Monday, April 24, 2017

Fingers crossed

I just showed the other apartment and she is friends with the current tenant, who raved about me and the neighborhood (which scares many people off). So the woman wants to put down a deposit to move in. Fingers crossed that all becomes actualized. I like her and think it could be good for all of us. 

And a young man is messaging about the studio by my house. We will have him meet Ziggy because it is up to her. He admits he is more of a cat person. 

To get all these things lined up this week would be nice. 

So much reading to do. Time to sit in the hammock.

She already paid the deposit.  We're set.  I've got a tenant!  In big part probably due to my current tenant speaking so highly of me.  This isn't the ONLY reason to treat people well, but it's certainly one reason.  

Now let's see how this other guy works out.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017


A friend of a friend of a friend just came to get eggs. 

A friend in Minnesota - whom I met through FB, as we had some mutual friends, but then we became friends in real life and his wife and he are quite dear to me and we visit each with each other when they are here or I am there - had posted about cured egg yolks.  This sounds really interesting and I want to try. And I posted about drowning in eggs, and someone posted about wanting some yard-fresh eggs, and she was here within an hours.  She met Ziggy, which is always good for us to practice, and I wouldn't accept money from her.

And it's got me thinking of what else could we barter within our extended networks?  Obviously eggs are a premium commodity for many of us (though friends from whom I wanted banana pups weren't that impressed) and if my tomatoes produce so will those, but what else?  What other goods and services can be exchanged in a system beyond commerce? 

My tenant's friend has asked to see the apartment this afternoon.  If my current tenant finds me a new tenant to be her neighbor, there will be a finder's reward for sure - beyond eggs.  I would probably give her my weedwhacker as it's time for me to upgrade to a non-electric one. 

I'm not good at these things and I just want to give things away because it's uncomfortable to negotiate, but I have to believe that strategy will work for me long-term. 

well that didn't turn out like I'd hoped

The forecast kept changing and by the time we left to go camping there was a 70% chance of thunderstorms in the night.

I called the camping trip at about 9:30 pm, within 7 minutes had the truck loaded and we were out. Ziggy's recall has never been quicker than me calling her to get in the truck and escape thunderstorms.

It didn't actually rain on us by then - I don't mind rain and my tent is pretty good.  But, the sky was lit up with electricity so Ziggy was on edge, and my Thermarest was completely collapsed so I was sleeping on the ground and I was thinking: for what purpose am I killing my back and being exhausted and unable to read for class?  Plus, the forecast kept changing and then it looked like a good chance it would be raining 6 am -10 am and who wants to camp and hike in the rain?  Not Ziggy, and I wanted her to have a good experience, and not me because I hadn't brought my rain jacket.  So, we gave up and came home. 

The drive home had a sky lit up with lightning that looked like it was ripping apart the heavens.  IT was intense.  While the rain wasn't bad, the electricity of the storm was very heavy - no wonder my dog was freaked out.

She tried to be a good dog, she really did.  But camping may not be our thing.  We've now tried two different cabins, one of them two or three times, and she puts up with it and has moments of joyfulness, but it's not really her thing.  Ziggy likes being home.  IT's really not her thing to have to stay in a hot tent with me (I had the rain fly on to be protected, so no ventilation). 

I sent a picture of her hiding under the truck to her godmother who said: poor, scared Ziggy.  Which helped me see how scared she really was.  On the one hand, a little fear of being left behind in the country is a good thing because it means she doesn't wander off - she stays close.  I appreciate that very much.  On the other, I don't want to push her into situations that terrorize her.  Being struck by lightning would do that. (Though let me be honest: my discomfort was the final straw that sent us home.  Wondering if I need to get a new sleeping pad or if REI will replace it ... ) 

So, today will hopefully be productive though I'm still tired since we didn't get home until 11:30.  Then I slept like a stone, which would not have happened had we stayed.  I just have too much going on to have a sleepless night. 

Now poor Ziggy won't let me out of her sight.  I should spend more time away from her on the weekends.  It's hard because I have so much to do at home on the weekends and I don't want to go out because people drain my energy.  But, a few days home with the dog and she gets nervous about me leaving her - so I shouldn't let her get used to me being so available. 

OK, time to unload the truck and read and plan meals for the week and clean the tent and finish fortifying the chicken coop and weed the bed for collards and show the house and train the dog and grocery shop and so on. 

Really need to focus on school, but a friend told me about Leopold benches and suggested that's what I need in my front yard and I agree!  I would make two smallish ones and paint them purple.  But, that has to wait three more weeks and for me to repair the power cord on my circular saw that I cut right through. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

my uncle's niece

My uncle - with whom I share a birthday and who has always been my favorite relative - lives in the rural midwest (nearest big city of 600 people is an hour away - but it has a grocery store) and is a cattle and dry wheat and other things farmer (no irrigation).  He works harder than anyone I've ever met in my life.  We would spend every summer with them and I'd go for walks followed by a herd of cattle (they're such curious animals), roll around in the truck when the wheat was combined, wonder how the hell he could spend so much time under the hot sun. 

He works fucking hard.  He never complained but I'd sometimes see how bone tired he was a lot of the time.  He was the sanest member of my family even though he had reason not to be - two tours of drafted active duty in Vietnam left deep scars. 

He and my aunt (no children) were childhood sweethearts (she told me the story of when the draft notification came, it still vivid in her mind so many years later) and are a good team.  She keeps the house running and makes money with things like Amway and mail order collectibles (she has a trailer full of dolls and things - I don't really understand it).  (Not sure what verb tense to use as they're nearing 70 - I sure hope that they've been able to retire.  Oh, nope - a Google search shows they're still working.)

I don't glamorize their difficult life, the waiting for rain - it's why I'm very fond of my job-with-regular-paycheck-and-sick-time.  I know that they had downtime in the winters, when we were never around, but the summers were so very busy constantly - immediate needs for harvest based on weather.  Actual real needs, not the fake emergencies like at my job - which I've learned to manage much better than I'd ever expect. 

It's a really hard life but also they love it in many ways. 

I was thinking of him this morning and how I'd sometimes see him in the mornings grasping a cup of coffee, staring into the distance.  By that time he would have already done many morning chores and was plotting out the rest of the day in his mind. 

In contrast, I was just struggling to boil some water to make coffee, having just fed the chickens.  I'm bone tired from hauling all that dirt and other chores yesterday, though I'm city-girl tired.  And I was wishing that I had a coffee pot like his, where you just push a button and come back in to some coffee.  My system - which I've used since 1992 - is a single cup drip filter.  A plastic cone that I put a paper filter into, fill with freshly-ground coffee, and boil water and first bloom then brew.  All of it - from putting filtered water in the kettle to putting half and half in the finished product - takes maybe 7 minutes.  I'm usually putting away dishes and such during that time. I just haven't worked out the best system of doing it while feeding chickens, etc.  The normal coffee pots (which I have never owned and refuse to drink coffee from as a general principle because life is short and I refuse to drink bad coffee) are so convenient, especially when loaded up the night before (as my aunt would always do) - if not with a timer, just push a button and off you go and then come back to coffee made. 

Little things that I think about.  Figuring out morning routine with poultry.  And Catahooligan, who is wound up today - she keeps stealing socks and bringing them to me, as though to tell me to put them on and let's go walk already.  Oh, poor dog - no walk for you this morning. 

I would like to leave to go camping in about five and a half hours but I'm still not certain of going.  I'm tired.  I'm stiff and sore.  I think I can shake all that off, but it's a lot of packing and prepping for 24 hours, and I still need to read a bunch. 

Yesterday outside I tanned nicely.  Wasn't even thinking about it.  I rarely put on sunscreen for doing work outside.  I do sunscreen for things like kayaking or hiking long distances.  I don't like to burn, and I can see how tanning is skin damage too - but vitamin D is a very good thing. 

If I start packing up, the dog will get so annoying - she stays underfoot every single step and panics if she loses sight of me, afraid that I'm off on a great grand adventure and I've forgotten her.  I appreciate her enthusiasm but it's logistically annoying.  It was easier at my last house where I could pull the truck into the backyard with the gate closed - and she'd just sit in the truck and refuse to get out. 

I keep thinking that the right tenant will show up for my apartment.  The pictures, which reflect the colors of the walls, appeal to a certain kind of person - nearly all women.  The walls aren't pink, but it's apparently really a woman's space.  Every time a boyfriend moves in, I know the days are numbered before they'll move on.  Though I'm perplexed at how dirty these current tenants have made the walls - filthy dirty, smudges everywhere.  So, the paint is 40% off this weekend so I'm off this morning to buy a few gallons.  While it won't be an exact match with the walls and if I have to paint I'll have to paint a whole plane, it will be close enough to not require exacting detail or a second coat.  I love the color of the walls, and people of good taste do, too.  These are not your landlord's beige walls. 

I may need to paint the studio apartment behind my house - the walls are a saturated turquoise and I don't have a paint match, so they get dinged up.  We'll see.  People have also loved those - the tenant moving out says how much she's loved her little blue apartment.

Both tenants moving out have used the word "wonderful" to describe me and I don't know if they're blowing smoke up my ass to get their deposits back or if they mean it.  OR both. I am a strong believer that business transactions can be win-win, which includes renting property.  I'm not warm and fuzzy, and I will evict when necessary, but I'm not trying to exploit or take advantage of people or situations.  Leverage, yes.  Exploit, no. 

So I need to channel my uncle and move my lazy bones along and head into this day.  If we don't go camping, I'll regret it. 

dirt: moved

I finally finished moving the seven cubic yards of dirt I go some weeks back.  I had used it to fill in garden beds, make mounds to grow squash, etc.  With the rest I wasn't sure what to do so I hauled it all to the back corner of my yard, which had been pretty low, and I plan to cover it with a tarp and hope it stays relatively weed-free.  We'll see what Ziggy says about the tarp - she's claimed this dirt hill as hers and she usually has strong opinions.  She likes to run up it and around it and rest in the coolness of it. 

I have a totally hilarious dog.  Who is obsessed with eating fertilizer, which I'd put into the garden bed in the backyard (the only one back there) and then planted okra and then fenced off with bird netting.  Well, she just moves the netting and snacks.  I can't control the netting, but she can just fine.  Don't know if any okra will grow as her footprints pushed the seeds deeper.  We'll see.  I can replant.

I did a little reading but nearly enough.  I continued work on the chicken coop but didn't finish it - still one side to strengthen.  And probably locks to add. 

As I neared the end of the pile of dirt I took a break to put on another reinforcement panel on the coop, and across the street a mother-daughter called out and asked if they could see the chickens.  COULD THEY?  I've been waiting for them!  We first met when Ziggy broke into their backyard, which the mother says is a story they tell each other all the time.  They're super sweet and I like them a lot.  The little girl is just so inquisitive and the mother is such a cheerleader for her.  They're adorable.  I pointed out right beside the chicken coop that the zucchini seeds are popping up and the little girl said: "Are you a ... lady farmer?" with such excitement as though she was asking if I'm Batman.   I laughed but - wouldn't that be a cool thing to be? 

Some assholes stole my lemon and lime trees from my front yard.  That's disheartening.  It happened at my other house with a crepe myrtle, and this is more aggravating because I did so much planning about their planting and the time was right and they were getting established.  They probably killed the goddamn trees, the mother fuckers. 

And this is why I need to put locks on my coop.  Because there are assholes.  Like the assholes today who followed a woman into her house to rob her at gunpoint.  At fucking 1 pm.

This is why I have my dog, because of shit like this.  She's not 100% effective but she freaks people out.  She's intimidating. 

So, I'll get lemon tree from friends who gave me the chickens.  IT's scraggly and hopefully nobody steals it.  I wonder if I should spraypaint it or something.  Wouldn't want to hurt the tree though.  So, there's that.  Now I just want a lime tree again.  When I was at my other house I pulled some calamondin off the tree which is thriving, and I've really been enjoying it squeezed in water.

Speaking of water, I need to start getting organized for camping!  If I can walk tomorrow (it was a lot of hard labor today), then we're going to go.  Fuck schoolwork.  Well, not really - I'll take it with me.  I can read while camping. What else to do when camping alone once it's too dark to hike. 

Super glad I called in sick to work today. 

These chickens are hilarious - they have such personalities.  Look forward to them having more space (netting to arrive MOnday - and if somebody steals it I will be SO PISSED OFF because it's fucking expensive).  The red who was flying up at me has chilled on that - it was obvious that I didn't like it and I think she's actually quite friendly, not trying to terrorize me.  She stands and watches me very closely even when I'm pounding nails into the coop.  I'd think that would bother them but they're like: meh.  After having a dog who is so overly sensitive to EVERYTHING, having chickens who are pretty damn chill is such a relief. 

Ziggy is obsessed with hard-boiled eggs, which is great because I froze a bunch of eggs accidentally (my top fridge shelf gets too cold) and they cracked so I boiled them for her.  The chickens are obsessed with bolted mizuna and wormy kale, which is also great.  I appear obsessed with their poop, based upon how I clean it out every day and toss it into the composter. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

early to rise

I really need to figure out a way to make myself go to bed earlier.  Any suggestions?

I now need a full eight hours of sleep.  Before I was able to go to bed 10-11ish and wake up 6ish.  But now I need a full two hours of in the morning - let out chickens, drink coffee and check email, walk dog, water garden, shower, make breakfast, drive - and if I get to work late, I have to stay late.  So I need to be up no later than 6 am sharp.  Which means I need to be in bed falling asleep by 10 pm sharp. 

I've tried putting an alarm on my laptop to tell me when it's time to go to bed but I find myself thinking: oh, just one more task.  Last night it was "oh but I just need to vacuum."  The previous night it was: "Oh, I just have to make this list." 

I wish seven hours of sleep per night were enough because 11 pm-6 am would be great.  But I need the full eight or I'm straggling. 

Also, these chickens propel me to getting up earlier - they really want to be up and out of the coop when the sun rises.  They want their water and food and to stretch their wings.

Every week I have class until 9 pm which kind of throws me because it takes time to wind down after getting home.

Well, maybe going out camping will help, even if only one night.  To be away from artificial light -though i'll take my headlamp and stash of batteries to read once the sun goes down.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

calling in well

The weather has been just too fucking nice to sit in an office, so I'm calling in "sick" tomorrow.  Stomach bug, probably. 

I have SO MUCH FUCKING SHIT to do, but I also want to go camping.

The truth of the matter is that I have way too many things to do and work is getting in my way.  So is school.  Tomorrow I need to: move 3 cu yards of dirt, fertilize and plant a bunch of okra, complete making the chicken coop fort Knox, make and install tomato supports, buy paint, and so on.  I may need to show the apartment. 

The other crappy news for me is that my tenant is moving out - the one here at my house.  And she's moving out like 36 hours before I have to leave town for a week, which is really sucky timing for getting a tenant in right away.  She's moving back to Oregon - New Orleans isn't working out like she'd hoped.  Which doesn't surprise me - this is a hard fucking city, and that's why I said she should only do a six-month lease instead of the year that she thought she wanted.  The really bad thing there - on top of the money when my mortgage just got jacked up 50% - is that Ziggy will be utterly bereft.  Ziggy adores her and has loved their time together, and this is going to be really hard on her.  Finding another tenant who loves dogs so much and is so patient - that will be hard. 

So I have TWO apartments coming open soon and ZERO new tenants lined up which is stressful on numerous levels.  Because I have final exams soon and I'm so behind.

Deep breaths. 

After I call in sick, I want to work my ass off, and then Saturday afternoon I want to say "fuck it" and go to the forest.  It's our last chance for a long time and I think sleeping outside is just what I need to refocus and rejuvenate. 

What I want to believe is that things will all work out.  They usually do.  And I can cover a few months without tenants if I have to.  I don't WANT to, but I have a home equity loan to tide me over - it's why I don't keep a nestegg but instead try to vigorously pay down debt, knowing I can tap into that when necessary.  This may be necessary because insurance is coming due soon. 

Does anyone here judge me for calling in sick to work?   It's been a hard thing to come 'round to, and I usually only do it when things are slow and I can be out without undue burden on others.  When I know that if I don't take some time off that either physically or mentally things will get much worse.  It seems to me like I do it a lot, but over 2 and 1/4 year, I've only used up six days?  Wait, how can that be right?  Hm. 

Yeah, I'll definitely be calling in and getting an early start with hauling dirt.