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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 06:38 am
Sunday dawned dark with heavy clouds that threatened rain. I drove north west to Meeting, zipping on the country roads, a few spatters of damp moving the first visible pollen around on the windshield. The message was brought by an architect who talked about the Quaker term of the Light and the work of James Turrell as the sky grew darker outside. Meeting dispersed over the carpet of tiny bluets, with no rain.

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

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

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

I'd taken the covers of the peony and the blueberries yesterday, but woke to find it 30°F. Well. That's not what the forecast led me to expect.
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Friday, March 29th, 2019 09:11 am
Short story: Mom has returned home and Dad seems prepared to be her full time carer, with hired help three half days a week. When i visited last night, an off day for help, i found Dad seeming very tired. Admittedly, it was late for them as they continue to get up before 5 am. Sigh.

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

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

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

And then the emotional digressions. )
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Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 09:11 am
Friday: I think i did some chipping. I know i went into the NE small block of woods where Duke Power cut down many small trees to get to the large (about 2 ft in diameter) dead pine. I found the cherry tree they cut down so one less gripe about Duke power.

My brother came over with his middle son and daughter and we had a lovely time hanging out. The middle son is an athlete and so ran around with Carrie, possibly tiring her out. There was chatting about Dungeons and Dragons. All in all, a pleasant and warm visit.

Saturday and Sunday slipped away with grey skies, and time spent looking at seeds. I am about ready to go seed a few flats. I don't know how the flat that needs to stratify will do. The weather seems ready to give up on frosts and freezes. All the seeds i planted on Tuesday a week ago need some chill. My thoughts have an undertow of "Too late! Too late!" which isn't entirely accurate. Natural systems are diverse, and there will be seeds that need less and seeds that need more of whatever condition. Planting late isn't optimal, but the seeds that need more of the cold will be in the seed bank for next year. The early seeds will germinate. I planted some tulip bulbs at random depth in a berm on Sunday. The bulbs had already begun sprouting. Ah well, the main goal was to donate to the girl scout troop selling the bulbs in December. I did buy some plants: a beech tree to plant in the new gap in the woods, plus a few other natives to plant around the glade as we cut back the autumn olive and scraggly sweet gum. And the local farm store is selling "sticks" to use for rooting.

Yesterday was a family day, inadvertently longer and more draining than expected. Good news is that Mom might be able to move to a closer, more aggressive with therapy rehab center in two weeks. Also, my sister in law, of whom i gave an unflattering recount in last entry based on her Monday night conversation at dinner, has been hired as law faculty in Singapore. I am so relieved for her, as i think her lack of engagement in her profession was eating at her soul.

Thinking about where to plant peas, poppies, borage in the garden. Waffling back and forth on various garden layouts (but at least i have a plan for the potatoes)g. Finishing fencing the garden. Whether i can use sweet potato in the driveway circle as an edible ground cover that can defeat the stilt grass. Should i move the plants that survived deer, rain, and stilt grass into the orchard to be protected from deer and stilt grass?
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Friday, January 25th, 2019 07:26 am
From my sister, at 7:30 am yesterday. Ashe and Leo are their young lab-Aussie cross dogs.

Oh my... crazy night. Ashe got her jaw stuck in Leo’s collar and strangled him. I went to urgent care for an accidental dog bite (from detangling them) and Leo was at NCSU vet ER until 12:30am. Good news: he is all fine! But the two of them think the other was being mean and they are wary of each other :(

It was terrible

And the two of them all timid around each other breaks my heart :(

[My niece] came with to the urgent care. I just wanted antibiotics on hand and to get it cleaned proper.



I talked to my sister later in the day, got details on strangling that make police procedurals look sanitized, and offered to bring her clan pizza for dinner. Which we did, although she was away at a work dinner. Conversation with her family is always lovely. And her spouse mentioned how horrible it was despite watching many police procedurals.

The dogs were friends again when we saw them. It turns out it was sequential medical visits, first to urgent care while T-- & W-- stayed home to monitor Leo's behavior and wait for the emergency vet to call back. Then the emergency vet was a little panicked and sent my sister off to the ER, where the ER vets were much more sanguine about the situation.

Meanwhile, email from my brother, 1 pm ish: "Sisters - pls warn dad that our flight is being rescheduled. I will send details once they reroute." There weren't any details that i saw last night, so i don't know what has happened there. He had a flight leaving JFK for Raleigh just about 5 pm. I recommend to everyone who flies https://flightaware.com/miserymap/ A time lapse of radar weather data across CONUS is superimposed with graphs for each airport or city indicating the amount of flights and the fraction delayed and cancelled.

Off to work at the coworking place this afternoon and see mom this evening. I keep telling myself that this is prying me out of my hermit crab home, and the region won't seem so distant and unfamiliar once i'm done. First Chapel Hill grew much closer. Now Raleigh, which i hardly knew as i was growing up, despite school and college there, may become a little more familiar as opposed to unconnected vignettes glanced out back seat car windows when i looked up from a book.
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 11:32 am
Saturday i woke very early. Venus was bright as i let the critters out for the dawn rumpus. Since i was awake, i slipped out to go visit my Dad (who rises incredibly early) as he and i both had agendas to meet while seated at the computer. He fixed me an egg sandwich and, after discussion, coached me on how to order it from his short order chef days. Apparently, i want my fried eggs "Over hard."

We spent hours talking about how to manage their Apple devices and storage, with me hitting on some specific things, like making a secret apple ID that can be used to set up FaceTime with auto-answer on their old iPhones to use as monitors. (Aunt is sending walkie talkies that have the usability issue, identified by my aunt, that mom will need to push a button to make it work. I had sent the iPhone auto-answer plan in the email i sent yesterday. Whatever.) Set up the Google calendar my sister and i had been sharing for care on their apple calendar. And so on.

I was pretty drained when i got home, but helped Christine unpack our Yule gift to ourselves: a great big tool cabinet for the garage. Consolidation of tools ahead! This is the year of the garage, we tell ourselves.

Sunday, Christine crashed a little at the thought of me leaving early again. So instead of getting to my parents at 8:30 it was 9:30. I think i will need to keep Sunday mornings for us and then for me to go to Meeting. My sister and i decluttered, removed leaves from tables, moved the twin bed downstairs and made it up, while my Dad built the "wedges" that don't meet code as a ramp, but will improve the safety of getting the wheelchair up and down the two different 5" rises. After that i tackled some technology challenges, leaving my mother's machine painfully downloading the latest version of the Apple OS and taking her iPad 2 home to upgrade to the version of iOS last supported on that device. Fortunately the version is sufficient to support the $75 language therapy application. It took all afternoon painful iPad stuff )

Monday, training in the morning with the hectic sense of care in the hospital with constant interruptions. Work in the afternoon, with an "ARGH!" when i poked an issue with the internal support desk about boring tech issue )

Yesterday Mom came home. Christine offered significant logistics support, taking me to the hospital, taking the commode chair and some supplies from the hospital to my folks'. In the evening she brought over a table i had ordered (and had delivered to our home without thinking) plus Chipotle bowls for us all. My mother marveled at the flavors and beauty of the lettuce, beans and tomatoes -- evidence of what a month of hospital food can do when you have the least dietary constraint. (She needs foods that won't cause choking.)

Between Christine's morning & evening help, the biggest challenges is the assistance with Mom's transfers: hospital wheelchair to new wheelchair to car to new wheel chair to toilet to new wheelchair. Mom's strong, but still very confused about why she needs help and what the steps are that we ask her to do. She also doesn't understand, it seems, why she must use the commode chair and not the regular commode. And then the hissy-fit she had over how we had rearranged the master bedroom! My parents' arguments are bad enough, but with the comprehension challenges there's an additional level of communication challenges. I finally understood enough about mom mpother's concerns that i could mediate and explain the problems and proposed coping until the weekend. My sister has some solutions we can try then. The biggest concern on my mother's side i think is that it doesn't look good and Dad has to get into their bed on my mother's side of the bed. Dad keeps wanting mom's bed and commode to be in the living area which my sister and i keep stopping.

Today, i am trying to work and have done a decent job. Right now a colleague is defending his use of the word "angsty" so i get to finish reviewing my past few days.
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Friday, January 4th, 2019 11:14 am
"Dream residue" -- good name for a band?

Back at my work desk with the bright light blazing in my face.

The training went well Wednesday. I was drained by being so alert to everyone's energy: sister, mother, father, aunt. In the evening my sister thanked me for the "chill out" warning i flashed to her when my dad was practicing the pivot transfer with my mom. Most of my energy was trying to make space for my mom, who was ready to engage with her therapists, and my dad, who can get pounced on by women-folk in our family. That is, he can ask a question or say something to try to be humorous and get corrected pretty quickly.

reflections on trainers )

After training i had lunch with my dad and aunt, then bolted off to my therapy appointment. My therapist's mother had a stroke, and so she may be a one person caregiver support group. In the evening i met my condition of enoughness, marking the locations for more fence posts around the garden so i can pound them in as small tasks during lunch, and then getting the halogen work lamp and long power cord arranged so i can use that to work after dark.

My aunt has managed to antagonize us all. )

We have more rain, the top layer of soil is so completely saturated.... I worry about many of the new trees and new grass drowning. Looks like we will have a week without rain after this, though so maybe we can have a bit of a drying out.

Work was OK on Thursday, but i'm not off to a great start today. I'm getting frustrated with the RSA phone app that will theoretically give me access to the VPN. It would be good to use the app now that i am will be going back and forth to my folks house to work, but if it won't initiate....
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Sunday, December 30th, 2018 08:18 am
My sister waved me off from going up to see Mom yesterday, so with a little bit of energy i tried to make the most of the day. I hemmed two tea towels as gifts, trying not to be too much of a perfectionist about it. I think i'm getting the hang of the miter seam at the corners.

We had Christine's sister & her husband over for dinner. I'd bought Alaskan black cod (aka sablefish*) when i bought the salmon, so we served that with a salad (out of a bag). D-- brought cheesy grits made with blue corn, and that made a delightful meal. We will have my Dad and mom's sister over on New Year's eve with lasagna from a nearby restaurant: an unusual round of entertaining for us!

Christine's not feeling great this morning - the cold i've had is probably taking a toll on her.

I've a sense of urgency about getting organized and clear about next priorities. I don't know how much of an impact Mom's care will have on me. I think i probably have the capacity if i become better at time management.

I don't think i mentioned it but i recently read a NY Times article on "The Brain Fog of Menopause." I've been aware since before we moved of a sense that i was slower, that things took longer, and i'd just written it off to the inevitability of aging. The thought that a mental sharpness might return on a rebound is delightful and wonderful.


*I'd also seen it sold as butterfish in California, but looking up "butterfish" on line it seems a common name for a number of species, some of which seem unappetizing.
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Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 08:16 am
I'm not sure why i didn't journal during my week off other than just general schedule disorder. I've had some pouting days, as i realized sewing then hems on eight tea towels wasn't as lickety-split as i'd expected. So, that project is no where near done, nor are trees magically getting planted. Also, i ache far more than i feel i've earned from digging. All in all though it's been an excellent break.

* Thanksgiving brunch was lovely with my parents: Christien's breakfast casserole was delicious, and Mom & Dad's contribution of an ambrosia fruit salad provided an entertaining story of Mom bringing heavy whipping cream to dress it and Dad bringing a ridiculously large bottle of rum.

* I picked up two crochet projects that i have had on hold and have been good at being engaged (too engaged?) with them.

* We had a pleasant time out and then home watching a movie with Christine's sister and brother in law.

* We have decorated for Yule with a tree and lights (that turned out to be incandescents -- i really should have clued into that in the store), the Moravian star we bought last year, solar powered lights on our large chicken sculpture Alice, and a few other touches.

* The HVAC guys confirmed, yes, mice under the house in the floor insulation, yes, a snake ate a good many of the them. They reconnected a loose duct (and then checked over the heat pump which does not need annual maintenance, we were assured. The reconnecton seemed to trap a mouse in the duct work, and an evening of rustling in the ductwork and everyone in the house staring at the ducts followed. Edward caught the mouse and brought it to my lap just after i fell asleep.

I'm responsible for two catch and release mouse traps under the house. I haven't crawled very far under to place them in the recommend area yet. The temptation to let Edward loose under there is large.

* Much of the garden is mulched or turned over with the intent to suppress the heavy coating of winter weeds. One fence post has been driven into the ground. I've a bucket of sedges, grasses, and violets to transplant.

* I had an after meeting visit with a friend and a lunch meeting with another Quaker friend.

* I went out to lunch with my folks on a very cold Wednesday, and then we went to the agricultural supply place. They were picking up the large gifts for my sister and I. For my sister, a generator, for me, a 500 gallon water tank.

* I picked up my nephew and niece and their two puppies and brought them over to play with Carrie. That went generally well. There were a few times we needed to let them chill as Carrie got her hackles raised by the girl puppy, Ashe, barking at her. It wasn't quite the adventure i had in mind, but it was a good way to spend time together.

* We cut down the apple and rose of Sharon that were just in front of the house. Now the sight line is clear when one arrives and it definitely feels better - open and less crowded. One stump of the many trunked tree remains with my rain gauge mounted on it. (I wonder how much of the tree was the original grafted fruit and how much was sprouting from the root stock). The hole under the tree -- the main reason it seemed time to remove the tree -- is clear now: i ponder whether i should plant something in it or just try to fill it. I've a bit more chipping to do of the branches.

I've saved the long straight water sprouts -- fast, upward growing shoots that are triggered when the tree thinks it needs a new trunk. There were many because of how the tree was butchered in a pruning attempt. I'll use them as stakes in the garden in hopes that they root like the rose of sharon did this year, in hopes of planting them in or at the edge of the woods. It would be lovely if they could live on. The remainder of the younger growth i'm chipping as mulch for the garden. I think it should decay pretty quickly. The trunk will be offered to our wood turning friend. The wood clearly has spalting of some sort, so i suspect it will be interesting to work with.

* I cleaned out my Anki decks -- digital flash cards for memorizing things. I will want to work on some tourist level Estonian and Swedish. I don't dream of learning more than tourist level Estonian prhases, given it's not Indo-European. Wikipedia notes, "nouns and adjectives decline in fourteen cases: nominative, genitive, partitive, illative, inessive, elative, allative, adessive, ablative, translative, terminative, essive, abessive, and comitative...." Just enough courtesy phrases to find someone who can speak English seems reasonable. Swedish would be more useful in the longer term, but to learn two languages...? Again, more courtesy phrases, i think.

Of course, i didn't do add any language cards but instead added terms for identifying insects with the goal of learning how to identify pests and beneficial insects in the garden. I did see a Chinese mantis out there and left it alone. This morning, i have a tinge of regret as i think of the tiny little cricket frogs i've seen in the garden this week (mosquito predators!). Such a frog would be a quick meal for the massive Chinese mantis.


I'm sure there were more interesting events in the days from Thanksgiving through Friday but that gets the highlights.
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Friday, November 23rd, 2018 08:48 am
I hope those of you observing had a happy Thanksgiving: i am thankful for this community of sharing, thankful for you all. I don't spend as much time online as i used to, so i missed sharing wishes with you all yesterday.

I had stitched the remainder and not the sides to the hassock cover Monday night, demonstrating my my theoretic understanding of how to stitch a box was sound. I was tempted for it to be good enough, but ripped out all the seams. Thursday morning i repeated the exercise with the correct lengths of fabric and, voila, a slip cover for the hassock. I haven't hemmed it: the fleecy fabric called Minky doesn't fray much. The pattern is my own design with colors that were supposed to match the other colors in the living room: https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6859781-pine-trees-against-sky-by-judielaine I should have picked the less saturated blue in the palette for the sky.

I set the table, which had on it the moo-cow cream pitcher from my mother's mother and decorative salt and pepper shakers from my mother, reminding me of all my grandmother's collection of seasonal shakers. Marigolds still are blooming prettily, and so i had a small bouquet with some fading Southern Lady fern fronds and sage leaves.

Christine's breakfast casserole was incredibly good, with my parents marveling over the vegetarian sausage. Mom brought an ambrosia with unwhipped heavy whipping cream on the side; my father having stood in the way of mixing dairy with citrus. He brought rum, and made a piña colada salad for himself. Conversation went well, without too much dwelling on the depressing state of the federal government.

After we walked around the yard, then went up to the lovely park at Fearrington to walk. Christine jogged with Carrie, my Dad walked a bit more for exercise, and i chatted with my Mom. The loveliness of the day was accentuated by my photogrey lenses. A red cypress against the bright blue sky popped incredibly. I peeked over the tops of my glasses and the colors desaturated, no longer filtered for the polarized light.

It was a just-right visit. And now the table is unburdened: maybe we should have more folks over. Christine's sister & spouse come by today, for a poorly scheduled event that has Christine a little fraught.

The afternoon i rested. I picked up a yarnwork project that i started five years ago. I had acquired a multicolored bundle of crewelwork yarn, each about a yard long, many years ago. Too short to crochet much with, it is long enough to get a little knitting out of it. So i assembled a pattern with stripes and i've been knitting (well, "knooking" knit stitches with a crochet hook and trailing yarn to hold the stitches) a flat piece that -- i don't know what i will do with it when it's done. A table runner of some sort, i guess.

Today, yard work and CHristine's sister. Tomorrow, rain, sewing, a Christmas tree.
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Friday, November 16th, 2018 07:31 am
Much gloom in the weather this week. I took a clumsy spill and don't think positively about it. )

I've coped with the gloom by running the SAD lamp all day and having a second afternoon cup of coffee. Evenings haven't been particularly productive.

We have invited my folks over for Thanksgiving brunch, a meal that will bypass some holiday entrenched issues and will hopefully be joyful for Christine. (My sister's family is out of town so there isn't the usual large joint meal between my sister's family, her sister in law's family, and my parents. We've joined for desert in the past few years, bypassing the dead carcass, some dysfunctions, and making it easier for Christine. Breakfast for four is a nice scale for us, and my parents were delighted to be invited.

I've ordered a Christmas tree from a fundraiser in the little mill town with the Bridge, and we have a large so-called Moravian star (made in Mexico) to hang on the front porch this year. I've gotten so out of the habit of observing holidays -- particularly with decorations -- between hermit lifestyle and dealing with Christine's Elephants. (Christine's Elephants have holiday triggers.) With my own change of going off the SSRI, i suspect any disappointment that had been flattened out over the years would have been felt acutely, so i am glad to have some plans to observe.
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Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 07:15 am
Yesterday was a reasonable workday as i tried walking the higher level product folks from making a really expensive mistake. It seems like a wasted day because we've been around this loop before, but this time i scribbled out some diagrams which, from the snarl of arrows and boxes, hopefully conveys that the configuration idea they have results in a great deal of work. I also tried hard not to shame them, but the simpler solution involves the product folks understanding who uses their applications and how. I know that isn't as easy as it sounds, but i also want to grumble about them doing their job.

Mom showed up just at 5 pm and i made tea from herbs from the garden: tulsi, spearmint, a wintergreen scented mint, and lemon grass. I was delighted to see the green-gold color of the tea in the china cups. It was a good visit, and maybe she will stop by like that more often. (And, as i haven't been over to their place since The Cough began, i should get over to see them.)

Christine spent the afternoon with her sister at a Duke event, sharing the film, and Christine spoke about the US Health and Human Services rule making about defining gender. I hope she wasn't preaching to the choir because the effort costs her so. And that makes me think back to a very friendly screening in Chapel Hill, with some university department LGBT representative on the panel after. (Director of the program, maybe?) He presented as a white male, and i presume he was gay, and not trans. He commented on how NC politicians had used "transgender issues" as a political tool in such a way that you could hear how he thought of this as -- political footballs. Not lives. Christine did an excellent job speaking up to him, and i suppose she had to do the same yesterday: act as an advocate for seeing the human beings, the personal lives, that are being wounded by being tossed around. That night i wanted to stand up and yell at the man about the suffering Christine goes through when her fear overwhelms her.

I wonder if at some point in the 2020 election season i should turn the transgender bathroom issue against this administration: "Trump wants my wife to use the mens room," or some such.
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Sunday, October 21st, 2018 05:15 pm
I am happy to be home. I am doubly relieved that the news about the US Dept Health and Human Services broke this morning so i could tell Christine not to read the news before picking me up and i could tell her in person.

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,.... the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.


The news brought me to tears in the Atlanta airport. There are no words. Christine is coping. I don't know how widely the news is being spread. It was the lead story on my view of the NYTimes -- but apparently not on the print version. I guess they know i care. I suppose that it's not common news and that i shouldn't be hoping for people to reach out to Christine.

The Saudi news has been distressing this weekend too.

Once home i built the greenhouse with Christine's help, and then went and dug up lemon grass, three different pepper plants, a hibiscus, fame flower, and tulsi to put in big pots in the green house. I tried covering the rest of the peppers and the hibiscus, and i put row covers over the tiny lettuces and brassicas. It's going to get down to 35°F which isn't happy for the somewhat tropical plants so protecting them for tonight's dip might let some more peppers ripen and hibiscus bloom.

Visiting with Grandmámá went well. I asked her about how she had joined Christian Scientists. I was under the mipression she joined in Georgia (which seemed quite remarkable) but it seems she joined in Homestead FL. And she had a vivid memory of the Friday evening she discovered the Science of Mind magazine in the drugstore magazine rack in 1963. It was good to see her.

My friend B-- and her partners N-- and K--- were pleasant to visit with and dine with. I had to fly out of the Gainesville airport at 6 am this morning, so i left their place attempting not to disturb anyone. I don't know how that worked out.

I need to figure out how to go down there and zoom through seeing folks without disappointing folks. My friends wanted me to come and stay for a couple of days, but that is so different from my travel and socializing....
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Monday, October 8th, 2018 09:44 am
Hello world.

Saturday morning remained drizzly, and, even when that stopped, it was miserably humid. I came in after planting my seedling chestnut. I notice the tap root had twisted around in the pot. Poor little tree. Well, now it has room to expand, and i will probably be better off with it NOT growing to its full potential.

Salad mix seeds i planted the previous week have sprouted. I had received a bonus packet of seeds called "Mexican gherkins," and the vine has become rampant. I've doubted i'd see any cucumbers. Yesterday i finally noticed tiny fruits was puzzled. Turns out "Mexican Gherkins" are also known as "Mouse melons" as well as a bunch of other desperate branding attempts to find something more marketable than Melothria scabra. Grape-sized, watermelon-appearing, tart-cucumber tasting snackable fruits! And, apparently mildew resistant plants, which is why they survived the past wet two months when every other cucurbit has barely coped. (Well, the Seminole pumpkin in the compost thrived but didn't set fruit.) Oh, and once they create storage roots, one can lift the roots to over winter.

This coming Saturday looks less humid, so i am optimistic that i can get some other trees planted then. I'm off to a conference for a week, and when i return i expect i'll have five more plants to get in, plus six more shortly after that.

Sunday i went with my parents to a historical society presentation on dialect in North Carolina. The program was ... not as engaging as i had hoped. It was more of an advertisement for the research program and how they "give back" to communities: https://languageandlife.org/ There are youtube versions of documentaries, but still, digging around for more academic content is hard. I did find the following:


What do we know so far?

Quinoa aesthetic semiotics, Brooklyn food truck ennui locavore Banksy migas flannel put a bird on it. 8-bit DIY Odd Future Truffaut PBR gluten-free. Scenester jean shorts banh mi, letterpress iPhone Shoreditch health goth Kickstarter Bushwick forage four dollar toast street art Pitchfork pop-up. IPhone cold-pressed occupy, wolf yr hella banh mi ennui. Salvia raw denim pug, wayfarers Bushwick iPhone stumptown normcore post-ironic gentrify crucifix 8-bit vinyl YOLO.


Wait.... what?

My mom bolted out of the audience as soon as she could, escaping any introductions i may have made to folks in the room. Ah, yup, i understand that. I do the same thing.

I'm feeling fairly even, and am telling myself, "This is happy." I got to visit with my parents, i gave twisted wood from the orchard to an artist, i have worked outside and when i didn't like the weather i came inside.

I learned some years ago that i don't access my positive feelings well. I started on a exercise of defining certain situations -- like my morning tea with Christine -- as happy. It's my fight against what i was trained to do by mother: always look at the things i want to do or feel i should do and judge myself by whether they loom over me. Which they always will! So that shouldn't make me feel unhappy, or i am defining my whole life as unhappy.

So this even feeling -- it's happy. Or "happy." Whatever (It's not awe, joy, or delight.) Stake in the ground: this is happy.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, October 6th, 2018 08:48 am
Ah-ha! I have discovered the piece of yard equipment we are missing: walk-behind gas-powered string trimmer. Apparently, this is just the thing for heavy brush and can cope with stumps, etc. So i could use this on stilt grass and in the meadow and along the road side without fear of hidden rocks and stumps. And we could probably get a good many more years out of our misrepaired mower and the elegant reel mower.

A rain shower passed over this morning, rewarding me for getting grass seed out yesterday evening. The ground is still wet from Florence and the almost inch of rain over the 26th & 27th of September so we didn't need much: the 0.05 inches seems just right for waking up the grass seed and making sure it sticks to the ground. Go go rootlets go!

Yesterday i had afternoon tea with my sister & mother yesterday at the over-precious nearby inn. The preparation wasn't as bad as the January visit (upon complaints of which my sister-in-law got the tea-for-two certificate that we used in part yesterday). Still, they don't know how to serve the tea without the three tier trays seeming clumsy and in the way. And they over-skew the food towards very rich sweets with only one tiny tiny scone. I do prefer tea with more baked goods and less chocolate deserts. Not that the chocolate is bad, it's just not exactly what i have in mind with tea.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, September 10th, 2018 06:35 am
Sunday Morning:

Skipping meeting this morning. I slept in and am feeling the malaise. My sense of taste is returning though, so that's welcome. Weather continues steamy and muggy. I feel the call to do things outside but ugh, don'wanna.

Yesterday i wandered around Pittsboro with nephew and niece, visiting yard sales, the "unique stores" of downtown, Lowes, a drugstore, and the PTA thrift store. They're great kids. A long time was spent in the music store in which my nephew circled and circled the guitars before finally buying a strap for his existing guitar. He also agonized over a guitar in the thrift store. In Lowes he bought spray paint, deciding he was going to build his own electric guitar. His sister bought a water fountain kit. It was pleasant and diverting, and probably a little more tiring than i thought, especially as we walked around a good bit. The drugstore stop included acquiring band-aids for my neice's blisters.

In the evening i finally sorted out from where i will acquire blueberries, blackberries, pawpaws, and a persimmon. The local farm store is getting all the rabbiteye blueberries i need, and the small seeded thornless and erect blackberry. Then Starks Brother's has the everbearing erect blackberry, plus selected pawpaws and a female, self fertile selected persimmon.

Stark brothers also tempts me with a peach that is supposed to be disease resistant and was developed in Raleigh.

Friday Morning:

At that point i went to read about how much harder peaches are than apples to grow, and i'm not sure i see it. I think there's one more place within the orchard to squeeze a tree that will really need sun. I also did a little more checking out of tree nurseries, discovering one place in Wisconsin that had really good prices, and three different websites. And some complaints at the Better Business Bureau. I'm really not sure i think the Better Business Bureau is really the shining symbol of reliability it touts itself to be, but i did get to read actual reviews of the tree farm and ediced it was as fishy as it looked.

Then i found a really great place in Florida for native trees. I'd really love to have a beech tree in our woods, to see it's ghostly golden leaves in the winter woods. I'd use it to fill in some gaps where pines have fallen and currently the autumn olive grows thick.

A highly recommended yard person came by and she's willing to weed whack all our stilt grass and thinks it's just a few hours. And she has a really inexpensive rate of $20/hr. It makes me ponder all the men who we've worked with whose rates start at $75/hr. She's got her own power tools -- chain saws and professional grade weed eaters. Is it the "yard work is never done" quality that means she needs to charge less than the project guys? Anyhow, it's great and we will give her lots of work.

Once the rain stops.

Geeze Louise, Florence.

I may just take Friday off work because i will be distracted by the weather. I'm glad we've done some much work since Hurricane Matthew on dealing with run-off. The berms up-slope from about half the house-garage footprint will help, and i should install the rain water diverter on the most problematic downspout before the storm. I don't know if we will fuss with the generator. We should have fussed long before this. I think we will just eat out of the freezer this week and then see what happens with the power.

My Dad is in Florida with his mother and called yesterday to check on our hurricane preparedness. He wants the hurricane to head to where ever Trump is golfing. Then he started muttering about Florence hitting DC, and i reminded him that's where Muller's research is. He has been remarkably distressed about the Trump presidency, obsessed, i think. Having to be exposed to his step-father's Fox new habits is no help, i'm sure. (And he's a Rachel Maddow addict.)
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Saturday, August 11th, 2018 07:02 am
Went out with the kiddos (my sister's kids, W & E) last night to see a band play in the mill town of Bynum last night. Bynum is home of "the critter guy" and an arts festival on the bridge, so this little southern hamlet is becoming pricy down home real estate. When the general store closed, the village bought it and turned it into a neighborhood center. They have summer evening concerts and i've meant to go since before moving here. Now that i've gone once, i think i will go again -- probably at the end of the month. Looks like classic blue grass and i bet my folks would come.

I want to just stay inside and poke at my plans for gardening and not deal with the muddy, steamy outside. I will minimally pull stiltgrass though. I figure that's part of not loosing on other time investments. I feel i ought to be planting for the fall, but i know i will just be shoving seeds in dirt willy-nilly. But maybe that's OK.

I did splurge and buy tree collards yesterday. Tree collards! Also a sterile Russian comfrey. I need to figure out a good place to establish it -- probably in the woods with the native (and perennial) wild sunflower yellow crownbeard. I borrowed a huge permaculture tome from the library and i just want to dwell in the book. And then when i'm in the book, i want to be planning.

I am thinking of a Richters order as well. June was so horrible that i lost the spring ordered plants. Fall is really the best time to establish perennials here, so i really ought to order now.

I have been surfing the clearance plants at the big box store. This past Wednesday the PowWow bright pink echinacia was half off: score!

I've been a member of Dave's Garden for years, but haven't paid for a subscription. I did so yesterday. I'm not sure the site is as lively as i would wish, but ... we'll see?

And there, spend spend spend. Who knew antidepressants might also be anti spending pills?
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 11:41 am
AARRGGHHHH.

OK, starting with the good: yesterday evening my folks brought over more tomatoes and okra, and we hosted them in the back yard. More debriefing on the Florida family followed. Christine commented on how much more comfortable they seemed outside. I'm not sure why that's true, but i think they are. Even at their own home. So we had a lovely visit with them, and i served some previously dried okra and tomatoes with the drinks. There was some distraction from the hoverflies that hovered around us, and - good heavens - the damp damp weather feeds a somewhat fetid underscent. Still, i look forward to more pleasant weather and an established sward and more visits with family outside.

"Gardeners, therefore, sometimes use companion plants to attract hoverflies. Those reputed to do so include alyssum, Iberis umbellata, statice, buckwheat, chamomile, parsley, and yarrow." -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoverflies


Given that we were surrounded by buckwheat in bloom, the hoverflies are apparently to be expected. I hope they are ones that eat aphids.

As a side note, Mom has forgotten what a dehydrator is and how it works.

--== ∞ ==--

Annoyance yesterday: after getting a bunch of brush ready to chip, i went to start the chipper. First pull on the starter, i see some leaves - presumably attached to a branch -- slide into the hopper. Next pull is tough, and then no pulls are possible.

Lesson learned: make sure the hopper is clear at the end of chipping and before chipping.

I'll have to take the hopper off and fish around to find the branch and get it out of the way. Bother.

--== ∞ ==--

Annoyance today: somehow the signal on the wifi hotspot attached to our modem went south. Fortunately we had another hotspot. Just by chance my iPad was on that hotspot. So i was flummoxed for a long bit trying to figure out why they were different (and what was wrong with my work machine). Christine touched some things which we realize affected the antennas and now it's kind of back to normal. HOURS ON THIS.

--== ∞ ==--

Another annoyance: i've picked out flower seeds for the orchard -- some are selected for ecosystem services such as accumulating nutrients or attracting friendly bugs (hoverflies, say), others because they are pretty or rugged. I'd found some really good deals on bulk seed, but i began to be suspicious at how good the deals were. Feh. Turns out the company has many complaints. I decided to look for other vendors. One plant i had found at the notorious outsidepride site was the beautifully blue and low growing Gentiana acaulis. PrairieMoon.com and EverWilde.com are the vendors i've found with bulk seed quantities appropriate for ground covers. If anyone has any other recommendations, i'm happy to hear them.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, July 30th, 2018 07:00 am
Saturday i took Betsy the Patriot Chipper out for a run, the first since sharpening her blades. There's a catcher bag that provides a good way to measure how much work one has done. I've used it without the bag, but the chips come out with such force a bit of ground gets polished, and it's hard to collect the chips up again.

chippings & so called weeds )

It's raining again. I wonder if i should pick the corn the first chance i have: the fore cast is so wet. But at least the monotony of the previous tend days of scattered thunderstorms have been broken up. It's now heavy thunderstorms, thunderstorms, PM thunderstorms, and more scattered thunderstorms.

Well, if i had rain barrels at this point, they have long been filled. My sister's place, that i saw last night, needed rain. Hmph.

We went over to see her, partly so she could vent to me about family stuff and spare everyone else. She went down to be with my parents at my grandfather's wife's L--'s funeral. Christine walked Carrie as i heard about how my sister was bit by my aunt J--'s dog just as she was going to bed Friday night. Sister L's got a puncture wound that has bled a good bit, but is clearly inflamed, and i'm happy to know she's seeing a doctor today. Family dramas were shared, i don't think i can make this clear )

I realize that some of the relationships i think of as new -- my aunt's marriage, my grandfather's marriage -- aren't that new. It's just i was so distant from extended family while we were in California, that the married in families seem to be strangers. It doesn't help that my aunt's husband has nothing to recommend him other than providing for my aunt, my grandmother's husband has nothing to recommend him other than somehow pleasing my grandmother, and my grandfather's wife, apparently a lovely woman, was married to my grandfather who was truly awful to my mother and her sister in his last years.

I'll be seeing them all in a couple months when i'm in Orlando for a conference.

Other weekend notes:
* Butterflies in the orchard doting on the buckwheat, drinking from the bare clay, getting salt off my sweaty shirt left on the deck rail.
* Trip to north Raleigh to see Christine's friend M--, who may no longer be separated from his wife -- drama at work there.
* Trip to Silk Hope to pick up two red mulberry trees for the orchard and a nice visit with the permaculture dude who sold them to me. His squash were grown under shade cloth in his hoop house and didn't have any mildew.
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... )
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Monday, July 16th, 2018 12:10 pm
I've just spent time looking at lots of menus for my extended family which includes four folks with religious restrictions on pork, two folks with alpha-gal, one person with a nut allergy, one pescetarians, and one vegetarian who will have limited seafood. That addresses proteins: it doesn't deal with nut allergies and aversions to certain ingredients.

I'm pretty sure the tag "vegetarian friendly" in the search engine i was using should be relabeled as "has vegetarian options." I have seen menus where it truly is vegetarian friendly. My favorite menus do things like list the optional proteins that can be added to salads, and other notes about substitutions and other changes. Those menus made me feel welcome.

I know many folks have diet-exhaustion, and if they have to adapt to one more dietary constraint they will ... whatever. But they don't begin to be as exhausted as the people who have to search the menu, look for warning signs, risk physical repercussions or existential* repercussions. The menus that indicate the restaurateur is truly welcoming of all patrons are a delight. Truly hospital and welcoming.

*Violating religious and other ethical dietary restrictions have significant repercussions that should not be sneered at.
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