Tuesday, August 22, 2017

the state of things

Today was the job interview and it was ... interesting.  As in, helping me see all the things I miss - interesting things to do, helpful and kind people to work with, something meaningful in life.  They seem like a great office and if I'm offered the job I will seriously consider it.  Surprisingly all of them said that they love the weather - I thought it seemed gloomy and overcast, but they love the temperateness of it.  Rarely really cold, rarely really warm.  In the comfort zone for jeans.  Ziggy would love that and I probably would, too. 

So, we'll see.  They asked for references. 

There's a man who lives in my old neighborhood who makes ice cream and I've just sent him a FB friend request.  Maybe we could barter - I give him eggs, he gives me homemade ice cream?  Hm, that would be nice.  Not that I need ice cream but I do want to find a good use for these eggs.  I have like 8 dozen in my fridge and of course I could just give them away easily, which I usually do, but it would be nice to leverage them in a barter. 

If I stay, it's almost time to start biking.  I think I found a safe-ish route and while it's far, I think it's not actually too much longer than driving. Maybe 15 minutes more each way.  And I'm already geared out - I have bags for carrying things.  My cup holder for a cocktail on the way home, that kind of thing.  I'll just need to get it tuned up, maybe some tire truing.  Roads are hard on bikes here.  And it'll be hard on my body but I think that I will feel so much better if I can just do that two or three days a week.  But not yet - it's fucking hot out there.  

I'm going to read the next step in the dog training calmness protocol and do that, and maybe walk the dog, and then read.  Sigh.  Story of my life.  Too much fucking sitting still.  I harvested the okra, I tossed melon to the chickens and collected the eggs, I marvel at this life that I have.  Seriously, it's an incredible life. 

I looked up houses for sale again in this little coastal town and there is one not far from work though not too close, with half an acre including apple trees and grapes.  Y'all.  YOU HAD ME AT APPLE TREES.  Because for all the magic I can work with pickling okra, you have no idea what me and my scavenging bestie can do we apples.  We dry them and make applesauce and all sorts of fun things.  Oh the thought of being with her again in November and stealing pears from the Catholic church down the street (not really stealing: they leave them to rot on the street) and dehydrating them for perfect snacks?  Oh, friends.  That's a damn perfect life, too.

Most places I've been have been perfect little lives.  Not permanent ones, but good ones.  So if I leave New Orleans there will be things that I miss sorely ... but there will be new things.  Fresh salmon?  Marionberries?  Cherries?  

Life provides an abundance of good choices. 

Monday, August 21, 2017


I no longer have a canning kettle.  I've probably bought at least five in my life but lordy do I know how to move and leave everything behind.  "Mine" may well be with A. in Portland, but it's much easier to buy a new one. I learned that the hard way with shipping my pressure cooker.

Everyone experiences their own urges, but when I'm buckling down with studying, mine is to prepare food and clean my house.  And I don't need more calories, but pickled okra will satisfy the urge and my friends will be delighted.  I pickled a batch about 9 years ago for the first time, and people STILL rave about how good that was. 

Right now my fridge is filled mostly with okra, calamansi (from my other house), melon (from my garden but had to harvest too early so it's going to the chickens), and eggs.  And water kefir. 

I don't know who taught me to can.  It may well be one of those things I heard of and taught myself.  Or pieces of knowledge from many different sources.  But food preservation is one creative pursuit in which I excel.  And honestly, pickling okra takes hardly any time.  I have some peppers to use up that somebody gave me in exchange for water kefir grains, and I got dill seed and mustard seed, and I have kosher salt.  Though, I'm out of the local sugar I like so much.  Hm, maybe I need to take a trip over there this week.  I'm all about the leaving work early this week, though there are many other things - doctor's and professor's appointment. 

So, I've ordered a kettle and when it comes on Thursday I have class but Friday - here comes pickled okra!  And I'm out there chasing away all the damn leaf-footed bugs that give the okra weird warts.  Chasing them away into a bucket of soapy water.  Die, bugs, die. 

OK, back to reading.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

time lost

The professor in tonight's class doesn't "do" technology outside of work.  No wifi or computer at home, no email on her phone. 

She said that I thought, "Damn.  That's the life!"  But then I remembered: I could do that.  Nobody makes me live on my computer outside of work.  It's all on me. 

Part of being on-line is to have a shared community that I do not have in my daily life.  Especially now as I enter a really difficult year, I don't have socialization on the agenda.  Facebook and email and phone does that for me.  And while I know that it can be fake and ridiculous, it also can be real and informative and develop true connections.  Some of my dear friends I only met through Facebook and then we met in real life and it was awesome. Technology lets me opt in and out of social life, which can drain me if I'm not careful.

[Interjection:  Ziggy was just out uncharacteristically barking after dark so I went out with a flashlight to see what the cause was.  She got so excited to have a spotlight shining on her as she would strike a pose.  What a crazy dog!  She's hilarious.]

But how much more I would get done without it.  So it's time to start budgeting time.  

I am a wooden door

Today I had to interact at length with the most annoying person at work, the one constantly trying to throw me under the bus, accost me, etc. 

I keep calmly reminding her of realities - mostly that she can't control me or my subdivision.   I don't have control either but she really doesn't and she needs to back the fuck off.

INstead of understanding that, she keeps trying.  But she's not very bright and so instead of figuring out a way around, she keeps doing the same damn thing.  And I feel like a solid, heavy wooden door with her trying to open it by slamming her body, kicking, and everything else to open the door with brute force. 

I would love to have a moat for protection so I wouldn't have to deal with her constant onslaught, but I for now have to just stand strong until she tires herself out.

She's such a nutjob.  

first of last

Tonight is my first class session of what is I hope my last course for school.  Sort of.  I have an independent study also this term and next term a course that's a hybrid with some in-person meeting but mostly not. 

So, the last traditional course. 

More on my mind is: are the damn nymphs on my okra assassin bugs or leaf-footed bugs?  I never know and it makes me crazy.  And there's a lot of bad information on the internet. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I've been taking this interview and the possibility of moving to Oregon pretty seriously - a lot of time spent researching and thinking pros and cons.

And then I look at the patch of dirt (now straw) between sidewalk and street, and I doubt my pros for moving.  Because I want to see this garden grow. 

I'm doing straw mounds.  I solarized the ground to kill the grass, so with effect though not 100% because it's fucking devil bermuda grass.  Now I'm trying to suffocate it with straw, with mounded straw that now I'm covering with dirt.  I have a pile of dirt from when I emptied the garden bed in the front yard, but it's been covered in sweet potatoes and I'm having to rip out their sweet little roots.  Man, they are going to town - they would take over my whole front yard if I let them. 

Basically, what I do all day for 40 hours per week is bullshit.  I hate it.  Even when it's not horribly unpleasant, I hate it.  There is no trust, no love.  There is me walking around all the time with my mind reeling at the insanity of it all. 

But then I come home to my hound and homestead and all is more right with the world.  Digging in the dirt and finding worms - is there anything more gratifying in this entire world?  I think not.  And no, I do not toss them to the chickens as much as they would love them. 

There are limits to this place.  I won't want to be here forever.  But maybe I do want to stay another two years.  To finish my PhD on the topic of urban farming.  To save money.  To turn 50.  To vest in pension plan.  To fix my hips and health.  Though of course the health may be fixed just by moving. 

The guy who stopped to talk to me today apparently does landscaping, and he had SOOOO many questions.  Talk talk talk.  Daylight was ending and I needed to get some more dirt hauled.  He said: "Thanks for doing this, all this." 

It is a lot of work and in the grand scheme of things not that important, but every time I show kids around and explain things to curious adults, I feel like I'm doing something a little bit important.  Yes, you can produce your own food and you can have eggs from chickens who live a really happy life and collards from right under your eaves and okra along the fence and so on.  You can have a lemon tree and a pomegranate tree and a loquat tree because we live in the goddamn tropics.  You can grow kale if you want to, or not if you don't because kale is gross.  
Image result for kale coconut oil meme

Just ask my NEw Orleans friends who post that meme.

But I have at least two types of mustard greens to grow - mizuna and yu choi. And so many other things.  And I want to get them into the ground, but people keep talking to me and slowing down my wheelbarrow roll.  And I keep talking because I'm no expert on any of this but I know a little.  And it's one little way to get people to think of their relationship to the earth and food differently.  The mailman laughs at me but he also has a ton of questions because he wants to raise vegetables to juice. 

I had a little bit of a sketchy feeling from the guy today, like he might try to steal my chickens and fence and solar charger.  Oh well.  I've been really lucky so far and here's hoping my luck holds. 

Monday, August 14, 2017


Have an interview scheduled next week for the job in Oregon I applied for. They're letting me FaceTime instead of show up, which is nice.

Even if I don't get the job, it's nice to be back in the market. Even if I don't take the job if offered, it's nice to be asked.

The market is changing. Getting better.

I do sometimes regret not going to Alaska.

I marvel all the time at my life here and how amazing it is, but maybe it's time to be someplace where I can hike and drive to see my best friends and have legal pot.

It will all work out as it should.