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Monday, February 18th, 2019 01:18 pm
Forecast was for rain all weekend, which would make the soil too sodden for certain steps in gardening, so i took Friday off. The south end of the garden plot is now fenced and therefore i could uncover the greens and lettuce that have overwintered. I did much puttering about in the despite the wet.

Gardening to-dos and meanderings )

Carrie was too ready to eat the chickens, so no chickens for us yet. We'll need to build a safe place for them outside the orchard aka dog run. My sister took the chicken coop off our hands and it will be a "love shack" for the rooster Sriracha and the long time family hen Lily. All her cohort had died off and apparently she wasn't thrilled by the new six Swedish hens and rooster my sister got a year ago. When we brought Carrie over, eventually we decided it wasn't going to work, and we'd just have Carrie run around with my sister's young dogs. We round up the chickens, starting with the new rooster going into a dog crate. The Swedish hens were rounded up, but we couldn't find Lily -- until we found her on the deck next to the rooster in the dog crate. It's sweet to see critters bonding like that.

I became blue on Sunday -- possibly due to the gloomy weather but also feeling guilty about caring for my mother. My aunt is spending whole days with her, and observing issues (unsurprisingly) with the care location. My sister pointed out how we are in this for a long haul and we can't put our lives on hold - nor would Mom want us to. (My brain counters, "Aunt J-- is in this for the long haul, too.")

Christine has had a now-rare elephant event, so having both of us un-cheery.... Well, i just need to focus on ensuring i am doing what i can to take care of myself.

Tomorrow is the date Dad said he would start investigating getting mom out of The Current Miserable Place. He said he wanted to talk to someone with the home health rehab program, which worries my sister and i. I hope he's just trying to be prepared for Mom to no longer progress at subacute rehab, and not planning on withdrawing her.
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Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 07:14 am
In "Not exactly Florence" news:

Elephants have come to visit. Yesterday was a relatively very bad day, compared to all the good days. The addition of storm preparation to the elephants is a bad mix.

And we had 1.30 inches of rain last night, most of it in a brief downpour. I was driving home during the downpour, slowly, high beams catching the rain slicing through the night, the drumming of the rain on the windshield deafening. This morning i have inspected where the swales had fast enough runoff to flatten the young fescue seedlings, the new channels cut in the rain garden bed. I'll put "check logs" out to try and slow the runoff in the orchard and will try to add a few more topographic changes to the sand and compost in the rain garden to see if i can slow the water a bit.

In Florence news:

Everyone is talking about how they were without power for days during Fran, a major storm that hit twenty two years ago. I am hoping that the forecasting improvements and risk management plans at the power companies will make the response better than then. On the other hand, the power company is asking folks to be prepared for days without power.

We got to the grocery store for our usual run around 7 pm last night, after i drove up to a cluster of gas stations hoping there wouldn't be lines. The lines there were worse than at the station closer to our home, and, as Christine pointed out, some of the stations had crowded tank lines even when there wasn't the additional prepping chaos.

I wasn't looking for water, but we usually get a bottle or two of seltzer. One could get flavored seltzer in small bottles. Cans, liters and half liters of plain seltzer were gone. Someone was taking cell phone photos of the bottled water isle: completely bare. The bread isle was similar, with only hamburger and hot dog buns and a few loaves of store brand white bread looking lonely on the shelves. I did note that the cracker isle seemed a little depleted, too. We didn't go down the baking isle, so i don't know if there had been a run on canned milk. Canned vegetables were quite reduced, and all the vegetarian baked beans were gone, but several isles over packaged Indian meals were abundant. I've minute rice stashed so that's a few pleasant power-out meals.

There was plenty of beer and chocolate left (and i got nice dark chocolate) so no one had hit the critical (to my sister) supplies. It wasn't a madhouse, at least.

The gas station closer to us has a very large open area in front of the pumps. I don't know if it's actually property of the station or staging for the great deal of land clearing and road work near by, but it meant that nice orderly lines could form three and five cars deep at pumps. We appeared to be next to the too-smart-to-wait line. It appears that more cars have tanks on the driver's side than on the passenger's, so the passenger side lines were shorter. Someone backed up in line so they could use the shorter line to fill their driver's side tank. And then someone pulled into the tank space from the "wrong" direction. All the other tanks seemed to have patient folks willing to wait for their turn.

Our county isn't under a tropical storm watch yet, but i expect it will be tomorrow night if today's ten-day forecast is accurate.

I've only gotten two calls from my father telling me to prepare so far. I think my sister has had three. She's trying to talk our parents into staying in Florida. I wish her luck with that.
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Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 05:32 am
Yesterday, busy morning, procrastinatory afternoon.

We did take Greycie Loo's medicines over to a cat refuge for them to use. I'd been to their front gate in April or May, when i was establishing a design for our fence. This time we went through and saw the large area of free roaming cats, some of which who came over to say hi, others that ignored us. Fortunately there's a bit of a process to adopt, including a house visit, so we avoided the risk of coming home with a new friend. The place seemed a little magical, wooded and shaded with mossy banks and creative fencing from gnarled cedar. As we left, a white cat walked with us on the inside of the fence. The cat's coat seemed a bit disheveled and there was a stumble and wobble to the cat's walk. There was just enough of a similarity to remind me of Greycie Loo's last days and bring the grief back up.

I completely ignored the gas gauge, and when we went to do the evening groceries the car was on fumes. We emptied the lawnmower gas into the car tank and made it with out incident to a gas station. Christine was dealing with elephants, but by the time we were home she was much better. I on the other hand was wiped.

I think it was a good idea to get off the SSRI, but i wish the joy would be more of what surprised me. Grief and bumping up against Christine's sharp edges when she's doing her best to cope tires me. We both (and our therapists) think it's better that i am more sensitive to those sharp edges -- partly so Christine can learn to mediate better. Watching her struggle with the elephants though -- she tries so hard -- i don't want to make it harder on both of us. I trust though, that poetry (maybe) and photography will come back to me, so it's better to feel.

A dry spell would be nice. Hearing about the fence gates and from someone up to prepping the ground for the fescue planting would be nice. (I can certainly do it, but i would stretch out the process.) I guess i should go buy lime and other amendments.

--== ∞ ==--

I wasn't expecting the Women in Tech gardening channel to be triggery, but there is a woman with a small farm on the coast in California that posts instagram-ready images of her oh so rose-filtered life (alpacas! deliveries of dahlias to her hospital). I know i'm getting a curated experience, but the perfection is about to drive me bonkers.

Contacted two friends from the 20th century this morning. One has been hit by a truck while walking on a visit to family while her daughter was across the continent with a parent and her partner on a totally different continent. The other was in a car wreck while on a trip to celebrate her anniversary in which her husband was killed. I suppose feeling moved enough to actually write is part of the SSRI removal.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 08:42 am
Christine is overwhelmed by care concerns for Greycie, a stack of triggers from Edward finding a copperhead snake yesterday while she was home alone, carrying out an execution (snake), and the so called elephant in the room. Caring for her early morning overwhelm had me running late to work, and it carried well into the workday.

If you are curious about the snake, it's documented at iNaturalist in its dead state. I now have motivation to get the shovels sharpened. And possibly buy a wide hoe (maybe from https://roguehoe.com/large-hoe/). Christine didn't choose the hoe because it would require too much precision.

Which reminds me that i was lawn mower shopping, some time of which was wasted due to me thinking i should be able to find max mowing heights of 6 inches. Frittered time on that.

Saturday i dug up about ten feet of potatoes. It's hard to decided how productive types were because of the wet, cold spring and my too-deep potato trenches. As i dug, i mixed in biochar from one layer of covering spuds, not seeing any evidence of the stilt grass straw i buried. Both earthworms and the predatory worm snakes (Carphophis amoenus) turned up: i don't think i injured any (especially as i was being careful not to injure the russets and purple potatoes).

Sunday evening, while Christine was stiff with coping with snake trauma, we hosted my brothers family at a Durham Bulls game. We indulged in great seats, and the home team provided drama with a come-from-behind win at the end. I made an attempt at scoring the game, partly to demonstrate the fading art to the kids. kids and family )

This morning i'm feeling a little more balanced. It's the last week of taking any Sertraline in my very long taper started in April.Read more... )
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Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 07:47 am
Greycie seems to be perking up. The boost in prednisone helps and we have an appetite stimulant pill. Hopefully a virtuous circle of feeling better and eating will get in motion. I suspect i won't see her tail get back to its normal carriage and motion: one mass is on her lower spine and i expect it is what limits her control of her tail. It is hard to see it dragging behind her. But she has been vocal and moved around with some speed: it's such a joy.

We had a bad bout of elephants in the late evening yesterday. It followed my reading of a memoir of someone's homeless days (see below). That followed my conversation with a "retired" colleague. I found it wasn't exactly a retirement, which stirred up my bile at the layoffs and firing that happened last week. It certainly feels wrong.

I am glad to have today off as i need the rest, and look forward to some family time. I grow to question the American foundation myth--more than questioning when it comes to the issue of slavery--and the violence of the revolution, but i value the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. I'm not sure what that comes to with respect to "celebrating." Perhaps i can write some letters arguing various policies of state and trade have impact on immigration that i have had on my mind.

I hope those of you who have the day off have the joy of it and those of you who celebrate Independence Day can use that energy to promote the ideals of the experiment.

Everett, Mik. Self-Published Kindling: Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner. Unknown Press, 2013.

referred to by

Price, E. “Laziness Does Not Exist.” E Price (blog), March 23, 2018. https://medium.com/@dr_eprice/laziness-does-not-exist-3af27e312d01 .
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Thursday, June 28th, 2018 06:21 am

Much elephants yesterday. I think that on the whole elephant issues are improving, but in the throes of stampedes Christine despairs.

Dear Universe,

I would very much appreciate it if we could have a month of courteous, competent, and polite interactions with other human beings. For instance, if nurses would not phrase their requests as "If you don't come in for a physical, we won't renew your prescription," which has a tone of blackmail to it, and would instead be a bit more gracious. And if the car shop would not give an appointment for 9 am when they can't look at the vehicle until 4 pm. And if the fencing contractor would look at the dimensions they wrote down for their estimate and reflect that if one side is about equal in distance to the three other sides that the shape of the enclosed area might be a bit odd.



Greycie's health condition is still concerning. I so hope that they find something obvious and acute that can be treated and that this isn't some chronic condition. It's come on so fast, it seems. Her blood work is good, so that was good news.

I've been smitten by her since we brought her home from the rescue. So dear.

Due to a stack of things going on yesterday, i took the day off. Not on the to do list was getting a soaker hose, but i did, as well as a few quick release hose couplers and a sprinkler. I've stretched out the soaker hose on the berm where i have planted the rescue plants. With the current dampness, is should probably get the flower seed in. I was delighted to see little white radicals extending out from the buckwheat yesterday. We've another few days with lots of cloud cover, so i can hope that those questing roots can find some way down into the clay before being baked. I fear many will not make it, but i hope enough to actually get cover.
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 08:42 am
08:00 So, yesterday the forecast predicted almost an inch of rain overnight. I took the afternoon off to seed the orchard with buckwheat seed (and pick up roots and dig up rocks). We only had six hundredths of an inch instead. It's probably for the best: i was worried about the rain falling hard and fast and washing all the seed to the lowest spots. This way the seeds will get stuck in the clay, i hope. On the other hand, i will need to water water water at lunch. (I'm assuming it won't be raining then, despite the forecast.)

11:30 Oh, yay, some more rain happened, although i don't think it was that much.

13:45 Still raining, yay.

16:00 Well, we have .3" in the gauge. Just a dozen miles east of here the forecast calls for heavy rain, to the extent that there's a warning. But not us.

Meanwhile, an elephant stampede early this morning has deepened my disappointment in the day.

Greycie Loo found a new hiding spot, so when we couldn't find her i became distressed. Her discomfort, which has increased over the past few days, had us call for a vet appointment Monday morning. This afternoon was the first time she could bee seen. With her so hidden, i became horrified that we would find her dead, and i flashed back to finding GreyBrother dead. GreyBrother's decline was much more expected and understood, with us on the watch for the point at which we would help him on his way. Greycie was energetic and levitating and in high spirits just a short while ago: the first sign of anything amiss just over a week ago. She's so out of sorts, thin, slow moving, cranky (hiss yowl hissssss) --- i feared the worst. Her nook in the closet required moving just the right coat to look down in a corner. Both Christine and i had searched the closet several times before. The last time, i heard her bell ring, and dug deeper.

She's at the vet now and has been given pain meds. They'll do bloodwork and have x-rays scheduled (presumably for when the bloodwork comes back). She's lost a lot of weight.

Poor sweet* little girl.

(Greycie Loo is sweet like a prima donna or queen is sweet. Not really. But we adore her nonetheless.)
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Monday, June 25th, 2018 07:43 am
Saturday i was out of the house a good bit. After a quiet morning that included some potato digging, i picked up my nephew and we went to the Durham Comic Fest at a library in Durham as a very early birthday gift. That went well, except for the hot drive home (blasting air conditioner, but still, i think the time while i had the engine off to gas up the car may have been problematic for W). I had a nice visit with my sister, then home. Back out we went so i Christine could take care of a friend's plants and i walked Carrie along a creek trail in the friend's neighborhood. Then we picked up dinner out. Elephants came and went.

Spent much of my time yesterday smoothing out the path between the berms and dealing with the grade there. Small retaining wall around the tulip poplar. Planted rescued ferns, partridge berry, and some some small plants that look like they were not-a-weed* in the shady northish side of the south berm. Planted sale plants from Lowes on the near end of the north berm. (*Might be Smilacina sp -- Solomon's plume?)

So. Tired. (Although not as stiff as i was last night after dinner and Poirot.)

The clay is like gravel and stone right now, depending on the clod size. I hope rain will glue together the large clods with which i lined the banks, and stabilize the areas that are inches deep with the gravel sized clods. The tractor treads are smoothed out. I'm delighted while i'm doing the work, and then i look up and survey the 10000 sq ft and realize i still have tons to do.

And so hot. 97°F.

Greycie Loo continues to seem unhappy (hissing and growling and moving slowly). Perhaps even smaller and lighter, poor wisp of a dear thing. She's cuddling this morning.

Christine was side swiped on the road by an aggressive driver. I didn't notice the damage to the car -- she says just paint scrape -- but it is distressing. She got the guy's plates.

Elephants came and went.

Somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of having company Wednesday night.

Hoping that the prediction of almost an inch of rain tonight is on target -- but then i need to get seed out there....
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Friday, June 22nd, 2018 07:02 am
Rain fell yesterday as we went out to dinner, and this is the one time in recent travels that i did not carry an umbrella. The gathering was of a large team of folks, most of whom i have not worked with. The are the support team for a product i used to work on, and three of the four were ex-military with one a staff sergeant with a lovely tale of a "butterbar" lieutenant being taken down some notches and another a Navy seal. The culture change in support is interesting: i knew librarians who used to be in the role and to see how it's switched to a job in which ex-military thrive says something. I'm glad to see veterans with good gigs, to be clear, but wistfully think back to a different more academic culture.

As we left, the rain came down in buckets.

No elephants have troubled the homefront this trip, and that's been wonderful. Hard to tell if it was an absence of triggers or if my absence was not a trigger, or, in other terms, if previous trips away just unfortunately coincided with triggers and my absence wasn't the cause. Ah, correlations - so hard to tease out causation.

Christine and i have been discussing the orchard ground preparation and apparently she's made friends with the hardware store rental clerk who has sharpened our chain saw so many times. While getting the car inspected she dropped by and chatted with the clerk, showing photos of the results of their saw efforts. Apparently they got into a tiller conversation and have identified a rental tiller that would churn a broader swathe than my dad's tiller that has an aura of seeing better days about it.

I had pondered getting someone with a small tractor or renting a Toro Dingo with a cultivator attachment to take care of the area, but the presence of a box turtle that a fencing contractor suggested would be laying eggs has led me to be completely perplexed about how to manage the soil. I've corresponded with a herpetologist who says the eggs are buried 3-6 inches deep and hatch in 60 to 90 days. The herpetologist suggested that 60 days may be more correct for NC in the email i read this morning, which would be just in time for me to get grass seed down at a good time.

I really want to get ahead of the bloody chickweed which has carpeted areas each winter after we get them cleared. The problem with chickweed (non-native) is that it shades out anything that might out compete the stilt grass in the spring. There could be this mono"culture" of chickweed to stilt grass to chickweed, and i want to break the cycle with flowers and grasses.

I'm ready to go home to Christine and Carrie and Edward and Luigi and Greycie Loo -- who i noticed seeming less strong before i left and Christine has noticed also failing to leap effortlessly into chairs. She's only eleven, i hope we can figure out what is wrong.
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Thursday, June 7th, 2018 08:30 am
Yesterday's reorg had me staring at the note in which i keep track of corporate changes. I apparently started the note in July of 2014 when the effects of new executive leadership at where i work, "The Whale," had reached a crescendo. I realize i needed a time line. This has been incredibly helpful to me since then, and i've added as much detail as i could tracking back to when the merger of "The Minnow" and "The Whale" occurred in 2006. I find myself wanting to add some other dates.

And then i thought that, while a number of you have shared the journey with me, many of you missed some of these adventures. So i thought i'd share here.

Cut for length )
So, here we are.

Not all of that reflection was about "the elephant in the room," but part of what inspired this was for me to get a sense of how long this elephant has been hanging around as well as how long i was in the crisis that put me on antidepressants to begin with.

I think Christine has made a great deal of progress out of her crisis. Admittedly, after this much time, "crisis" is no longer really a good term. Some time back i did accept to myself that this is a long term condition. I do see improvement though, and i see her making great efforts to cope. The most hard thing, i think, is that she wakes with panic attacks more often than not. She has changed from a CPAP to the more fancy thing (heated! humidified! variable pressure!) which has a little bit of improvement, but the change didn't solve the issue.

There are things left out -- my time line of involvement in Quaker meetings stands out as something significant. My Dad's surgery is important because it came just before i my body seemed to hit middle age. There are a number of things about my health -- when did i do the diet exclusion test? When were various therapists? -- but i actually think those are in another file. My siblings' marriages, their children's birth, deaths of Christine's father and my grandfather -- those are important markers, too.

What this does, though, it take some events that have duration -- the process of coming out and how long before Christine had confirmation surgery, my work misery, her crisis -- and helps me see how my sense of duration is so skewed.

--== ∞ ==--

So if i keep journaling here for another eighteen years, i will have documented half my life on LiveJournal and its descendant DreamWidth. LJ was launched nineteen years ago. (I was actually blogging on geocities in 1999. No one read it, but i was writing there.)
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Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 07:30 am
On the weighing heavily on me list: elephants, humidity, overcast skies. Less heavy, but in mind: therapy and the discussion regarding the word "lazy." Procrastination on filing receipts at work. And a need to schedule travel.

In the lightness column: blister is much less uncomfortable and less weepy.

In the greatest entertainment news: bunnies! I noticed rabbits racing around at 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday and they continued until after 5 pm. I think i would have noticed them before this if this is usual behavior. I did notice herbivory on the lettuce when i returned from Baltimore so perhaps they were around last week. It still seems like a sudden invasion. The deer are out in the late afternoon as well.

My cell phone has been cranky about charging, probably due to me being not gentle enough with the micro USB plugs. I know that i could get a new phone, but i'd rather wait until the next release to upgrade. I've made it this far with the screen damage from Carrie teething on it: i'd like to make it longer.

So yesterday's distraction was purchasing a wireless Qi charger for the phone. And, because of the additional annoyances i have with charging i bought the wirecutter-recommended 4-outlet USB charge adapter and some appropriate cables. This should slightly ease travel in mid June. In Baltimore i found myself trying different adapters in different outlets looking for a combination that would reliably charge the iPad. I'm hoping this adapter will cope with phone (USB A to micro to Qi), laptop (USB A to USB C), iPad (USB A to lightning), and watch (USB A to micro to Qi, but NOT the same Qi that the phone uses because that would be too simple).

My favorite shopping discovery was a four USB port adapter with a built in watch charger and the warning to only charge three things at a time or risk overheating. I'm assuming this was discovered AFTER going to market....
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Friday, April 27th, 2018 07:10 am
We have the windows open this morning as Christine has a sinus infection and instead of running a humidifier, it seems opening the window is a much more reasonable solution. That meant i heard the chittering of one wren just outside their nest and was watching to witness both birds fly off. Could this mean there are chicks? One has since flown back. Greycie Loo has shown a good bit of interest in the action just feet away from the window sill.

Outside is green -- it glows in the windows. The slowest trees are just budding out: some sweetgums and on particular crepe myrtle. Dogwood petals carpet the ground under trees. The walnut has tasseling blossoms. I've noticed the black cherry trees blooming -- which has helped confirm my identification. The trees are 40 and 50 foot tall, so i don't see how anyone other than birds get at the fruit. I've never noticed the fruit, but there sure are plenty of little seedlings. I don't begrudge the birds though as we are are doing out best to rid the land of the autumn olive (Eleagnus umbellata).

This morning a fine mist hangs in the tops of the pines, accentuating their height.

The impulse purchased plum red gladiolas have sprouted. The bulbs i dug up from the yard to clear for the driveway have not. I transplanted poppy seedlings from where they are too tightly growing in the garden to a number of places in the yard, one of which is a scar of red clay left over from the drive way. I had seeded the area with a mixture of seeds some months ago, including poppy seeds, and was happy to see one has sprouted. The area still seems likely to succumb to weeds (defined as aggressive prolific nonnative plants). But it's now time to plant the annuals with confidence, so i'll try again with zinnas and marigolds and sunflowers.

The grass seemed to grow inches during the rain earlier in the week. I got a good bit mown on Wednesday evening.

Last night our grading guy came by to give us an estimate on the orchard. He's going to haul off the stumps for us(and huge poison ivy on two of the three large sweetgums he's going to take out). This adds a good a bit to the estimate, but it's better than the usual dumping in the woods. He's busy, so i have three weeks to dig up the ferns (Christmas and sensitive and southern lady along with cutleaf grape ferns), find the partridge berry again (Mitchella repens, i think, not Gaultheria procumbens), and move the mosses. Doing this slowly and on our own terms -- artisinal land clearing, as it were -- has allowed me to really get to know the patch of ground. Having three more weeks means that i should be able to see all sorts of plants get large enough to rescuable size. Christine has a couple more sweetgum to do in as well.

One other yard thing for this weekend will be hilling the potatoes. They've been slow to sprout, but i don't think i have drowned as many as i thought i had. They're shooting up now, so adding "biochar" - the charcoal left after i burn our clearing debris - and other organic amendments to the clay at this point seems a good plan. It's a long term improvement -- i don't know that it will be particularly good for the potatoes -- but it can't be any worse than the clay.

I told my folks a tiny bit about Christine's elephants yesterday. I'm sure Christine would mind, but it felt like an important bit of context for them to understand where i am as well as Christine.
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Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 02:34 pm
Last Thursday i found we needed to be tracking our time completely, not just projects that need financial tracking. I am now wise to the way of this company and see this as a bit of a pendulum swing back to a place we've been before. I even had the memo with all the details on how to charge almost every minute from 2011.

So, i've invested in a few things. First, and most effectively, is the $5 for ATracker PRO Time Tracker for iPad. (There's an Android version.) I would heartily recommend this to anyone who wants to track how time is spent.. It looks like i can export data in cvs format, and the data stays on my iPad otherwise. So, private and fairly intuitive to use.

I tried out the paid version of rescuetime which tracks every moment on one's computer. I don't think it works as there's little distinction between time categories and the tools i am using. If i wasn't clicking "break" when i switch to reading non-work things on the internet, it might be useful, but it'd can't distinguish emails on the European privacy law vs emails about implementing logout.

--== ∞ ==--

Today we had lovely fluffy snow for an hour or so in the morning, accumulation on the deck, and just as quickly it melted away.

The elephant is weighing heavily on me today, to the point where i want to complain more pointedly. Being around someone who is struggling with a problem valiantly, diligently but still struggling takes spoons from the companion, too. I know she's operating without reserves, but i'm also getting low. I'm not sure what to do about it, other than hope that we'll both have a chance to recover a little -- unfortunately, i think my travel in early April plays into the situation in a negative way, so recovery may not be on the schedule until i return. (Oh look, in my last post i said it would be in early February. Brain??)

Weather doesn't look like it will be mild and soothing for the next ten days, either. Nonetheless, spring refuses to be held off. A sheltered dogwood is blooming, and the brilliantly blue red azalea has one flower open -- shortly to become a blaze.

I give up, i'm going to go get a box of cookies.
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Monday, January 15th, 2018 11:39 am
It's a particularly elephant-y time around here. I am admittedly a little frayed around the edges but i have the capacity to handle it, i know that this is due to some calendar item triggers, and i can believe that Christine will get the elephants in hand again in February. As i plan for my 50th trip around the sun, i will note that there will likely be this challenge again with the holidays and events into January.

The weekend was otherwise full of exertion. Saturday morning my sister and i accompanied my mother to a NIA class -- an exercise class that mixes tai chi, yoga, dance, martial arts, etc into a very vibrant and fun practice. Lots of messages from the practitioners that one should just do what feels good. I hope i modeled that well for my mother as i was generous with myself at my left-right confusion, my routine flailing, and my only arm participation when i felt the need to protect my ankle. Mom seemed to grow into some comfort with it, and we will do it again.

I will be delighted to do it on really frigid or wet rainy days. Saturday was a good yard work day, and i had little pouts about using all that energy not on the yard. I did get the pollinator seed mix planted in the circle of the driveway island and other raking done. The raking plus arm exercises? Ooohhhhh. Hot bath was required.

Yesterday, after Meeting and lunch, i did more raking. Now all the mossy areas are glowing green, so pleasant with all the drab winter colors. My understanding is that moss grows at just above 32°F (given water and light) and so getting the leaves off helps all the little plants beat the big ol' vascular plants that are hibernating. I realized that there were areas that were just raw dirt last winter that have a moss carpet now. The year's worth of growth is satisfying. Here's hoping that it can soon get thick enough to deter the blasted stilt grass.

I also lopped down small trees in the orchard area and managed to drop a tree straight down on my foot. A perfect circular bruise.

It's gotten frigid again, and the forecast calls for snow showers on Wednesday.

I broke down and bought birdseed. I'll try again to put the broom corn (sorghum) out where i poured the purchased seed. Maybe it will be interesting now that the birds know to look for food there?
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Monday, December 18th, 2017 07:59 am
Friday: took the day off, tromping around in the yard a good bit. Small rocks lining the entrance to the new roof water drain*, some raking, some scouting the fence line. In the late afternoon i joined my sister's family to see The Last Jedi which we all thought was well done. (And likely to spawn another ninety films.)

Saturday: Christine and i tried to translate our Yuletide tradition of visiting the San Francisco Flower Mart to North Carolina. The restaurant was a satisfactory replacement, the nursery less so. It's possible we missed more yuletide bounty from earlier in the month. Just because it was less Christmassy didn't mean it was a disappointment: we hauled home three cat sculptures that now reside in the little courtyard area, two flats of pansies, miscellaneous phlox, and two spiderworts. I planted half the pansies, discovering that the soil (clay) was pretty solidly packed and mixed with gravel. Fie. As i dug to loosen it, i was worried i would cut the phone line again.

Sunday: As Meeting ended i felt a pressure to return home asap. I assumed it was my shyness kicking in. I just felt awkward. At home though, i found Christine in distress with the elephants. I'm glad i got home quickly. I don't think i was able to offer much solace; she did something new to cope.

While she coped, i worked in the yard, most successfully inscribing a 20' diameter circle within the driveway island and turning soil for the pansies and phlox in the area between the circle and the house. (The island is a blunted tear drop shape, with the fat end extending towards the house a few feet further than the inscribed circle.) Loosening the soil means finding more rocks: small chunks of quartz (walnut sized) and larger slate bits. One good sized rock turned up: maybe the volume of two coffee mugs? I do wonder if i am inefficient in messing around with such small rocks, but fitting them together to line the area around the drain intake gives me pleasure.

I've read another good speculative fiction work: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It's book two in a series. Book one has holds that will keep it out of my hand for a small forever. I'm glad i went ahead and read book two. I didn't feel like i was missing out: the character whose back story might have been outlined in the first book couldn't recall that back story. The story of survival that makes up the back story thread of another character in this novel resonated when the speaker at Meeting on Sunday shared his interactions with a street boy of Nairobi. The second story was one of identity and embodiment. I was quite pleased to find a second very engaging book in a row.

I also read Daytripper by by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Too quickly: i need to go back and look at the art and give it the time it deserves. I am appreciating the graphical novel selection my library system has made in Overdrive.

Am i still happy, despite the elephant visit? It certainly created an ache but i think i also continue to carry the openness and lightness i've become aware of. The ache for Christine is not that different from the irritations and discomforts and physical aches that punctuate my physical being.

I suppose i do have an awareness that one particular discomfort is one i hope will fade before i need any assistance dressing it. Maybe better medications will come about. I can hope.

Back to work!

* About 30% of the roof water drains into a small area outside the kitchen window in the tiny "courtyard" at the front door. There's not much room for water barrels even if it was a place i'd want them visible. We've managed to adjust drainage so it's not pooling near the foundation, but in a heavy rain i've watched it wash down the driveway. Part of the driveway re-work was to address this drainage issue, so there's a pipe to drain the roof runoff into the east yard. I'll probably design a rain garden near the outlet.
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Thursday, December 14th, 2017 07:40 am
Once upon a time, my procrastination was to read the Usenet. And Usenet obliged by having new posts by the time i'd finished reading all the posts that had accumulated overnight.

When i'm busy, though, my time spent reading the same sources on the internet has decreased significantly, so i've pruned things back. Facebook and Twitter are firehoses that COULD consume every waking hour: the short form is not engaging for me, though, so i am safe there. Now i can get through all my distractions.

I'm happy to say that i don't turn to the firehoses when i run out of distractions. I do watch myself reload, reload, reload. Has someone posted NOW? NOW? One of the things i know about myself in this state is that i'm not reading because i'm curious or want to be present with others. I slurp down words like someone binging on potato chips.

This week i feel i've been able to step back and observe my procrastination, and have compassion for it. I've also been HAPPY.

I am really HAPPY.

I find it a foreign state, but completely natural. And, in complete contradiction to calling it foreign, i wonder if i've been happy "all along." I think, part of it, is that the elephants seem to be more well behaved. It may be familiarity: ah, a stampede, well this will put a kink in our plans but ought to be wrapped up in a few hours. And i honestly think stampedes happen less frequently.

The issue i refer to here as "elephants" has been weighing on me for ages. I look back at my first entry tagged elephant, where i note that i needed to record how Christine's has an issue that was weighing on me for some time - summer of 2014. So i back calculate -- the crisis began in late 2013. So, wow, five years. And, as miracles go, i ceased reporting to my horrible horrible director in October of 2013. As i was coming out of my own crisis, Christine was entering her own.

So, the last time i used the tag "elephant" was this summer: maybe part of my sense of happiness is a growing trust that Christine's crisis is turning the corner.

So, in this happy state, i'm compassionate with my procrastination. Perhaps i've learned that sackcloth and ashes doesn't improve the outcomes of my productivity flows.

I'm also aware of my sense of gratitude: for my job, for our new home near family, for time with Christine in the morning as the winter sun slips up over the horizon.

There's probably some numbness to the national horror too. I've so much cognitive dissonance when considering the body politic.... I feel a bit of hope that we may be going through some cathartic vomiting of deep ugliness that has been festering. Maybe this is what healing the brokenness at the heart of the American experiment looks like?
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Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 10:57 am
93.5 °F - Feels Like 106 °F

Just spent a half hour outside, and came in dripping. Ugh.

I was picking the grape tomatoes, squash, collards, and some of the popcorn. The popcorn is a mixture of strains, so every cob is a surprise. Some are much like this "glass gem" corn. Regrettably, pollination wasn't ideal, so there are lots of half populated cobs. Still, given everyone's dismissal of growing corn without a fortress around it, i'm delighted.

I ordered a dehydrator, so the large number of squash doesn't intimidate me. And now i kinda wish for exponential tomatoes, but they don't seem to be coming -- unless i want to pick green and let them ripen in the house. Which is very tempting.

Yesterday i spend outside 10 to noon doing a burn. Most of the time i spent running the hose over myself to keep cool while watching the fire. Usually i keep gathering debris, but not yesterday. I did do some weeding in the shade.

--== ∞ ==--

Christine had what seems like an elephant event last night. But maybe it was just life.

Carrie continues to negotiate bed space with the cats. Turning her back to them is the best thing she's learned so far. They know how to stand up to her when she confronts them, but a big dog back?
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Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 07:33 am
Yesterday's weather did tick up a bit warm, but the blessedly low humidity still made for a pleasant walk at the lake after work. We took the western side of the loop trail at Seaforth from the boat launch parking to where the high water stopped us from going any further. The waters swirled around the trunks of trees, and the evening light reflected up into the canopy: a hall of green and gold. Carrie is still spooky around the sound of slapping waves (thanks to ski boats and jet skis in that reach of the lake) but she's getting more confident. She was also certain there was something she wanted to chase as we headed back to the car and dragged Christine along. She's such an odd mix of confidence and startlement.

I'm feeling less confident in my ability to weed up the stilt grass. In the sun, it seems, it spreads and crawls, and i don't think i can get all of it easily. I whacked some last evening in frustration, knowing it just leads to even lower growth and a seed set in the fall. I know a growing percentage of the yard is mown stilt grass, the winter greens fading, and even where we had lush clover is being replaced by another unruly grass (although i don't know what that one is).

By the way, just to give a scale, crab grass is well behaved compared to some of these grasses. We've got that, too. What i really want is for the native Dichanthelium species to take it all back. Doing what i can to further that goal.

Christine is changing elephant handling protocols. It's rough on her, scaring her as she goes through this period of instability with management. I trust that it will settle back down, noting her awareness and capacity despite the instability.