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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A male goldfinch is resplendent in breeding plumage and Slugger, the male cardinal, seems brighter as well.
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Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 09:52 am
4 panels to represent my 51st birthday

I spoke with my 102 year old grandmother: i am half her age.

The first daffodils bloomed. The day was surprisingly (given forecasts) sunny. Our saucer magnolia is still holding its pink blooms in buds. There's a chance the Tuesday and Wednesday night freezes might not entirely spoil the spring bloom.
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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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Wednesday, December 26th, 2018 07:01 am
This morning was luminous with moonlight on frost. The cats walked in the orchard with delicate crunching with ice crisp leaves underfoot.

I sit holding Christine, who woos back sleep against her morning terrors. I think of trees. Beeches, two, to seed my ark-lot, to have their pale winter leaves shining in the woods like the three young trees we found on my sister's new bit of property from a trade with a neighbor. The tulip poplars tall and strong, with such a will to grow straight up: the tree that has a main trunk at 45 degrees to the ground with all the new trunks growing straight up I keep as a study to see how long it grows at such a cantilevered fight with gravity.

What i sent to Mom's mailing list:

There was no holiday from therapy for Mom, for which we are thankful. I didn't see her for three days while dealing with a nasty cold, so i hoped i'd see the improvements more clearly. And i do. While right side weakness and the aphasia are still very significant, her face is alight with curiosity and energy. Her left hand moves with a fluidity in handling things. More words come to her lips and her hand signals seem more easily interpreted. Part of her rehab is going back and singing the ABC's -- and i needed to be reminded to go slow. I didn't ask her to show me her thumb, like her doctor did to determine her integration of perception a week ago, but she seems to be more coherently aware.

Dad with with her early Christmas, before he joined my sister's family, [me] & her spouse for Christmas lunch. We brought desert, a panettone Mom had purchased for the holiday, and coffee to the hospital after Mom's therapies and all of us sat and chatted for a while. Mom counted us off as we sat in an arc around the bed. Ross then returned in the evening. Mom's sister J-- will arrive tomorrow.

We are thankful for everyone's love and support for Mom.

I'd share photos except we keep forgetting to take any. Mom would document the holidays and family gatherings, and it just slips by us without her there. Word-pictures are what we have!
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Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 06:54 pm
First, Mom looks great. More light in her eyes, more curiosity. More strength. A few more words. A long way to go. Some reading helps me to believe they are sending her home because there are good rehab outcomes for people at home, not because that's that.

notes from a rehab study )


I was well enough to commit the entree extravaganza. Yesterday i prepared sauces and rice stuffings, which was a couple hours in the kitchen getting everything prepared and packaged to go. Today i sliced a long slit along the belly edge of the two sides of coho salmon. One i stuffed with wild rice, celery and shallots, and cranberries sauced with juniper and rosemary. I applied a rub of ground fresh rosemary and juniper and laid it on a bed of rosemary. The other i stuffed with mixed rices, celery, onion, and shallots, capers, and added a lemon caper sauce. It was laid on a bed of lemons and then more lemon slices applied. At my sister i poured a glaze over them and baked. Voila! Food. It was well appreciated, and i feel a little pride that i pulled off making up recipes and having them be not horrible. I mean, it's audacious to do something like that and i was afraid i'd make the salmon resinous and unpalatable, but no -- tart cranberries, the sweetness of added sugar, the juniper-rosemary resinous sharpness all worked well together.

For folks on the east coast, an Alaskan fish vendor recommendation )

I'm currently feeling exhausted and drained. I don't feel like it's been that much, but i guess i am still recovering.
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Monday, December 24th, 2018 07:41 pm

Alice, the chicken sculpture, with twinkle lights wraped around her, standing  in the snow

Alice, the chicken sculpture, with more lights, at night


This is Alice, our Chicken sculpture, decked for the holidays.
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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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Monday, November 12th, 2018 07:05 am
The worship coordinators for Meeting this month observed the Armistice anniversary in a manner i found surprisingly moving. Intellectually, i appreciated how the young teacher (son and grandson of the one of the stalwart families of Meeting) spoke about how propaganda changed during WW I, illustrated with British recruiting posters. The posters transitioned from high minded appeals (albeit still manipulative) to fear-focused othering of "the Hun." He tied this to the present with reference to discussions of "the caravan" and how dehumanizing or abstract the discussion is. (I'm suspect writers on the left assume readers know that people make up the caravan of migrants: that assumtion tends to be an Achilles heel in progressive discourse.) Emotionally, this sound recreation of the stilling of the guns on armistice day brought waves of grief: <ahref="https://codatocoda.bandcamp.com/album/iwm-ww1-armistice-interpretation">listen here and read about the simulation's basis in actual seismic recordings of the stilling of the guns. The teacher also sang and played the song about the horrors at Gallipoli, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda."

Saturday featured a lovely lingering morning, much raking while Christine dug the holes for the Aunt Rachel and Johnson Keeper apple trees. All three apples are planted now. I moved the mulberries into the green house and found one had rooted to the ground through its pot. Oops. Despite gloves i earned a blister. After picking the last of the zinnas and a big bundle of tulsi in preparation for the first freeze, we went out to visit friends on the other side of Raleigh and had a pleasant time.

Sunday morning frost was apparent. By afternoon the zinnas and some other plants were black with frost burn, the tulsi melted. I continued raking, happily accumulating mulch. In transplanting a native grass from an area i am thickly mulching, i found a DeKay's Brownsnake, a rather small critter. Once i documented it, i put it under piles of leaves.

The fall color is passing quickly, the winds Saturday morning loosened lots of leaves. I'd estimate over 50% of the trees are bare at this point. The invasive autumn olive is still green: part of its advantage over the natives. Other trees are green or changing, but the trend is wintry. One of the trees i've noticed the past few weeks are the hickories: their leaves are a lovely clear gold-yellow. The native sweet gum, Liquidambar, doesn't have the coloration that the street tree selections have, but present a patchwork of reds and yellows and browns. Tulip poplar leaves turn yellow but are quickly black on the ground. I find myself wanting some fiery red sumac and brilliant sassafras. I'm pretty sure i'm going to have to shelter sassafras from deer.

Off to work....
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Thursday, November 1st, 2018 07:55 am
Despite coughing and feeling tired, i went out with my sister and niece to Bynum to see the pumpkins on the bridge (as well as engaging both in trunk-or-treat and trick-or-treat). The pumpkin carving soared in skill with intricate and detailed carvings -- clearly folks who mush handle a linocut with ease. I think my sister took photos of all of the elegant and detailed pumpkins. I took a few snapshots to catch the general experience, as of this cat pumpkin over the river.




There were THREE pumpkins exhorting folks to VOTE. This was the most detailed and smallest text:



And this pumpkin with "זכור" or "remember" seemed meaningfully poignant.



I'm glad i encouraged us all to go. Next year we'll bring flashlights.
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Monday, September 24th, 2018 06:00 am
The tulip poplars had begun turning yellow in August, scattered yellow leaves in the green. And i noticed the black cherry trees' leaves falling -- also yellow. Elm leaves are beneath the elm, even if i don't notice color change in the tree. Dogwoods have red in the leaves, and i'm beginning to notice the occasional bright red of sumac. The leaves i raked up from underneath the maples were burgundy-black, but the tree still seems green.

My recollection from last year was that autumn color, as a striking thing, didn't really take off until mid November.

The roadsides are covered with the golds of goldenrods and flowers related to blackeyed susans and sunflowers.

Christine's asked after why i am interested in Joe Pye weed, a tall native plant that has a cloud of hazy pink-purple flowers at the top. I like saying the name, but i think i am also delighted to see Not Yellow at this time of year. I plan to grow great blue lobelia, which will hopefully be a lovely contrast to the golds.


Bits of weekend, recorded )
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Thursday, July 5th, 2018 09:17 am
We did our best to relax yesterday. Christine put aside her e-commerce headaches and lugged a large log to mount our "Go this way " sign so people might go counter clockwise around the driveway "circle." The problem is that the "circle" is a tilted tear drop, so as one drives towards the house, the counter clockwise direction requires one to veer right as opposed to straight ahead. I don't think people are going to follow the driving direction, especially since Christine herself often goes straight.

I'm not excited at the idea of posting all the controlling signs Christine wants: yellow reflector strips to draw attention to the "go this way" sign, no hunting, no soliciting, no concealed firearms or other guns, etc. She actually took down the welcome sign on the front door in a fit of honesty. She doesn't really welcome people to the front door.

I spent time with my parents, letting Carrie race around in their pasture. I also went to hang out for dinner and a family gathering at my sister's, wherein i had an awkward conversation with my sister's sister-in-law (she wants my landscaping ideas, i need to write and explain how i don't exactly landscape) and with my sister's brother-in-law (Elon Musk is his hero; he's probably working on Volvo's self driving trucks and my off side comment about robots taking jobs didn't impress him).


Thinking about Carrie in my parent's pasture, i wonder if our orchard area will be big enough for her to get a good run.

I also worry i want too many trees than can fit. Tree sex demands are annoying. Apples need pollinators and there's complicated considerations of which tree clones can pollinate other tree clones due to when they bloom and other details. Seedling chestnuts and seedling pawpaws just need a pollination partner. I could get female red mulberry clones, but the fruit would be seedless, defeating my plan to be the epicenter of native mulberries spreading through the woods. I need a red mulberry male. I haven't delved too deeply into the issues around native persimmons, but it looks like one needs a pollinator. I'm thinking i will crowd some plants, growing two or three close together, maximizing pollination and minimizing foot print. It sounds like some folks will graft male branches on female trees for fruit that needs that sort of pollination.

In other gardening news, i can distract myself for hours )

I dreamed i was laid off last night in an auditorium-like setting, and i slapped the person who gave me notice.


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, April 19th, 2018 12:00 pm
Christine's in a ... what is the collective noun for migraines? steamroller? A steamroller of migraines? Waking me at 4 am while she's in great pain. She was able to go back to sleep and will hopefully sleep it off before the cleaners arrive. I've just re-read the agreement and have noticed that they do not promise to come on any particular schedule: this may mean we cannot work together. I think they are very used to working in a house with no residents around.

Today promises to be quite warm, and then the week goes back to highs in the mid 60s lows in the mid 30s. I would like to get some more seeds planted. I should probably mow the weeds. The lilac has its first florets open as of yesterday. We almost watched the black walnuts leaf out: poof! a small green pom-pom appears at the end of the branches. All my little buttonbush plants that i abandoned in the unheated greenhouse through the miserable freeze have put forth leaves.

The early azalea is ablaze with the raspberry red blooms. I suspect the midseason azaleas will have at least one flower bud break today.

I'm stunned to see that one of the abused apple trees has blossoms at the end of one branch. These apple trees have nice stout trunks and must have been attractive trees once upon a time. They have been topped: all the nice large branches cut back to the main crotch. The trees have been struggling to replace their photosynthetic infrastructure, with "water sprouts" shooting up from the trunk cuts.
These skinny whip-like branches aren't strong enough to hold any fruit, and i've tried some pruning to improve the situation -- but i never got out the big ladder this past winter. So there, oh, 20 feet in the air, is a cluster of apple blossoms at the very top of a skinny branch. Hrmph. Maybe the trees heard me speculating to Christine that a friend of ours who does wood working would like the trunks. I doubt the trees can ever really be happy again.

Ah, the first mowing along the road by the state!

And the Carolina wrens are definitely nesting in the greenhouse. I am hoping the shelter and safety makes up for the occasional disruption that sends the hen bursting out from the nest. You can't tell she's in there!
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Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 10:20 am
I'm wondering if my sensitivity to discomfort is changing: yesterday i was near tears due to back pain. I think i'm better today, yay, and i wish i knew what i had done that caused the pain. Saturday i dug more trenches for potatoes, trying NOT to get out of control and go too deep.

Here is an Evernote entry for you to see the view of my garden from the camera trap. I've marked up the digging from Saturday.

Sunday i vigorously raked up the last leaves that had blown around.

Either digging or raking or my sleep could have triggered the back pain. I enjoyed the digging and raking, and my birthday gift from Christine -- a smart watch -- happily logged those efforts as exercise.

Saturday started with a dash off to the NIA class, where i could feel my mother's frustration. I tried demonstrating happily adapting my movement to something do-able when the footwork in class was too much to match. I don't think Mom can do that for herself. After class my mom, sister, and i chatted over drinks. My sister desperately tried to find a way to participate in providing lunch for the Sunday celebration, and was dismissed by my mother. Then it came out that my mother had fixed (was planning to fix?) a cake for me. This was after she had called and said Christine could arrange a cake for me. L got a little agitated about the issue and i knew miscommunication and confused communications around a family gathering would be a little triggering for Christine.

As i drove home i called my father to pass on the cake conversation. Later that day he called me back to relay how my mom understood it (she didn't really, found it confusing), and to relate a story about mom's confusion around the disposition of two bibles of his. (One was his father's, one he carried flying over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.) At one point in the story, my mother is looking at his father's name and is confused whether it is my father's. It's not quite as blatant as forgetting his name, as he and his father both share the less than common first name Laurier, and my father goes by his easier middle name.

Nonetheless, it was hard for my dad. They're both on their way to Florida today for him to do some care-taking of his 101 year old mother. While Mom has some long lived genes on her father's side, i have doubts that i'll see her turn 100. My dad, though, is fit and strong and healthy. I think i'll see him to 100. Would he remarry if my mom passed? Hard to imagine, but it's possible. If he did, i hope the potential spouse would have more sense than my grandmother's third husband.

Christine's genes don't seem so long lived. I fiddle around with some math to see how old we will be when my dad is Grandmámá's age. Mortality. I so want a lovely old age with Christine.

Saturday night we drove up to Wake Forest for more oysters -- these from the St James in Virginia. I had them raw and steamed and fried -- and the fried was pretty miserably fried. Christine had fried seafood too, and we regretted it in the wee hours of the morning. The company of friends Christine had known from music camp and whom we have connected with since over the years was a pleasure.

I made it to meeting on Sunday morning with plenty of time and sat by the spring for a few minutes. I burst into tears and realized the ache i was carrying for my mother. I shared that during our time for concerns. Home to pick up Christine and Carrie, then to my parents. My sister has claimed a dog-shaped hole in her heart: she and her kids were delighted to see Carrie. Apparently Mom was struggling a little with getting the meal ready, so L pitched in. Christine had some tension with my mother over how my mother took charge of the cake. Their dynamic may never heal: certainly my mother has passed the place where she can meet half way in resolving the past.

I guess it's clear the second half of my long weekend was bitter-sweet.

After remarkably warm days in late February, the nights are now in the upper 20s. Today i notice the browning of some of the saucer magnolia leaves (aka tulip magnolia) from the freeze. The daffs are doing well; the sprouting peonies i cover each night.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, March 4th, 2018 08:40 am
I am guessing time recently was spent:
sleeping
in transit
eating
and
digging.

There was also some amount of messing with devices.

I took Thursday and Friday (my birthday, a milestone) off work. Thursday was very very wet, and i eventually gave up on gardening and went to the thrift store in town. I found jeans that more or less fit and will be reasonable for yard work. There was a sale on women's tops at dollar each so i just bought what seemed like i might enjoy. I suspect i am going to unpack my summer clothes and roll my eyes; so it goes.

At 3 pm i left for my folks where i rendezvoused with my sister. The four of us left for an oyster bar two hours away. The drive down was in a miserable downpour, and we arrived probably at peak rush instead of just opening. This meant we had a near hour wait for our seat at the eighty three year old horseshoe shaped bar where our personal shucker, Alan, set us up with sauces and incredibly fresh horseradish and then shucked our oysters for us. Alan has been at Sunny Side Oyster Bar for twenty years. This is what my dad and i wanted to do to celebrate our shared birthday, and so we split a peck of steamed oysters from Texas, a pound of shrimp and a pound of scallops.

The oysters struck me as mild and creamy, sort of like an oyster stew.

Then there was the drive home. The skies had cleared, and a bright moon cast shadows in the trees. A herd of deer were hanging out on the main road near my folks', and a possum considered crossing the street at the cul-de-sac where they live. I may have seen another possum on my drive home.

Friday dawned clear, bright, and windy as all get out.

Christine made pecan sour cream waffles for me and gave me my gift from her, a Samsung smart watch. Not a gadget i had wished for -- i thought she would like one, but i didn't really imagine myself with one. We set it up and i put it on. It's huge on my wrist.

I dug violets out of the garden and garden to be area and put in various more ornamental locations. I dug a dark green grass or "lilyturf" out of random locations (including the garden) and planted that under the freeze-burned gardenia. I do hope that it's a native tuft forming grass and not the non-native ornamental lilyturf. Nonetheless, if it defeats the stilt grass, it's my friend.

Christine texted me while i was in the garden and, because i was wearing the watch, i received her missives and could reply. One message noted that we'd lost power. It wasn't a surprise with the wild winds blowing: i found myself watching the swaying pines, towering a hundred feet above me, pondering the distance the tops traveled. It was mesmerizing like watching ocean waves, with the same sense of massive elemental power. I did wonder how safe it was to be out where a branch or tree could fall....

Not the most productive afternoon and, when i was hungry, we decided to go out to lunch in town. Our first route was blocked by the power-killing fallen pine across the road, which explained the vehicular shenanigans i had been aware of while working in the yard. (A semi had backed up some distance which seemed odd.) In town, we ate at the Pittsboro Roadhouse, a place we go less often. I had a salad with fried North Carolina oysters. The oysters had a tangy quality -- metallic? -- that the Texas oysters missed. I watched the restaurant's sign hang at 45 degrees from plumb, supported by the wind. Gusts sent it to 60 and 90 degrees, with an audible wobbling noise that could be heard over the (slightly tedious) singer songwriter soundtrack. We lingered over the meal, and desert. It was a pleasantly spontaneous celebratory meal, ticking the oyster check box.

In the evening we watched High Fidelity, which was more progressive than i remembered, with delightful grounding in the analogue world i grew up in. The phone book! The pay phones! The girlfriend picks up her laptop from the apartment DAYS after walking out! (As well as the vinyl and the mix tapes.)

Well, that's two days of the four, and i am off to meeting.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 07:40 am
We took black-eyed peas and scrabble over to my parents for lunch yesterday. My dad has suggested game playing in response to the lifestyle changes suggested for someone with mild cognitive impairment.


Intellectual stimulation may prevent cognitive decline. Studies have shown computer use, playing games, reading books and other intellectual activities may help preserve function and prevent cognitive decline.

Social engagement may make life more satisfying, and help preserve mental function and slow mental decline.


I thought my mom would find scrabble more congenial than my dad's suggestion of hearts. My dad's response was horror: his spelling is much worse than mine. He recognized that it would be good for my mom though, so he gamely agreed. Mom, however, disappeared and called her sister.

I was very disappointed. One reason is just the hope for ever having a relaxed time with my mother that isn't folks trapped in a car....

but it's time to go to work.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Sunday, December 31st, 2017 08:03 pm
The asthma flare is taking a toll. I worked outside three hours on Saturday and was wiped out. My Dad called wanting to do a little road trip, so we rode up to Saxapahaw to have coffee and a nosh at the general store. http://saxgenstore.com/ It reminds me of a place you might find on the Sonoma or Mendicino coast except it's very North Carolina in content, that is, locovore foodstuffs and coffee roasted locally. lovely.

Pittsboro, my own town, has it's own renovated mill buildings and farm to fork options, but the drive up the Haw River to Saxapahaw was lovely. I'd looked with some nostalgia at [personal profile] zyzyly's California photos in the morning, but i do love the piedmont hills.

I'll get back to photos after my gardening stuff settles.... i hope.

Today was very quiet. I'd made up a batch of barley on Saturday in the pressure cooker, putting much of it in ice cube trays so i can have a small amount for the soup i've been making from dried veggies. With the cup left over and a jar of fresh oysters i made an oyster stew for lunch that was quite satisfying.

I've mostly spent the day tidying up notes in my inbox.

I hope for a New Year where i am creative and follow through on communication and paperwork. I for you a new year that brings peace and justice and happiness and health.
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elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 07:47 am
Christmas Eve:

I managed to go all yesterday without complaining about feeling under the weather, partly by reading all three books of Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library series. Good fun, not really asking me to stretch in any way. Add a dose of Sherlock Holmes to a many worlds universe where earths vary on a spectrum of chaotic and Fae controlled to ordered and Dragon controlled, sprinkle with books....

Yule preparations are minimal. I'd meant to go to meeting today and this evening. This morning was right out as I got up many hours later than usual. I suppose we will go to the candlelight (or gas lamp) Meeting tonight. [Which we did.]

Christine had an errand in Siler City, arranging care for Carrie for the 27th. Her route took her buy two stores, an outdoorsy themed store and a wonderful bakery. So i had Christine drop me off there and i did some last minute shopping, then got a cup of coffee and a sweet roll. Christine was back before i finished; Carrie will get to go play at the dog sitter's farm on Wednesday.

Christine dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, carrying through on all the usual commitments as well as other holiday needs. Despite running a little late, i thought she had managed magnificently. We sped off on the dark country roads to the worship at Meeting. The Meeting was mostly silent and well attended. (I don't think of Quakers as having a Christmas and Easter crowd: i don't know if that was who all the folks were or if they were extended family of Meeting members....) The meetinghouse was very lovely, with candles in the windows, luminaria up the walk. Inside the gas lamps on the wall were lit, candles on the piano, lights on the tree, and the overhead lamps turned down to match the general glow. At my California Meeting, we had the folks who were staying in the Meeting house that month to feed and visit with, but there wasn't much in the way of a worshipful gathering of the community. There would have been a Christmas party earlier in the month, but i found the gatherings like that too packed and crowded to be comfortable. This was delightful.

We had a pleasant desert and gift exchange with Christine's sister, then home under the stars, quite late.

Christmas Day:

We had a reasonable amount of sleep, so we were up late. I had a sudden wave of hostesss fears at having a little Google hangout gathering, but fortunately my guests were good conversationalists. I realized i forgot to post the URL -- my regrets if anyone was looking for it. I will do this again sometime, i think!

My sister, L--, hosted the family, and when we arrived only my father was there. Mom was feeling poorly enough that she stayed home. This sort of self care is AMAZING! We didn't have much time with my nephew and niece before their cousins on their father's side showed up and the house became a bit chaotic. Her husband's sister chatted with me and, when i left, i realized how generously she asked questions of me, and i didn't return the favor. Several lessons on being sociable: i hope i put them to use today at Christine's family's gathering.

L-- baked an almond bundt cake that had a roll of marzipan in the middle: OMG!

We left L--'s to go feed her family's horse that is at my parents' and to visit with my mom. It was a comfortable visit and Mom made much of my gift to her, a necklace i'd made to match a gumcha -- a scarf -- from India. We left as mom's coughing took over: i had shared that my asthma is flaring and that i regretted having not been taking my meds regularly.

Home, where we had been too well fed to want to fix dinner.

Yesterday i found my desk under piles of papers. I didn't make as much progress as i would have liked. I ran to the grocery to get pet food and then stopped at my sister's to walk Carrie and consult over potato orders. We had a delightfully long walk, and then a little romp with Carrie and my nephew.

When i got home i started making the dinner i'd planned for Christmas day. I made baked Hasselback potatoes with seared scallops with cranberry lime sauce. I found the lime ingredient too minimal, so i used all the lime zest AND the lime juice. And, because i used the cranberry concentrate (straight cranberry nothing else), i added a little sugar. Wow, that's a rich sauce. I'm not sure what to do with the remaining heavy cream. It's almost butter, it's so thick. Anyhow, it was a wonderfully decadent meal.
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