Sunday, September 24, 2017


Who reading this loves books?  Most of you, I would guess.

Can you imagine being locked up in prison for the rest of your life due to bad luck and living in the incarceration capital in the history of the world?

The more I read case law, the more I realize how arbitrary this can be - there but by the grace of god go I, indeed.  And I went up to the major prison in the state recently and saw a whole lot of people kept captive with busy minds. 

One thing we can do it send them books.  This is a project in Louisiana - and their website lists some others.  Here is their mission statement:

Our short-term goals are to encourage literacy, to make prison-life more endurable, and to support prisoner interests to the best of our abilities. It is not our place to necessarily “radicalize” prisoners, but rather to use our resources and privileges as the un-incarcerated to pass along materials on requested subjects.

I wish I knew somebody who works in publishing and could get remnants. They especially ask for dictionaries and auto repair - that sort of thing.  I just saw a request for Alcoholics Anonymous books from women, and since women typically get forgotten as prisoners while their numbers rise drastically, I want to oblige that request.  AA is not for me and its success rate isn't all that high.  But it works for some people and meetings are something that they can do in prison - they can't get drugs to help reduce addiction or intense treatment, but they can read the Big Book.  So why not help? 

If anyone has AA materials, they would love them.  Or trade books (here's their Amazon wishlist) - and they always want dictionaries.  Also, they always need packing tape.  

I plan to go volunteer sometime at their workparties when they organize and pack up books to ship and open letters.  In the meantime, I'll keep every so often order a few books here and there from Amazon.

A friend of mine quoted somebody famous: "Don't let waiting to do something great stop you from doing something good" and I try to let that reverberate.  I know that our prisons and criminal justice system need drastic reform.  First: we need to stop incarcerating so many people.  And we need a more equitable society overall.

In the meantime, I can do a little bit to help a woman who wants to handle her addiction to have a productive life when she gets out of prison, to get her kids back and stop a cycle.  I can do a little bit to help people practice literacy.

And if I'm ever locked up, please send me books. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I went to the mall and lived to tell the tale

Today was hours of shopping.  I really need shoes for walking in - I keep wearing out the pairs that I have, and the ones I ordered online some months ago are super uncomfortable now and it makes me not want to walk and that's not an option.  And I need some casual shoes that are a step up from flip flops, which suddenly aren't enough support for my feet.  And I need work shoes.  I currently wear sandals every day and those days will end.  Last year I wore some fancy shoes I'd gotten at Fluevog and they weren't that comfortable after awhile and part of my problem is that I buy one pair of shoes and wear the same shoes every day.  Every single MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday.  My feet are fussy.  And I wore those shoes out - they're pretty scuffed and beat up.  Before them, I had a pair of shoes that I loved but they really are worn out.  I carry them in my car thinking I'll go to a cobbler to repair them but I don't think that they're repairable.  Sigh. 

And I need pants.  I currently wear capris every single day with my sandals - oh, and sometimes a dress.  So those days will end, and the pants I wore last year were awful and I was too stubborn to give up.  I ordered them from LL Bean and they were fine a time or two but then they were just fit so strangely and uncomfortable.  I like that they're cotton - it's hard to find cotton - but I wish they actually fit properly instead of being massive huge in the belly and flat in the ass.  My ass is not flat and I don't appreciate pants that tell me I"m supposed to have a flat ass.  What do I expect from pants from Maine? 

Anyway, I went to DSW and found sneakers and casual shoes I can wear with jeans and khakis.  Then I went to the mall and found that as usual the pants at Lane Bryant are the only pants in the world that fit me, but they're ankle pants and I just don't know about that for winter.  I do need to get a pair of flats that I could wear with them because I need flats to wear with dresses.  I have a pair of flats but I've had them for years and I do believe I've worn through the soles - I can feel the streets underneath my feet when I wear them. 

I guess this is like school shopping for me.  I definitely do not worry about seasonal clothes except for the purposes of being cool or warm enough.  Oh and I did get a dress at the mall which is rather frock-y in terms of being large and loose and comfortable and has pockets (!), but it also has a nice tuck in at the waist so I think it's not just a coal bag.  I once heard that fashion designer on all the shows - Tim Gunn - say that for plus-sized women Lane Bryant does a good job, and I have to say I agree.  Not always, but on the right track. 

So, I still need the shoes to wear with pants and the shoes to wear with dresses/ankle pants.  And probably one more pair of pants, one more dress, three more blouses, and I'll be set.  I like to have enough outfits for 6-7 days and then rotate.  I do not understand people with full closets because why do I need more than five pairs of work clothes?  I wear things out and then when they get holes and such, I replace.  I do not need more than that. 

Oh and I have to say this about Lane Bryant - they are really getting into the activewear.  The whole front of the store was exercise gear.  And I do love that because most fat people I know aren't actually couch potatoes.  We still need clothes for activity. 

So.  The fact that I braved a mall on a Saturday afternoon AND a parking garage means either that I'm feeling much better or that I am flying too close to the sun and I'll crash.  In the 11 years I've lived here, I've been to that mall three times.  It's just way too much.  Everything about a mall is way too much for me.  Completely overwhelming.

Oh, and news from the field: we are over our economic crisis.  People were SHOPPING.  That place was full and people were carrying bags.  Old people, young people.  English speakers, other language speakers.  White people, black people, brown people.  Couples and singles and families and friends.  It was FULL of people.  

I thought malls were dead.  Who knew they were still hip and happening? 

Dog life

Roux: oh my God that walk was so far I'm exhausted.

Ziggy: what's next?

Friday, September 22, 2017

I don't want to curse myself

But it feels like maybe a bit of the depression fog has lifted.  Not entirely, but a little bit.

I make it through my days - usually pretty cranky - but reading is so hard.  And cooking. And exercising. And doing dishes. 

Most things are really really hard.

So when I got home today and I had energy to cut back sweet potatoes drastically (I need to harvest them but they're still blooming) and cut the grass and some other things - it gave me hope.  I finished the book that I've been dragging through for two weeks.  I need to read at minimum two books per week, not two weeks per book.

And I'm doing the damn dishes. 

I haven't seen a cockroach in weeks, which is fabulous news.  It only took me 20 months to get rid of them?  Hopefully I'm rid of them.  What seems to have made the difference is push the refrigerator closed with my foot.  I noticed there was a big gap in the seal left with just closing it, so I have started actually forcing it.  I'm not above using a bungee cord.  It's not a great refrigerator and I'd be happy to replace it, but it works too well for that.

I don't live in a hovel, I promise.  I realize that all makes me sound very poverty-stricken.  I'm not.  Cockroaches are common here.  Whenever I come back to my house tenants have brought them in and I deal with them.  I have no beef with water bugs though I'd prefer they not fly in my head, but the food ones - ugh.  German cockroaches are the worst. 

And I can't guarantee that I'm completely cockroach free, but I haven't seen one for awhile, so there's hope. Fucking bugs living in my fridge apparently.

Having this dog visit us has made me realize how well-suited Ziggy and I are for each other.  He's a good dog, perfect for his people.  But for me, he's sneaky, and lazy, and too barky at strangers, and stingy with toys (Ziggy has been trying to teach him to share, bless her heart), and destructive with toys. We three had it out when he found a ball I'd hidden because I don't want him to rip it up.  Ziggy kept beating him up for not giving me the ball when I told him to, which doesn't help.  She is my little enforcer.

She's sharp as a whip and happy to work for her dinner, where Roux rolls his eyes and gets annoyed with me when I demand a sit before he gets a treat.  She doesn't bark at strangers and make me have to get up at 5 am to make her come back in the house.  She keeps me in range and rushes to me when I call or she perceives a need.  She's funny and cuddly and sweet.  She's also a tremendous jackass, but she's my jackass.  She's sassy and energetic and vivacious - and that vivacity used as a weapon.  When she's on, she's FUCKING ON.  When she sees a potentially dangerous situation, she pushes me back and rushes forward - always the brave one, facing danger head-on, keeping me safe.  Of course the danger was that a hen decided to climb up on top of the shade structure I "built" (two pallets leaning against each other - the hens seem to love it) and Ziggy thought it was poised to fly out at us and she was NOT having that. 

I have a new healer I'm going to try next week.  How many different things have I tried now to not be in pain? A lot.  Maybe she'll be the one.  Maybe not.  I'm pretty good at saying, "Yeah, no."  Integrative manual therapy, it's called.  Somebody I became FB friends with last week (we were arguing with our mutual friend about her naivete) happened to mention how much this person helps with her chronic pain and I'm like: yes please.  I may have to accept that my new normal is to always be in pain, but so long as i have the possibility to try something new, I think I should.  I did find that acupuncture was really helpful, but the person is so far away, and I think that could be where I got ringworm.  It's the only thing I can think of.  And the supplements I got from her where much less helpful, which is unfortunate because the last naturopath I got supplements from, they were quite helpful.  They were more about the symptoms and this one was trying to get to root cause (such as build up immune system), but it all just wasn't doing much good.

I'm kind of afraid to say anything good about my job because whenever I think it's ok, something really awful happens to me, but I have to say that there are about three people in the whole building I think I can kind of trust and who work hard and don't mindfuck.  And I have lunch plans in a couple of weeks with a woman I was supposed to get to know almost three years ago but we sort of circled the ring and have only just become friendly.  She is cautious and territorial and I was just trying to figure out what the fuck.  But we're good now and this is also a good friendship because she is no doubt a Trump supporter.  She is extremely right-wing.  We dance around that because we are both very set in our ways and minds, but we can build community without addressing it until perhaps the trust is stronger.

And somebody quite kindly actually followed through on something she said she would.  She said that she can't do it, but she's working to find a replacement.  And I'm just so impressed by that because I get flaky people ALL THE FUCKING TIME.  I can't fucking do my job because they won't do theirs.  So for somebody to treat me with respect is so refreshing, you have no idea.  And I asked another favor of a guy I ask ALL the favors of and he agreed as he does.

I ask a lot of people.  It's sort of my job.  But I try to do my part to help others.  Calls keep getting put through to me that aren't for me - the person who answers the phone doesn't know where to put the call through to so they just guess with me. What?  Ridiculous.  But the poor person who gets all the run-around.  I'm surrounded by people who say: "Not my problem, tough luck to you," and I instead track things down.  Call people back.  Give contact info.  And they are grateful.  Because I treat people with respect.  I'm not warm and fuzzy, and on the days where my pain is bad I'm downright cranky, but I am helpful.

Anyway, I haven't heard about the job in Alaska and I know my chances are so slim, but I would really really like to be considered.  It would be hard to move and set up life there, but I could face the challenge.  And maybe even teach Ziggy not to agitate musk ox.  

I will feel better when the heat cools down.  It's "real feel" like 97 today; temp in the 90s.  I'm not going to bike in that, and it just sucks overall.  I want autumn.  I'm so done with summer. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

end of an era

Last night my former tenant and her mother and her puppy came to visit.  Today they left town, for her to move back to Oregon and apply to grad school.  I don't know all the factors that went into her decision to move, but it happened fast.  Three weeks ago she was moving out of here into a new place; two weeks ago she told me she was leaving.  Her grandparents are ill so she wants to spend time with them, but also, vaguely, "drama." 

I think that life here wasn't what she had hoped for, that she didn't really find her groove.  Her job as a barista wasn't her future, and she wasn't making the connections - professional or romantic - that she wanted for the next phase of her life after graduating college.

It's interesting - we both went to a prestigious university, studied in the same prestigious program that requires multilingual fluency, and my first job out of college was as a farmstand hand and then as a parking lot checker, and hers was in a coffee shop.  That school needs to work on helping get bright, ambitious young women into actual careers.  I don't recall them offering me anything - I was just really on my own.  And I think she was too.

The puppy is so delightful - really a little Ziggy without the PTSD.  She's sassy and curious and outgoing.  She tried to take on the two big dogs but I shouted GENTLE a lot.  She considers this her home and is always very happy to be here.  She and Ziggy have really bonded, and Ziggy is super bonded to former tenant, and when they no longer come around it's going to be hard on Ziggy. 

The current tenant is afraid of Ziggy.  This is very disappointing as I had no indication of that when they met.  I liked having a tenant with whom Ziggy had her own relationship - I'd come home and there'd be no sign of my dog because she was snuggling with the tenant.  Those were good times. 

So, we're sad. 

And also: if I need to leave Ziggy with BFF in Oregon, for at least the next ten months or so, there's somebody in the same town to come hang out with the Z-dawg. 

let me tell you about water in New Orleans

So, in late July there was heavy rain.  Like 10 inches in parts of the city. And parts of the city flooded.  Bad.  Areas that don't usually flood, and some of them had flooded a couple of weeks earlier. 

IT's not the elite area of town but still a lot of people of privilege and they made a big stink, and it was discovered that:
1. the pumps that push out the water during heavy rains were not working properly;
2. we had all been lied to about this all throughout the event.

So, heads rolled. 

Then, when we were threatened by a hurricane a couple weeks ago, it was reported that the major pumping station wasn't working because the generator powering the pump had caught fire.

Oh yeah, and the electricity powering the pumps which keep our city not underwater are on a completely different electrical grid which hasn't been used since before World War II.  They just keep "fixing" the system instead of upgrading it. 

Then I keep seeing complaints about water bills on social media, and it comes out that they've been double billing people - doing both an estimate and an actual reading and expecting payment on both separately - but also making really bizarre estimates.  There are people whose water bills jumped up from $75 to like $800.  And let me point out privilege again: I for one have a job in an office where I can make personal calls and take off time to be home to argue with a water meter reader when necessary.  I am in a very small minority.  Most New Orleanians work in the service industry and have no such luxury, so things like this are a real problem.

OH, and there's massive amounts of lead in the water.  Especially in the schools.

And this morning I was getting water for the dogs and the water pressure was really low and I wondered what was up, and when I got home from walking the Catahooligan I saw the most recent boil water advisory.  The pipes lost pressure so organisms can make their way into the water and we're supposed to boil or use bottled water for the foreseeable future.  We're used to this - it happens regularly.   A dozen times since 2010 I think I just saw. 

This is what it's like to live in New Orleans.  To be poisoned and overcharged and flooded. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

kitchens and such

5966 Tower Rd, Riverside, CA 92506
This is not my kitchen.  But this was my kitchen 2002-2004.  And I sold before we knew it was a housing bubble, just when we knew that prices were rising.  And I was choosy in who I sold to, rejecting people whose financing seemed too good to be true.  And when I've gone back to that neighborhood, I've been glad of that - all these other houses with signs up for sale, foreclosure here and there.  But my people stayed in that house for nine years. 

It was a very good little house.  Laid out very well, it seemed larger than the 1,108 square feet it says.  I had two roommates and space still seemed abundant.  One roommate taught me much of Latin@ culture, the other introduced me to one of my now closest friends - we three have gone rock climbing together and other such adventures. 

When I lived there, the kitchen was as it was in 1953.  The same wonderful old oven, the same lime green tile counters, the same non-factory cupboards.  And I have to say that I am not impressed with this granite and gleam of the redo, but I can't begrudge anyone what they wish for their house.  I'm just partial to 1950s decor when original.  AFter that, craftsmanship started to suffer.

The red wall is gone, the original bathroom with lavender walls.  The people I bought it from were friends of friends of a co-worker and I was so lucky to get the house, offering above list before it went on the market and they got hundreds of offers but they stuck to their word to me.  And I loved that house.  It brought me such good things.  I worked one of the jobs I've loved most, where I've perhaps grown the most, and it brought me financial stability that allowed me to travel the world when I sold it. 

I owned that house two years and two days which mattered tremendously for tax purposes of course.  though I was too naive to know that. 

I've never been sad that I left it.  I get nostalgic for that time occasionally, and I've gone back to visit friends plenty of times, but I moved along and things were good. And now the house has a much nicer kitchen than I would have ever put in. 

When it is time for me to leave, it is time for me to leave.  No regrets. 

Friday, September 15, 2017


While I do not think that I have an actual chance of getting the job I've applied for, I've nonetheless come up with a plan to address some of my needs if I am to get it.

I think that while a 4-wheel drive is considerably better, my truck could meet my needs.  So, I could drive it to ORegon and leave it with my friend, and in April when the ocean is open again and barges are running, drive it up to Seattle to be shipped.  Plus, I can have it somewhat full of stuff.  Ir's 15 years old but in pretty good condition and I could get it weatherized and keep it maintained and sell it when I leave. 

Leave Ziggy there in Oregon too, for a while. 

Find housing and keep an eye on land for sale that has road access year-round and space.  There are no trees, so space is good.  Have a yurt shipped in (again, after the ocean thaws) and find people to help install it.  This idea actually came to me because yurts are Mongolian and those winters are brutal.  They can handle northern rural Alaska.  There are several yurt companies there who know what they're doing, and I have friends who put up yurts in another place - I actually traveled up one summer to help them, so I know a bit of what's up.  I definitely would want an Arctic entryway, for example. Oh and the best screens money can buy - I died from mosquitoes that summer. In that same shipment could be a monitor heater, appliances, a composting toilet, etc.  I'm trying to remember how on earth we kept water from freezing when we always had it delivered into those tanks - the ground is too frozen to lay underground pipes.  Permafrost.  It's not perma anymore, climate change. 

Put up a fenced yard, not too big, but enough.  And go get Ziggy from Oregon.  The problem is she's a jackass so if there are doglots (sled dogs) anywhere near, she'll find and accost them.  Plus a fenced yard to provide some protection from muskox.  I never knew anybody with a fenced yard before though I'm sure I could get it shipped in - everybody I know chained up their dogs.  That doesn't work so great for the Catahooligan. 

I could probably buy a lot and put up a yurt with all that and pay cash with proceeds from sale of house.  It's not permanent, but nothing is for me. It would be a place to be, to have a good life.  Skiing, birding, berry picking.  All that sounds awesome.  I could sock away savings for what comes next. 

The value of this exercise for me was to realize - I can make anything work if I want to.  Moving to the tundra shouldn't faze me for a second because I've done it twice before.  Life is very, very different now, and I am different, but I can make things work. 

I can make it work anywhere. 

Ziggy will always be a jackass, my enforcer, my anger translator.  She's a grenade with the pin already pulled.  But the longer we're together, the more responsive she is.  I just told her to be quiet and she did.  She's sitting on my feet right now instead of harassing the other dog.  She really is a great dog.  She's come a long way, maybe it's time to work on her reactivity to other dogs. 

Of course I worry about her in a travel kennel in a plane, and about somebody to take care of her when I travel, but hopefully we could make it work.

Now they just have to offer me the job.  Or another one come along. 

I'm ready for what the world has to offer.


I've never felt so middle-aged as now when I realize how many of my friends are at the U2 concert, calling themselves cool.

Y'all, Bono stopped being cool long ago. He and the band, they're just old.  Same with the Rolling Stones.  Mind you, I like both of them fine, have loved them at times, been spit on by Bono (true story, almost), but they are not what's hip and happening.

And me, and my friends, are middle-aged.  Well, me more than them because nothing appealed to me about going.  

The professor last night was talking about income and education - how it's curvilinear.  An undergrad and graduate degree can increase income, but not a PhD especially in the social sciences.  It was quite a conversation, and I said out loud that I owe now A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS in student loans, just from law school.  Again I just strongly want to emphasize that is in large part because of the way that I was required to consolidate loans for loan forgiveness programs - I *had* to take 8% capitalizing interest rate.  My loan is now nearly $100,000 more than when I graduated because of that AND despite having made payments on it every month since 2009.  To say it's disheartening is an understatement.  Who could have known that the job market would crash when I was in law school?  This is more bad luck than bad choice - and I can own my bad choices. 

And that makes me obsessed with money, with earning and with leveraging.  Not enough to do illegal things, but only because I wouldn't want to get caught.

So why am I working on my PhD?  To earn significantly less money?  That would be fine without that massive student loan debt looming over me, but that debt changes everything for me.  It makes me stay in a job that sucks my spirit and makes me bitter.
Though, on break I talked to a classmate who emphasized that I should be doing consulting work - her husband is making good money with that.  So that could be a possibility in the future.

I just feel so hamstrung with this debt burden. 

I followed up with the rural Alaska job - have an email to see if it's possible to waive into Alaska with my experience (I doubt it - though I could in just a bit more than two years in my current job, which is tempting).  The HR person emailed me back to say she received my application and it's in the review folder and the person reviewing is out at a training.  This job would require a lot of regional travel, and I worry about Ziggy in that situation.  I would have to find somebody to be her regular caregiver, somebody who loves her.  She really is a wonderful dog, she's just a jackass too (she is right now rolling on her back to alllmost touch her dog friend).  People are different about dogs in Alaska and I think in some ways it could be good for her.  But dog care and housing is a serious concern. 

But this kind of travel I would enjoy - I used to do it some when I taught in the area.  There are no hotels in these villages - you sleep on the school floor, eat what you can carry in with you.  It's just all different.

And I feel that I've gone soft.  That I don't remember how to live as an Alaskan.  I miss that edge.

And I know that chances of me getting this job are very slim - there is a very strong Native hiring preference.  And I know how it is to navigate that world, of being the rare white person.  It's a reason my friends left - the village turned on them for no good reason and suddenly said that they couldn't keep a doglot (he had started mushing) or hunt.  IF you can't hunt, you can't really live in Alaska - without the fish and moose and caribou, or berries or ptarmigan or all that the land offers, life is to expensive and also too removed from the land.  The best part of Alaska is the land.  I grew up with our protein sources being venison, salmon, and halibut.  OUr fruit were the blueberries and salmonberries around our house.  I recognize now that how I lived as a child was remarkable - a house beside a creek in the wilderness.  And I want something similar.  For awhile.  This wouldn't be permanent. 

I keep trying for something that would be permanent but that isn't me.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I am one of the luckiest people I know.  My life is an embarrassing abundance of riches.  What I have is beyond what I could have ever imagined. 

And I am also profoundly unhappy. 

Which is of course not uncommon in a culture of much. 

So I spent about ten hours doing my application for a job in a town in Alaska.  There is little shock to the system like moving there would be.  I have the advantage of some time there - not much, but once I accidentally spent a week there.  A co-worker and I flew out one Thursday afternoon - me to the dentist on Friday, her to get some pizza and groceries and life in the big city for a minute, and some beer (we lived in a dry village) for one night.  But our flight Friday couldn't leave because it was so cold that the planes couldn't fly.  I'm not exaggerating.  We ended up stuck there for a week, constantly hounding the flights.  So my remembrances are not the best.  I just remember the gritty place we stayed, above a bar.  It was a place of despair.  The alcohol problem there is devastating.  I grew up with people fall-down drunk in town every day so it's not that unusual to me, but it's still sad.  One of my students used to be filled with rage about the guy her killed her mother - who had gotten so drunk that she passed out in the middle of the street in a snowstorm, and a car hit her without seeing her.  I have loads of those stories  Alaska is not a cheery place, it is full of despair.  IT's only recently that I realized that not everybody growing up lost a classmate every year to some kind of accident -out of a group of 100, many of us did not survive.  And it was often handled like my 5th grade teacher did, when one of my best friends died in a house fire (her aunt got drunk and pass out smoking), we weren't allowed to speak of her. 

And the town I'm applying to is gritty.  Life is not easy.  Or cheap. 

But, I am the point where I want to flip a match over my back and torch the whole of what I have now.  Insurance money?  Yes, please.  (No, of course I wouldn't commit arson.  This is metaphorical.)

Life is short and I've never been good at sticking to plans.  I could have this house ready for sale in a week - I could pack up what I'd ship (I know that drill), get rid of the rest, and call my realtor to list it and argue with her about how no, I won't do the superficial things to get more money.  Oh and by the way, sell my other house, too.

I feel weighted down.  Roots do that to a nomad.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

just start

Tomorrow is supposed to be 82 degrees high, and so while it's sunny and dusty (for New Orleans) and my allergies are acting foolish, if my body is feeling lower pain levels I want to give biking a go tomorrow.  It's over 6 miles and so I'm a little careful about it ... I know that many people ride many more miles every day, and I have this easy flat city - but I worry about safety.  I worry about being in good shape.  I worry about my bike breaking down, as it feels like it often does.  I worry about being a physical mess when I arrive. 

But I want to just start. 

I also am going to apply for a job in the rural Alaska town that I applied to almost two years ago.  Usually I feel no regrets, but I have regretted not taking that job.  I know that I would have really enjoyed the job itself, and ... I miss pickled fish. As I was pickling okra yesterday I was thinking of the big gallon jar of pickled salmon that one of my student's uncles brought out once at a birthday party and how incredibly tasty that was.  Birthday parties are a BIG FUCKING DEAL there - so many cakes, and people come in stages and eat lots of sweets and move along so more people can come into the tiny house and eat cake.  I had my 30th birthday there ... wait, is that for real?  I left there almost twenty years ago? Holy fuck.  Anyway, I had fun baking for my birthday and the hordes of people (mostly kids, since I was a teacher) eating it all.

Maybe it feels like it could be possible, to take that job, because Ziggy seems to be growing up.  She spent the weekend sleeping when she wasn't being big sister to a sassy little pup.  So she may be under the weather but also - I came home and she was dancing with joy and super happy when we went outside, and after a few frisbee tosses I started picking okra and she just sat in the shade and played protector dog.  She is growing up, learning appropriate behaviors, not so much relishing the drama.  And it's fun to see that little sass in the pup, but I'm glad my Ziggy is calming down a bit.

Soon we have a dog visitor for over a week.   We'll see how that goes.  I hope they calm down because usually they rough house and Ziggy barks a lot. 

Anyway, it would be a huge hassle to get to this town with Ziggy and to find housing, etc. but the job would be with a village corporation, which is like Indian reservation management.  And yeah, my job now is so much political bullshit and working for a village corporation is no better, but I looked at the benefits and it includes things like five days off every year for subsistence.  And the USPS guy for the town says: "Yeah you can try to reach us on Saturday for delivery, but since we almost never get that call, we're usually out on the land on weekends."

That right there, oh how I miss it. 

And it would be expensive - everything is so expensive.  But Ziggy and I could go out berry picking.  Go to fish camp maybe.  For sure go out hiking and skiing and snow shoeing. 

So it would all be very complicated - to find housing and friends and make a life and make a good life for the crazy dog and somebody to care for her when I had to travel and all that, but when I called to ask, the job was still open, and the person was helpful and I got homesick.  And I would learn a ton and maybe make a positive difference for Native sovereignty.  That right there sounds pretty awesome.

And eat pickled fish.  But not stink fish.  That shit kills.  But I know that because I'm Alaskan already. 

So maybe I just start with the application and see what happens. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017


I'm replanning my garden beds, as I moved things around a bit.  I think of what to go where logistically and functionally, but also a little aesthetically.  Of course not everybody thinks that mizuna is the prettiest thing they've ever seen, but they'll learn. 

I don't really get to use my creativity much at all in my job (just creatively passive aggressive), so my little homestead is my outlet.  It's rewarding.  I also need to make a shade and protection shelter for my chickens. 

And read. 

So much reading.

But first, there is some ice cream to be had.  There's this guy making it and we've been chatting a bit.  I suggested okra ice cream and hibiscus and he is intrigued.  He's an urban farmer, which I didn't know when we started chatting, but tomorrow we'll meet for the first time because he said, "I really really want to share my plant-based flavors with you."  And I'm really looking forward to this because people I can talk to about gardening are the shiznitt.  AND because he could play a central role in my dissertation if I lay that out right. 

OK, back to reading.  Oh wait, laundry.  And seed planting.  And then reading. 

Ziggy is very lethargic today but I think because it's kind of warm.  I hope she's ok. 

Saturday dawn

I keep thinking of those along Irma's path, hoping for the best.  This is a monstrous storm and I feel for people.  That's all any of us who aren't there can do - for now.  Help will come after damage is done. 

Because of Irma I have this unexpectedly free weekend and I want to plant things.  I woke up at 5 am, so excited to put things into the ground.  I have some last seeds expected to come in today, but I could finish up bed prep - work in some fertilizer, dress with compost, and mulch.  A friend of a friend came over yesterday and said: "I'm so impressed.  How do you know how to do these things? Did you grow up gardening and animal raising?"  "Nope, I grew up in Alaska."  "Ah, so you learned self-sufficiency."  "Exactly.  Plus, my great-grandparents were farmers, and some aunts and uncles and cousins.  So I understood the basics of planting and harvesting." 

But also, I just do things.  If they don't succeed, I shrug and try again or move on.  I don't give a damn about looking a fool. 

So this resonates with me:
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So, 5 am, the dog looks at me cross-eyed for being up so early, and I'm just drinking coffee and thinking through this day and all I want to accomplish without pulling my back out again.  My chiropractor worked her magic yesterday and I'm glad I went finally because it was NOT getting better.  The spasms are what really get me because they could put me on my ass, literally.  And so it's still tender today but better.  I asked if she has an idea what caused it and she shrugged: "Could be four weeks sitting and then a trash bag is suddenly heavy."  She's so smart.  Seriously, she is one of the best medical professionals I've known in my life - she is such a good chiropractor.  I can still walk because of her.  I asked if the physical therapy appointment could have caused it and she didn't really answer, but when she showed me on the chart where the issues were, I think it's pretty clear that there's at least correlation.  So maybe I was flying too close to the sun to think that I could get my issues fixed, and maybe i just manage them - if I have to visit a chiropractor every 3-6 months who can fix me with one visit and only charges me $35, then I'm ok with all this.  And maybe when I don't have such a sedentary life, I won't need this so much.  

When will that be?


So the dog has gotten over her mistrust of me for getting up so early and she's ready for a walk.  We will walk in the sunrise, as the wind howls.

Maybe we'll even have hammock time today.  There is little better in life than laying in a hammock in my backyard, reading, as my dog frolics about.

I am so very fortunate, and on my mind are those whose fortunes are running thing right now.  

So I garden. 


Friday, September 8, 2017


My former tenant who moved out last week just told me she's moving to Oregon at the end of this month.  I'll get more details when I see her soon, but I'm kind of upset.  So is Ziggy.  Well, Ziggy doesn't know to be upset, but she loves that person and her little puppy.  Sigh. 

So here's the thing: it's my birthday this weekend.  I was supposed to be going on a trip tomorrow and spending it with my national buddies at a conference, but that trip is in the eye of a hurricane path and so the trip is canceled. And so I'm home instead, which is always great, but that means I'm spending my birthday alone because of course I made no plans.

But the real issue is: there's no best friend here with whom to make plans.  I have friends who always want to do things on my birthday, and I have friends who would happily do things, but I don't have a best friend here who just assumes that of course we're doing something.  The same person who would be watching my dog because of course my dog would stay with her when I travel, so she would know I'm not traveling in twelve hours. 

Three of my best friends live in Oregon.  That and marijuana and hiking are the only draws for me to that state, but those draws are mighty strong. 

I miss living near a best friend.  It is different from a good friend. 

And now if I move to Oregon, Ziggy will already have two friends there in addition to her godmother.

It may be time for me to formulate a plan.   

Thursday, September 7, 2017

she was a fine hen

I received six very fine hens in April.  Now I have five.  I lost a very fine hen last night. 

She seemed not to be in pain really, but just that she was dying.

And I'm very glad that the other hens left her alone.  They didn't even touch her food and water or go very near to her body.

Her body is disposed of, but there is no necropsy.  I am not knowledgeable enough to know what is going on.  It may have been a blocked oviduct or impacted crop, or she may have gotten injured.  She went quickly.

OF course the even worse news than losing a fine hen is that it may be contagious and the others fall with it too.  As of right now they are very lively and spry, but we shall see.

They are pet-ish.  I enjoy them, and I spend a good amount of money on providing them a safe and enjoyable lifestyle, but they are not the animals that will go to the vet. They will live and die as chickens do, and what is important is that the quality of their life before death is good.  I think this hen would have no regrets.  I hope she was happy.  They all seem to be, as I let them take over my entire large front yard and provide them with enrichment activities.  One of those may have killed the fine hen - maybe the Burmese food leftovers impacted her crop.  IF so, I am very sorry.

So I know that they will die and I accept that.  But I am still sad.  Because she was such a fine hen.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

sick bird

I have a sick hen. :(  Everyone seemed fine this morning but when I came home, she didn't rush me like the rest of the pack, and she just lay in the coop.  I took her water and food but she wasn't interested.  she wouldn't even check out the apples (so the other hens came in and did - though nobody seemed to bother her). 

Now it's late and she's at the foot of the ladder into the roosting area, so she doesn't even have the energy to sleep with her gang.  She looks like she's tried and she has moved orientation a few times, but she's just not budging.  I may try to give her some electrolytes tomorrow.  She's not in a place that I can really get to her to pick her up.

She's a fine hen, one of the middle girls. 

And I do understand that chickens die, and I don't plan to do veterinary care for them, but I don't want her to suffer. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

out of the shadows

Shortly after HNIC died, I friended his son on Facebook.  We have mutual friends so it wasn't really strange, and he is mostly on social media to promote himself as an artist.  He used to drive HNIC crazy with his art, but that's another story. 

Today I finally spoke up.  He had posted a story and white people were UPTIGHT. Oh good god.  It was insane, all the crazy white fragility.  So I said that.  And he responded (for the first time ever): "You see that too?"  And a hashtag that sounds like something his father would say.  And so I said, I was friends with your dad and sometimes I can really hear him through you.  He immediately hearted the comment and then commented with a sad face and said he tries. 

I know how different they are, how much he drove his father crazy.  I know all sorts of things about this kid that I probably shouldn't.  But I also know how much his father loved him, how much he influenced him. 

I always knew that my relationship with HNIC was special.  It was exasperating and frustrating and we fought a lot, but he was so important to me.  So much of who I am - especially what I know about race in America - is because of him.  We loved each other so deeply.  I will always miss him.  And still sometimes, that missing him spins me out. 

But I guess what I didn't know is how important he was to so many people.  Not just his kids of course, but SOOOOO many people - jesus, he even got a posthumous massive city honor.  He was an outstanding person in so many ways.  He took care of people.  He did good things.

And he should still be alive. 


In my program of study, there is of course a requirement for methods - it's how you research, basically.  I am in a class which is fine but for which I don't feel much because it's not new information to me.  She thinks that it is and I've told her it's not but I don't think she understands.

I have had FOURTEEN classes in this. 

My program of study requires four.  I still took two more where I am because I thought it good to brush up on stats, but I just couldn't make myself take another ethnography class.  I've practiced that shit so much and it's so time-consuming and I just can't make myself do it for practice again.  So I'm in this class which she told me wasn't an intro class but it's clearly an intro class.  It's like me taking English 101 at a university in China. 

I still asked her to be on my committee because she seems reasonable and she likes methods.  And so I just went through my transcripts and sent her a list of courses I've had so that we can figure out my exam questions from that. And that's when I saw how much I've already learned this.  In three different graduate schools. 

This right here is the kind of reason why I want to FINISH my degree.  What a waste of my time to have to sit in this class - but there isn't a better option really.  It's not that I think I know everything, but I'm tired of rehashing what I do already know.

Close, I'm close.  This is the last real class I'm taking. 


Ziggy is so on edge but it doesn't manifest as stress or anxiety.  She has just "blossomed" into a full adult guard dog, and nobody is going to fuck with us.  That's what yesterday's incident was about and it's how she's jumping to attention on every single thing.  I hang the laundry, she is right there - either barking to threaten the neighbors with bodily harm or standing beside me and assessing threats.  I move and she leaps up and runs to me.  That's even for just a fidgit.  She is RIGHT THERE.  She jumps through the dog door like she's leaping through a hoop of fire, ready to protect me from all harm.  She looks at me to give her a sign to escalate: "Want me to to kill him?  I WILL KILL HIM" and of course I'm just signaling descalation.

I watched Disjointed on Netflix and it's pretty bad, but the good part was a security guard played by Tone Bell - he was good, and there were these cartoon sequences that took you into his brain as a veteran with PTSD.  Again I'm reminded: my dog's brain is not wired like a normal dog's.  I thought we had made progress with this, but perhaps this is her permanent baseline.  She is like a grenade with the pin pulled. 

She's nutso this one, and maybe it's just all the stress together - her beloved person moving out, her finally getting used to the puppy and it moving out, new people moving in who aren't letting her investigate them, new dogs, etc.

She is a very good dog in so many ways but is SO fucking intense.  She's resting now, but if I try to move she will leap up, ready to enter a war zone and save humanity. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

favorite moment today

The puppy came over today to play and its owner, my now former tenant, was so happy/sad to see Ziggy.  Happy to see her but so sad to not see her every day.  Ziggy was elated to see her - they do have a special bond.  It will be great that she and the puppy stay here next week while I"m out of town.

The puppy and Ziggy played some, but it's mostly still a lot of Ziggy chasing the puppy, who runs from safe place to safe place.  When Ziggy had enough of that she went to the shadiest corner of the yard and dug a belly cooling hole.  The puppy peeked at her from across the yard and pranced over, as happy puppies do, and cuddled into Ziggy - who jumped up and looked at her like YOU FREAK IT'S 100 DEGREES WE DON'T SNUGGLE WHEN IT'S HOT OUTSIDE.  And then they dug holes together.  And when the puppy laid down, Ziggy barked at her and the puppy ignored her with tail wagging and I realized: they are entirely bonded to each other, and the puppy is loyal like Ziggy is.  She thinks: "This is my friend.  She has Tourette's and can't help barking, and so I ignore it and she's my friend."

Seeing those two Catahoulas lying together was just the sweetest thing. 

I took Ziggy to meet a neighborhood pit bull this morning and that did not go so well.  And I know that I'm biased against pit bulls and I'm sorry, because I know that many of them are the sweetest possible dogs in the world.  But if any dog whom I don't know shows signs of stress around Ziggy, I stay on guard, and if it's a pit bull and it snaps at her, then the visit is over.  I've seen what they can do.  I know that labs can do damage too, but I've never had a lab snap at her.  To this poor dog's defense, Ziggy jumped on him.  Because she's a total jackass.  I know this about her - she's a monstrous bully and honestly I don't think there's anything I can do about that.  But she does have dog friends who love her despite her jackassery.  My friend's dog Gus was the best - a retriever, he worshipped the ground Ziggy walks on.  He thought she was the best thing in the entire world and she could have probably eaten his face off and he'd still be wagging his tail.  They played hard and loved each other very much.  I'm so very sad he got shipped off to the country and ran away.  I hope he found the family and home he deserves.  There may very well never be another Gus for Ziggy - they had a special friendship.  But she does have other friendships with other dogs, and they are meaningful.  She does enjoy time with Roux, even though she's also always glad when it's over - I think he likes her more than she likes him, based on his reaction whenever we show up, but she does annoy him after awhile.  And she is genuinely distraught about tenant and puppy moving out.

My point is: Ziggy doesn't have to be friends with every dog any more than I have to be friends with every person.  Ziggy is friendly to almost every person, just as I am friendly to almost every dog.  We're just not quite as good with our own species.

Tomorrow she'll meet another new dog, a co-worker's.  She insists that he's a bomb-proof dog, and he is half-lab.  So, we will try.  And then Monday, yet another dog, one whose owner is a veterinarian who is a friend of a friend and she's fine with letting dogs rough house.  So, we will see how these two events go.

My front bike tire is flat.  This is so annoying.  I may have done something to it when loading/unloading it from my truck after the tune-up, and now I have to take it back in and I need to use the bike rack to avoid these issues but that's a pain in the ass and I don't have the bar I need to make it go on and I'm just aggravated because it's money money money.  It's a pretty bike and it works pretty well for my uses overall, but I have had sooo many tire issues it's super annoying.  And the shop is located between work and home so I can stop in easily but (a) I don't want to, and (b) what if it goes flat when I'm not near and need to walk six miles home?  I'll be frustrated.  Sigh.  I'm going to see if I can upgrade the tires to double-walled as I think that will solve some of my issues.  I can't fix the roads in New Orleans so that I never hit a bump.  And I shouldn't have to stress about it.

I'm thinking of growing pot.  Just a plant or two at a time, only for my consumption, and I'd really much prefer being able to just buy it at a dispensary but that's not an option here.  I absolutely refuse to be involved in street sales - first, there's no guarantee of quality, and second, I in no way want to support the drug trade. I just want something to help with my symptoms. On top of the pain, I get anxiety, and my difficulty reading the past couple of years seems a lot like ADD.  I have a hard time focusing and I really need to.

And I'm like: damn, this will be hard, but then I remember that every fucking college kid does it in the basement of the rental house, so I think I can handle it.  And while technically it would be illegal, who's going after me for one or two plants only for personal usage?  I just want to see if it helps my symptoms.

I know it sounds ridiculous that I would move to Oregon for pot, but that was one of the key factors making me consider it.  I don't think I got the job since I haven't heard from them, and the other job didn't even give me an interview.  And, I know that my life here is semi-charmed and lucky so why mess it up.  Yes, I would love to be near my closest friends, but that can wait.

So, I could take matters into my own hands and see if it meets my medical needs.  It would be one more stress to think about but it could potentially also really help me.  I've never been a big consumer of it and hardly know it.  I've had it maybe a few dozen times in my life.  But I do know that when I had it the last time I was in Oregon from a dispensary that it was exactly what I need right now.  I calmed and focused.

Ah jesus christ.  I just introduced Ziggy to another dog and she slipped into the hallway and rushed him and he freaked and a fight ensued and she bit his face and now he needs stitches which of course I'll pay for but goddammit it already and I really hope she doesn't give our name to report her for the bite.  

But the part that kills me is that the person grabbed the dogs' mouths.  She held her dog's jaw and then Ziggy's jaw and who the fuck does that when there is a dog fight?  What the actual fuck?  This could have turned out so much worse, with the person's hand bit and god knows what else.  And she was screaming at the top of her lungs the whole time.  When I got Ziggy off and out, the neighbor had climbed up to jump over the fence, shouting: "Is everyone ok?  Everything all right?"  And at that point I thought not, I thought that there was blood everywhere but it was just her red Icee.  The bite didn't show up until later because of his fur and it wasn't bleeding. 

OK, she just called and said on emergency vet recommendation, she's going to just clean it and watch it - likely no stitches.  So that's good news.  I appreciate her telling me. 

I can feel the adrenaline dissipating - this is going to be a day where I feel totally exhausted.  So I better do what I need to now.  I'm going to start with the bike shop and see if I can upgrade my wheels and what that would cost. 

So, Ziggy biting another dog is my least favorite moment.  I guess that's what I get for having the most favorite snuggle moment.  But I am grateful for the woman who isn't overreacting about this. 

So, yeah.  Ziggy is definitely not going to get many more friends.  I cancelled her play date for tomorrow.  I think she'll be fine with the dogs she already knows and if she really needs to get to know another dog then I'll figure it out, but no need for more socialization for its own sake. Sigh. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

starter apartment

One of the really fun things about being a landlord is when a tenant is super excited about moving in, when what you have and what they want line up and they feel lucky to have met you.

Moms love me.  This will be the second tenant in a row in the apartment in the back of my house who is living on her own for the first time, and both times the moms came in from out of state to help move her in and said to me, "Thank you, I was so worried but I feel so good about this now.  She moved out of our house 11 years ago, but always with somebody.  Now is her first time on her own and this is perfect." 

This mom is going to paint the place and I'm not standing in her way.  Go for it, mom.  Here are the supplies.  She even brought her own brushes.  She's adorable. 

Ziggy is distraught and acting nervous and needy.  She's really upset about losing the tenant and the puppy, though she'll be excited to meet new friends.  She just strongly loves who she loves.  So, she has a kong because I can stand her stalking me only so much. 

I had a first physical therapy appointment today and it seemed fine until I was like: "Why is my leg itching so bad?  IS THAT BAND LATEX?"  Dude, I filled out the paperwork and TWICE said I was allergic to latex.  And instead of reading that, or asking, you put a latex band on me?  Seriously?  And then you get like this blank look?  I'm lucky it's not more serious - I ran to the bathroom and washed it off, but it itched really bad and swelled up, and I've been out of it.  Then they were like, "OH, I can modify so you don't need a band or maybe you could like wedge yourself in someplace for that move for some resistance," and I"m like, dude, latex allergies are super common and you KNOW there are non-latex bands. 

I won't be going back.  Screw that.  Irresponsible fucks.  They have a duty to not expose me.  Every medical provider I know marks that - I go to the dentist and it's in screaming pink all over my folder and every time the dentist walks in not only does he see it but the hygienist reminds him to use different gloves.  But not someplace where I lay my body? 

I'm feeling really done with western medicine.  Screw this.  I"ll keep limping along.  I sure wish my chiropractor did physical therapy - she's awesome.  The rest of the people suck. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

emotional support beast

Today I took a conference call at home and it was a group of people who stress me out.  Crazy mean folks.  And do you know that without me asking, Ziggy was right beside me, even standing and leaning in for me to pet her when I needed.  She listened to their crazy-ass people voices and she sadly shook her head that I have to deal with that, and then she made it all better. 

That right there is a damn fine dog. I was ready to bribe her to be quiet, but I didn't have to do anything like that.  She was just perfect all on her own volition.  Had anybody told me 20 months ago that it could be like this, I'd never have believed it.  And of course she's still unpredictable - she could have been barking or rambunctioning.  But she wasn't. 

I then went to school and met with two professors and I"m on my way.  If I can stay super focused, I could take my exams in April and present my proposal in May, submitting proposal to IRB in March.  If it's approved by summer, I could start my research then and definitely be on track to complete at the end of spring 2019.  He was like: "You could be finishing up a year from now!" and I was like: "Stop killing me."  SEriously, this is a tough timeline and I need to be strict with myself.  But I can see some light ...

And I thought today as I was doing yet another tedious stupid task at work: what if I kept my stupid job and didn't take it seriously?  What if I used it as an opportunity to have a good life outside of work?  I enjoy my health insurance and regular paycheck and leave time.  I will soon be bicycling to work again.  I can print articles on the printer there and so on.  What if I just kept doing research after I finish my PhD and publish it on my own?  I don't need to be associated with a university to do that.  I could research whatever the fuck I want.  And maybe it turns into something better and maybe it doesnt, but I can keep slacking. 

Except of course that I hate it so much that it makes me sick. 

climate change activism

This article about a woman who died in the Mississippi river, who had been homeless since Katrina destroyed her home and her art.  A quote from her mother: "I think with Katrina, they only counted the dead bodies, but there are other people who took a little longer to die."

And then a post from five years ago in a storm aftermath with power lines down and people sweeping.  Isaac, I think that one was.

The storms are blurring together - which I see as memes on facebook, as people say all the major storms come on August 29.  No, that's not true, but what day do you count?  On landfall?  On when it hits your city?

I'm fluent in hurricane, speaking only with a slight accent these days.  And also tropical cyclones since we went through this when I lived on the Island.

And no place is immune from natural disaster, and I am NOT in any way suggesting we should not celebrate New Orleans.  But for me personally?  At what point does this get to be too much?  When do I become a climate migrant? 

Days like this, I wonder: is it too late to save the earth from us?  It certainly is since we have no desire to change our ways - we voted in a buffoon who pisses on science.  IF I had grandchildren I would feel such shame at the condition we're leaving things in - hell, I feel that anyway with children I don't even know. 

I may want to live someplace where my carbon footprint shrinks.  If I could live off the grid more.  But now I shamelessly run air conditioning even when I am not home - yes, I keep it at 80 degrees, but I find it's harder on the unit to fluctuate wildly and there is the issue of my dog's comfort of course. 

And as one person, my efforts are minimal.  I try to be a responsible global citizen, but what does one person do?  Especially as I'm still living a wasteful life since I live alone.  Oh, I know this rabbit hole, I fall into it much.  And perhaps it's time to become an activist.  I "liked" a FAcebook page for pipeline protestors in Louisiana, based out of a Native American village.  They asked for people to drive supplies to Texas tomorrow and I said I might be able to. The issue is: this year is to be selfish, focus only on school.  I do not want to fall behind because I want to finish. 

But there is so much activism to be done, so many times and ways to show up. 

paws crossed

While I have hunkered down into no-socializing-study-mode, Ziggy is having quite a different experience.  She and the tenant's puppy have been getting along better and they spent most of today playing really well together.  Well, the puppy would get Ziggy to chase her and then be afraid because Ziggy is so much dog so run and hide - and then come again.  I will feel better about their interactions when the puppy is bigger, but it was still a really good time.

Tenant moves out tomorrow but she will dogsit and keep a key to the yard.

I have set plans on Monday to meet a new dog friend.  Its owner is a vet who met Ziggy (personally, not professionally) and thinks our dogs will be fine together and we can let them rough house.  Also this weekend, my co-worker's dog and Ziggy will meet.  She says that he is exceedingly patient - he's the "bomb-proof dog" to test reactivity in other dogs because he doesn't react.  So, that's awesome.  There's our black lab friend down the street who is like that and there is no drama when they see each other because he's so chill.  Then I got a text from a woman who lives in the neighborhood and she's looking for a dog friend for her dog, and we'll try introducing them - he's very high-energy and needs buddies to play with.  And in a couple of weeks, Ziggy's friend Roux will come and spend the week with us.

So.  It's a lot. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

doesn't make sense, doesn't have to

I am best in emergencies.  I calm, focus, center, and act effectively. 

But for whatever reason, this storm now is pushing me over the edge.  We're not even in the actual Harvey cone - we're outside.  Which, as any hurricane savant knows, doesn't stop excessive rain and flooding, and that's what we fear.

The mayor of New Orleans has told us all to stay home, which makes me and the hound have cabin fever.  Which is very strange for we recluses who could usually spend a week at home without missing the outside world. 

Last night we went across town to visit a friend who'd never met Ziggy before.  Ziggy was DELIGHTED to cruise her house and clean up all the many bits of food from all over the floor.  There was even a pizza box on the floor with cheese stuck to it that she could pick off, so this was heaven for the hound.  There's a ten-year-old boy who was horizontal on the couch with iPad the entire time, and Ziggy was respectful of his space.  And she was quite good with the adult woman except when she'd get really excited.  Perhaps the gesticulations, but I think that Ziggy just really wanted to see her face so would try to jump up.  OTher than that, she was a champ.  No stealing things or chewing things or anything - just a cat's ball that she wanted to play with but I worried would stick in her throat.  Her ability to be ok in new spaces is great in case we ever need to evacuate. 

Which is of course what's on my mind.

Today 12 years ago Katrina made landfall.  I was on a refugee camp in Ghana then and only heard bits from BBC Network Africa.  I still have never seen most of the images that circulated at the time.  But I have heard hundreds of personal stories of how people's lives were uprooted, and there is an energy here.  The land itself clenches up with fear in times of storm.  The air itself holds its breath with anxiety.  This place holds memories of hundreds of years.  That's why it's so rich, so special - and also so complicated. 

And perhaps I'm overreacting because I no longer have HNIC to make sure I"m ok.  He was an extraordinary person who has saved many lives and I knew I was on his list to take care of and that has always provided a level of comfort.  Even when it was me taking care of him - like during Hurricane Isaac - it's very comforting.

Flash flood warnings are blaring from my phones.

I'm grateful to be home today instead of at work, thank you Mayor Mitch for telling everyone to shut down, but I make myself crazy worrying. 

It was a gentle rain that woke me this morning, and a snuggly dog.  She always worries most before a storm comes - the liminal space of barometric shifts is what uneases her - and when a storm comes she just sleeps.  Today she snuggles, though now she's looking at the window, making sure the perimeter is secure. 

So, I touch on this fear and feel it.  I will not drown in it.  I will do laundry and vacuum while the power stays on. Maybe even bake cookies.  To feel alive and "normal."

Monday, August 28, 2017

eyes on Houston

Last night, thoughts of Houston kept rushing through my mind.  Such a tragedy, such devastation. 

This is of course one reason that I want to get a canoe.  The thought that we can paddle out to safety is comforting.  On the other hand, at the first sign of trouble the pooch and I head out.  Often in an emergency, animals and humans are separated, and that is a stress I won't put Ziggy through if I can ever avoid it.  It may make me not the best landlady, but the dog is more important than that.  The chickens would have to fend for themselves - perhaps I'd put a roosting pole in my carport to give them shelter, lay out food for them and several water options, and so it would be.  I would likely return to a full flock - these are feisty girls who are pretty loyal to me because I give such good treats.  Yesterday two of them were staring down a hawk.  The other four huddled in fear in the coop, but those two were like: "Oh yeah?  Fuck you, you goddamn predator.  We will CUT YOU."  It's kind of the look they give me when I'm not fast enough with the treats.  They can absolutely fly out of the run - they do it when they have a reason (such as treats), but they only do it when they have a reason.  They are very fine chooks.  And despite myself, I've started giving some names. "Glutton" is the lead hen who eats all the time.  She eats far more than all the others.  "Maverick" is the lowest in the order, in part because she's small and scrappy, in part because she just always wants to do her own thing and she pisses off the other birds who are more of a flock.   "Cowpea" is the one who will cut my throat if I don't shell those cowpeas faster.  "Meanie" is the second in the order who is a big bitch to everyone.  

No sweet names like Ms. Moon's grandchildren give.  I have a flock of street fighting Upper 9th Ward hens who are not here to play. 

I wish I could skip work this week and just stay cuddled up with my nervous dog.  Yesterday she met the tenant's puppy again - tenant is moving out this week and we wanted to try again.  That puppy screams a lot.  I get that Ziggy is A LOT of dog, and that screaming is a good communication strategy, but it's still a lot of screaming.  Ziggy is just kind of obsessed with the puppy and wants to sniff it and nudge it and bark at it if it's not doing anything besides cowering in fear.  IT's kind of hard to tell if it's real fear - which we would protect her from - or melodrama.  IT seems more the second because after a few minutes, the puppy's tail is wagging and things are fine, and if she senses that I have treats she can't be stopped.  She thinks me calling "Ziggy" means to come for treats and she is more than happy to oblige, but I'm afraid of giving her something that Ziggy would take - Z has never shown resource guarding but with a tiny puppy is not the time to test it.  I think the puppy is much more people than dog oriented - she lights up when she sees me.  Anyway, I said I think they're fine and they've been coming out without me to the backyard and things are fine when I'm not there - when I show up, Ziggy gets more monstrous.  She got annoyed the puppy wouldn't come down the stairs when told and ran up to grab her neck and carry her down - which of course made the puppy scream.  She is a very sweet puppy with people, and hopefully we can reintroduce them when she's bigger and finds Ziggy less threatening. 

I really don't want to go to work.  Maybe I"ll go in and work half a day and then see if I can bring my computer home to work. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

this is it

This article describes how my health is - though the person writing it is significantly worse off than me.  I fortunately can function more and hold a job, but much of it is the same - the number of spoons that I have and how they get used up.  This is like how stress at my work is - it takes spoons, so I can't handle other things and then my pain can't be ignored. 

This also explains my fear at losing my job because in this health situation, I can't hold down a FT middle school teaching job.  Or go to court every day for clients.  Or a lot of things. 


I rant here so that I can remain calm in person.

ONe of my tenants is a friend. Her family and me are tightly wrapped up together - I've lived with her ex-husband and her ex-son-in-law.  HEr daughter and I are good friends; her granddaughter and I are soul buddies (as a toddler, she is the one who pulled me into the fold). 

I knew she was depressed where she was living - like a basement apartment with fluorescents and no natural light, and the rent was hiking significantly.  So when I bought my other house, I offered that she move into mine.  It has a large (for NEw Orleans) yard (an entire lot next door) where she can garden, I let her bring her cats, etc.  IN exchange for well below-market rent, she is to maintain the yard.

Well, yard maintenance has been spotty at best.  The house is in an area where nobody will report it, but it gets overgrown, and she doesn't pick up the trash that is always flying around.  She says she does, but she doesn't do it thoroughly.  It's a very dense urban neighborhood where lots of people are walking, and we have parades, and there were two bars, and trash gets on the ground.  It's annoying to pick up other people's trash, but it's part of the deal, and when I lived there I just would spent ten minutes every day or so because it makes a huge difference in my mind.  She doesn't do that. 

She's been really depressed but now she's manic and she's making me crazy.  She's finally doing the yardwork she agreed to do a year and a half ago, and she is constantly wanting me to come see it.  Well, I don't have time for that and why does she need so much validation?  And I don't like how she prunes the trees and various other things, but I can hold my tongue because it doesn't really matter, but why the fuck ask me all the time after you've done things?  Ask me before or just let me keep quiet. 

Yesterday she texted, wanting to paint closet doors.  I've told her numerous times before to email, not text, about the house.  I often get texts when I'm out and about and unable to respond, and she has unerring accuracy at catching me at very inopportune times.  But I don't process texts later - I process emails later.  Texts are for "I'm on my way" communications, not for negotiating.

But this is what's aggravating - I've been taking care of her water bill since she moved in.  She reimburses me, but I still have to receive and pay the bill, and the more things like that I can take off my plate the better.  She has problems with her license and I gave her all the steps she needs to take to get that resolved (because she asked), but instead of taking care of that and paying fees, she wants to spend money on paint. 

How other people spend their money is not my business, except when it becomes my business.  Like the guy who was living there when I bought the house, and he chose instead of paying rent to buy stripper boots for his girlfriend and pay her car note.  Dude, you can do those things for her and that's all up to you and I have nothing to say about it, but when you don't pay your rent to me on time, and when you try to yank me around and blow three chances, then you will get evicted.  Seriously. 

And obviously I'm not going to evict my friend who always pays rent on time.  But I am going to be aggravated every time she gets on my radar. She completely annoys me, and she seems to be totally unaware of this because she keeps trying to socialize with me.  I thank her and refuse because I am busy, but also because she's not how I want to spend my time.  And don't get me started on how Ziggy responds to her - she goes nuts.  "Oh she loves me," my friend says.  Actually, no.  Ziggy catches all your crazy and needy energy and she wants you to go away, but because Ziggy is too mannerly to bite, she'll just jump and be belligerent until you leave.  She's not the energy that we need around. And yes, I think she's getting worse.  I think she's manic right now, but I also think she's having cognitive decline.  And I can fix whatever damage she does to the house but some of it is really aggravating - like, how did you fuck up the door jam so badly?  I told you how to open the door and you ignored me. IT sticks a bit because it's 110 years old, but it's only a problem for her.

So why do I let her live there?  It's my good deed.  And so I want to be grateful for the ability to do a good deed for someone whose life and well-being matters to me and to people I love.  But the less contact I have with her, the easier it is to be grateful. 


OK, off to walk the dog and then I am going to brave the wilds of Walmart for canning jars and various other things such as calendula ointment for the dog's ear (no idea why it's bothering her but would love to not go to the vet for it) and toilet bowl cleaner.  Walmart is awful anyplace but it's especially bad in New Orleans.  It's just so awful.  But it's so much closer than Target.  I go to those kind of places like maybe once every four months, so I have a list.  I'm also in a feud with Amazon so need to stop relying on them so much (our USPS just doesn't often deliver packages in this area, and it has been reported to Amazon many times yet they continue to use them, and that pisses me off). 

I have so much reading to do I'm a bit overwhelmed and anxious.
I wanted to take in a foster dog from the shelters evacuating from the storm, but I just don't think I can do it.  I'm already so overwhelmed.  I made the decision to make this academic year just focused on my studies, while keeping my job, and my only real hobby to be gardening because it does me good and is related to my dissertation. 

Speaking of which, yesterday I sketched out an outline of my dissertation - just the chapters' focus, but it actually makes it seems real, and it is really helpful for me to think of theory and methodology and research question.  And frankly, I think that it meets another suggestion from a former professor who has offered to be on my committee - each chapter could potentially stand on its own (with some tweaking of course) as a journal article, and the whole thing could make an interesting book.  I mean, not to everyone of course.  No bestseller here.  But if I make it research-sound enough, it could be used as an academic reference, and if I make it engaging enough it could be read by others. 

So all that really does help me stay focused with my eye on the "prize" - exams and proposal this year, research and write next year, and end scene.  But exams and proposal are A LOT and so I have no time or energy for other things. 

OK, dog walk, errands, read.  It's a Sunday that reminds me how very fortunate I am. 

And I'm really ready for this storm to get here and be done.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

beans in ground

Just planted some beans - bush variety, jade and royal burgundy.  The purple beans are always fun for kids to see - "I've never seen a PURPLE green bean before!"  Come to think of it, adults say that, too.  Same with peppers - back when I lived in southern California and gardened, once I took some purple peppers to a party and we added them to the salad.  A visiting German friend said: "Purple peppers!  Remarkable!  How are they purple?"  I, straight-faced: "Spray paint."  A brilliant man, he still fell for it.

Gardens are fun, as are the unusual things.

I would like to plant more beans but I want to save space in the beds for beets and carrots, both of which I will eat in large quantities, given the chance.  And both of which I could cook and feed to dog and chickens.  And beet greens are of course my favorite.

The front is coming along - I'm mounding straw and finished hauling dirt to make that ready, but I have to travel in two weeks so I think I'll postpone planting until I'm back.  Plus, it's hot, and I want to plant winter crops.  There will be so many things there - mustard greens and kale and peas and on and on.  The mailman and I had a long talk yesterday and he said: "Why are you not gardening in the backyard?  I worry about people being ugly and messing with it."  "Well, I have to believe people are better than that.  And I'm happy to share."

I picked up my bike and took it out of the truck to the garage and ... the back wheel was catching.  Sigh. So, I drove back.  I was pretty frustrated.  While waiting for the tire adjustment, another person working started up a conversation and he was like calendula salve on a burn.  Just delightful. We talked through what route I'll be going to work and he had a good idea. 

I got home and rode around the block and I think the front fender bent in from my transport but that should be ok and mostly: it's that feeling that I really like, of bicycling. As Mr. Delightful said, "I like driving fine, but I really prefer biking."  It is so freeing and much more interactive with the environment and it's just great.

Friday, August 25, 2017

that bitch Harvey

Hurricane Harvey is barrelling down on Texas and I'm hoping people there keep safe.  I've summoned friends but they are going to hunker down with their seven or so pets.  In a pinch they could bring them all here and we would just figure things out with the crazy dog.

The crazy dog has some stomach problems going on and she will no longer touch Pepto Bismol so I need to figure out a work-around.  Poor pup.

I called in sick today because as is usual with a storm coming in, my body hurts.  I hope to still find the energy to haul some dirt but we'll see.  I have a ton of chores to do before Harvey wrecks us, too.  I had no electricity this morning - I woke up, set the kettle to boil, and just as it was heating: bloop.  So I dug out my camping stove and boiled some water on the front porch and let Ziggy out there with me (with baby gate) and she wasn't having any of that - once I opened the door she rushed back into the house.  She didn't like the flame, she doesn't like the look of those hungry chickens, she doesn't like the feeling in the air of impending storm.  she was fine in the backyard as I lay in the hammock reading.  We may do more of that if it stays below 90 degrees and overcast.  But I have so many chores. 

Nothing says "time to pickle your okra" like a hurricane in the Gulf.  But this batch will be special.  INspired by Ms. Moon, and very local.  Okra from my garden, local salt and sugar and garlic, dill and mustard seed bought from a small spice specialty shop, and peppers that a woman gave me in gratitude for me passing along some water kefir grains to her.  I think I'll make about 6 pints, we'll see once I start packing the jars.  I anticipate a couple more batches before the season is out because if it's anywhere near as good as what I made last time, it will be in very high demand. 

I was contemplating whether I should buy a canning kettle or not, since perhaps I may be moving.  But then I realized: if I end up in Oregon, what will help me get through a dreary winter is popping open a jar of my pickled okra.  Any kind I've ever bought is nowhere as good. 

I have some obnoxious neighbors to the back.  The woman is really nice and friendly but some younger people that hang around there are super obnoxious.  Lots of cursing and "n-word" and all that and I don't like it.  I am a big fan of rap but the misogyny with some of the rappers can get super old.  So, I'm not a fan and I give them a lot of dirty looks.  Anyway, a ton of lights are installed in the backyard right now and I asked her about it and she said her son is turning 40 over Labor Day and they're having a big party and she invited me over. 

Now, I'll tell you my first thought is: I don't pass up a party in New Orleans because the food is always good. 

My second thought is: I have to put the dog up.  Because if she heard me on the other side of the fence, she would rip right through it. 

And then I think: so if I get to know the people whom I consider obnoxious, how would that change our dynamic?  Would their behavior change around me?  Would they expect my behavior to change?

I really want to get back into bicycle commuting.  I stopped when I got Ziggy and then never touched my bike again once I moved in here over a year ago.  It seems far to work but also without a good, safe route.

But I'm feeling more ... confident?  Actually I've been exuding confidence everywhere I go.  I'm sure it's annoying to some people but I don't care.  Rarely do I care what others think, but I especially don't care when I'm in a round of strong confidence.

Part of the confidence - and I don't think it's a manic episode, though I never fully know until hindsight - is thinking that I've found a route with only two sketchy spots and the rest pretty solid.  And coming to terms with needing to wear a helmet.  I'm usually exceedingly helmet averse, but it's a deal I have with myself about the 6 mile ride each way along some areas where drivers don't give a goddamn about bicyclists.

I'm working other deals out with myself, such as: raingear.  I just found a cape that seems perfect as rain pants are a huge pain in the ass.  When I was in college I always biked to school no matter how rainy and I wore this old army surplus poncho and my friend always called me turtle because I carried my books on my back.  I guess I was peculiar but I never thought of it.  When I was in middle school, I had a paper route and I biked no matter how rainy and it was usually pretty goddamn rainy.  People were always commenting about this but I didn't give a fuck because ... well, that's my way.  I was born not giving a fuck and I'll die not giving a fuck.

Anyway, I am eyeing this cape and kind of all about it because not just for biking, there are other times I would wear it.  My current rain jacket that I've had a long damn time is about as water repellent as a cotton sheet and I need to upgrade.  I wish I already had my cape because it's going to be a doozy of a wet week and it would be great to have when I need to go outside.  I am often drenched.  I use an umbrella but it is insufficient when there is wind.  How I would instead love to slip into a rain cape.

Plus ...

Cleverpup dog cape

there is a matching cape for dogs.  The dog in that photo is NOT impressed, but Ziggy is a better sport about such things.  I remember when I knit the big bulky Icelandic sweater that I have, there was leftover yarn and I started to knit something from my dog Selma.  Somehow she knew my intentions and she was having NONE of that.   Ziggy though - I think she would find the humor in matching raingear with her person. 

OK, I don't really plan to buy a matching rain cape for my dog.  But it's hilarious to think about. 

So ... I need to buy a helmet, and rain gear.  These things are adding up, including the tune-up.  But I think it will be very good for me to bike again.  The drive to work stresses me out.  And the exercise and meditative time is good.  And I have to take advantage of having a job that allows that. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

good news, I guess

So the good news is that my hips show no sign of arthritis. 

The not as good news is that the doctor I saw today doesn't really have a suggestion about dealing with my hip pain.  Without an MRI he couldn't diagnose, but based on the past doctor's diagnosis of labral tear, he says: "Sure, there is a surgery for that, but I don't do it because it makes a person more prone to fracture and arthritis and other issues."  "And I'm walking now."  "Yes, and you're walking now.  So I recommend not going that route.  Yes, there have been advances in the technology of the surgery, but I still don't recommend it."

Which on the one hand is exactly what I chose ten years ago when the doctor told me I needed surgery and I blew him off.  As this today's doctor says, this kind of surgery is most often demanded in case of young athletes - and I saw a sports medicine doctor before, so that makes sense.  But for me, he aims conservative. 

"Yeah, maybe PT can help.  I can write you a prescription for that if you want."  He didn't sound entirely convinced, and that was my experience last time.  No help at all. I'll try it but, yeah. 

He said I can probably do most activities and if it hurts then stop and take some Aleve.  He thinks I probably won't make it much worse ... though as I asked specific things, he was like, "Yeah, stairs are really hard on the hip ..."  But he did say bicycling is fine, and that concurs with my experiences when I was doing that daily.  He said the elliptical is fine, and that's good news as I'd quit before from past diagnosis. 

So, yeah.  I'm back at square one here.  My hips hurt, I can't run or walk up or down stairs, but I don't have arthritis so things could be way worse.  And I have a killer chiropractor who makes me walk again every damn time so I'm never giving up on her. 

And my PCP didn't really address the recurrent pain.  Like, at all. I did pick up my lab test results from that office today and everything really is fine (except thyroid of course, which will never be "normal" - or even detectable - and I'm fine with that).  I credit eggs every day with making my cholesterol resolutely fine and pushing me out of the grey bad area that I'm in when I'm vegetarian. 

But I often have pain that makes me really miserable, and he was like: "See you next year!  Unless something comes up with your thyroid."  Dude, my thyroid has always been funky.  Why would that change?  But, I'm in pain.  I need to read the book he recommended on tapping out, but I am not sure that all my pain is psychosomatic.

Class #2 done.  HOw many more weeks?  Sigh.  It's not painful, I'm just tired.  Tonight I was standing in the hallway with the professor and a student that I met my first term, one of the super helpful people in that class who really helped me with Ziggy.  She has a dog who is insane and will kill people and dogs.  So, they have strategies to handle that and that is just how life is.  Things could be worse.  Ziggy is still barking at the puppies nextdoor but less, and one of them will come towards her but when she starts barking he runs away.  She thinks they're very shifty and not to be trusted, but they'll grow on her.  I read an article today about how often dogs don't like their owners and good god I'm glad that's not our problem.  She didn't like me when I got her - it took months for us to bond.  God, I wouldn't go back to those days for anything - it was so hard because we really didn't like each other very much at all.  But now we like each other quite a lot.

Anyway, we were in the hall and another student from the first class I had came out ot the hallway from her class (she also was helpful - she has a dog that actually has killed other dogs; she got him when she lived in Tijuana when he adopted her)  and oh it was fun to catch up.   We laugh so hard together.  We are completely different people - in every possible way.  But we did develop a mutual respect and it's fun to catch up with her.  She's going to try to drop that class and join ours so we can sit in the back of the classroom and have our own commentary. The professor was like noooo, I can't handle that!  But we're not mean. We - and I'll include the other person - are three strong women who are incredibly different and can appreciate each other.  And that's really nice.  And I can include the prof in that. 


I would love to live outside the formal economic system, though I have no idea how that is done.  I'm hoping to make my first steps soon.  There's a guy in my old neighborhood who makes his own ice cream that he sells from his house, and I reached out and he said he'd be happy to barter sometimes.  So when he needs eggs I'll go over and hopefully get some rosemary lemon curd or chocolate brownie or some other delicious frozen confection.  Not that I need ice cream but I like ice cream and this is fun.

And if things go well, I'll encourage other barters with him.  Sweet potatoes in ice cream could be amazing.  Okra ice cream is a thing and the texture would be awesome.  When my calamondin tree is full again, that would make an amazing sorbet. 

I don't want to make the ice cream myself, mind you, but I would love to provide some of the exciting flavors.  He's very creative - I've been following him for some time. 

And maybe then I meet other people through him.  Maybe people who want to exchange what I grow for something else of value to me.  I don't know what that would be, but it's fun to think about. 

Baby steps. 

Which is how I feel about work.  Yesterday I had a delightful conversation with somebody who's caused me headaches in the past, and I realize that almost three years in, they've finally gotten used to me.  Somewhat.  I got kudos from the head honcho on something I put my neck out on.  Mind you - I'm far from bulletproof, and this is far from ideal, but at least it's not actively toxic in this moment.  And I feel trapped with the pay.  Can I really walk away from something that pays twice what another job pays?   I've made this little comfortable nest which I'm lining with retirement and health care savings, and when I'm done with school I'll be putting some more resources into paying off my mortgages sooner.  And I don't have to wear a suit, and soon I'll start bicycling again hopefully (if it feels safe).  There are very few professional jobs in New Orleans that have people bicycling to them.

I have left work early every day this week.  I've had appointments and commitments and it's not a big deal.  That's not the case with most jobs.  I am rarely gone from home more than 9 hours, which is  lot for a dog but nothing like most jobs.

My old boss said basically I could have a current opening - but it's an hour and a half away so I'd have to get housing there.  And I try to work through all these iterations, and financially it sounds really stupid.  I would like the work, that I know because I've done it before, but financially it's really a challenge. 

If I am offered the ORegon job though, it's still in the running.  Key is: proximity to my closest friends.  Quality of life.   An office without drama.  And the office manager and I have exchanged emails about our dogs - hers come to the office each day and I laugh at the thought of that for Ziggy.  These are dog people in a dog area and Ziggy's godmother is two hours away, where she can always stay.  There are mountains to hike and beaches to wander.  So yeah, that's still a possibility.  But I don't know about staying in Oregon for half the pay.  I just can't make that make sense, especially when I'd be losing dental and vision insurance, would have to drive so much more that I'd have to get a new car (my 16 year old pickup is fine for commuting for now, but it's not going to be good for the kind of miles the job requires - it will die and that will make me sad). 

I'm late to work already and it doesn't matter.  Because my "late" is other people's "early."  Just like my "slacking" is other people's "productivity."  This job is kind of ruining me, making me lazy and petty.  But maybe that's just who I am now, at least for the foreseeable future.