband's family, miscellaneous Florida family, and awareness of less than progressive qualities in Florida all lead to a dampening of enthusiasm around what ought to be a delightful celebration.
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 06:31 am
I've rung in the new year by planning out the gardening through the summer and ordering seeds. The vendor i'm using, Southern Exchange, was out of some of the seeds i'd picked out. In one case, i didn't mind because it gave me an excuse to choose the Seminole pumpkin as my winter squash: so much of what i will grow in the big plot is from the Americas. Apparently peanuts originated in the area now known as Argentina, before being adopted in some areas of Africa, and then ending up in the southeast.

They were also out of Roselle, the hibiscus that leads to the bright red infusion. This gave me an excuse to place a tree seed order with Sheffields, which includes both Roselle and a local native mallow, the native Yaupon holly (i've mentioned it's the one North American caffeinated plant?), native crabapple and pawpaw fruit trees, and the bitter orange.

We'll see if gantt chart level planning for gardening is less of a waste of time than it is for software engineering. Since it's all the same steps, i think it wasn't a waste: being able to link the schedule to N days before or after various climate dates seemed pretty efficient. I just wish i could extract it all from my iPad app with a bit more clarity. I think the best i can do is a screen grab of the calendar view.

--== ∞ ==--

Late yesterday afternoon we saw Arrival, which i recommend whole heartedly. I wonder if linguists cringe watching it. It is stunningly beautiful, and i'm glad to have seen it in the theater where the visuals could overwhelm me. I think of one science fiction novel where a language didn't have subject and object, but the verbs were bidirectional. I can't untangle how that language would express "I watched the movie" and "I read the book" given just how invested i am in being the actor on some consumed material. Well, no, the media infuse my mind.... anyhow. No spoilers for the movie, except to say the meditation of the movie is on yet another topic.

--== ∞ ==--

I am anxious about being back to work today. I feel all sorts of "behind" and ineffective, but there isn't a strongly concrete example. It's guilt and, i suspect, the deep ruts of procrastinatory habits developed during grad school.

I've not communicated with others over the end of the year. My parents are back from being with my grandmother, and each parent offers up behavior to cause worry. My mother has developed a pressure to get things out of their house that she can't pace. And so she drove over on New Years Eve to drop off two baskets and a variety of stuff when we planned to visit the next day. Written out it seems reasonable, but it's missing the context of her terrible lingering cough and the weariness from the travel to see my grandmother. Mom's drive, her need to get things done due to some internal expectation, was a lesson i learned that lead to some of my own imbalances. It's not a sustainable or healthy drive, as her lingering coughs and frantic arguments with my dad underscore, and in my learning it got tangled up terribly with depression. I think i am learning how to relax and rest: i hope she can do the same.

Dad forgot to take his heart medicine on Sunday morning, and so he was in his hyper goofy mood at lunch. My Dad worries Christine more than I, as i know his erratic behavior is "mostly harmless" but for Christine it is one great minefield of potential triggers. For me it is mostly wearisome as there's no way to connect. I do wonder how much of his clowning is some dysfunctional effort to deal with Mom: an image of a rodeo clown in the bull ring comes to mind. He had confided his concerns about Mom's level of being frantic and confused on the phone the day before. But then there is the odd reality of how these beta blockers affect his behavior. He's much calmer and grounded when he's taken the med.

--== ∞ ==--

I managed not to ring in the new year with a terrible case of poison ivy. My last work in the yard in 2016 was to hack into a vine running up one of the older pines. I might just get my arms around these pines, but i'm sure there are some with a girth i could not reach around. B came out with his drone this fall and measured the height of the trees for us -- they're 90' tall, which is an average height for a mature yellow pine. The poison ivy grows up the pines as one massive main vine until past the understory, and then the poison ivy radiates it's branches out at about 60' above the ground. It seems to be no harm to the tree, and i'm sure the fruit and branches of the poison ivy make for lovely bird habitat. I have mixed feelings about eradicating it, since the only negative is the seedling poison ivy and the occasional fall of leaves during a thunderstorm. Even then, any poison ivy i had this past summer was quite mild.

And what am i going to do with the dead vines? There's a tangle around one pine where the vine detached from the tree and fell, dead i suppose. But the oil that is the irritant persists.

http://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2012/10/how-to-get-rid-of-poison-ivy/ shows the type vine i'm talking about.

Anyhow, i've been urged to plan to eradicate the poison ivy and, since i had my machete and had been killing honeysuckle, i thought i might give the poison ivy on this one pine a go. The vine was as thick as my wrist, at least, and with the first hack a cloud of dust shook free from all the rootlets. I was up wind, and i figured that most of the dust was just plain dust. I've not developed any good technique with the machete - not much is needed for honeysuckle - so i took a while to cut through. Wood chips went everywhere, and i had no face protection. I soon was thinking how stupid it was to be doing this on a whim, but i figured i should finish what i started and then just wash everything. I seem to have come through unscathed.
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Saturday, December 31st, 2016 08:18 am
I surely didn't expect to be waking in my own home in North Carolina a year ago.

The last two mornings i've awakened before dawn and have been able to stand underneath the starry night sky, listening. Yesterday some creature was walking in the woods: i assume a deer. This morning there was a call, somewhere between canid and owl. Definitely not the owl or owls i am used to hearing call from the eastern woods. A bright satellite passed overhead this morning.

Yesterday i transplanted some wildflowers and native clumping grass. The wildflowers include one or two native geranium species. Earlier in the week i identified G maculatum from one area, what i transplanted last evening seemed more like G carolinianum. This morning i wonder if i have two different plants or if my memory is clouded. Another plant's identification stands between Rosaceae: Waldsteinia fragarioides subsp. doniana and Ranunculaceae: Ranunculus sardous. It's hard without flowers. Don't get me started about the grass.

These are all planted in the sward area, my pilot for the "tapestry lawn." I hadn't thought to have any grass, but the clumps of this native grass, Dichanthelium sp (witchgrass or rosette grass), seem quite agreeable. It's coarse and seems quite tough, and very low growing. Mixed in are the very persistent violets, and i'll be adding moss phlox and "green and gold" - both native flowering ground covers. The challenge will be the annual grasses that acted as lawn all last summer - i suspect that much was actually the invasive stilt grass.

I will likely buy some fescue seed and scatter in the early spring. It's not the right tine to plant it, but it might compete with the stilt grass.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016 02:11 pm
I've been thinking a bit about the Elephant In The Room, and what my needs are.noodling )

So current action plan:

* Stay aware of my sense of balance, and when things tip to where i feel i have to carry more than i should, discuss with Christine;
* feel free to describe how things are going with L (my sister);
* review my self-care activities here.

These include
* continuing to delight in the landscape,
* getting out of the habit of video entertainment every night (I know i'm tired... we're tired... but evening numbing leads to "is this all" feelings),
* having a list of "work outside at twilight" exercise things to do & doing them, and
* interacting with other human beings (camera club, Meeting).

Things i feel i "oughta" but seem fraught with procrastination:
* exercise my ankle and get to a point where i can make some decisions about the need for medical attention or what,
* correspond with western friends and with family, and
* work with Christine as manager in getting photos in local venue.

--== ∞ ==--

On Tuesday i cleaned up a section of our road frontage. There is a small berm of soil right at the edge of the woods. I think it is associated with the power line easement. I like this berm as i suspect it provides a modicum of relief from the road noise. We want to have a visual barrier in that direction (as well as along our eastern perimeter), so my goal is to transplant holly and cedar seedlings to the top of the berm. The road is along the northern boundary of the property, so the shading will be along the road side. There are already some ferns (as yet unidentified) and some fan clubmoss (Diphasiastrum digitatum) growing on the north side of the bank, exposed to the road: they should continue to thrive in the shade of hollies and cedars.

I dug up two cedars (Juniperus virginiana) from the edge of the driveway and installed them on the berm -- much closer than the 10' spacing http://www.windbreaktrees.com/redcedar.html recommends. Well, i can always thin them. And it's much further apart than where they sprouted.

I was delighted to find many holly (Ilex opaca) and more cedar seedlings in the woods behind the berm. I'd like to get some Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria): it's a native of the coastal plain, a traditional tea plant that has caffeine. Somewhere i read it is the only caffeine bearing plant native to North America. Yerba mate is in the same genus.
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Saturday, December 17th, 2016 09:05 am
Some critter is stealing bags of litterbox scoopings. Mystery details )

What sort of critter carries off bags of used kitty litter? And why? I'm mystified. A raccoon building a bunker? It doesn't seem like the right type of stinky for a canid to roll in to hide its scent.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, December 6th, 2016 10:35 am
After the years in California, particularly the drought years, a gloomy, wet winter day is near novel. I'll admit, the delight and giggles of a bright California February day on the coast were in part because of memory of days like today. And, i've plenty of California coastal gloomy summer days as the marine layer socked in the whole coast with grey. [1]

I ought to go re-plant a pulled up violet as well as the pansies at lunch. I just did a little tour of the yard and found one pulled up -- not sure if it was part of the Sunday-Monday dining event and i didn't notice, or if it is a new dining event. With the wet, it should be clear if any critters are making themselves welcome in the garden. It doesn't seem they are, but the winter rye has finally sprouted. I was certain bugs had eaten all the grain. The scarlet clover and the "deer plot" greens are getting big enough to be seen at a distance.

I am pondering the "spook the deer" future. A scarecrow might be more of a scare deer, especially with some motion activated feature. I imagine using something like this Halloween motion activated decoration as part of a scarecrow. There are plenty of skulls that could be used, too.

There's a motion sensitive water sprinkler, too. That is also on my list of potential deer repellants.

[1] Is there a different idiom i should be using? "Socked in" sounds familiar, but....
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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)
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 08:44 am
LIFO, Last in-first out, is in my impression an "anti-pattern" for personal effectiveness. Get to the requests that came in first, respond to the oldest emails, etc.

I'm not 100% certain of that. I have grown to appreciate that opportunities are constantly making themselves available, and i periodically strike off old to-dos ("punt"), file old emails (email and comment bankruptcy), and in general focus on the present. So, that's what i tried to do this morning to get myself going instead of the "read the whole internet" strategy that i have been employing lately.

I must say, Usenet kept me fixated MUCH LONGER than the internet does today. I suppose the surfeit of choice makes me more picky. Facebook is excluded from my "read the internet," so that removes all sorts of trivia. I do have an extensive list of web comics, but they are optimized -- i have reading lists for each day of the week, and i simply open all the tabs in my bookmarks to have a cascade of amusing reading to do. I've added various local news sources that don't have RSS feeds.

--== ∞ ==--

Oh oh oh my soil tests are in!!

Fairly acid, pH 5.5. Potassium is good, but it seems like there's very little phosphorus. The report is given as an index, and the lawn area reports very very high phosphorus. I don't know if the index is so different because of the difference in planned planting (a grass that doesn't like being over fertilized vs a vegetable garden) or if the previous owners fertilized the fenced in lawn area to death. The area near the lawn, that has been the target of much of our clearing, i specified would be for apples. It took seems to have an extremely low phosphorous rating.

I want to find out if tobacco cropping leaves phosphorus depleted soils. That might hint at the land's history.

ETA Hrm, this 1927 report http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/tobacco_bulletins/tb_7.pdf says tobacco is not a heavy phosphorus feeder.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, November 21st, 2016 11:25 am
So, here it is, Monday morning, and i'm dithering. Email triggered some work and i was productive on personal things (putting things up) while listening to some folks describe a new tool for doing certain software development practices.

The weekend was rather productive, though. I borrowed my dad's tiller, made some initial passes over the 15' by 30' garden area, and then created the beds. The long dimension runs north to south. The west side of the garden faces the house. So there's a border that goes around the north to the west and from the south to the west. The border opens in the center of the west side to have isles on both sides of a narrow center bed. What's left are two 10' by 10' beds, and those are divided into three. That was the size recommended for a "three sisters" planting.

Here's a sketch of the lay out and what i intend to grow. I made a mistake in the labeling: the basil, squash, and peanuts are for after the *potatoes* are harvested, not the pumpkins.

In the three sisters square, corn, beans, squash.... )

Yesterday i skipped Meeting to stay home with Christine who had been feeling fragile. Many times the fact that i'm a morning person and she's an evening person work in our favor, but it's not conducive to togetherness at ends of the day. By staying home, she could wake up on her own schedule and not feel rushed by me having to get out to meeting for business. I need to remember to set the Saturday mornings aside before early Sunday meetings.

In the afternoon more gardening. )

I did a little research this morning: dehydrated potatoes sounds like a great way to preserve any surplus potatoes. In some time, i'd like to be able to grow most of the potatoes we eat. I don't have anything like a root cellar to keep them in, though. I chose later to mature varieties that were "good keepers" hoping to extend the period when we can eat them fresh. Nonetheless, it's theoretically possible that i could have 50 lbs of potatoes come in over two months. I don't think i'm going to get 1 to 10 returns, but even 25 lbs of potatoes is a bit much for the two of us over a short time. Dehydrating would be great way to preserve them. I'm not excited about other ways of preserving food. Freezing is expensive and risky (due to power loss). Canning seems miserable.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Friday, November 11th, 2016 09:18 pm
I finally felt I could cry today, so I decided to take time off from work. We all spent sometime in the morning light and tears began to finally come.

By taking time off, i could take my laptop that was no longer stopping to the Apple store. It's near where my sister works, so i was able to eat lunch with her at her office. My sister shared that my father had shared with her the story of the Red Strings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Strings) and we discussed wearing red strings -- and i thought i would tie red string to my mailbox.

When i drove up to the shopping center i was a bit surprised. I was certain i knew where the store was -- because i was remembering where it was in a very similar mall at Stanford. I did make it to the appointment, a little late, and had to wait and wait to check in. I knew my anxiety about being late and missing a chance to be helped was unreasonable, and i practiced breathing and trying to be calm while i waited to be checked in. No one cared i that i was late, and eventually my machine was checked and diagnosed as needing to be shipped off for repair.

I ran some errands in town, getting bone meal (phosphorous) and muriate of potash (potassium) for the potatoes. I'm not really sure how different processes to extract a mined mineral may or may not be organic: apparently certified organic farmers have to make sure their muriate of potash is certified organic. I am hoping that once i start getting my garden going that i will be able to just use compost to return the nutrients to the soil -- but right now i'm starting with red clay and my compost isn't ripe.

At home i discovered that instead of red strings, it's safety pins that will be worn to communicate solidarity. I might still do something with some sort of red cord.

Tomorrow i will galavant around the county from antique stores to craft fairs to a molasses festival with my mother and sister.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, November 7th, 2016 06:32 am
I so very much appreciated the extra hour of sleep. Christine is in distress about the election and woke upset in the middle of the night.

Last week was completely unfocussed. I begin to think i am moving into menopause and assume that hormonal disruptions are going to take some time to balance out. I wonder, too, if i am getting restless from working at home. The library would be close enough to make for an interesting test.

I did a good deal of raking Saturday afternoon: i think that counts as good exercise. Yesterday I dug in the rows for the last onions, piling the "turf" on the hugelkultur bed. That didn't feel as draining as going and lopping at ground level the sweetgum saplings stumps that had been growing up at the entrance to our drive way. They apparently responded to the glyphosate with an immediate expiration of the whole colony, not just the ones i topped off and sprayed. Why can't the autumn olive do that?

The daylight savings time change makes me a little grumpy as it will be dark at quitting time during the work week. Fie.

Meanwhile, i have been very distracted by gardening planning. I have my three sisters garden seeds picked out: a multicolored popcorn (which can be roasted before it completely dries), scarlet runners, and cheese pumpkins. Scarlet runners are pre-Colombian, tan cheese pumpkins are a very old variety, and the popcorn comes from Cherokee seed sources. I'm tempted to replace winter squash in the planting pattern with peanuts.

The potato and bush bean plot come next in planning: i will be able to grow a variety of potato types which i find exciting. I'm picking out a range of types spread over the ripening season. The season is sort of short, so maybe summer squash to replace the potatoes? Some advice indicates squash *attracts* late potato blight; i am suspicious that it was correlation and not causation. I'll gamble and grow squash in with the potatoes.

My perennial onions are up! I'm piling raked leaves on as mulch. We haven't had a freeze yet, although last night was close. Highly unusual weather, everyone says. New normal, i worry.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 09:57 am
Wow, the journaling is really falling by the wayside, and i suspect i'll rant to read back on what this first year is like. Ah well.

Last week flew by with the distraction of a foggy mind and some sort of sinus unhappiness. Midweek my dad let me know our rescheduled trip to the mountains would need to be rescheduled again due to a doctors appointment he had forgotten. I think i was disappointed, but i decided to keep the day off as i was feeling run down.

One lunch Christine and i went to walk outside in the front woods we've cleared back from the future driveway. A dog came trotting up the driveway, and we walked him home. )

Friday furniture )

I woke at 3:30 am on Saturday, thinking about the yard. Happy thoughts: where to plant what, what to tackle next. But i couldn't manage to quiet the thoughts to go back to sleep, so i got up and did some tidying and unpacking, and some reading. The moonlight is wonderful.

Eventually Christine woke, and we had a pleasant breakfast before i prepared for a day of yard work and she prepared for a friend/client meeting. I worked on the path around the porch and deck, transplanting violets, Heuchera americana (Alumroot), and some other attractive ground-covering plant. I am guessing the alumroot is wild, but given the proximity to the house, it might have been an intentional planting.

mystery plant )

They were transplanted to a "shady" garden outside our bedroom window. I hope it will be shady next summer, but i have cut back a number of saplings and cleared out the honeysuckle and Japanese knotweed. I've only left a small redbud in the area i consider the flowerbed, and a dogwood does reach over the area a bit. It may be much more sunny though, than it has been. There are three moss covered rocks that act as focal points as well as the huge stump from a tulip poplar tree. (The rest of the tree still needs to be removed -- the previous owners cut down trees and left the logs and branches in the woods.) I planted the 15 yellow daffodil bulbs in this area too, did what i could to encourage moss growth, and hope that it becomes a verdant little area.

After all day outside, i cleaned up and dressed up. Christine and i were guests of a "table captain" at the Equality NC Gala. Conversation was impossible, but that was a plus for me as i was feeling shy. The program was very good - lots of NC House Bill 2 politics and politicians. Lovely to see such a large community of LGBTQ supporting NC politicians! The past mayor of Houston spoke and it was fairly inspiring. The program ran long though, so that was exhausting. I drank a bit more than i usually do, mainly as an analgesic. Oh, did i ache from the yard work. People watching was fun, although pretty sedate.

Sunday i couldn't bring myself to go to Meeting. We had a fairly quiet day, the highlight of which was going to the nearby mill town of Bynum to a native plant seed swap. I had nothing to swap, but the organizer was happy to send me home with seeds, and i was thrilled to get seeds of plants i've wanted for a while. (Pawpaw! Waxmyrtle! Buttonbush!) I'm trying to figure out how i am going to start the seeds. seed starting )

Yesterday i managed to finally get soil samples together. I have to get them to the state soon: In November there's a charge.

There was shooting in the large woodlot next door yesterday. I worry it's going to be hard on Christine hearing hunting going on: deer and turkey season start in a month. She's sensitive to sounds like that, sounds she has no control over. Being well isolated has reduced her stress compared to living in a dense suburban situation in California: i hate to think how she's going to be affected by the shooting.

Looks like lovely weather through the week.

[1] AKA Neighborhood public road. I think it means that the state doesn't maintain it. http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_136/Article_4.pdf
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, October 10th, 2016 02:26 pm
Hurricane Matthew: my, what a great deal of water! By midafternoon, the ground was saturated. Water was washing out of the woods into the yard as a sheet. I did what i could to reduce erosion and slow the flow down: lots of tiny little dams of leaf litter and sticks. We had many little power blinks and, finally, as it got dark, an outage. It was at a good moment in dinner preparation, not too far in that we couldn't easily switch to soup made over the camping stove.

The most annoying part of the outage was figuring out how to get the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to STOP BEEPING without going mad. The purpose of the UPS is to keep the router (and wifi access point) up and running (so i can work through the power blinks and outages during summer thunderstorms). We were able to download the manual for the UPS and the application to control the UPS. Once the beeping stopped, we shut off the router. It seemed a strangely circular use case.

From dinner, we played scrabble and finished the game after power came back.

The next morning was delightfully fresh and clear. I ventured down the private road across from our driveway to look at the nearby creek. It's clear the waters had flooded the bridge and inundated the little flood plane. I decided i would honor the county's request to stay off the road and not attend Meeting.

With the fabulous weather i worked outside, building up calluses. Gardening )
--== ∞ ==--

Re the debate, i recommend this poem.
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