Saturday, February 17, 2018

camping trip #2

We tried to go to the place we went to last time but there was a TON of dogs and horses - including a dog who chased the car barking, which sent Ziggy into a tizzy. So we went to another place that was fine.  On a little lake with a trail nearby.  We walked a couple of hours this morning and yesterday afternoon. Today was better because yesterday was pretty much Ziggy sulking.  I feel the need to keep her on a leash when there are so many other people around, which sucks.  For both of us. When I let her off the leash today she ran around SO HAPPY.  She's pretty good about coming when called but she's not 100% reliable and I don't trust her with other dogs or horses (she seems to have though that they were big dogs ... and if she were to spook one because she's spooked, that could be dangerous for the rider).

On that, a family member was a huge horse person and she suffered a severe injury when thrown once.  Brain damage, motion damage, the whole nine yards.  Definitely disabled.  I think of all the times I got thrown from a horse and feel really lucky.  We never wore helmets or any of that.  So maybe I err on the side of caution where my crazy dog is concerned.  Ziggy just doesn't have very good judgment about a lot of things.

This was our first time camping with other people nearby.  Not as nearby as an actual campground, but still - we can see and hear them. She barked.  I distracted her.  She'd bark again.  More distractions.  She did get better, but about 7:30pm I said screw it and we went into the trailer and she immediately went to sleep.

I slept like shit, again.  I just cannot seem to sleep in the camper.  Too much light (I yanked all the cords out of the TV to make that light go away; I covered up the refrigerator light; but the stereo light is too ambient even when covered up).  And it's uncomfortable - the mattresses aren't good to sleep on directly and the air mattress I tried to add this time was too slippery. I tried to sleep a different direction and it gave Ziggy a ton of space but not enough for me to roll over so it sucked.  

And my dog is exhausted.

Friday, February 16, 2018

foggy Friday

Taking today off so the Catahooligan and I can go camp.

The nice thing is that packing up is sooooo much easier this time than last.  There is a nice advantage to having a trailer over a tent - lots of stuff stays in the trailer.  I don't have to schlep the gear back and forth and unload it each time.  It gets easier each time in other ways, too.  Backing it up, (un)hooking it, all that - much easier.

I thought I could swing by Walmart and get a canopy tent but I didn't do it fast enough and their stock is gone so I need to order.  Oh well.  No shade this trip but we'll still be fine.  Looks like it's supposed to be cloudy.  It's on clearance so seems worth getting, and I can use it in my backyard, too.  My poor backyard has no shade at all.

Ziggy is excited to see the packing happen and she is superglued to my side.  She is my shadow, living in perpetual fear of missing out on anything.

The more I think about returning to my hometown, the better it sounds.  So much of what I want in life is there - which really makes sense, doesn't it?  I was born there and spent nearly 18 years there, so of course it has shaped my ideals.  I wanted to get off the damn rock and I did - I've been away over three decades and I have lived beyond my wildest dreams.  But now I want to be right in nature, to wear jeans every day, to kayak and eat salmon.  And while I haven't been in touch with a single person there for many MANY years, I know that some would welcome me back.  New relationships would need to be forged, but the awkward first meetings would be out of the way.  It can be harder to overcome past assumptions, but I'm basically the same person - I have always marched to my own drummer.  Even as a child, I was off hiking and exploring on my own - well, with my trusty dog Cooky at my side.  I always had good friends and we did things together - camping and boating and such - but I had no issue with being alone.  Oh how Ziggy would love the mountains there.  I don't think that she has the skills of my last dog Selma - that dog was pure mountain goat and could scale anything.  But Ziggy loves to charge, loves adventure.

So this is something to think about.  But i need to hold my horses because it absolutely makes sense to wait another not-quite-two years.  In that time, I'll be vested in the pension system here, and I'll be able to waive into the bar in Alaska and not have to take the bar exam, and hopefully be finished with my dissertation.

The thought of going to my current job every day for the next almost two years sounds so horrible, so I need to put one foot in front of the other and focus on the day, the week, the month.  I have the very interesting fermentation trip in April and there's the massive birthday roadtrip.  Those are real treats and I need to focus on them and on building savings. And on enjoying New Orleans while I'm here.  This is such a wonderful place, I just don't want to live here forever because I miss the wilderness so much.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

best walk

We had an OUTSTANDING walk this morning.  The best we've had in many months.  We walked our old long route, something I haven't been able to do for some time as a result of Ziggy's pulling.  I wish I knew what caused her to become a pull-monster.

So I was contemplating what made today different.  Is it that we're on day 11 of the protocol for relaxation?  It's boring AF and it seems stupid - I'm just having my dog sit on her mat for about 10 minutes as I do silly things like clap and walk around her.  Is it that we had visitors last night and that excitement tired her out?  Is it that I don't care if I'm late to work today because I've realized how much I hate schedules?


But I think it's the heat.  I sweat quite a lot this morning.  Direct sun, at least 7 degrees at 7:30 am.  Ziggy took a couple of little breaks to cool off her belly in the clover.

I think she's a cool weather hellion.  I think that warm weather is uncomfortable for her and it keeps her subdued.  So, this is good news for me as the weather is warming up, but it means we won't be moving to Alaska anytime soon.

I actually found a job in my hometown that sounds super awesome to me, in the "coming home" sort of way, of learning a different culture within a place I thought I knew so well - really, the stuff of movies this job and my homecoming would be.  But ... housing is wicked expensive there now because more land can't be developed and it's been "discovered" by rich outsiders - the almost classless town that I grew up in has been replaced with massive class schisms.  The island that my friend's dad homesteaded would cost millions; the house I grew up in that was built by my father and his friends is valued at $800,000.  I could never in a million years afford that.  Also, the weather SUCKS.  It rains all the time.  It's almost impossible to garden and food is really expensive - and I don't hunt or fish myself, which fed us when I was a child.  The one possible good thing - beyond the whole coming home plot - is that there is fantastic wilderness there.  I mean, truly outstanding.  Places to roam free that spoiled me for the rest of my life. Is that enough to overcome the awful weather, the extremely high cost of living, and the painful awkwardness of reconnecting with people I haven't spoken with in decades?  I doubt it.

Finish the PhD, build a nest egg, then make moving plans.  No more earnest job searching until dissertation research is done.  I'm so close now.  Time to buckle down. 

ETA: there's more to it than just "coming home."  I was of the oppressor class.  I benefited tremendously from my white privilege in a community 1/3 Native.  My first real understanding of this was when I took a local college anthropology class and conducted interviews.  An old woman told me the history of land grabs and white people oppression and it was a radical - and painful - shift of my reality.   How had I benefited from this for the first 17 years of my life without realizing it?  Anybody who says it's easy to face internalized racism is full of shit.  It's easy for me to handle Southern race issues because this isn't my paradigm.  And certainly no adults I knew were openly racist - but there's also a paternalism and unspoken judgment that I internalized.  The shit is hard. 

And while I don't hunt or fish myself (and very unlikely to start) - I'm a gatherer.  Not only do I know the edible plants there, I know the land.  I know where the best huckleberries are and salmonberries and such.  I know which roots are edible and which will kill.  I knew I was peculiar in 4th grade when our assignment was to do a project on local trees.  I identified every fucking tree around and made a massive display.  Later I got into the ethnobotany aspects, taking classes and owning every book and leading lessons on it at a museum.  I remain fascinated with ethnobotany, but especially there because that's my homeland even though it's also not.  It's mine because it was stolen, which is a dirty feeling when faced - so we usually just don't. 

Fuck it, I'm applying - even though I'd have to take a goddamn bar exam.  I probably won't get it or be able to do it, but why not try.  I don't even have raingear, which is the very basic attire there - but fuck it, I could buy raingear.  Nothing about returning there would be comfortable, but when have I ever sought out comfortable? 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

not new

The "new" job is not to be.  The boss emailed me today about it, before the application period even closed, to let me know.  I am very grateful for that, as my hopes would have been even higher.

There is no good reason for me to stay in my current job for the job itself, but there are things that I can do as a result of it.  I was stressed to think of the pay cut.  I know I'm a big baby, but it was stressing me out. I like maximizing retirement contributions.  I like building up savings.  I like making double mortgage payments.  I like not having to have a roommate.  I like paying for school.  I only have two more terms to pay for if I do things right, and I want to do things right. 

Work is easier now with the new person.  She's taking a lot of the burden off me and I can't resent that (though I try).  It's pretty great in some ways.  I'm bored because a lot of the burden is off me, but it's ok.  I can adjust to a new normal that doesn't sap all my lifeforce.

That's my trick - how to get back to me while still there.  To take advantage of the things that are possible - the fermentation guru in April, three weeks off for my 50th birthday.  These things wouldn't be possible in other jobs that I've had and would have in the future.  So I should do these things and build up my savings and finish my PhD and then focus on finding another job. 


The other thing to focus on is my crazy dog of course, and tonight we had company.  There's about 10 minutes of frantic - I put her on leash with a harness and she was crying to get to these people.  Two of them she knows.  One she used to know really well - a friend who visited and watched her.   The other is very much a dog person and they meet when he comes into town, and his girlfriend i met for the first time.  After the ten minutes we went outside and Ziggy would sit.  It was for treats at first, but she actually wasn't a total jump monster.  It was awesome.  And for my crankiness about the crappy trainer, he did help with that and she is learning.  She didn't maul them on the couch, she communicated with them about what she wanted ("give me a treat from that bowl, now pet me").  She's still an obnoxious dog who wants to be in the middle of everything, but she's so much better.  We're on the right track. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

attic life

I think the wildlife control guy was a little disappointed.  "Your attic looks really clean.  I see a few rat droppings but they look pretty old." 

Yesterday whatever is moving in up there was very active; today, nothing.  Dammit.

He'll come back tomorrow with a taller ladder to see from the outside.  He's very rule following and cautious (when I offered him the use of my ladder he politely declined, pointing out potential insurance ramifications).  He didn't charge me for the service call for today, apologizing profusely for not bringing the taller ladder (my house is significantly taller than most one stories, so his mistake is completely understandable).  He'll be back in the next couple of days. 

We talked about rodents and how he had them eating from his birdseed stash (he feeds birds in his backyard; he also loves dogs and has three so he's a good guy in my book, though there wasn't direct interaction with Ziggy as it's just easier to keep her behind a gate for short visits).  I pointed out that I keep all the chicken feed in a metal trashcan and when I found rodent droppings in my garage I got rid of the clover seed I had stashed there.  "I'm trying to be proactive.  And maybe it's not noticeable what's going on up there because I called you pretty soon after noticing the sound?" 

Maybe I'm too proactive, though I'd like that whatever it is doesn't munch on my wires.

Speaking of that, I'm starting to think that the light flickering/outage in the bedroom isn't about attic wires.  I couldn't see any evidence of damage up there - and while I'm no expert, I'm wondering if it's about something coming loose up circuit.  My ceiling lights weren't installed well and perhaps there's an issue with that. Maybe I don't have to wait on full resolution of attic critter before calling the electrician - though if the one I've used in the past (who is pretty reasonable), I'd have to wait until after Mardi Gras anyway. 

I can tell that brain fog is lifting because I realized that the assignment that I had due on Friday - I actually have done all that work for another class.  I just need to tweak some things and turn it in and it will be very good.  I was going to half-ass it, but no need.  Awesome.  Need to get that done and finish the bread I have rising and then get out for some errands.  Dog medication and such.  I'm still searching for rye flour.  Very peculiar that it's not available anywhere around.

It's Monday and the city is nearly shut down with partying.  It's a good time to be a New Orleanian.  Though truth be told, I think I'm done with king cake for the year. 

Will I give up something for Lent?  Nah.  Well, maybe my current job. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

lazy Sunday leftovers

I couldn't make it to the massive parade yesterday because ... well, because it's a massive parade.

But one of the party invitations just posted a call for leftovers and I'm down for that.  I'll swap some of the tasty bread I made yesterday because I was planning on baking more anyway to use up the yogurt fail.  Plus, Ziggy wants me to go away for awhile so she can nap.  She finds it exhausting to have me around all the time.  Grits and grillades and jambalaya and 4 types of king cake call out for me.

This is a friend whom I met, as a friend of a friend on Facebook, when I mentioned I had a lot of eggs.  Since then we've swapped many other things, like canning jars and king cake.  It's not that I feel that I *have* to give her something in exchange for what she's offering, it's that sharing is fun for both of us.

The friend that I visited in Savannah recently, she reminded me of how when we were in law school together we would share food.  It wasn't uncommon that I'd stop by her house to drop off something I'd made or pick up something she'd made.  Frequent messages about stews and muffins and the like. 

Whatever is in the attic has made itself really at home, and so the appointment for tomorrow's wildlife management fellow will be held and I will find the money to pay it because this is bullshit.  And then I need to get an electrician to actually fix whatever's going wrong with the flickering lights.  I saw no evidence of chewing of wires so who knows.  It's a pain in the ass to climb up in that attic.  I do think that the critters are birds and I just need better blockage to keep them out, but I'll hear from the professional tomorrow.  Poor Ziggy is tired of me shouting at the ceiling. 

I need to fire the dog trainer and I'm trying to figure out the best way to do that to get him to refund some of the money I paid him.  His lack of listening skills are really exasperating at best, and caused Ziggy to bite me at worst.  She didn't actually mean to bite me - he pushed her over threshold and told me to keep shoveling treats in her mouth, so my hand got in the way of her teeth.  Totally not her fault at all, and when I told him about this his response was to say that she needs to be medicated.  Wait, I *told* you that she was at threshold and taking treats roughly, and *you* pushed her further.  She doesn't need medication, she needs someone who listens to her when she communicates. 

In general I'm getting really sick of men who don't listen and instead keep putting their agenda on top of everything. I'm also getting really sick of women who are arrogant and take credit for things that don't exist.  Of course the genders are switchable but it seems like I'm lately dealing with these in this order. 

Man, I hope I get this other job.  I need a change. 

At some point I'll need to make a photo montage of me and my dog to this song.  Roll your eyes as you wish, but everything is really so much better with the faithful hound at my side.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

how to earn a shower, even when peculiar

Not even noon yet and so far today I have:

walked the dog, discovered my yogurt making was a fail, moved the chicken fence to let them peck at the vacant lot next door that is unlikely to be vacant much longer (survey marks just appeared), weeded the front yard garden, dumped garden soil to fill it in, moved some collards plants and hope they root, climbed around in the attic to try to find sign of the intruder, emptied my composter and hauled and distributed it to garden. 

That last one was the killer.  This compost machine is nice for being enclosed but it doesn't really hold enough and getting shit out is really tough.  I have a pallet-enclosed compost pile now but I need to make that less desirable for rodents by not putting food scraps there.  Once I emptied the composter, I tried to sift through the outside pile for moldy food and such, but the chickens wanted IN THERE to do the work of mixing it all up.  One little hen in particular, whom I should name "Compost" because she's always obsessed about it.  I've even caught her going under and over fences to get into the compost pile.  She especially likes coffee grounds and filters.  I can't imagine this is good for her but she seems fine so far.

The dog is passed out.  Heavy rain is in the forecast.  I want to climb up and check out to see if the critter entrance is obvious, but that can wait.  Maybe my neighbor could help.  I have an appointment for Monday for a wildlife removal person to deal with whatever is partying up in the attic, but lord it's expensive and I am sadly broke. 

I want to make bread with some of the not-yogurt, and figure out some other uses.  The chickens will get some, and the dog too.  I want to finish an assignment that was due yesterday.  Clean the house.  Read a good book.  Do laundry.  Prep water kefir.  Try the other half-gallon of milk for yogurt. 

Glad I showered, Ready for stage 2 of the day.  It does not involve Endymion, one of the biggest parades, because I just don't want to deal with so many people. 

I'm realizing how peculiar I am.  It's not just one thing - that I would rather haul rotted shit to a garden than go to a parade - it's a combination of so many things.  The electricity meter reader came today when i was out front and we chatted a bit. "I always say high to the chickens and I wondered who lived here."  Or yesterday, when I was out doing errands, I was wearing: sweat pants that are hand-me-downs from a friend and have always been too big but now are too old and worn out; a cap I got on clearance at REI many years ago; boots that I've had over a decade and I can't wear when it's raining because the soles are worn completely smooth and I fall every single time I try to walk in them on wet surfaces;  a hand-me-down t-shirt that's worn out in the armpits. 

Let's just say I'm not a sexy dresser.  Ever.  And I don't want to be.  I have zero interest in any of that.

Thursday I had a conversation with a co-worker whom I think most people would consider peculiar.  He always carries his lunch to work, he's frugal and does things like paint the house himself when selling it.  We are kindred spirits but I realize I'm far beyond him and he finds me peculiar.  It's not just about frugality it's about functionality and impact.  I schlep cardboard boxes home which is a huge hassle, because we don't recycle cardboard at work.  That is nuts and I hate it but I don't have political clout to change it, so I schlep it home myself.  And the thing is that I've been acting like this since I was born.  When I was 20 years old, I moved to Oregon and got a job at a Safeway sorting bottles and cans for people to get their deposit back.  I would then sort them myself to ship back to the companies for them to reuse and for us to get credit.  This sounds horrible, and it was ... but I also loved it.  Dealing with spitoon bottles is never fun, and whatever else trash was in the bags (it could all smell SO BAD and was so unsanitary), but I get off on organizing and managing messes.  And so of course I was really good at it and got the bottle room in great shape, and there would be a pile of things that were not our products and we couldn't ship back and it would go into the trash.  Except, I just spent eight hours sorting things to recycle so I can't exactly deal with trashing other such things of the same material ... so I would fill a shopping cart and schlep that stuff home to put into our recycling bin.  It was like ten blocks away, and I just did it because I didn't have a car or see another option. 

I didn't own a car for years and I always biked to school and otherwise around, and one of my classmates used to laugh and call me the turtle because when it would rain (all of October through April, pretty much) I'd put a used military surplus poncho on over me and my bookbag.  (She was not at all malicious in her laughing, and we later went to Russia together for many months.  I just didn't really make sense to her, but she never felt the need to judge me.)

That life was really good.  Most of my friends were also frugal and we did frugal things, and I don't remember wishing for anything different.  I've always pretty much been content being poor because I always had enough.  There are many different types of poverty and mine was one of the least difficult.  And I think things were really different then, in the 1990s.  I don't want to be all nostalgic, but I miss the simple life.

Of course, I could live it. I don't need to spend this time online.  I don't need a cell phone (especially if work provides me with one).  I could get the newspaper in print.  I could bike more.  Eat more beans and rice.  Nobody's making me live fancy.

Fancy, ha.  Nobody would call my life fancy.  But I want it even simpler and plainer.

I like being home.  I like not traveling.  While I wanted to take the camper out this weekend, I'm kind of relieved for bad weather.  I want to curl up and be home.

This is a boring life we lead but it's my life and I like it.  I like it in my stretched-out sweat pants and my beat up 16-year-old pickup and even when a long shower can't wash all the compost smell off my hands.

Do I really want to take the planned three-week birthday extravaganza with dog?  Would I be able to with the new job? That's a really long time to be gone, especially with that job, and especially only a few months after starting.

Well, no need to decide today. I am pretty sure that I want to use it to go to see the fermentation guru in April, as planned.  I haven't paid the deposit yet because I'm broke, but I do want to do that.  Especially since the yogurt is failing for me and I want to figure that out better.