Tuesday, July 25, 2017

choices

I was feeling pretty good about my decision to NOT buy the lot behind my house.  More debt, more work - who's got time for that?  Not me! 

And then my friend who offered investment cash a few weeks ago called out of the blue.  I told her about it and she got super excited. 

Soul of mine.  What to do? 

Monday, July 24, 2017

drop

A potential tenant came to view the place today, the first. 

The only.  Inshallah.

She is Midwestern, which is a direct way of communication that for me is very refreshing.  I do find the "bless her heart"s delightful sometimes, but sometimes I just really want to be able to speak directly without it being a big drama. 

She said the space will work really well for her and I believe her because she's a grown-up. 

Then I let Ziggy in and there was a lot of jumping, but Ziggy actually dropped the frisbee for her which is unheard of - and when we went back inside and she told Ziggy to go out (because she slipped through us) and Ziggy actually listened to her.  Completely unheard of.  Ziggy usually utterly disregards strangers - with a few exceptions, she only really listens to people with whom she has a relationship. 

Apparently Ziggy likes midwestern directness as well. 

So, she'll send me a deposit and we will seal the deal. 

I always find this process cumbersome, but so far I've always been really lucky.  Even the people I've had to evict, things could have been much worse.  I trust my instincts, and now I rely on Ziggy's instincts, too. 

And once I get the deposit, I think I'll book that weekend away on the sandbar. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

what the frisbee reveals

The lot behind my house is for sale.  For $58,000.  Which is twice what they paid for it five years ago.

It is zoned for single-family residential and the plan is to keep it all that way (the few multi-family dwellings around were grandfathered in before the new master plan post-Katrina). It's vacant land and was a single-family, so I wouldn't be able to build a multi-family, which is the way to make money.

Basically all I want it for is 8,000 square feet of letting the chickens run free.  OK, that's not true - I would give them 4,000 square feet and the rest would be garden.  I'd just fence it and let it be land.  Combined with my lot, it would be almost half an acre.  That's a fuckload of land.

And if I knew that I had it in my future to really be a baller agriculturalist - to raise a shit-ton of produce and chickens (the land can be for agriculture, but no livestock), then it could be worth it if I could talk them down to maybe $40K.  I could refinance my current house and pay for it.

But then I get more debt, which is not what I want.

And yes, I could build my dream house on the other lot and rent out my current house to cover the mortgage - but this is not my dream location.  I don't want to be on that street.

I discovered it's for sale because yesterday I threw Ziggy's frisbee over the fence by accident and tonight we went to find it.  She was completely unimpressed with my tracking skills.  She's a tough crowd.

If I were to be all in on agriculture, this could potentially be enough space for a self-funding enterprise.  How fucking convenient to be right behind my house and very near to a number of farmers markets.  I could - if I'm reading the code right - even have a fucking farmstand right there.  On my lot.  Behind my house.  How crazy is that?

There is demand for non-factory eggs and if I were purchasing food in bulk, we've got that one handled.  My hens are amazing, seriously - we've worked out a lot of the glitches.  I would happily have several dozen more.  I could also raise rabbits but I think they're so delightful I'd have a hard time killing them.  Well, maybe not.  I could not have goats as the space isn't large enough.  I don't know that I could legally slaughter and process rabbits and chickens on a residential lot, but a good fence keeps secrets well.  Oh, but then nobody could buy it.  Hm.  So I'd be limited to produce and eggs.

And of course I could eventually sell the lot and probably not lose any money, at worst.  Perhaps even make a tidy sum.

My huge advantage would be that I wouldn't have to drive hours to market day, as most of the vendors do.  I could do Saturday market and another sale like to a restaurant or something.  And if I weren't working on my PhD, I could do that now - keeping my job and operating at a loss would be a good thing because it would reduce my tax liability ... and then I could get established and quit my job, or do it part-time, for health insurance.  I could be building up the infrastructure.  LIke a large chicken coop with a damn solar door. 

A woman quit her job at my work and now sells pastries or jams or something at farmer's market and she says she makes really good money.  She talked about the second refrigerator and buying butter in bulk and all that ... maybe I should call her and talk to her.

Agriculture is wicked hard, I know.  I'm of the "toss out some seeds and see if they grow" school, not hard-core.  If vine borers eat all my zucchini, and wilt kills my tomatoes, oh well. But that would be seriously a problem if I were counting on making money. But, then I would be paying closer attention and taking better care.

I would probably never be able to make a living by gardening a back lot, but it could be one hustle on top of the rentals and maybe freelance work.  I just find the 40 hour a week grind to be awful, especially in a place I hate.  I would much rather be walking around the back 1/4 acre with a hoe and a Catahoula.  And being RIGHT by my house is so convenient.

I could swing it, to finance the purchase.  But then I'd have to stop contributing so aggressively to retirement.

Ziggy is a good farm dog - she loves to do chores with me and keeps me protected.  She would be a very good patrol dog, but there's that pesky issue about the chickens and her loathing of them.  Would need good fence for protection, which probably isn't a bad idea overall.  There's apparently a coyote roaming our neighborhood right now.

Risk forward?

***
AFter posting this and taking a shower, I realized: my friend already risked forward for me.  She had invested in a friend's distillery and they sold it and cashed her out, and she offered it to me as an investment in a new property.  I was like: oh, I'm maxed out on rentals right now, thanks.  But this?  She'd be all in, and her funds are liquid.  They would only cover a fraction of the costs - but still, it seems like a sign.  


sorrel to ringworm

The dog was on edge last night and sure enough - when I got up this morning, my truck had been rifled through.  They didn't even take the change in my console so who knows what they wanted.  I have a first aid kit that was taken and left open in the truck bed so maybe they wanted drugs?  Or guns?  Who knows.  I know a guy - a public defender in another part of the state - who had about four guns stolen from his vehicle.  He told me this story when he took me to lunch one day in his soft-top jeep and left his gun in his glove compartment.  Everything about that seemed crazy to me, even though he was one of the smartest people I've ever known. 

I think I may have ringworm.  This spot on my shoulder blade has been driving me crazy with itchiness and I thought it was a bug bite - I do get a lot of them, especially from ants - but from what I can see in the mirror, it looks like ringworm.  So, I got some anti-fungal and will start that for two weeks. 

No idea where I would have gotten ringworm from.  Any exposure would be when I'm wearing a sleeveless short and it is pushed over to expose that area.  I see no other spot on my body, though there is a bizarre 2" round light circle appearing on my right forearm. That could be from pushing a pipe or something - who knows.  If it goes away I won't think about it.

But I can no longer ignore the itchy spot on my shoulder that is not going away after maybe a couple of weeks.  Maybe ten days.  No idea. 

And then our Angella posted a story about Lyme disease and how it's underdetected and undertreated.  Let Kris Kristofferson be a lesson to us all.  I've had many tick bites in my life, including in the past couple of years, especially since getting Ziggy (she's now on tick preventative and repellent, which has been quite helpful).  And I haven't had a tick bite in the past 30 days that I know of so I don't think that this rash is from that (though HOW WOULD I HAVE GOTTEN RINGWORM??), and Lyme disease isn't very common in the South.  But, our ticks still carry diseases so maybe it's another tick disease?  What if my pain is from something like that? 

Well, I have an appointment with a new doctor I hear good things about, so we can talk about it. 

Looks like the course of treatment is a long course of doxycycline.  Which I was on for many months in 2010-11, so it should have knocked out anything predating that.  (And then I went off it and within literally HOURS I had malaria.  Sheesh.)  What if my pain is Lyme arthritis which can be treated with 28 days of doxycycline?  Man, I could handle the side effects for that.

Chikungunya is a virus so I never contemplated antibiotics as a treatment for that.  But what if it's bacterial? 

What would a life without pain look like?  Well, short-lived, because i'm nearly 50 and I know that aches and pains are a fact of life.  My ankle is killing me, probably because of a flare-up of an old injury (I've broken it at least twice without treatment, xrays have revealed).  It'll pass. 

Anyway, I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's something to consider to discuss with the doctor.

Tenant here gave notice, and it will be hard for Ziggy to lose her.  But she offered to petsit Ziggy and I have to travel a week after she moves out so that's helpful.  I have three possible replacements now - people who sound employed and low drama and love dogs - so fingers crossed that all works out.  I find appealing people like me - who make plans and set goals - not those who drift through life.  The drifters often don't remember to pay rent on time.  I think Ziggy would be quite happy with a drifter, somebody who likes to hang around and doesn't expect her to be perfectly well behaved. 

She is growing up though.  Tenant has two people visiting for a few weeks and said Ziggy only jumped on them once and then was over it.  That's great news. 

She is curled up beside me on the couch, sound asleep.  IT's hard to be my protection. 

I need to read a lot today.  Bring in the laundry.  Cook.  On the menu: snapper collar from a friend's fishing trip, smothered okra with tomatoes - everything from my garden except perhaps some bacon added, and a cucumber (from garden) salad with rice vinegar and dill. 

I'm getting OBSESSED about my winter garden.  I have seed packets strewn about, several charts of how I'm going to plant sketched out, several seed vendors' websites open.  My favorite cucumbers are Persian, but they look pretty high-maintenance.  I had some yu choy which is a Chinese mustard green recently and I really liked it so I'm trying to find some of those seeds.  I keep talking myself out of it: "You have enough seeds and what the hell will you do with all this produce?" but then I remember: I don't know how long I'll be here.  I may not ever again live in a place with such openness to allow such gardening.  I may not have the means in the future to prep a bed as I plan to do this.  I don't garden just because I want quality produce - I do it because digging in the dirt is really good for me.  And having chickens is just so perfect because they'll eat whatever I don't.  And, I'll figure out a system to share with the neighbors.  Especially if the bed is anywhere near as productive as I expect it might be.  It's about 10 feet by 32 feet - the strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Technically I'm not supposed to garden on it, I guess.  But the chickens get the whole front yard pretty much and the dog almost all of the back, so that's a fine space for collards and beans and kale and peas and mizuna and so many other things.  Otherwise it's just thick grass that's a pain in my ass to keep mowed.  So it's solarizing now and I need to check on that, do some trimming and plastic adjustments.  These hot days are great for solarizing.  I see the grass turning brown underneath the plastic and I'm delighted.  I fucking hate this monstrously lush lawn.  I want food instead.  And maybe in two years I live someplace where neighbors call code enforcement on me for doing any one of a dozen things I'm doing right now. 

Carpe diem.  No future is guaranteed, especially to me and my wayward ways.  I may never be able to grow okra again after this year so I want to enjoy all of it.  OH, and how about these beautiful sorrel hibiscus?  The things I could do with their fruit! 

I got Ziggy a new toy when I stopped at Dollar General Market for the anti-fungal creme - a snake that makes a funny noise when turned.  Usually a new toy makes her super happy - she snatches it up and runs around with it and that's her favorite for a week.  But this one?  She turned it upside down and gently licked its belly, and every time it makes a noise she looks at it worried.  Does she think it's a kitten or somethign such?  The one time she carried it around, it was with the softest mouth I've ever seen her use.  So this is good news if I were to want a kitten.  Which I don't really, though I think Ziggy would love it and the woman who fostered her is bottle feeding a litter that was going to be euthanized if she didn't. 

OK, now I'm just malingering.  Time to read and cook. I love my weekends but they are far too short. 
 

Monday, July 17, 2017

I really do

This song has been stuck in my head for weeks.



The chorus really: "Don't you remember you told me you loved me, baby?  Said you'd be coming back this way again, baby?  Baby baby baby baby oh baby, I love you.  I really do."

HNIC and I used to fight and be estranged pretty regularly.  We both had big personalities, stubborn, and carry more than our share of baggage.  And I have no idea how we got through the first rounds of it - I think the sexual attraction, maybe.  Yeah, definitely.  There was something so intense about our lovemaking.

Then it was our intellectual stimulation.  We would talk and talk and talk.  I learned so much from him.

And then we fell in love with each other.

And then we grew to love each other beyond all that.

Nothing ever kept us apart for long.

Until death.

And I'm so pissed off because I feel robbed.  I thought we'd be sitting on a porch swing together for decades.  I thought that we would continue to have our moments forever - the laughing and thinking and love.

I miss how much he loved me.

I miss him so much. 

waves

On the one hand, I'm proud of providing three units of relatively affordable housing.  I never have a hard time finding tenants, as the price point is right in a city where rents are drastically increasing.  A friend called and offered a chunk of money if I want to get another property to rehab and I'm tempted (though not anytime soon obviously).

And then there's this: natural disasters.  Here's an article I just read on flood insurance paying out over and over again. And of course I get annoyed at people because they think New Orleans has been such a drain because of Katrina - and I always remind them that we don't flood regularly and that was a manmade disaster because the damage wasn't from the storm, it was from failed levees - and this article is a good reminder that other places flood more than here.  But still I know: the ocean is coming for us.

The landloss in Louisiana is mindboggling.  So many reasons for it, but basically: humans fucking up the environment.

Within my lifetime - and I probably only have 20-30 years left - I anticipate many more abandoned communities.  I think New Orleans will still be holding strong then, but ravaged.

So, I'm sorry, New Orleans people who need the housing I provide.  I'm cashing out and moving to the mountains. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A perfect Sunday includes​

Eggs, herbs, and hound.

2nd amendment

This week I plan to go to a shooting range to try out a popular gun, and if that goes well then I'll register for a concealed carry permit class, then apply for concealed carry permit and get a gun. 

Nothing in particular to spark this - just something in the back of my mind for a long time.  Our crime is really out of control now, though I can't imagine using a gun on somebody for a property crime. 

Honestly, the rise of white supremacy has me wanting to be able to protect myself and my friends and neighbors.  I live in a beautifully diverse neighborhood without any incident, but racist and sexist attacks are happening more and more.  And sometimes I travel places where having a firearm would even the playing field. 

Mostly I just want the gun for home, not to carry.  I've had no incidents where I live now, but at my old house there was a few times I wish I'd had a gun - people trying to break in.  Which is why I got Ziggy.  She is quite intimidating so she does her job very well.  But a backup would be good. 

Here's hoping I would never be in a situation where I would feel the need to use a gun.  But, "be prepared" is a good motto.

making me proud

Yesterday I took Ziggy over to visit friends and she was SO GOOD.  She spent most of her time doing what she does best - schmoozing.  She is a very charming dog because she is so truly delighted to see people and that makes them delighted to see her.  She went from person to person to dog.  And oh, their dog was SO HAPPY to see us, doing his bounding about like a deer to show his glee.  He kept engaging Ziggy in play and they romped about. 

ONly a couple of times did Ziggy bark at him, and we were able to distract from it every time.  This is HUGE.  She can drive us crazy with her obsessive barking at him, and frankly if she's getting over that, it's a major game changer.  I think it's related to the playpenning for people visiting.  LEarning to control her frustration and divert her attention.  I'm just so pleased with her!

This morning we went for a long walk, twice as far as usual and going into neighborhoods we've never been in before.  She had two meltdowns at dogs barking at her, and that no longer bothers me.  I know that if a dog barks at her that she's going to bark back.  I wish he could ignore them but she can't right now so I feel no embarrassment.  We just keep on going and she calms down.  So much of her doing better is me better understanding her limitations. 

After we get the visitor greeting frenzy under control then we'll work on dogs.  She usually can ignore dogs barking from backyard and houses - or she notices them but chooses not to respond. So, that's good progress.  Steps forward. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

the best thing about yesterday

As I stood at the front of the store waiting for the manager to retrieve my phones from the safe, I perused a rack of Little Golden Books.

This one caught my eye:
Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd
And as I read it as I stood there, I could feel it resonate deep in my soul.  Is this book why I love to garden? 

I do not recall ever having read this book before, and I do remember a lot of the books of my childhood - in part because they were still around as I grew up and I saw them about.  But I have absolutely no memory of this book.  Did I read it and love it to death?

While I come of farmer stock, there is a big difference between gardening and farming, and there were no gardens where I grew up in Alaska.  I remember my favorite aunt had a garden and we would go out for green beans.  Mostly I remember my great-grandfather's second wife who he married late in life, their first spouses having both died.  I liked her a lot and her garden was a magical place; I think that's where I learned to not give a fuck what other people think - my family was mean to her for no good reason, and she was always good to me and my siblings and stayed true to herself. 

Did she have this book and read it to me?  Did somebody?

It doesn't matter.  I love it.  I'll force every child I'm in contact with to read it.  And lagniappe: there's even a dog that vaguely looks like Ziggy Stardust!

not so all in

Today was not a good day.  I started back up on the supplements that I'd put to the side because they nauseate me, and I felt really out of it.  I LOST MY PHONES.  I was distraught.

I'm not sure about my appointments being helpful and I'm losing faith in the naturopath.  I know I shouldn't feel 100% better in three weeks, but surely I shouldn't feel worse?  This course is making my sleep disrupted, and I'm constantly hungry, and I'm an airhead, and short-tempered, and it's overall NOT GOOD.

We came up with a plan of reintroducing the supplements gradually, but I'm losing faith in the whole endeavor.

And then it took me fucking FOREVER to get home because there was some kind of traffic backup at Krispy Kreme.  I'm not even kidding - there was traffic blocking two miles for fucking doughnuts.  It was insane and I was beyond aggravated and I didn't get home until two hours later than usual.  So my dog is also aggravated.

My hip hurts worse than ever - I keep saying it's torn hip flexors, but the real issue I'm remembering is labral damage.

Honestly on a pain scale it's only maybe a 4 or 5 usually but it limits my movement.  Should I instead be focused on getting my goddamn hip fixed?  Maybe I could get better physical therapy than last time?  Maybe a doctor who doesn't insist that the only thing I can do is surgery?

I'm being a big baby but I am hating having a naturopath so far from home.  If there's anything to know about me, it's that I like being home.  And I hate taking 50 pills per day.  And I hate feeling worse instead of better.

I wonder if medical marijuana would help.  I wouldn't mind being stoned.  But I won't buy shit off the street.  No, we don't have it here.  Am I moving to Oregon?

Ziggy's new trick is to get right in my face and put her mouth on my nose and then run around as though laughing, "I got your nose!"  I know I develop bad habits in her but she's so damn funny.

I should probably also have the doctor run tests for tick-borne diseases.  I may have something like Lyme disease.  Or I may just have undiagnosable pain.

I just put out to the FAcebookers and got recommendations on three doctors who all sound perfect for me.  Yay!  I'll move forward with this line of health-seeking. 

***
Once I got my phones from where I had left them (thank you, store - hope you appreciate my $35 purchase of things that I hadn't thought were necessary as much as I appreciate y'all finding and holding my phones for me), I knew the brain fog was dire so I went to Five Guys and got a burger (ok) and fries (blah).  And then when I got home I made a chocolate cake in a mug which I ate most of.  I really wanted ice cream but no way was I going to the store. 

And today?  I feel way better.  This sucks.  I keep thinking I may have found a solution to my pain problem but then that makes things worse (the supplements totally have my sleep fucked up) and I go back to "bad" things and feel better.  Essentially no joint paint this morning.  Fuck me.  I mean, sure - I want a life where I can enjoy gluten and sugar in moderation - but I also really want to find what the trigger is for my pain flare-ups.  Sigh. 

And in the good news, bad news category - my dog.  Bad news is that I drop shit all the time.  I have for years - my gripping power is not strong.  Good news - the dog picks it up and hands it to me.  There is little cuter than her furry face standing right beside me holding a napkin or a sock, with her tail wagging, to hand it to me.  She is so adorable and helpful.  Such a good pup. 

And the chickens do their part, eating up all my leftovers.  I surely do appreciate them for that.  I need to go buy some PVC pipe and make a new feeder because the one I spent good money on doesn't work for us.  Not only do they refuse to step on it to open it, but the nuts keep falling off.  That is aggravating.  I don't like using a regular feeder because it aggravates me how much feed they waste by tossing it all around and refusing to eat it off the ground. 

So, today: laundry is in the wash and will go on the line.  Walk dog.  Visit friend who is retiring soon and their dog, with Ziggy for her socializing.  Go to Lowe's for pipes.  Make chicken feeder.  Make sewing repairs while my hands are moving ok.  Read book for independent study.  Cook a meal.  Cut the grass.  Vacuum and clean house. Maybe visit the puppies and go to the grocery store.  It's a good day.  I love weekends.  Especially when I'm feeling ok.

Friday, July 14, 2017

puppies

I get neighborhood emails, and one person said they're fostering puppies and looking for adopters and visitors for socialization.  I messaged and said no thanks to adopting but I'd love to play with some puppies.  So I'll go over this weekend.  PUPPY TIME!!  Oh, I do love puppies.  Even more now because I didn't get that puppy time with Ziggy Stardust and I am sad about that. 

But here's the best part: they said they have labs who are good with the puppies.  I explained about Ziggy's socialization challenges and said I wouldn't bring her over, and they said I can meet the labs and see if I'd like them to help Ziggy's socialization.  WOULD I??  Labs are usually great dogs with her because they aren't very sensitive and they're patient and gentle and communicate very clearly.  Every morning it's almost shocking to see Ziggy interact with the very sweet black lab down the street - how completely appropriate she is.  Like a normal dog.  And then we turn a corner and there's another dog on leash and she does the usual crazy dog routine - barking and pulling and things that would make somebody ashamed if they can feel shame (which I can't - I know she's secure on leash and we just depart the situation and I'm no longer embarrassed). 

Yesterday we were walking on the sidewalk and a guy was approaching from behind us on the street. Ziggy was keeping him in very close view, giving him the eye of "Prove you're legit."  We were strolling, not in a big hurry, and he said, "I need to get to that house that you're passing.  Take your dog and move. Damn!"  It's easy for me to have good humor about people being cranky when I have my Catahooligan sidekick who will allow no shenanigans.  She had him completely intimidated just by watching him.  Good dog.  This is her job - to keep me safe - and she does it so very well. 

i have no idea how she decides who is a potential threat and who is a friend - because with many people, she doesn't give them the eye but instead gives them a full body wag and wants to shower them with kisses.  There's no apparent distinction between male, female, age, race, appearance, uniformed or not - there has to be something about their demeanor or energy.  She often makes a judgment before I weigh in (before I even notice a person). 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Best dog ever

This is how Ziggy spent last evening after the AC guy left. She is clearly not traumatized by use of playpen and mat.

Tonight she just rousted me with frantic barking. I looked out the window to see a cat stalking the chicken pen. I ran out, it ran away, the chickens are safe, Ziggy saved the day.

A cat wouldn't take on my chickens in daylight, but after dark when they're asleep it could do some real damage.

I wish they could be in the backyard, patrolled by Catahooligan. Maybe someday.

Monday, July 10, 2017

service lagniappe

I finally broke down and called for service on my AC.  I was miserably uncomfortable too much of the time.  I could tell that the fan sounded off at the compresser, but what do I know?  About ACs, not much.

They kindly got someone to come see it today and he figured it out within two minutes - the starter needed to be replaced.  It now works perfectly and he was done in about 20 minutes.  He's a super nice guy - I've seen him a few times before with work on my houses and general service checks.

But then he told me he loves dogs and it was all over for me.  Ziggy was behind a baby gate barking her head off and he finished the work and then I said: do you want to meet my dog?  I kept her behind the gate and he pet her and she was perfect - no crazy, no trying to jump or mouth or any of the ridiculous things.  She licked him a little but nothing extreme, just friendly.  She adored him and his calm energy.  They bonded and she then even took a treat because she was sure he's not foe.

This is fantastic and it confirms what I'd thought - the person who visited yesterday, whom Ziggy freaks out around, just pushes Ziggy's buttons.  She pushes mine, too, and I really try to limit our amount of interaction so that I can stay calm and kind.  Whether or not Ziggy senses that from me or from her directly, I don't know.  But Ziggy ALWAYS completely freaks out with her - worse than almost with anyone.

With Ziggy, if she loves you, she is calm.  If she doesn't, she is a frenzied Tasmanian Devil.  And again I am tremendously grateful that she wants to jump and lick and not bite.  She wants to be a good girl but doesn't know what to do.

And now I am enjoying sweet, sweet air conditioning.  And he taught me how to properly wash off my coils as general maintenance.

In New Orleans, it's really difficult to find quality service people, so I'm definitely keeping them. And requesting him by name.  Ziggy asks for him.  

changes

Every so often I realize how much social media has changed everything in our lives and I resent the intrusion.  I was watching Y Tu Mama, Tambien, and thinking that if they all had Facebook or Instagram that the story couldn't have happened - the cheating and the secret roadtrip - all of that would have been broadcast.  We live broadcasted lives so much of the time, and I don't like it.  I have a friend right now on Facebook whose husband recently left her and I get that it's hard but she's doing all of these things with contorted smiles as though to say I AM SO FULL OF GLEE AND HAVING FUN AND YAY SINGLE ME, but it just is sad.  Put away your phone. 

ONe of my tenants came over yesterday, which is another post that I don't much want to make because mostly she annoys me.  She said that the bar near the house burned down recently, which I didn't know.  Another bar nearby had burned down a year or more ago, which means that now it's quiet.  Which is nice on the one hand, though I always felt safer in some ways with bar patrons around.  What really needs to happen is some redevelopments - it's actually a fantastic location.  There are a bunch of gutted out shells there now which is sad and missed opportunities.  It will likely get on somebody's radar but I don't know when, and this transition time is hard.  there will be vandalism and squatters and all sorts of things along the way.  Sigh. 

Seeing my friends' kids growing up is fun.  The boy is now a sophomore in high school, and he came out and crossed the yard to shake my hand and greet me. He didn't come to the movie with us, but he sat and chatted and is so truly delightful even if he spends most of his time at home in his bedroom.  The girls are as chatty as the last time we met and they are all so very bright - the best of being raised by very intelligent parents, bilingual (they're Argentinian) - they're very creative because their parents ignore them a lot and they're left to their own devices which is very healthy.  They're fun, and our houses are only a mile apart, so we really should be hanging out more - the kids could even bike here.  The kids could be really helpful with Ziggy, though they've not much been around dogs.  They're very patient and sweet.  We'll make this happen.  I do like their parents a lot (we met because he was my Spanish professor) but we go through periods of hanging out a lot and then much less.  Life happens. 

Ziggy is being very clingy and will be upset that I go to work.  The more I train her, the less independent she becomes - she now looks to me all the time and if I move she immediately jumps up, ready to do what I ask.  I need a middle ground - where she is attentive but still independent. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

water

A side effect of having to take approximately a thousand supplements per day is that I have to drink a ton of water to get them all down. 

And maybe that is what's making me feel better.  Doctors in other countries often tell me I'm seriously dehydrated - one threatened to put an IV in me that minute.  Another said my blood pressure was dangerously low as a result of dehydration. 

It's not that I don't drink water.  I just don't drink like a typical American who has to carry around a water bottle all the damn time.  I drink what I consider a sufficient amount of water.  But what if I need more water than I drink?  I don't drink more because I'm not thirsty and too much water makes my stomach bloated and I feel slightly nauseous. 

I'm always looking for the simplest explanation which I think many doctors miss.  American doctors have never mentioned the dehydration issue because they don't think of it.  And I'm skeptical of the health websites touting the benefits of drinking 30 glasses of water per day or whatever.  It's slightly inconvenient to have to get water at work - it's a building length away, and when I need three glasses to take all the pills with a meal, it's annoying.  Whatever. 

This reminds of when I worked in Azerbaijan and my American boss was really annoyed that we had two water coolers.  We had two wings of a building and to make it convenient his predecessor put a water cooler in each wing.  He just thought that was crazy and people should go to the kitchen to get water (one water cooler, not from the tap).  We all dug our heels in - both local and foreign (only a few of us, mostly locals) and told him to stop being silly. 

I've started keeping a pitcher in my fridge again as I've been going through too much ice.  I have a good water filter that sits on my countertop (a Berkey). 

Anyway. 

The tenant has returned which is nice for Ziggy.  They really love each other. I stepped out as she was unloading her car and she said, "We drove all the way from Dallas today and I could only think about how much I want to see my dog!  Forcing myself to unload the car first but I can't wait!" There's enough Ziggy love to share that I needn't be jealous she thinks of her as "my dog." 

OK, Sunday.  Laundry, dog walk, clean house, take kids to Wonder Woman, cook the sweet potato crush quiche that 37Paddington showed, and so on.  A day to feel fortunate for all my blessings and good luck.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

without protection

Last night I didn't put the chickens up - I didn't lock up the coop or henhouse.  Usually they have three layers of protection - the door that snugly fits on where they sleep and a door that closes on the small building where that is, and then the electric fence.  Last night I made sure that the fence was on and that was it. 

And they are fine.  When I got up this morning, they were all outside the coop and perched on the large branch across the way, enjoying the morning.  They love the time right after dawn and right before dusk - it's a dangerous time for them, with predators at peak.  But they love it. 

My co-worker said yesterday: "I need to think again about not eating pork.  I saw a video of a cute little pig and I realized again how smart they are."  And while everyone gets their own opinion on the matter, I am pretty adamant on my position: it's about quality of life when they're alive.  I am not opposed to killing animals to eat when the killing and the treatment before that was about them having a good time. 

My chickens have a good time.  I give them all kinds of enrichment activities, even without thinking about it really.  If I were to slaughter them tomorrow I wouldn't feel much guilt, except maybe the littlest one who's been picked on most and is really a maverick - she's always doing things her own way which makes the other hens squawk and peck at her.  Slaughtering them tomorrow would be incredibly stupid because they are fantastic little layers and very low maintenance.  But they live well now while they live. 

Which is what I want for myself.  And it's what HNIC wanted for himself - he was always afraid of becoming old and frail, like his elders that he had to care for.  And he lived HARD, having his first child at 18 and raising many both his biologically and not.  He always worked at least two full-time jobs, had his side hustles, and loved passionately.  While I am really upset at him for dying and grieve him every day, I also know that he liked being strong and virile, and dying when he still was provided him dignity.  He had an intense life and lived more than most people do in a lifetime twice as long as his.

It's what I want for myself, too - I don't want to be old and infirm.  I want to live well and then be done.  Quality over quantity.  Always.  For me, for my dog, for my chickens, for the meat I eat.  So, I get to know my meat producers, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have so many nearby.  It's not the cheapest but it provides sustenance to me and a livelihood to them and a good pastured life for the animals. 

As long as I have the income that I do, I will enjoy things like acupuncture and locally raised humane meat.  And meat products.  I organized my freezer yesterday and realized that a full half of what's in there is for the animals - chicken feet and lamb bones for the dog, watermelon rinds and frozen mixed vegetables and bread for the chickens.  No wonder it's overstuffed! 

OK, speaking of - it's time to walk the dog, start laundry, clean up the house, do a bunch of errands.  This afternoon I'm scheduled to have some people bring a painted rain barrel and install it, which is rather exciting. I've made some slow progress with my other barrels - finally painted two of them last weekend and had installation on this weekend's agenda but I'll let them do theirs first.  Tomorrow I take two young friends to see Wonder Woman - last time I saw them was when I took them to Annie, so this is a bit of a step up.  I feel no shame about how much I love Wonder Woman and I look forward to it being the first movie I've ever seen twice in a theater. 

OK, time to roll.  The dog is doing everything she can to politely move me along.

Friday, July 7, 2017

feeling pretty good

I don't know if it's the acupuncture or the 19 pills I'm taking multiple times each day (and forgetting more often than not) or the ever slightly cooler weather or the no gluten or the no sugar or that it's Friday before a weekend -

I don't know what it is, but I feel appreciably better today.  As I did last Friday, so here's hoping it sticks. 

chickenhawk

Ziggy barks a far amount, especially when the yappy dog next door gets going, but she gave a panic bark that made me immediately jump up and look out the window.  Where I saw a big hawk perched and looking down at my chickens who were huddled in the coop, terrified. 

I immediately ran out and yelled, "Oh fuck no!" and the hawk flew away.  It was a pretty gorgeous bird.  I do love raptors.  But not when they're eyeing my chickens like an Indian food buffet. 

I then went and found the owl I'd gotten when Ziggy and the sparrows were feuding about a spot on the roof and put that on the perch where the hawk had been. I hear predators are territorial.  We'll see if it works. 

The chickens did good - they alerted the dog who alerted me, and they ran for cover.  As soon as I came out and shooed the hawk away, they were over it, though - and I worry about their good judgment in the long term.  They were later out there all burrowed down in dirt (they have a raised bed with basil for their enjoyment right now and they are enjoying the hell out of it) - looking a very good target to my eyes. 

Oh well. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

night and day

The difference between how I felt two days ago and how I felt today are night and day different. 

While there's still pain in my hands that makes some things difficult, and my hip keeps locking, and I'm still kind of hunched over when I walk and my skin is super itchy - I can move.  I can think. I can accomplish things.

The problem when I'm feeling crappy is that everything seems insurmountable.  Minor things become huge.  frankly I have no idea how I've handled a stressful job and high-needs dog and a PhD.  The truth is that I haven't handled any of it very well. 

So the plan is this: I go gluten-free and sugar-free for 30 days and see how I feel (knowing that it may well take longer than that for any real healing).  I go all in with the naturopath to rebuild my immune system.  I do one more appointment of Rolfing and then hold off on that until I get this other stuff taken care of.

So it's the 4th of July and this is a high-firework neighborhood.  My house is more soundproof than I realized because when I went out to lock up the chickens, the explosions were so loud - which explains why they were jumping every time one fired.  Ziggy is pretty calm but not crazy about it.  She went into the backyard before bedtime and wouldn't stop barking so I went out and there was CRAZY amount of fireworks.  She couldn't even hear me but sensed me there and ran to me and then around me - like she would always do, the little crazy squirrel.  But I got her attention and said: OK, we go inside, and she grabbed a toy she threw at me but then ran into the house with me (and I then closed the dog door for the night).  At moments like this, I can see how incredibly far we have come.  I assume that she will behave, and she does.  She's such a good dog - not because she'd obedient by nature, but because of our relationship.  I am SO glad that I stuck to my guns and stayed positive-only with my training, that I stopped listening to "experts" and instead take best practices and make them work for us. 

The two remaining issues are her greeting visitors like an insane hellhound and being dog reactive.  I'm focused on the first for now.  Supposed to get her playpen tomorrow and a friend is coming to dinner on Thursday.  If she can turn from an insane wild demon dog into this incredibly sweet and responsive dog that I now live with, she can stop shredding the skin of my friends. 

Another change I want to make is to get up earlier.  5:30 is probably better for chickens and that gives me time for some stretching in the mornings, which I really need to do. Later this morning I finally for the first time in weeks felt well enough to pull out the mat and it really does help my body function better.  Ziggy also didn't try to "help" which is progress. 

I've been using a fly swatter a lot recently and it has Ziggy totally freaked out.  When she saw me hit with it her eyes got really big and she ran away - now I just hold it and she disappears.  I feel so bad for whatever happened in her first year of life.  She's now probably about two and a half years old, nearing adulthood.  She's entering the prime of her life.  Her favorite hobbies include chasing birds out of the backyard and napping.  Lord how this dog can nap especially when it's hot outside.  But her favorite hobby is helping me. Whatever I'm doing, she is right in the middle of it unless she knows a different role.  Like when I go out to deal with the chickens, she knows to sit on the couch by the window so she's not underfoot when i come back inside.  IF they squawk too much at me she barks, and I'm pretty sure that if she thought I was in real danger she would be likely to jump through the window.  She's my little superhero sidekick. 

my 100 miles are abundant

Eating local in New Orleans is so easy.

Breakfast this morning was sweet potatoes (from farmers' market) and eggs (from my yard).  I used a Korean sausage from Trader Joe but I could use local wild boar sausage or local uncured bacon. 

For lunch I just made up a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil (all from garden).  I'll sear some tuna that I picked up yesterday from a friend who had a great fishing trip.  Next time I see them I'll pass along more eggs to them.  Protein swap!  I'll top off the fish with some calamondin from my other house (and some non-local soy sauce and wasabi). 

Dinner?  Maybe cabbage (from farmers' market) and ground beef (not local but will be in the future because I don't like my non-local options much).  I'll take leftovers to lunch this week with sour cream (not local but will look into options that are). 


demon of 2017

Gluten.  Who doesn't have some reaction to that word in 2017?  There are those who insist it causes them problems - even beyond those with celiac - and others who scornfully dismiss that and point out that humanity has long lived on gluten.

Certainly my people did.  I'm all northern European and there is little that makes me happier than a German bakery. The bread there is the best in the world, at least to me.  Seriously, their bakeries are incredible.  Better than French, by far, in my estimation.  And every single one is good - or at least it used to be.  I would stop at one underground in a subway station and every single thing I ever tried was incredibly good.  But, I haven't stayed long in Germany since 1992, so maybe things have changed.

But I digress.

I can wrap my head around the idea that white flour is bad for me, much like sugar is.  The highly processed nature of it, the empty calories, the ease it allows overeating - I get it.  But surely whole grains can't be my enemy.

I started with the naturopath on Thursday and felt great Friday and Saturday. I immediately got rid of all the sugar but decided to eat my way through the things with gluten.  So I had toast with eggs and a frozen pizza.  And by Sunday I felt AWFUL.  These two things may be unrelated.  But I thought "Oh, just an off day" and continued the gluten diet and Monday I felt so bad.  I spent the whole day on the couch (watching an excellent season of Shameless) and could barely move my hands for the joint pain and everything hurt.  Just everything.  No energy. No ability to read or do anything productive. 

I chatted with a friend in the morning about the naturopath and the gluten-free recommendation and realized I should give it a shot. So no more bread - feeding it to the chickens.

Today?  I woke up with a headache as has become normal, but now it's 9:30 am and I've taken the dog for a walk and I've been out to the chickens numerous times and hung laundry - so out in this oppressive heat* and it's not killing me today like on Sunday and yesterday - and it's definitely just as hot.  I was just dancing to some Congolese music with the dog, and I'm looking at my to-do list with the ability to work through it.

The only real difference is that I've been 24 hours without gluten.  And again, it's not definitive - it could have been a bug that ran its course - but I keep having these experiences.

WAs talking with a friend last night who struggles with sugar, and we were both saying: "WE know it makes us feel crappy, so why do we eat it?"  Shellfish makes me sick and it's really easy for me not to eat it.  People say they feel so sorry for me, but I can easily walk away from a crawfish boil, etouffee, shrimp po-boy, etc.  I don't feel that I'm missing anything because I can feel the tensing up of my stomach, the itching in my throat - all of the reaction that I have, I remember them and I don't want the to recur.

But with sugar it's different.  To never again have a Hansen's sno-ball?  King cake?  Birthday cake?  Maple syrup on pancakes?  To search every package for any trace of sugar?  To be that person who requires special dietary accommodations?

There is so much of our culture that involves sugar and gluten and they include things that I really enjoy.  That bring such pleasure to my life.

In a perfect world I would be able to engage occasionally, and I do think that I probably can.  The problem is that I don't stick pure to it. I'll start with: "Ok, one piece of king cake per week" and then the next thing I know it's every day and then I'm getting candy from a co-worker and then snacking on cookies and it's all downhill.

First I need to get healthy and then I need to figure out how to successfully have this dialogue: "Is this really worth it?"  Because I feel like crap so much of the time and I hate it.  But to be honest with myself, I also hate the idea of never again having a mochi ice cream ball.  I would take some pain and inconvenience for that pleasure.

I hope that's a possibility.

Now I need somebody who wants the four boxes of cereal that I have which are wheat flakes with a bit of sugar - I kept picking them up on sale and forgetting I already had some.  Or, the chickens get it. 


*My AC isn't working properly.  I have it set for 78 degrees but it keeps running and can't get it below 86 for several hours per day.  I'm on the list to get a service check and I hope it's soon - that's cheaper than a service call and I'm hoping it just needs a freon top-off or something else simple.  I can live, I'm just not super comfortable. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

More water kefir

Yesterday's was cucumber-lime and cherry. Today it is watermelon and calamondin.

I'm out of the second ferment jars so I'm using any old thing. And will start drinking it. And give extra grains to dog and chickens.

no regrets, but

This may be the heat talking, but I sure do wish we were living in Alaska and working that job that I was offered last year. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

And now she says

Lady, I'm sleeping here tonight. You get the couch.

Poor puppy



Today  friends came to visit and there was no way I could handle Ziggy.  A 9-year-old who's afraid of dogs (I've seen her freak out about very mild-mannered dogs) and a 6-month-old whom I wanted to hold.  

So, she got put behind the baby gate, where she cried for half an hour. She is so very intense and she can hold frustration until it froths into a frenzy.  

The good news is that the wailing and barking didn't faze the baby one bit.  She was so happy and bubbly and lovey.  She is an absolute doll.  And I walked to the gate with her for Ziggy to see that I'm holding her and everything is fine, and Ziggy was not absolutely calm and so she stayed.  I know she wanted to sniff and lick the baby and that was not going to happen.  No scratches on that perfect dark brown soft skin.  

I think I've only kept her locked up that long when it's been repairmen, and otherwise I try one of several iterations of trying to get Ziggy to calm the fuck down.  Leash.  Treats.  Ignoring.  Etc.  

And then they left and I let her out and she ran like crazy looking for them, and when she was certain that they're gone, she collapsed.  Utterly exhausted.  She's been sleeping at my feet ever since.  

This picture is interesting.  She rarely sits under the table.   Is she saying that if I let her sit with us next time that she'll be calm?  

Sometimes it's so hard to be Ziggy.  

The fireworks aren't setting her off but she is NOT a fan of the marauding dirt bikes.  They are a menace and she perks up whenever she hears them and wants to run them down.  

Anyway, I have a plan now.  I hope this one works.  It involves a playpen (ordered) and clicking and treating for calmness and gradual introductions with visitors.  Man, I just want a dog who is happy to see people without mauling them. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

little things

Yesterday I shoveled a big pile of horseshit (manure, with lots of bedding, that has composted for months) into the fenced chicken area.  What fun that is for them!  They are so hardwired for scratching that any opportunity that presents itself is satisfying.  Today I think I'll stretch out the chicken fencing to go to the strip between sidewalk and street.  Not many people walk on this street and if they do, they do it in the street often (we are very much not a busy street).  Then the chickens have a new area and maybe they can help control the out of control grass for a bit (we cut it a week ago but it grows so fast).  Sure wish I were on a farm.  I wouldn't do this during the work week, but maybe on a weekend it's ok.  The other thing growing fast is a watermelon plant and it's completely embedded within the netting that I want to move.  Oh well - suckers, you going to get snapped. 

And rain barrels - wash, dry, sand, rinse off, paint, install. 

There are approximately 30 such tasks for this weekend - for each day of this weekend.  I don't recall my to-do list ever being so long.  Some are small things (decant water kefir to bottles and add fruit; wash ceiling fan blades; transplant mint; drop off old lights and sink at the Green Project) but other are bigger (sort through clothes and take to Goodwill; fix several different issues with the chicken coop; drive around the neighborhood to take building supplies from their rubbish piles - there are some chopped off piers that would be great for holding down plastic for solarizing).  Oh, start by unloading the stepping stones I got from Lowe's yesterday.  IT's just a lot.  Originally I planned this as a social weekend but I needed to convert to chores because I really have to start reading for school.  And I am making my way down my to-do list - dentist appointment booked, the only credit card with an annual fee cancelled (it used to not have a fee, plus it had good United rewards and that was the only airline flying to where I lived), AT&T scheduled to install internet, Rolfing and naturopath processes started, etc.  I will use up a ton of sick time and all of my Health Savings Account to do these two things, but I think it may be worth it. 

Something is wrong with Ziggy but I don't know what.  She's anxious and just not herself.  Side effect from the tick and flea med I gave her?  I would love to take the next cool-ish day to go out to the forest - or take a weekend to go stay in the cabin on the creek - but ticks are real.  Even with the medication, they are a huge problem because they also bite me.  And could we please not add tick-carried disease to my list of issues? 

I am fortunate that my issues are small in many ways.  My sleep is good usually, same with digestion.  I just don't have my usual energy and often I hurt all over.  These seem like things that can be remedied.  Yesterday when starting the supplement routine I was feeling good - and then I realized that so much of being sick is also a response to the stress of work.  Rather than fighting the deep dysfunction head-on - where I would lose - I instead mute myself and tamp myself down, which results in feeling like crap.  I'm less likely to speak up if I'm home sick or if I'm not feeling well. 

So, this summer is about getting my house in order.  Literally and figuratively.  I want to be ready to plant in August for some good cooler-weather food.  Carrots and chard and such.  IT is a lot of fun to have food to give away - friends I'm visiting with today made an "order" for 2 kinds of basil, greens (collards or sweet potato leaves), cucumbers, and tomatoes.  I should probably figure out a good system for giving away food to my neighbors. 

The chickens are very helpful - I feed them the stale foods I don't want to feed to Ziggy.  Like uncooked brown rice.  Apparently that whole "swell up in stomach" thing is a myth.  And crackers.  And bug-eaten leaves.  And extra water kefir grains.  Well, Ziggy gets those too.  As well as the carrots that cooked in the bone broth and the marrow I pushed out of the bones.  And the strawberries that soaked in the water kefir. This dog eats so well, but she's a nerd because she doesn't get junk food.  The farmer's market had lamb bones which made me super happy because those are better for her than larger animals like cattle.  Plus I got ground lamb that I will make with collards from my front yard.  I like the people who raise them. 

It's fucking hot.

This is the face of anxiety

Ziggy came to beg for pills when I took my supplements. I don't know that she's ever seen me take pills before so she probably assumes they're hers.

But she can't focus. Always looking over her shoulder. Worried.

Friday, June 30, 2017

first day of the rest of my life

I keep posting on my phone to the wrong blog, but today a co-worker brought me a banana plant and I am so excited.  I'm not sure it's cut properly and will live and grow, but I put it in the ground with some fertilizer and hope for the best.

Today I went to the naturopath for the first time.  She's very smart and thinks whole system and has good ideas.  She thinks that perhaps the chikungunya was not ever dealt with - that it lingers because my immune system was suppressed at the time and has been since.  That sounds very plausible, and I'm sick of these flare-ups of pain when facing stress.  And adrenal fatigue, which also sounds plausible, and would explain my short temper and inability to handle stress as usual.

So, there are weekly acupuncture appointments for six weeks and herbs and supplements.  So many pills.  They are mostly things that I know, such as echinecea and B-12, but also other formulations.

I want to be well again.  Before chikungunya, I never called in sick to work - I never needed to.  No matter how crazy my job, I handled it.  With a few exceptions.  But I was sick with malaria and barely able to stand and I still went to work (and then when I finally cried "uncle" my lover brought me documents to review overnight ... but that's another story).

So part of it is that I am over the pride of being invulnerable.  But part of it too is being sick.  Being in pain.  Hurting.  Aching.

On top of the herbs and minerals and acupuncture, she of course wants a clean diet.  Sugar: gone.  Gluten: she says it's a big trigger for many autoimmune diseases, but I'll probably allow whole grains for a bit.  She isn't making me do a full elimination diet or even a Whole30, which I was toying with (yesterday chatting with the friend who introduced me to it).  Really for me it's just the sugar and gluten, and reduction of other carbs.  Then I feel better.  And if I could focus on this for six weeks and boost my immune system and kick whatever has ailed me for years, then, win! 

I would like to lose 20 pounds but that's peripheral. I can feel strain on my knees so it's time to shed some weight.

So, stripping out all the sugar from my house was easy.   Tossed the rest of the peach cobbler that I made for the godson but he didn't eat much of, and the ice cream I'd gotten to go with it.  Taking some cookies to work for the break room.  ATe the last bite of chocolate.

I stopped at Trader Joe's and stocked up on some treats - nut & dried fruit mix in small bags (it's so much fresher that way!), some date and cashew snacks, some smoked almonds, some coconut chips.  No sugar, no gluten.  Still treats to be eaten in moderation but it helps ease me off the sugar.  I have herbal teas at work to drink when I crave sweets, along with these treats.  And I bought cherries which are quite a treat.

Vegetables and protein.  I like my chickens eggs but only really fried, so I need to find some other ways to eat them.  It's starting to get harder to eat chicken for me because of the personalities of mine - if they are factory farmed, that is torture.  This afternoon the lowest on the pecking order got out - she's a funny bird.  She pisses the others off, sometimes with reason and sometimes they're just gripey.  She runs around a lot, avoiding their wrath, but she's plucky and courageous.  I eventually lured her back in with watermelon, but when I came into their yard later, she ran to me as though wanting to be pet, and then some of the others did.  One likes to wait in the henhouse doorway at night after dark and I have to pet her and coax her in.  I'm not crazy about petting chickens because, germs.  But these chickens are persuasive.  And truth be told, I wouldn't be upset to eat them.  They have a pretty nice life.  I'm more concerned about eating chickens who don't have that quality while they're alive.

I made bone broth because no way was I giving those bones to Ziggy after our ER visit.  It's ok.  It's not magic.  Return to water kefir and sauerkraut.  Ziggy is beyond delighted to get the carrots that cooked with the bones. She's such a little nerd because I only feed her healthy things.  The chickens are obsessed with eating and they're such snobs - they ditched the watermelon in a second when I tossed in an overgrown cucumber. 

The neighbors have been having an insane amount of visitors.  Seriously at least 50-100different people per night, all Spanish-speaking from Central America.  No Caribbean, maybe South America but I don't think so.  Church?  No idea.  It's crazy.  Tonight strangers knocked on my door to ask to park in my driveway.  Fine. [ETA:  Super nice neighbor's mother died in Mexico and this is mourning.  I'll shut up now.]

Tenant will be back next week.  It's been fine without her, will be fine to have her back.  Ziggy will be so delighted. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

you know you have a good friend when

She says: "My dog is too mellow sometimes.  I need an enthusiastic puppy - bring Ziggy over!" 

I'm so glad she's charmed them because she is such a handful.  I find her entirely delightful but that is not a universal opinion. 

She's a very good little helper in the backyard - we cut the grass AGAIN.  It is growing well over an inch a day.  It's insane. 

Thank goodness for the long weekend. And solitude.  Though, the godson has been in the bedroom most of the time.  I do not understand how he can do nothing so much of the time.  He moves along when I tell him to, but on his own he would likely have bedsores.  This, I do not understand.  Today I worked a full day, tended to chickens and dog several times, drove him across town to dinner, cut grass, now I'll clean the house.  This is not tremendous but in contrast all he has done today is go to dinner.  That's it.  I came home about 4 and he was asleep and finally at 6 I said: ok, come on.  Which made Ziggy rush in and do what she does best: get people moving.  He was not amused with her fervor.  I have woken up to her whirling dervish act though fortunately not for a long time. She is really to my rhythm and we wake up around the same time. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

conversations across differences

An organization that we work with closely sometimes has a person whom I work with at times.  We spoke today for the first time in weeks and it was like a vent for her - how people there don't like her and she can't figure out why and it's so difficult. 

Which is of course the same for me.  It's the people directly above me who have the problem with me - others think I'm fabulous. 

And we talk and give each other advice - I didn't know it was that bad there.  And we were laughing about something else and she called me the world's biggest nerd and I said: "C'mon, you think the same thing I do."  Laughter - "Of course.  Because we are THE SAME PERSON."

And what is especially rewarding about this camaraderie is that she is on the complete other end of the political spectrum.  I had always guessed as much, but recently she said: "I like her as a person but not her politics.  I'm hard-core right-wing." 

That gave me pause and I took a beat.  I never directly responded to that, and then we got busy and haven't talked for awhile, but she is still the same person - a daughter of immigrants, a person of integrity.  We have similar struggles at work.  And we support each other.  She called me in a panic a couple of months ago and I talked her off the ledge (usually she is unflappable) and I said: let's just get this story straight, make sure we both stick to script, and we'll be ok.  And of course it was nothing like embezzlement or anything at all shady - it was about somebody with more power than us telling us to do something that her direct supervisor had told her not to.  Totally in the middle, no win, and we came up with a win: my recollection that she had reminded us not to do it and any changes made were not from her. 


weekend adventure

Today for lunch we met up with a friend who is an artist and he gave lots of advice to the Godson.  I've been so impressed with all of my friends and co-workers with their generosity of spirit when I introduce them; I have really surrounded myself with the best of the best kind of people.

I'm glad I saw him - it's been awhile.  And I remember what I initially found so attractive about him but then I also remember that I don't enjoy sex with him.  So while we're at lunch he keeps scooting over on the bench to be closer to me and I keep scooting away.  I don't think he was doing it intentionally, but he is definitely still attracted to me.  He remembers exactly how and when we first met, which he recounts.

So I realized that I'd written several blog posts but posted them to the wrong blog.  Computer issues lately.

Things are fine with the godson visit. He goes home on Wednesday.  I think this has overall been a good trip for him - we've done some things he's seem to have really enjoyed, and he's learned a lot.  We've eaten a lot.   And that I'm ready to end; my expenses are high this month.  And I'm ready to be selfish with my time and energy again. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

big moment

The Young Man came by today and we REGISTERED HIM TO VOTE.  This is MASSIVE.  He is a Jehovah's Witness and fully educated to be not of this world.  He is nearly 35 years old and for some reason he decided that today was the day and so we did it on-line and I'm just so proud of him, and humbled that he decided to let me be a part of it.  We have certainly influenced each other. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

below the surface

Today I was reading magazines.  No Vogue or Cosmo for me; it's all about the bar journals of the three U.S. states where I'm licensed. 

My contemplation takes me down shadowy streets, where I question very foundations. 

Here are these programs to help poor people, other programs to help recently released criminals.  Various other good deeds. 

But if we did not have so much poverty, there wouldn't be need for these programs. 

These programs which on the surface are all about helping are truly about the perpetuation of the status quo.  Nowhere in the dozen articles I read on this did I see anybody challenging the wealth disparity, the wage gaps.  "It's so sad that people can't afford attorneys so we should volunteer our time to help."  That sounds nice, doesn't it?  But I am skeptical. 

We're just putting band-aids on festering wounds.  We are making poor people poorer and that is the root of most of our social injustice. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

it was a dark and stormy night

No really.  It's a tropical storm out there and I'm just waiting for the power to go out.  Wind and rain and lordy be.

My power cord has stopped working so I've ordered another and then I'll be signing off for a bit most likely. It's good, it will make me read more. 

I went to the chiropractor today and she said: oh no, this is a completely different injury.  I did something to my quad muscles which is why the knee of my dominant leg is killing me.  She says icing and brace and such things for at minimum three weeks.  Great. 

We went to a very fancy restaurant today for lunch before the chiro and it was a good experience for the Godson. It's all a good experience for him.  I am regularly texting his mother and she's so pleased he's having all these experiences.  At some point I'd like him to be more independent, but bit by bit.  There are plenty of adults who visit and expect me to be their chauffeur and tour guide. 

Called in sick for two days because I feel like crap. Trying to rally.  Cooked a lot for dinner because vegetables are work - baked cucumbers from Julia Child (which the dog and chickens will think are wonderful but we did not) and beet salad and zucchini bread.  A lot of things from this from my garden which is always fun. 

Need to buy his ticket back - he's thinking late next week. 

I'm tired and worn out and maybe it is a good thing if I'm stuck at home for a day or two, even if it is without computer. 

OK, logging off to keep some charge as a just-in-case. 

don't get your damn hopes up

My former boss just emailed and asked if I'd like to meet him for lunch this week. 

Why?  I don't know. 

We are friends, not just former boss-employee.  Not that we chat, but we're friends on Facebook and I used to stay with him and his wife and daughter when i would drive through the city where we both used to live, and his young daughter and I would stay up chatting way too late.

Will he offer me a job?  That could be an ego boost.  Unfortunately, when I worked there the job frankly just paid too poorly.  I can't imagine that they have that much more money than before, but maybe.  Who knows. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

time

Tonight I got to meet a rockstar I'm Facebook friends with.  She is SUCH a good singer, even better in person. And I got to see somebody dear to me, a former tenant.  Lovely.  I am pretty sure I'm developing a crush on her.  She has an edge and does NOT suffer fools gladly.  We've had some spats in Facebook comments but she's reposted me too and usually we agree.  She played it cool when we met.  I bought a CD.  This is not going to turn into anything because my dog would kill her dog, but ... it's fun to have crushes. 

ANYWAY. 

It may be time to go to the doctor.  The pain I am in is getting unmanageable.  It might be all in my mind, but maybe it's not.  Today my knee is unbendable and swollen and I'm just tired of all my joints hurting.  So, do I go to a naturopath or to an MD?  I don't know.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

salty beasts

I made some Greek salad the other day, and it is best when fresh so I was having a hard time convincing myself to eat it. 

To the chickens! 

As I put it into a bowl for them, Ziggy was getting super excited.  Thinking she would be discouraged if she actually had some, I put some cucumbers and tomatoes in her bowl (no olives or feta because: added salt). 

She went wild.  Cucumbers!  Tomatoes!  Who knew that those were her favorites when chilled with some oil and vinegar dressing? 

Then the chickens went wild with delight at their bowl of it and they were too busy eating to fuss at each other which is a usual game. They refuse to eat things like cooked kale and they are never happy about soups that I make myself.  They even got tired of watermelon when it was for several days. They're rather picky.  But I think they like anything chilled.

Time to walk the dog, which I should have done two hours ago and now it's hot and sunny and blech.  Oh well, we'll make it short.  Then more chores, more chores.  Maybe an art museum, maybe a sculpture garden. 

days of visit

You know when it's nearly 80 degrees at 6:30 in the morning and you're grateful for a bit of "chill" that you are deep in the throes of summer. But, it is nicer this morning than yesterday so I'll take it and keep moving.  I'm beginning to wonder if I could keep the coop open at night so that the chickens could get up when they're ready and not when I am - because by that time they are PISSED OFF and they run over my feet in their hurry to run to their branches.  I grabbed that from a trash dump on the neutral ground, a long thick branch with two thick side branches and tossed it into the fenced area.  The chickens LOVE IT.  They come rushing out of their coop each morning to perch on the branches, to fluff up feathers and bat wings and poop.  Lots and lots of poop.

Which makes me realize that I don't really understand composting at all because where does this all go?  I've had one of those small rotating lack composters since I moved in.  Had one at my last house and left it there and got a new one here.  For a year I've been dumping all my kitchen waste and much of my garden waste in there and now for two months all the chicken poop and far more garden waste (not anything with disease obviously, but culling).  When I left for Florida, it was full and I thought: finally - I can move to the other side and that is now full.  But then I came back and it was down to like less than half full!  I really really appreciate the black soldier fly maggots who work SO HARD to decompose so much of my waste, but they are almost too diligent.  And I just don't even understand the mechanics of this all - I mean, I've easily dumped more than 200 pounds of food refuse in there - and newspapers and leaves and sugar cane and all sorts of other stuff.  How do I have maybe ten pounds of compost?  I get that it magically shrinks but this seems extreme.

I'm tired and want to rest but I need to power through.  Take advantage of the not oppressive heat this morning to cut grass in the back.  Then late this morning go do work at the other house (refrigerator has a fruit fly infestation to handle - ugh) and then if I'm not dead, take the godson somewhere fun.

So far his visit is good though I do what I always do with first-time visitors and want them to be as enchanted with this city as I am so I bend over backwards to show a good time and then I doubt my tour guiding skills and stress myself out and blah blah blah.   He is at the stage of comparing and contrasting everything and it's starting to grate my nerves.  I had no idea he loves Portland so much - or maybe he just likes what is familiar.  And I finally said: if all you're looking at doing is comparing, then you will miss what is right in front of you that is different all on its own.

He also has a hard time with believing other people which has always been true - the only person he has ever really trusted has been his mother.  She says that no longer is the case so she's looking forward to him hearing things from me - but he's not listening to me either or even experts.  We wandered through the French Quarter a little yesterday and at Jackson Square saw an artist doing exactly the same kind of art that Godson does.  We stopped and chatted - he was super friendly.  He spoke of how he has been an artist all over the country and that New Orleans - where he has been over a decade - is by far the best and he detailed why, including that he lives well here as an artist.  He spoke of other cities he's visited to see if he'd be more successful and why he stays here.  WE walked away from that and I thought: "Wow, how great that Godson heard from an actual person that New Orleans is a great place to be an artist, which he thinks he wants to be."  (Note:  I know it's also a struggle, not to minimize that.)  He said: "Portland has a place like this where people sell things, but it's just a sidewalk because it's too busy busy there to have it pedestrian-only like this."  Wow, talk about missing the point and being inaccurate about city planning.

Ways that he's surprised me include his attentiveness to public transportation details and asking the logistical details so that he can get around.  Also, he spoke slightly disdainfully about the junkfood lifestyle of his parents - he wants healthier and better and he really enjoyed where we went for happy hour appetizers yesterday (I was very pleased with the food too - bacon jam is the bomb).  I may take him to some better places to try good food - though why bother when in his mind Portland is the best food in the world.  Hes so bought into the Portland pride bandwagon.  Which of course probably grates my nerves because I really don't care for Portland - I think its overrated.  It's fine but it's not all that.

Ziggy mauled him when he arrived - she went berserk and wouldn't stop jumping.  She calmed pretty quickly for her but she was still on edge.  Yesterday was much better and he plays with her which of course she is totally into.  She is definitely stressed about him being here and she keeps staring at his closed door and has the worry lines on her face.  I don't know the source of the stress for her - a new person?  Protecting me from a stranger?  Wanting to take care of him and the door being closed too much?  Ziggy could live to be 30 and I doubt I'll ever really understand how her brain works.

I want to power through this weekend because even though it's hot there's no rain in the forecast which makes driving places to walk outside better than getting drenched.  At the same time, I'm tired as fuck and want to lounge around and be lazy.

Still haven't bought his return ticket and probably need to take care of that.

My new student loan monthly payment is about $100 more than current and I'm thinking again of needing a roommate to cover costs.  Somehow my electric and water are more than last year, too.  I need to set up my rain barrels.  And I sure hope I can resolve this refrigerator issue and not have to buy a new one.

***
OK, backyard here mowed, yardwork done at other house and refrigerator smell located (there was a dead mouse in the coils).  I'm showered and G. is in the shower and then we'll go explore the bayou and lunch is a nice Cajun place and dinner tonight will be with the Cubans (my friend invited us over to join her and her crazy parents and Cuban grandparents who are adorable - pics posted today included her very California surfer husband in a dance-off with her grandfather).

***
OK, went to bayou and he HATED IT.  There were biting flies and he was just OVER IT.

Then we went to dinner at a friend's house - they provided Cuban food including congri which I quite like (rice and peas) and yucca and other very Cuban things.  Then other people showed up with Iranian food which was OUTSTANDING.  Rice with cranberries and meat and okra in sauce. The spices were amazing.

G. had said: "I think Portland has more ethnic diversity in food," which is undoubtedly true because its population is much larger.  But if you want good ethnic diversity, show up to a Cuban's house.  Dang.  So lucky for friends like this.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday

I have lots of bruises from the massage yesterday.  It's not surprising, given the hard pressure she put on trouble spots.  Of which I have a few.  I don't know if I'll go back - I'll see how my mobility is affected.  She said: "Rome was not built in a day.  When are you coming back?"  She is a very strong proponent of body work, for herself and for others.  But for me I think: expense and luxury.  I think: I could pay down the principal of my house faster.

It's really a balance of short- and long-term goals, isn't life?

Yesterday I went to HR and maximized my HSA contribution to what's allowable under the law, and I used it to pay for the massage.  It certainly feels medically necessary and chiropractic is included, and I'll use it for rolfing.  Plus I can invest when over a certain amount in the account again.  I tell myself I won't miss that $100 in each paycheck, and we'll see if that's right.  When I increased my 401(k) investment to nearly the legal limit it made a really big difference - from "look, I have disposable income" to "how will I pay off all these bills?"  Balance.  Haven't found it yet.  

Last night my godson texted to say he's so excited about coming today, and his mother texted a picture of him at his brother's baseball game - which he hasn't gone to all season and made the brother so happy (the brother loves people attending his events, which is a struggle for me).  To have this trip seems a threshold step and he looks less weighted down with the things that make his life feel heavy now.  The visiting godson got a serious concussion a year or so ago when he was hit by a pitch and it was all handled very poorly by the team and something that he really loved became dangerous and frightening.  His father nearly died during a baseball game seven or so years ago - it wasn't baseball's fault, but the fault of a faulty brain that decided to explode and put him in a coma and cause brain damage.  The father has gone back to baseball - a true medical miracle.  For him, love trumps fear.  Only specific love for the known, but still.  For the son, fear guides a lot.  Which is protective.  Finding a healthy balance is important.

This has become not just a casual visit but feels like something extremely important.  I love thresholds so perhaps I can help my godson transition, to shed a cocoon that now hampers him.  I think of moments in my life that were critically important in my development and maybe we'll have those here with him.

Ziggy knows something's up but doesn't know what, and so she comes and leans her head on me.  "I'm tired from all this adventuring, lady, but I'm here for what comes next."  She is such a great dog.  Oh - she may have been snuggly yesterday due to the bruising massage and feeling that energy.  Who knows?  She's just such a very very good dog.  So sweet, so loving.  But also so fierce - the other night a fumigation truck was running up and down our street and it makes a weird hum and she was not having it - when I went outside to investigate, she tried to trip me so she could get outside and handle the situation.  She is so observant to what is out of the ordinary and demands explanation.  I hope that she and the godson get along very well, or he'll be hiding in his bedroom the whole time.

Ugh, we need to go out for a walk but it's so hot and still and humid and heavy out there.  Blah.  Get it over with ...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June

I came home early today and worked and took a conference call and Ziggy was a champ with no barking.  So at 5 pm I said: "Hey, you want to go outside and play some catch?"  She got really excited and jumped around and off we went. 

Three minutes later we came back inside, hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, and she's collapsed on the floor and me on the couch.

It's about 89 degrees and high humidity and direct sun and lordy I do love me some AC.

I went to a massage today and that HURT.  I mean, hard.  I'm worn out. 

Need to get house godson-ready though of course it is already far neater than his life so why bother?  Because I'm me. 

Honestly too I think there's a chance he won't get on the plane.  That would fit with his life of late - fear paralysis.  So, we'll see what happens.  Haven't heard from him in some time. 

Whom I did hear from today was a past lover.  He's got interesting tales and I read the subtext. He was my doctor and I still carry a scar of surgery he did on me, so I'll never forget him.  He is equivalent to royalty in two cultures and with that comes pressures that make most the men in his family turn to alcohol and early death.  He's adorable and sweet and a raging alcoholic.  We had a blissful time together but it was never really real.  If our paths cross again it would be fun to see him, but he's literally on the other side of the world. 

Such interesting men in my romantic past.  No regrets. 
 
I need to cut the grass but it's so fucking hot out there. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I'm coming for you, baked cucumbers

My garden is at bounty time right now, though not for too long.  I got another large zucchini and cucumber off the vines this morning and when contemplating their futures I turned to chocolate zucchini bread and Julia Child baked cucumbers. 

I just ate Greek salad with the tomatoes from the plants that are dying. No idea what killed them.  Wilt?  (That would really piss me off because it's brand-new soil.)  Too much water? (can't control the rain)  Bad variety for our climate and soil? (I bought starts at the nursery because I planted too late)

Soon the vine borers will find the zucchini and cucumbers and they will also be gone. 

It'll just be me and some crowder peas.  And maybe the okra in the backyard will finally show up.  And maybe the sweet potatoes will turn out this year.

I came back from my trip and the collards in front of the house had grown a lot - and been almost completely devoured.  They were like lace.  Crazy.

Gardening in the South in the summer is not the easiest thing I've ever done.  So when it works, I enjoy it.  




Rest to wait

I carry stress in my body and sometimes my body says fuck that.

So tomorrow I have an appointment for a massage and next week to start Rolfing.

I'm in considerable pain and I need to work through it. Starting yoga practice and making sure to walk the dog.

I've long abused my body and I'm going to take the opportunity now to unravel some damage. I take some inspiration from prisoners who get really buff in lockup. Take advantage of where you are. (And yes I'm still kind of obsessed with a prisoner I recently met but that's another story altogether that I can't go into here.)

I'm going to get my goddamn house in order and be ready for what comes next.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Know self

When I announced that I was leaving a teaching position where I had been several years and that I had deeply loved, another teacher said "noooo! We are losing our warrior."

The three adult jobs I have most loved have been all about the warrioring. I'm good in battle. I'm not so good in perpetuation of status quo or in mandatory mediocrity. It's not that those things aren't important. They are. It's just that I have other skills.

Yesterday I caught video of myself while setting up a home video system (sort of). I look absolutely miserable. My body is showing this misery with my constant scowl, my stiff joints, my swelling as though on steroids. I look so unattractive with dull hair and skin. I don't care about cultural attractiveness, but what I mean is the obvious disconnect between my current life and what fulfills me and how I must constantly minimize myself to be less threatening.

Let them feel threatened.

And let me find my destiny because it is not like this.

So I need to focus on my health and paying attention to other opportunities.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

not your grandma's superhero

Went to see Wonder Woman and enjoyed it. 

Though now I feel really depressed and I'm unsure why.

Went to the movie and then lunch with a friend who used to work sort of peripherally so me.  If I'm a bad fit for my job, she was a HORRIBLE fit for her job.  And she eventually quit.  Though she's no 60 and looking for another job and hoping to work at least another ten years. 

I said: "Look, if Diana tried to be a secretary or a spy, she would have failed horribly.  But because she did what fit her, she was awesome."  We're not gods or superheroes, but we are as ill-suited as this Wonder Woman being a spy.