Sunday, December 31, 2017

hard freeze

We've got a hard freeze coming, which makes the Catahooligan even more velcro-ey, and the poor chickens stand together and fluff out their feathers.  I know intellectually that they will be fine, but I'll still be making oatmeal for them in the morning.

I woke up this morning to panic about money.  Hello, 2017.  2018 will be more of the same.  I worry too much about it, and I'm pretty pissed off that I have waited over a month to be reimbursed a significant amount of money.  If you're going to force me to incur expenses to do my job, then you need to reimburse me before they show up on my credit card statement two times.  I'm just pissed off even though I know I'll be fine.

It's been a fucking productive day.  I was supposed to go on a road trip with a friend but I was all hell to the nah when I stepped outside.  Lots of cleaning and organizing and cooking.  I just ate shakshuka for dinner and this way is going into the repertoire.  Made with diced tomatoes it's not too tomato saucy, which is usually my complaint. 

OK, I just lost three paragraphs about food.  Extolling vegetables and announcing I may be  #teambrownrice again after a decade of being all about the white rice.  These are exciting times around here.

I'm watching Whisky Tango Foxtrot which is based on a true story of an American reporter who went to Afghanistan.  I was thinking, "Oh, I didn't go places quite that rough," but, I need a reality check because I went to Libya and South Sudan among other places, and that is actually "rough."  I went to some of the most interesting places in the world, and while I wouldn't say that I miss it, there is something.  She's at the scene where she's meeting and charming a government official and I remember meeting my particular warlord/government official, and how he charmed me. 

I have known a lot of charming people, but there is nothing like a former warlord for charm.  Seriously. 

I have had such an amazing life and I have been so incredibly fortunate and continue to be.  I walked out of my house yesterday to feed the chickens and just thought: good god, how can one person be as lucky as me? I live beyond my wildest dreams.  My biggest problem in life is that I want multiple things that cannot happen simultaneously. 

Back to organizing and cleaning.  OR maybe the movie.  It's cold. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

there will be bad days but this wasn't one

Oh so quiet at work, so many people on holidays all week.  Yay. 

I was able to focus six full hours on a project and complete it.  NOrmally I'm dealing with so many interruptions that it's hard to focus, but today was sweet.  And what I did was a big improvement over what was done before, and that's a nice sense of accomplishment.  Four more pieces to it, but that was the biggest piece. 

The morning started with an email exchange with a man I respect tremendously, about books we're reading.  I got to talk explicitly about race and power and other Big Thoughts.  He is the opposite of warm and fuzzy with me - he is almost cold and harsh.  But what comes of our conversations is 98% of the time enlightening and interesting and lets me think.

And I got this email from a colleague in another state.

Subject:  Just came across your name in my inbox..........
…….. and had to take the opportunity to write you a quick note, saying that I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  It was so very, very good to see you.

You are just the best.

And now I cook - a sauce for beans & rice that I've been craving from a town I used to live in, and the beet farro salad I love so much.  

It is cold outside.  The dog is staring at me.  She loves black beans even more than she loves sauteed cabbage, and that is a whole lot.  She wants more.  She will not get more.  We are at an impasse.  

Also, the heat in my pickup barely works now.  It takes over 20 minutes to get warm at all.  I"m wondering if this is something that I actually need to fix since today is about as cold as it gets (in the 40s). 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

wherein I wax frugalic

Over at Smacksy, one of the links she posted today was by Ann Patchett about a no-shopping year.

Y'all, seriously.  I'm so glad I gave up shopping for sport years ago.  It's not just the money - though that's a big part of it - it's the time and energy.  I hate to be buried under stuff.

I grew up a normal American with a fondness for stuff.  And I still own quite a lot of stuff.  Though it's mostly all stuff that I use. Dog leashes and toothpaste and duct tape and garden tools and the like.  A lot of it is used - even things like the sheets I use.  A friend had some old sets that she didn't want anymore so mailed them to me shortly before I got my job.  They were perfect when I got Ziggy because I drape them over all furniture, and she was a bit of a worry chewer at first and there are some chewed up corners.  Which doesn't matter, but would if they'd been fancy new sheets.

Sometimes I fetishize my frugality and need to take a step back and think about if it's hurting me. Like with work: if I were to dress nicer and wear makeup and jewelry, I'd look the part of a higher-paying job.  I dress like an old school teacher in a place where a lot of people wear suits.  And I have some suits - my favorite from a thrift store in Oregon when my friend insisted I check it out; most of the others from a friend who no longer wanted them.  (Despite making six figures and being married to a man as well, she has massive credit card debt.  Probably because she dumps her wardrobe and buys new on a not-irregular basis.)

I have one pair of work shoes for each season.  Now, it's black boots.  Every day.  IN summer, black sandals.  I will wear the boots until the tread is smooth as glass, and then if they're like the previous ones (which I wore for about eight years), then they'll become work boots. I am easily the second worst dressed person in my entire building.  Are there consequences?  Well, I don't want a job with more responsibility, so maybe not so much.  But I do need to get two more pair of pants - I wear my clothes until they literally fall apart, and I'm at that stage.  I resent how things made today are so shoddy.

I still buy things.  I have a bunch of accessories to the trailer that I have to get, such as water pressure regulator and wheel lock.  And things like a tea kettle and dishes.  I was going to just use things that I already have, but alas I don't have a stovetop kettle, and all my dishes would break in the travel.  So, some granitewear and a titanium kettle that is efficient with propane.  I think of fancy things like reupholstering, but I'll just use some thrift store sheets for now.  Maybe later I'll get enough to cut up to make into slipcovers.

Despite my thrift, I'm only saving about 1/3 of my income now.  Which is higher than the vast majority of Americans, but when I read Frugalwoods and others, I think: how on earth did they save 80% of their income?  Like, no, really.  How on earth?  I know my hobbies of gardening and chickens aren't really cheap (well, they are now more, but there was investment), but I don't travel.  I mean, I will with the trailer hopefully, but that's to avoid airfare and hotels, and also dog sitting because I want to bring the hound.*  I spent more on food than I think I should, but I get tired of rice and beans.  I very rarely buy things like dog toys or books (except for school and even then they're used).  I run my heat at 62 and AC at 78, but I can't demand that my tenant do.  I need to put money into both properties - here to paint; at the other to fix up some windows.  And probably some other things.  I'm keeping my eyes closed to issues because they can get expensive.

I track every purchase and usually have for the past 30 years.  I look at my spending and don't see the fat - there was $450 spent on my truck a few months back but it's a 16-year-old pickup.  Oh, that was mostly for car insurance.  Insurance here is wicked expensive, but I've carved out a life that is inexpensive in other ways.  People say housing here is too expensive, but I've bought two houses at a bargain and with income generation.  $25 per month each usually for dog, chickens, and garden.  I know that money adds up but I'm not going to stop giving my dog her heartworm treatment.  When we go for walks in the woods, there is gas money.  I only get my hair cut twice a year or so and then at a school so it's only $12.  This last time was pretty bad but whatever - who cares? It's just hair. If I were to get my hair cut every eight weeks at a salon, it would be $422 PLUS TIP.  And I do tip pretty well so that would be like $500 per year.  I would rather save that money.My truck now only gets about 15 mpg - it used to be more like 20 but it has aged.  I guess that's still good for a truck.  And I know that it could die and I'm contemplating what I'll want in a next vehicle.  We'll see how the trailer life goes - if I need to be able to tow.

How is it that I'm nearly 50 years old and still don't know what my future holds?  I guess because I'm open to interesting things that come along.

Anyway, my Christmas gift to myself is a new $40 shelving unit.  I need more space to store piles of books and papers for school, plus I want to clear out the guest room.  I could store the camping gear and suitcases and such outside but it would mildew.  I wish I had a real closet in my bedroom and not only in the guest room. 

Anyway, time to head into this day.  Work tomorrow through Friday, then another four-day weekend.  I've had a lot to do.  Some I've done, others not so much.  Gardens are in good shape (sort of) and I'll continue rummaging everywhere for things I can take to Goodwill.  Deep cleaning of my bedroom is in order and I'll move back in there. 

*Truth is, I'm stuck at how to have her in a campground.  She's so intense and used to having free rein of her large backyard - how can I tell her she needs to stay in the trailer or on a tether and stop barking?  Oh, I can tell her, but she won't listen.  She very much has a mind of her own.  And while she's very enthusiastic about the trailer - rushing to it and into it when she can - and about walking in the forest, I'm a little stuck.  I'm also stuck because of the hurky-jerkiness of how it feels to pull it.  It's offsetting, to say the least.

And lord, have I even mentioned how backing it up into my narrow driveway is about the worst thing ever?   Now I manage because the lot next door is vacant, but what will I do when somebody moves in there, as they are with all the vacant lots?  My street is only one lane before hitting a curb, which makes it harder.  I know that all this will get easier, but right now the camping plan is stressing me out. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

delayed again

It looks like despite having four days off coming up, there's not a single one of them good for us to take out the trailer.  Between the rain and freeze, it's setting us up not for fun.

So, home we stay.

Which means I can drag out my quilt that I've been working on for ten years.  It's been hard to stay motivated, what with not being in the country and then living here where there's exactly 7 nights per year when it would be pleasant to have a heavy quilt.  Last night was so warm that despite only a light blanket on me I thrashed all night long.  i woke myself up when rolling off the bed and hitting myself on the nightstand.  For example. 

Anyway, it will still be delightful, a quiet time.  I've never cared for Christmas and I tuck myself away from it all.  I used to accept invitations but it's just not the thing for me. 

The brake controller works!  The big hassle I had to take yesterday to schlep and get the harness wired correctly worked out.  So, one more thing.  I want to get up really early on Saturday and drive it around and practice backing it up before there's too much traffic.  Hopefully I figured out the issues that made it ride hurky-jerky.  If not, I'll need a Plan B.

Haircut on Saturday for no reason except my hair is tangling so bad I think perhaps a trim will help.  Then some grocery shopping, and then I would quite like to not leave my house again until Wednesday for work.  Possible?  Oh, maybe if the weather turns nice on Sunday (which looks like it could happen) we'll go to the forest for a hike and to check spots I think would work for camping.  They're basically just the end of hunting roads.  So, yes to orange vests, definitely.  And we don't walk too deep into the woods - after just an hour, Ziggy is ready to turn around, and there is only one real "trail" and we don't go on that because too many people.  And people could mean dogs.  And ... I'm not ready for that. We're doing a lot of work - getting her calmer, loose leash walking, nails done so she's not so scratchy - but I'm not even yet tackling the dog reactivity or bad manners with humans.  Yesterday I had an electrician come for a quote and I put her in a crate in the kitchen and she was panicked - if I went out of sight, she was screaming and over the top.  Sigh.  She's a good dog who wants to always be by my side and she takes that job so very seriously.  So to be forcibly contained in a room that echos cries while a strange man enters the house - not something to make my furry-faced little friend very happy at all.  Sigh.  We'll work on it eventually.

I'm having a really hard time getting to work today but I'll get there.  Slowly, surely, and late.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I'm no Dr. Doolittle

For nearly two years, one of the best parts of Ziggy's day was at 7 am.  She would hear the neighbor loading up his van and she would rush into the backyard like a gladiator.  She would tell him in no uncertain terms that he was unacceptable.  When he'd leave, she's run back into the house very proudly because she chased away the evil man who tortures her friend (bathes his dog in his backyard, which Ziggy can see through the fence slats). 

This week, we've had none of that.  Which has me wondering: did she grow out of it? Is she depressed? Is she losing her hearing? This poor dog doesn't get much excitement or an outlet for her natural aggressions so this has been a pretty harmless activity.  The neighbor is a good sport about it and if it's too early or prolonged I go out and bring her in to not disturb my tenant.  For a while I was really good about making sure we were always out of the house at that time with a walk, to avoid the confrontation, though it wasn't ever a really big deal and mostly I was just tired of the barking and didn't want her doing it when tenant was there (but she works early a lot now because she's in retail).

It's just such a significant change that I have to wonder what's up.  She used to bark this way with their dog and then after a few months she grew out of that.  If I initiate she'll run to the fence and run along with him, which is good exercise for her.  The Yorkie adores us both and wants our attention all the time, so he's constantly yapping over there, and Ziggy cannot be bothered.  (When he gets loose from the house and I'm in the front yard, he makes a beeline for me, and if I'm not in the front then he'll rush to the other side of our lot to get Ziggy's attention.  He's kind of obsessed with us.)

In other pet news, the chickens are drying their feathers on their pallets. I have two pallets leaning against each other as a kind of shade for them in summer, and they LOVE THIS.  They hang out under it all the time, and sometimes they all perch on top of it and it's hilarious.  I wish I could get a good picture, but as soon as they see or hear me they come running for me.  Last night I got home when they were beginning their nightly ritual of climbing up into their coop, but they heard me and all came running, so I gave them bedtime snacks of mealy worms.  They're good little hens.  I just wish they wouldn't keep trying to trip me when I'm out in their yard. 

More rain, so less watering, yay.  though I do need to put some time in this weekend into weeding and planting and ordering seeds.  I can plant corn in two months which is crazy to me, but the correct timeline. I should put in some sunflowers too, for the chooks.  They're not so crazy for the bag that I got, but if I gave them fresh on a flower head, they'd love it.  I gave them all my yu choy which nearly immediately bolted, and they love picking the flowers off. 

OK, time to feed and water the chickens and clean the coop, then walk the dog, then do a little work and get ready before heading to a meeting across town.  This is a kind of slow time at work so I'll be taking time off to see an electrician and try to get my trailer hitch contacts properly hired.  Grrrr.  Why couldn't they have done it right the first time?  Do they not know how and I'm making a long trip for nothing tomorrow?  I don't know.  I'll find out. 

I want the trailer to work right and I want to go out in it! I feel like we will have such a fun time once I get through all the stress of learning and having to purchase things. It's a really steep learning curve.  The community of these type of trailer owners is super helpful so I'm in some groups.  Lots of good advice, but also a lot of hooey.  Some people want to overcomplicate things unnecessarily and I ain't got time for that. And one person was an asshole so I deleted that comment and shut it down.  Before I did, people must have seen because one woman tracked me down to another post to offer encouragement.  Very nice people, but y'all: hauling a damn trailer isn't something intuitive.  There's a lot to learn.  I'm pretty educated but this is so outside my realm.  And so many tools that I didn't even know existed.  So trying to figure out what I really need and what is just nice to have is a bit of a challenge.  I don't like wasting money but I definitely will get the things I need, and there's a lot.  The trailer has this cool rail on the door side to attach an awning or visor or tent, so I need to figure out which one I want.  They're expensive, so probably just one at first.  Or I could make my own but it may end up to be almost as costly and less effective. 

I am so incredibly fortunate to have the means to enjoy this leisure and to have the flexibility with my work to take time off as I wish.  There is still so much bullshit at work but it's less abusive towards me and so I can appreciate all that it offers. Quality of life, man. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017


More and more I keep thinking how I'd be happy to live more rural.  The things of the city that I have loved dearly no longer hold so much appeal.  I like to be home and digging in dirt, not doing fancy city things. 

The only exception I can think now is that I like living with Whole Foods and Trader Joe not too far away. 

But while we have amazing restaurants, I rarely go to them.  Expense, I guess.  And not wanting to go out.

I don't want close-by neighbors.  Which is no reflection on my neighbors - ever since moving to this city I have had the best neighbors imaginable.  (NOt like the cranky pants in southern California who reported me to code enforcement for xeriscaping my front yard when I refused to water the lawn.)  I just want more space.  I want Ziggy to have more space, to run and explore. 

To do this while living in New Orleans would not be cheap and it would be over an hour's commute each way.  That would be away from home over ten hours per day, which is a damn lot.  (They won't let us distance work in my job, which sucks.) 

I've been really nostalgic for my two years in an Eskimo village sparked by a former student's FAcebook post.  We used to have VHF radios as the main way of communication - announcements made, "private" conversations (calling out to the person you're trying to locate and giving a short message or saying "two up" to go up two channels to speak).  We had community potlucks where I first tried seal oil and pickled fish, and relished the muktuk and dried fish and "Eskimo ice cream" and other such delicacies.  There was skin sewing where I learned to make fur slippers.  Church of course, though I didn't go there.  A regular stream of visitors, many who would just sit on my couch in silence while sipping a cup of coffee, getting to know me without words.  There were birthday parties in tiny kitchens with so many cakes and pies.  There were students making their first successful hunt and sharing pieces of caribou with me.  There were elders sharing wisdom and stories.  There were late nights of Scrabble with young men.  There were walks on frozen ocean, hikes around hills, skiing and snowshoeing leading to long soaks with bath salts after I pushed myself too hard. 

It was a really good life in many ways.  My dog loved it there.  But, she was a very responsible dog who could be trusted in almost all situations (she almost took off with a pack of foxes, bless her heart, but they courted her for a long time - she had a bushy tail they thought meant she was one of them).    We could go anywhere without thinking of leashes. 

And there were no cars so I didn't have to hassle with all that involves (super expensive gas, electricity to keep the engine block from freezing, etc.). There were 4-wheelers and snowmachines (I sometimes borrowed the school's), and we walked everywhere.  If the blizzards got bad, we would tie ropes between buildings so we wouldn't get disoriented and die; if they got really bad, we stayed home. 

I shipped up so many boxes of books and quilting supplies and so enjoyed all the quiet time. The internet had only really just begun and while I had email I'd never think to install internet at home (I think some people did as dial-up, but it was rare). 

I got to be out on the land - a breathtakingly beautiful land - on a regular basis. 

I got itchy after two years because I wanted more from life than it offered, and I still do - and it was a hard place to be single (especially after I broke up with my beau and he tried to kill himself and his family blamed me).  But it was such a good life. I remember when I left, on the way to the airstrip (all transportation was by very small airplane) I stopped at the beach.  Everyone was very excited about a recent successful whale hunt, and all the elderly women were out there with their ulus carving it up and apportioning it out for the whole community.  I got blood on my shoes, I think when they handed me some and I set it aside to give away (muktuk isn't exactly good travel food). 

Oh and how I miss the wild berries, how we'd go out and pick and pick and pick.  I grew up like that and it's something that I really miss.  Hunting and gathering is where it's at.  Selma, my dog at the time, loved the low bush blueberries because she could reach them too and we would fill our bellies before I filled my bucket.  Wild berries taste nothing like domesticated berries. 

That's not the life I want now - there would still be neighbors, no land of my own to roam with my crazypants hound. 

What I want now is more of a homestead.  I have so little want of other people now.  I still need them though, and that's hard to work around.  I had to ask my neighbor to come over yesterday to drive some self-tapping screws through my trailer tongue as I didn't have the strength or skill.

I won't be leaving soon.  I want to finish my degree and I'm taking my time.  But sometime in this dog's lifetime, it would be awesome to live in a big farmhouse where she doesn't have to be confined to a backyard. 

And then maybe the next dog I get is a Greyhound rescue.  They're apparently quite the lazy-bones and can never be trusted off-leash, so I would feel no guilt.  Honestly, Ziggy is pretty lazy, but she is much happier with a morning walk and afternoon play session.  She's been making some good choices today after we had a bad day yesterday.  She just wanted to "help" and I was frustrated.  I need a big bubble of personal space when figuring out a situation, not a dog's nose in the middle of it. 

I had a reality check the other day when I saw charts of income levels across the nation.  I make more money than a majority of Americans.  That is kind of shocking to me because I don't feel rich.  But I guess I am, because I can save for retirement and enjoy leisure.  This makes me really reluctant to leave my job - I could have a different job I would like more, but it would very likely pay less.  I really cannot justify only earning $35,000 at this stage of my life.  I could go back to teaching in California for much better than that, and let's be honest - I haven't been in the classroom for 11.5 yeas and things have changed.  A lot.  And teaching has never been easy, but at least I had more energy before. 

So, here I am.  For now at least.

heavy rains

I can't remember the last time we had heavy rains.  We're in the dry season, but it's been really dry.  My rain barrels ran dry kind of dry.  And because there's so much construction dust, it gets everywhere without cleansing rains.  Thank you, for washing my truck, rain.  And also my driveway.  And watering my plants.  We're a good team, you and me, rain.

I'm reading Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild right now, and it's really good.  Really, really good.  She spent five years studying southwest Louisiana communities to explain the rise of the political right.  I'm only a few chapters in but I enjoy it because while she has the academic depth, she's writing it for laypeople - which means it's a good story and not all dry.  She's looking at how people vote against their interests - here in the most polluted area of the country, how do people make sense of voting for political parties that gut environmental protections?  It's fascinating to me.  In part because I work with these people, but also because it's a an intellectual puzzle. 

This was something I noticed at the conference I went to, with people from all over the country.  I spent a chunk of time with a woman from the Bay area who doesn't appear to know any political conservatives, which makes it easy to vilify them.  I work with perfectly wonderful people whose politics are in stark contrast to mine, and I find vilifying them or describing them in broad strokes is not helpful.  AT all.  And so for these constant opportunities to humanize the Other, I am grateful for this job.  And because it pays my bills. 

So I plan a delightful day of curling up with slightly-damp dog and a great book while it rains hard outside.  It's the first time since putting metal along one side of my house, where my bedroom is, and I find the sound delightful.  It makes me feel closer to the rain without being out in it.  My timing was perfect with dog walking - the downpour began the instant we hit the porch.  I'm working on no leash pulling which is, a challenge.  I don't find her that bad about it really (unless there's a dog and then she goes nuts), but for other people to walk her she needs to improve.

I plant to make gruyere crepes, because that was the only raw milk cheese I saw at Trader Joe's.  Since reading an article on raw milk cheese a few weeks ago, I've been obsessed with getting some.  I'm very suggestible with reading material.

And, laundry.  Clean house.  If there's a real break in the rain, I'll try to take the trailer out for a spin to try backing up and such, and to see if the modifications I made make it any better to pull.  Though, I can't get the brake control to install properly, so I may wait on that until I've had a chance to call the company for support and hopefully fix it.  

Maybe I'll move back to my bedroom.  I moved out weeks ago when I couldn't sleep there anymore, but maybe it's better now.  I don't know the final straw - was it the uncomfortable bed, the dirt from dog, the light from new house?  Maybe I should try it again. 

Maybe I'll sort through clothes to pack up summer clothes for five months.  Maybe a bag for Goodwill. 

Nah I think I'll just make some hot chocolate and curl up with the hound and enjoy this glorious precipitation. 

I keep hurting myself

My back again.  Because I did something stupid and realized that I could let something fall and crush my hand or potentially break machinery, or I could wrench my back holding up a ton of weight.  I went with the third and my back hates me though the full damage isn't yet known.

Something to know is that everybody has back disc problems. For approximately 17 seconds I worked as a personal injury lawyer, and I met with a lot of chiropractors and got a good education.  One day at an informational session we saw MRIs to discuss the different types of disc injuries that could come from car accidents.  And I kept asking questions and finally the chiropractor said there was no doubt that there would be visible injury if I had my spine examined, because it's the case with all adults.


So I probably did something else bad.  Me and my crooked body.  I do love my chiropractor and the sweet relief she brings.

About four years ago I started getting back pain with my periods and her staff suggested an herb and mineral and I tell you what - it is magic.  I kept forgetting the cause because my back with stiffen and then tighten like white knuckles on a scary ride.  Angry back.

Anyway, my period is more than a week late for the first time ever in my life and if there is anything in life to hope for it's that my menopause goes like my friend A.'s.  "I just stopped menstruating and that was a year ago so I guess I'm done.  Let's find a place to donate these unused tampons."  And so we did.  She had no "symptoms" of menopause except no longer menstruating.  And she's only like four years older than me, so I AM READY.  For that kind.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

fuse satisfaction

I went to Auto Zone.  I walked to the fuses aisle.  I found 10 amp ATC fuses and I bought a packet of four of them.  Then I came home and opened up my camper and Ziggy rushed in to investigate (she ran first to the red light of the bad fuse, little smarty pants) and then I changed out the fuse and immediately the radio lights came back on (and hopefully I can figure out how to make them go away because I really hate sleeping in a room with any kind of phantom light - when I'm at a hotel I cover them all up).

It's satisfying.  Little challenges like this are fun.  Now I now the layout of the Autozone and what to expect.  I can't remember ever changing a fuse again but that could be age because surely I have at some point, and how could I know how it goes unless I've done it before?

Ah, age.  I can never remember my sources of information anymore.  I can remember the actual information, but not who told me.  And I'm talking about something the next day.  It's kind of crazy.  Is this a normal thing?

And it's recent because today I saw a man I met almost two years ago and I recalled a conversation we'd had and he said, "Wow you have a great memory," but the truth is (a) I remember because we spent quite a bit of time talking and I found him interesting and attractive, and (b) he remembered even more about me.  He remembered Ziggy and where I live and all sorts of things.  So he apparently also found me interesting and I wish he'd found me attractive and we would be happily ever after even though I don't really believe in that.  But I did quite like him. He seemed older today.  I mean, of course he is older because that was two years ago, but for men there is a change in virility at a certain age and I think he's there.

Not HNIC.  IT was his birthday this week and I'm at the stage of grief of being really pissed off at him.  He'd once really pissed me off on his birthday and that came up.  But he died before his virility could fade.  He was feeling less virile but that's not how the world saw him.

Anyway, even if that man did find me attractive, he'll never act on it.  In this political climate, it'll never happen.  And so it goes.  He's just the kind of man I imagine hours of pillow talk with - I really enjoy chatting with him.  He's a good conversationalist. And at our age, that's something.

I have drastically changed in many ways.  I have stayed at a job for three years, something I've done only once before in the past 32 years.  This will soon be the longest job I've ever had - and soon it will be the longest job by a long amount.  While I still have no real interest in a long-term relationship, I also no longer have interest in short-term ones.  Just all of that doesn't really interest me.  The only reason I would want a partner is to share chores and resources.  I would love another person chipping in on household expenses and projects.  But most people want more than that.

It's Saturday and my pelvis aches.  It's felt "full" for weeks now and I just want it to go away.  I'm assuming it could well be some big fibroid growth - that's what I had before, nearly ten years ago when they removed a fibroid the size of a football from me (which I never complained about but they thought it could be cancerous so insisted).  And apparently quite bad endometriosis which was scraped out while I was cut open and they were waiting for biopsy results. 

The thing is: I REALLY REALLY REALLY do not want that surgery again.  The recovery process was AWFUL.  My brain didn't work right for two years.  AND the other thing is that menopause will change the hormones to stop contributing to the growth of such things, so I just need to hang on for that.  I'm nearing 50 so the waiting game doesn't seem so bad.  But I'm also a bit concerned about the feeling.  It did get worse after my trip, and I ate large meals there, so maybe it's a weight gain thing amplifying whatever else is going on.  So, trimming ten pounds wouldn't hurt me for sure. 

I had that last post about a good reason to lose weight but I don't want to be slim. I like being a woman of physical substance. I like that it makes it possible for me to push a 2,000 pound trailer around.  Where I worked in West Africa, women of my body type were taken more seriously than slim women.  It's not just a beauty standard, though is in part.  It's also a gravity standard - a woman of strength and conviction is not a size 0, according to that culture.  And it resonated with me.  I like taking up space.  NOt more than my space, but to not give up my space to others without permission.
And another big piece of this is that my indicators are all very healthy.  Good blood pressure, cholesterol, all that.  Were my weight any kind of health problem, I would view it differently. 

But yeah, I should shed the trip pounds and not indulge too heavily in holiday festivities. 

I wanted to take Ziggy to the forest today but the forest is too far.  She's in one of her moods, so very naughty.  And I know lack of walks and training is fueling that, but I just haven't felt up to it all. She's bored and she's being an asshole.  Yesterday a man was talking about friends who go boar hunting very primitive - the dogs chase the boar until it's exhausted and then the people jump on it and kill it with a knife, etc.  I gave him a funny look and he said: "Yeah, it's pretty gruesome."  "No, I'm just thinking how my dog would LOVE THAT LIFE." 

But I will take her out today.  Before she has a nervous breakdown.  And I'll gird my loins to deal with her attitude about it all.  And we'll work on training.  Really it's counter conditioning that we need to work on.  Well, and how to remember her training when facing a strong stressor.  She gets so flooded with emotion she's unable to think. 

I finished reading The Education of Will by Dr. Patricia McConnell, a dog behaviorist whom I respect.  And she got a puppy when eight weeks old and she's an expert, and that dog STILL turned out to be as messed up as Ziggy.  She managed it and got through it - but sheesh, I can't do all that she could.  I don't have the skills or resources - like time.  She works with dog issues full-time.  She has a ton of friends and colleagues with dogs to help her dog.  She says she's not sure what made the difference but she took him regularly to things like acupuncture and other (expensive, time-consuming) treatments.  There is an holistic vet here who can do acupuncture but it would take so much effort to get Ziggy to accept somebody other than me putting needles into her.  I'm sure they're experts but Ziggy is SO INTENSE.  I've never known a dog like her.  And we tried so many herbal remedies and nothing worked except the CBD oil which I'm keeping her on.

What I can do is T-touch, a type of massage almost that has evidence supporting that it works to calm animals.  I have a book on that so need to pick it up and focus on that. 

I've just been so tired - finishing classes was rough and then immediately two trips and some big work projects, and I'm just totally exhausted.  And the camper has a steep learning curve so I'm spending so much time reading up on that and ordering and installing things.  Things that will be easy after I've done them a couple of times are pretty hard the first time, as this is something I've never done before. 

I'm so grateful for upcoming time off for the holidays.  I need to rest.  I'm so glad I'm not taking exams in April because then I'd have to start studying and I just want to rest.  Time off for me is "just" working a full-time job and training an insane dog and doing a ton of house chores.  And not giving in to pressure to socialize if I don't want to - I keep not showing up to parties, canceling plans.  I soooo appreciate my friends reaching out at the end of the term trying to see me, but I'm just finding it exhausting and I want to not go places or do things.  I'm tired.

All right, there's about 20 items on my to-do list so I need to get to it.  Starting with feeding the chickens, who are patiently waiting (some morning they scream at me, but today they're just scratching around).  Then walking the dog to take the edge off her nerves.  She's just sitting and staring at me, judging me for my laziness.  I sure do wish my old tenant and her puppy were still here, and they could all frolic in the backyard.  Sigh. 

So yeah I want to take the trailer out for one night next weekend, maybe for Christmas.  So I have a lot to prepare for that. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

well I finally figured out a reason I should work on being thinner

I don't make a big deal about fat pride or any of that, but I am fat and unashamed of it.  Between genetics and thyroid dysfunction, it would be an incredible amount of work to be in even "normal" range.  I've lost weight before and then it always plateaus.  That whole calorie-in, calorie-out bullshit.  I was on Weight Watchers and being very "good" and nothing worked to nudge downward.  I could starve myself I guess, literally starve.  In Vienna at the turn of the century there were Hungerkunstler who starved themselves nearly to death as a form of entertainment. That's how it would feel to me to try to be thin. And I would fail. And it would be so much energy to focus on it. 

So, I don't. 

But tonight I realized I may have to reconsider my position.  My trailer fits in my carport, but to have enough room on one side to pass by and with a bike or other objects, means that the other side is very close to the wall.  And tonight when I was trying to inflate tires and recharge batteries and all that, I couldn't really fit well. 

And bless her team-player heart, Ziggy was right there and would have been so happy to handle all the work for me in that tight space, and if she had an opposable thumb I'd have handed it all off to her.  But, she does not. 

(By the way, after over two years, I finally have my staff doing things on their own to mButy standards and it is GLORIOUS.  Just in time for somebody else to enjoy all my work.  Grrrrr.) 

So I was wedged between wall and camper, trying to fit things into other things, and it was frustrating.  And if I were 50 pounds smaller, my frame would fit more easily in the gap, and I would be less frustrated, which would worry my dog less.  (She is such a good dog.  Seriously.  Any time I have chores to do, she is right there to help.)

And no, I can't expand my carport.  Which is already probably beyond the property line.

Speaking of, I'm annoyed that the water company left me a notice that I have to clear off my water meter.  They have automatic readers - they don't need to access my meter, they can read it as they drive past.  Unless that system broke, which is likely.  Shit breaks here like crazy.  NOw I look back at past statements and it looks like they have been estimating since May.  Oh, good grief.  So what this means is that it's likely that when I get a water bill it will be for $7,000.  I wish I were exaggerating but that's what neighbors have received.  I wondered why I haven't had such problems, and now I know.  HOnestly I was kind of distracted because I had to deal with my tenant's water situation because it took her over almost two years to get the water switched to her name.  Grrrr.

So I need to spend this weekend clearing part of my front yard garden.  Honestly the area where I need to clear, nothing's growing there anyway now so oh well.  It's weird, I cannot get anything to grow in that section.  I've planted so much, for no results.  Guess I'm grateful for that now. 

Also I can't take out the camper this weekend because I blew a goddamn fuse.  Sheesh.  So, more project there.

And I have to go to work early tomorrow and I keep forgetting. 


Oh, it's time to make checklists of things to do and take camping!

First, I want to buy 100 acres to roam.  That won't happen soon if ever.

I got a new trailer ball mount today and it's adjustable and I was able to find the right height for the trailer.  Yay.  Now I need to figure out how to tighten it correctly.  I need a wrench larger than what I have.  Probably my neighbor has one.  I also need to crawl under my truck and check for anything that's come loose on the hitch.  I installed that myself years go and it's likely not as tight as it should be.  I've asked the mechanic to check but I'm not entirely sure of them.  I need to find the hitch lock that I think I got - if not, then I need to order one. 

I got the portable tire inflator and converter to electricity so I can give that a go and get the tires to the right pressure.

Time to think about the little things too to take. Things like soap and dishsoap and coffee and sheets.  

I got grease for the ball hitch so it doesn't stick on me.  I got a power adapter to use the 50 amp power with my 30 amp trailer.  That wasn't super necessary right now but it will be once we hit campsites with power, so I went ahead and got it. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

open spaces

Yesterday at work, there was cake for THREE people retiring.  A lot of change. 

So this morning I'm acting like I'm retired.  It's almost time for me to be at work and instead I'm on the couch with my coffee and my hound.  No walk yet, haven't fed the chickens.  Just slowly moving. 

I stayed up too late watching the Alabama Senate race, because - wowza.

I dream of land.  Big piece of land, away from the beaten path, where my Catahooligan and trailer and I can go for her to run free and me to feel less urban.  When I bought this house where I am now, it was so open with vacant lots all around.  Now it's getting built up.  It doesn't help that the builders are assholes.  I feel hemmed in.  I still have one of the biggest lots I know in New Orleans, a very big back and front yard, and very nice neighbors.  But I want land and space to be free. 

I want to be retired on a ranch, and I want it next week.  I want this kind of view from my front door (taken from the show Longmire and in reality the Valles Caldera in Jemez):


I'm entirely unreasonable, I know.  But a girl can dream.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

power move

I made kind of a power move today, expressing interest in another position.  The person I said it to was surprised but interested. 

There is way more to say but none of it can I say here unfortunately. 

I just wonder if anything could come of it.  The timing might work in my favor because they need somebody quickly and it's pretty high stakes. 

The upside would be fewer personalities to please.  The downside would be more travel. 

They would want somebody they can manipulate more than me, and they may already have somebody in mind.

But, it could be a possible good move for me.  Time will tell.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Advil was made for weekend warriors like me

I try very hard to not take any medications, but I may need a NSAID today.  I have spent the past two and a half hours hauling pieces of carport to the other side of my house (out of the carport and driveway, so I can put the trailer there) and shoveling heavy wet sand (from the sinkhole explosions that have spewed a ton of sand all over my driveway and make it dangerous and messy). 

And i'm not done.  Maybe 2/3 of the way done.  And I hurt.  Oh boy do I hurt.  I am taking a little break to unknot my muscles and eat something.  I forgot to eat first.  And then I will finish and I will scour the street and driveway and carport for any sharp object that may puncture a trailer tire.  And I will put cones to help me back it in and I will try my best.  I have to leave to get the trailer in about three hours so I need to rally.  Because I will be having to be strong to haul that thing around, too.  Good times. 

My tenant is gone for a couple of days and a friend of hers is staying here to avoid bad roommates.  Sometimes I am reminded that I am a landlord for the community service of it - I provide a good product for what it is, affordable.  I am so delighted to now have three tenants who all pay their rent on time or even early.  Anyway, the friend arrived as I was returning from walking the dog, and Ziggy was all over her.  "Do you like dogs?"  "I love dogs."  "Well, just open the back door and she'll come running in to hang out with you."  And then we went in the house out my backdoor to start the hauling tasks, and Ziggy ran straight to the apartment backdoor, as though to fulfill the promise.  She knew exactly who was in the apartment even though it kind of doesn't make sense how she can figure it out.  Like how she could figure out that this person needs her comfort and understanding, and Ziggy is extremely good at those things.  She loves to make people happy and she loves friends. 

OK.  Some more water (it's cold but I'm still sweating - this shit is heavy) and then back to it.  And I will hurt.  And it's ok. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

almost to trailer life

Last year I became quite ... something about a man I met professionally.  First email and phone, with lots of long communication.  Quite intense.  And then we met in person and we went to another country together and his unwillingness to accept what I consider to be basic responsibility just really grated my nerves.

But we are still bonded.  He said once that it takes him a long time to become friends but then he is loyal to the end, unlike me who quickly befriends.  He was wrong.  I'm not really quick, but I know what I know.  And we are friends.  We now go months without talking but then immediately jump back into all of it.

When I last saw him the other night, I saw him watching the room playing host and I waited for his eyes to light on me.  I gave him a "deuces" as I was ready to go, but part of our dance is that I will not make first gesture ever.  He must always take the initiative, or fate does.  And he came to me and long hugged and kissed me, and I turned to go and he held my hand to keep me a little longer.  My new boss was there and may have seen it and I realize that anybody who saw it would think something. Not that I care. 

We just really like each other.  I thought he was buddies with everyone among his pals there, but I know him so much better than any of them, even about silly things like his age.  I know it, nobody else does.  One of our things was that we spent many hours walking around together, telling each other secrets.  We know each others' indiscretions and fears and priorities.  I know his salary and custody agreement terms.  Seriously, we know things. 

So he texted today to ask if it's true that there's snow here.  (There maybe was a little but I was inside.)  I responded and then: "And you miss me."  "Of course I do."  And I said what I'd been waiting for.  A mutual friend had invited me to join her at their lakehouse this summer but then I looked at a map and it would be FOUR DAYS of driving.  Good god.  Who lives closer?  This man.  And he loves dogs.  And I want to travel with dog.  So I invited myself.  I'm a little concerned about his young daughters and the hound but we'll work it out.  I think maybe we go to a park to camp, visit him for a few hours the next day, camp again, and come home. 

Tomorrow I am to take possession of my little camper.  I'm pretty damn excited, though I have to haul a bunch of shit first - things with nails and sharp edges, remnants of my former carport.  And then I have to pick up every sharp object and sweep, to make a good place for my trailer.  And then I somehow have to figure out how to back up.  Into a new carport.  Yikes. 

Last time I was moving debris from the carport construction I fell really hard.  The scabs are nearly healed (the sweet little boy I visited in Savannah saw and wanted to kiss to make them better), but my left elbow just keeps popping.  I hope I heal from that.  I'm so lucky I didn't break my arm because I fell damn hard, even though it was like in slow mo so I could shift my body for fat to take the brunt of the fall.

Let's be honest though - I'm past the age of a lot of things healing.  I'm just breaking down.  Though, my knee was killing me the past few days and that passed.  I think it was the barometric joints I now have.  See, age is helpful.

Thinking of things for my little camper.  Ordering a power cord to convert 50 to 30 amps.  I'll want a rug.  And an awning. What else?  I'll have to see.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


So a secret about me that makes no sense given my life's reality is that I hate traveling.  I don't mind as much being someplace else, but I really don't like to have to get there.

So I sit here on my bed in the hotel with coffee and I need to shower and breakfast and pack and be out the door in an hour.  Or so. 

It's been nice to see my friends but now I'm ready to be home with my Catahooligan.  But, the getting there is painful.  Call a Lyft?  Quick layovers.  Rush hour.

But then I'll be home, in about ten hours. so it's not so bad. Hopefully my carport is done, so I should pick up cash to pay that.

See my chickens, say hello to the girls.  Hope there's not a new sinkhole.   It just got really cold there, so turn on the heat. 

OK, I need to move. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

all good but

I'm at this conference and everything is awesome.  LIke, so seriously awesome.  I got to do that exhale like last year, the whole: "Oh yeah, these are my people, I can speak my truth, drop the barriers."

I learn, have wonderful conversations about things that matter to me.  My intellect is appreciated.

And somehow I'm in with the cool kids and my dance card is full and I'm in demand.  We even went mead tasting today because I thought it sounded fun. So many hugs of people happy to see me, whom I genuinely like.  And some people I know well enough to say: "Baby, you need a nap.  Go now, we'll catch you later," and "Here's a plate of food for you because you've had a long day and rough flight."  And new people, and we click.  New friends. 

But then what happens?  In the middle of people making me drinks and chatting around, I get distant.  "You're getting your antisocial on," says my evil twin (we look nothing alike but we act like it).  And I just want to be home, with my crazy-ass hound.  I just want no responsibilities, no expectations.  The thought of having to be in the view and get on the stage (not even to present - I got out of that - just to introduce and such). 

Is this social anxiety?  It just sucks.  Because I feel paralyzed.  I'm sitting here listening to Ludacris and TI and Ginuwine because they might even me out.  I left the party early despite the protests so I made jokes.  But I was done. 

I just have a limited capacity for human contact. Always have. It drains me.

And how come when things are really good, I can start to feel bad? 

Fucked up brain.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

easiest vacation ever

So glad my friend asked me to visit her there and we got to catch up.  She's the kind of friend that it's like no time has passed at all.  We're very comfortable. I help myself to leftovers in her fridge, feed her children with my bare hands.  We go all around together and it's comfortable.  I see the house of a favorite author whom she doesn't know and we stop because she's game like that.  When we were in law school together, she reminded me we used to do food swaps - I'd frequently stop by her house on my way to school and we'd exchange what we'd cooked or gardened or baked with each other.  Those were good times.  I miss having friends like this in my town.  And they miss that too. 

So everything has gone according to plan - I got to the other city and no problems at all, caught a Lyft and now I'm here and I'm about to go out soon to explore and get a snack.  And maybe a drink.  And then come back and read a book.  There are people I should contact to say I'm here and do they want to meet, but ... I'd rather explore alone. 

The hotel is ... old.  But the service is really great.  And it's a fancy hotel, I'm just a snob.  I've stayed in a lot of hotels and I have an attitude about it. 

Also: I need to start requesting that I get placed away from the elevator.  I hate hearing the ding. 

But otherwise, all fine.  I even unpacked as I'll be here for four nights.  Sheesh.  That's a lot. 

This market I plan to head out to has a lot of great art and crafts and I want to buy pretty things but I also don't, so it's a tension.  I'll walk quickly.  And no drink for me because the city has an open container law, unlike civilization where I can enjoy a tasty cocktail as I stroll. 

Yes, New Orleans is civilization of the highest order.

Friday, December 1, 2017

tiny terrorists

Oh, friends.  You with children.  How many years were you sleep deprived?

I'm visiting friends and they have two children.  One is three and very friendly and outgoing.  The other is about 17 months and much more reserved with people not her parents - she hates just about everybody.  (Point of pride: she never hated me.  Was skeptical.  I've won her over.  Children love me, probably because I'm soft and cuddly like a teddy bear.)

And she screams all through the night.  And oh how she screams. 

They are two very very patient, kind people.  I can't even imagine either of them losing their tempers. 

I on the other hand would be shrieking, too, if this were for more than just one night.  

She is adorable, but she is a domestic terrorist and sleep deprivation is her weapon. 

A slight lull, maybe I'll get some sleep. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I came home from work early, expecting the worst.  i had awakened to a geyser beside my front driveway thanks to Ziggy waking me to say official people were hanging up party flags around it and then driving away without doing anything.  She's a good dog, keeping me informed. 

It had exploded and gravel was everywhere and dirt and mud all over our cars.  It's a mess. 

But I came home and it had been clamped shut (instead of repaired because ...?) and those guys have now been sitting out there FOR HOURS when all that needs to happen is a couple truckloads of dirt to be dumped into the big hole.  And at least three different dump trucks have come and chatted.  They've had dirt loads, they've been backed up to right by the hole ... and then they leave.  It's so bizarre.  There is right now a guy sitting in the back hoe, a guy sitting in the dump truck, and at least three guys sitting in the repair truck.  FOR HOURS. 

But, once they leave I'll have my driveway back at least in theory which is helpful. 

I couldn't take the dog for a walk and there's still no way to get out to my truck without walking through mud.  The worker was delighted I had boots to wear to work. 

So I'm pretty much packed, as is the dog.  And she's not all freaked out.  She's watchful and sweet but not literally jumping off the walls as she can be when I'm packing. 

I have class in half an hour where I'll turn in my final project which is shit and I don't actually care at all.  Part of it was to discus at length the statistics models and I'm like - dude, we never said a single word about that. Nobody else in the class will have any clue unless they talk to her outside of class and I refuse to do that so Im talking about frequency distributions and t-tests and chi-squared tests and dismissing regression and this is just on the fly with some wikipedia reminding, but I'm not taking the time to go talk to her or to go look things up in past class books or any of that.  I just don't care.  I still need to fire her off my committee.

The most exciting part is that I just packed up two books to read.  Not school books!  One is about the Charleston murders and recovery, the other about a challenging dog by a dog psychologist. And I will be all curled up in the airports reading those because I told everyone to not call or email me while I'm gone.  Some still will but so it goes.  I'll probably leave my cell phones in my hotel room.  Ha. 

I go first to see an old friend and her family with two little kids who will delight me.  Her husband is also very sweet and I think his English is better now.  About 24 hours there and then on to the work trip until Wednesday, then home again. With plenty of work to do.  Home and job. 

I will leave class early tonight to take Ziggy to the friends' house.  I have to leave at the crack of dawn so it's better tonight but it's always so weird to be in the house without her.  After I drop her I'll hopefully have a little time to clean up the house and feel done with school.  What a sweet feeling.  I'll let myself take the whole month off really.  Reading only what I want to, nothing for school.  Doing what I want, when not working.  Delightful!  Well, except it's just chores, really.  I have a lot of chores.  Shrug.  I want to think about starting to paint my house and I need to think about the possibility of scaffolding and paint sprayer.  

Oh my, they have filled in the hole and are now scraping mud and gravel off my driveway and dumping it in a vacant lot across the way and that makes no sense to me at all.

Sigh.  Sewerage and Water Board, you are an incredible mystery.

OK, I gotta go to class in 5 minutes and they're in my way.

Oh, and I can quilt over the break!  Yes!  That will be tremendous fun!  Maybe I'll even finish it!  For the approximately nine nights per year when I want a thick heavy quilt on me.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

forgetting stuff that I need to not forget

*adding numbers* "Wow, it looks like I'm going to be ok despite all these big purchases and building a carport and all that.  I may even have some spare money to start paying back what I borrowed.  Sweet!"

Me, two hours later:  "Oh, the mortgage.  And utilities. Forgot about that.  Whoops.  Not doing so well after all, let's juggle some pennies." 

OK, focusing on powering through to finish final project tonight.  Must, since it's due tomorrow.

And, increasing CBD oil to dog.  I took her off it - just didn't give it to her since I picked her up last week, and I realized that she is a TOTAL ASSHOLE without it. 

Ziggy on CBD oil: sweet and vivacious
Ziggy not on CBD oil: explosive and rude 

Yeah, I'm putting her on double doses.  We started at the very lowest dosage and have lots more we can give. 

OK, project.  To finish!

Monday, November 27, 2017

I love it when a plan comes together

Today I got the metal ordered for my carport roof, contacted a delivery guy, and it'll all be done before I leave on vacation (the delivery and setup, not necessarily the finished product).  I got a price from the neighbor for his work which seems fair  And all this is costing less than half of what it would have cost to have it done in a way I didn't want.  I'm still not sure where the cash is coming from, but money comes and money goes.  I'll figure it out.  Now we're negotiating a design on the gate.  I got cedar that I think looks really pretty and he wants to do a design, just like a little arc or something, and I say: let's wait.  I said: "Are you sure that's not too far from the ground?  Can my dog get out?  Because if she can, she's running for you, so how sure do you feel?"  "Maybe I lower it a little."

The dog is getting out all her toys, which is pretty hilarious because she rarely does this.  I think (hope?) that she's feeling better.  This morning she woke me at 4:30 am barking uproariously.  I went out to get her and she came right in and snuggled with me for over an hour.  Her stomach was so upset - constantly making noises.  Poor pup. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

fermenter and possibilities

I took a fermentation class some months ago and haven't been on the bandwagon exactly.  Just now eating some sauerkraut that's been in my fridge since then.  I need to re-up the water kefir grains.

I believe that fermented foods are healthy and good for us.  I can see a difference in my dog between when I feed her yogurt and when I don't (I haven't, and she's gassy).  I think the new science out about the gut influencing mood and brain is really interesting.

I just have a hard time actually consuming these things.  The yogurt no problem, but I haven't made that in a long time - I've just been eating it from Trader Joe's.

The friend from Thanksgiving - I'd learned about the fermentation class from her and she asked and we talked about it which got me thinking.

But just now I'm trying to slam through a bunch of articles to finish one class assignment, and the author mentions the fermentation guru - whose name I know only from the class.  I had no idea he lives on a queer commune type of community in Tennessee, lives with HIV, etc.  Damn, if fermentation is helping keep him happy for almost 30 years, what can it do for me and my little issues?

Not that he sells it that way. He's just out about it.

So I'm intrigued about all of this and discover - he teaches courses there in April.  It's about a 9 hour drive for me, which I can do, and it's with camping - which I can definitely do with my little trailer (and hopefully I'll have some solar panels by then).  So I just submitted an application.  How fun would that be?  So much fun.  So much education.  Possibly so many health benefits. 

OK, back to reading, but it's fun to think of things I can do because I won't be studying for exams.

Oh, and I know a guy who offered boondocking (no hookup camping) at his property not too far from there - I could stop there for a night after and check it out to see if I could return with the hellhound. 

Life without school is so liberated!  AND this is actually sort of related to my dissertation. Kind of.  Same general area of study (anthropology of food).  

Friday, November 24, 2017

life changer

Today I got to see a kid - he's now a junior in high school.  I haven't seen them in too long, but I walked into the house and the mother said - he doesn't remember when we first met, in the Cairo airport. 

Oh lord, kid.

So he was about 4 years old, and he was speaking English in the Cairo airport, so I turned and said hello to his mother.  I'd been in Jordan for a month and was taking a week to visit Egypt; I was on a year-long sabbatical from my teaching job to travel the world.  It was right after Katrina, so they were there as her husband is Palestinian-Jordanian, and I was there right after a few months volunteering on a refugee camp.

And we hung out, and then months later they returned to New Orleans and she sent me pictures and I visited to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and I fell in love with this place, and everything that has happened since then is because of that.  Because of hearing that kid.

When people say: "How did you end up in NEw Orleans?" and they want to hear the long version, I say: "It started in an airport in Cairo."

Though it starts before that.  I'd taken a trip to northern California for grad student things, and got wasted, and the server at the banquet was intriguing and i demanded we have in-depth conversations.  He's Palestinian-Jordanian, and we developed a friendship and he got me really interested in Jordan, so I took the trip there because of knowing him.

But, yeah.

Funny how life turns out.

Now if I can buckle down and work really hard the rest of today and tomorrow, I can take Sunday to ride up with this buddy to a piece of land in MS that he wants to buy - it has hookups for campers.  Crazy cool timing, possibly.  Maybe I buy it with him, though I don't have any more money of course.

I'm glad we caught up.  And even the kid thinks it's cool what an effect he's had on my life, so there's that.  

the tryptophan led to a good night's sleep

Last night with the new friends was fun, the food was great, met new people I like, had good conversations. 

And I learned that there are plans to rip up the median on my wide street and put in open canals.  So long as the mosquitos are abated (he said it would be moving water) and it's nicely landscaped: sure, why not?  But ... my street doesn't flood.  We've gone through a number of flood events since I moved into this house, including a bad episode where my other house almost flooded (the water rose the four feet up to the porch), and we get no standing water.  That's apparently in part at least because I'm pretty near the pump station, which makes sense ... but then why but drainage canals on my street and take away where I walk my dog?  He said the subsidence is really bad here - which I haven't seen, but he said that's a 50-year problem, not one to see in two years.  And the fact that the water pipes are breaking constantly in the area - leading to my sinkhole last month - is likely due to subsidence.  (Pronounced with a long 'i') 

I get that he's an expert and they've studied this at length, but ... it feels like an academic exercise without neighborhood involvement.  So I'm glad that we met so he knows somebody in the area that he'll be leading the charge to so significantly affect.  He also said that there are so many vacant lots and they're thinking of using those to put in more cross streets and I said - dude, that's old information.  On just my block, three new houses have gone up since I moved in, and three more are under construction.  There are probably only five more empty lots, and they will fill in fast - and these are houses being listed at $350-$400,000 range - which is almost triple what I paid for mine.  Which has a lot of effects - it can drastically increase my property taxes, which is painful.  It can change the demographics of the neighborhood, which I love - our diversity is truly exemplary in terms of class, age, race and I don't want that to disappear.  It can bring in neighbors who will complain about my front yard farming because they have different aesthetic values and expectations than we who have been here since it was forgotten.  He was shocked to hear the prices and it shows his information is out of date. 

It could also mean that I make a tidy sum on my house when I sell it, but I have no interest in renovations to make it more upscale - I like its working class character. 

Anyway, I think I'll invite them over for dinner - they're dog people and can help with Ziggy socialization, and we can talk more about it.  Maybe I'll also invite a classmate who wants to study related issues, to introduce them.  She and her husband are also dog people, though they sent their out-of-control dogs to a month-long training program that uses aversive methods, so I'm not willing to do that - and I don't judge them but when she tried to suggest it to me, I told her so.  Yeah, that would be nice - four people I don't know well but could help and we'd have interesting conversations. 

This is a big part of slowing down school - working with Ziggy.  Getting over her big issues.  And oh lord, this cool weather is making her SO sassy.  I just don't even know what to do to get her worn out.  We need to live on a farm and she can chase wild animals to protect us.  We are outgrowing our neighborhood, as we lose all our open space.  Though hopefully Ziggy outgrows this high energy. 

So it's 48 degrees outside, 58 degrees inside, and I'm still refusing to turn on the heat.  I'm actually quite comfortable.  I'll open some blinds to let sunshine in, it'll be fine.  When we redo my carport, we're going to put it halfway up the windows on the north side of my house which is peculiar but the only real option, and that won't really affect sunlight.

OK. Feed and water chickens.  Start laundry.  Walk dog.  Hang laundry.  Time for another load? Go to metal place to place order.  Go to Uhaul to get trailer hitch modified.  Go to have tea with friends.  Go to Lowes for lots of exterior caulk (may as well hit the spots that need it while we easily can).  Come home, school work.  Need to really buckle down and focus on that.  Must finish!  But also need to help on the carport construction when he's working on it. OK, here we go. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

another good Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently Ziggy has this marked on her calendar as "Make Mischief Day."  I don't remember what she did last year, but our first Thanksgiving together she dug up sweet potatoes in the garden and gnawed them on my bed.  This morning she grabbed my slipper and ran out of my bedroom and didn't return when I roared her name, and then she danced around with it.  She does have mirth, this one.  I thought we were past the stealing but I guess she's reliving her mischievous youth.  She's mostly sitting and staring at me, waiting for me to do anything interesting.  The cool weather (it's 46 degrees right now) animates her. We'll go out for a walk soon, with her on a long line so she can run around more. 

So this is gross but I think a sebaceous cyst is finally going to heal.  It's hurt for weeks, since it first erupted and has been draining a little bit at a time, but yesterday got bad and a bunch of cyst stuff (not pus, I don't know what to call it - sebum?)  came out.  I was trying to not touch it but it aggravates.  It itches now which is a good sign and I think I feel a scab (it did bleed yesterday).  I can't see it because it's on my head, but I think it will be fine now.  I hope.  I don't have time to go to the doctor.  This seems to be the way of my body - weird things grow then die.  Like my thyroid nodule which is autonomous - I produce no thyroid hormone, so my thyroid just grows and dies back as it deems necessary.  That's pretty amazing.  The doctors who want to kill it don't understand, but I'm impressed. 

I've got this idea in my head that I should be canning sweet potatoes.  They are on sale for 37 cents per pound right now at the grocery store, and that just seems too good to pass up since I can never find them canned without sugar.  What would I do with 20 cans of sweet potatoes? Well, I would give it to the dog for sure - she loooooves sweet potato.  But also there are things I'd do with it like make salmon cakes, sweet potato biscuits and other baked goods, etc.  I usually grate sweet potatoes for my breakfast every morning and fry with eggs, and maybe I could figure out an adaptation with canned sweet potato.  Anyway, I don't have a pressure canner and don't really want to buy one - it would be the third one I've owned in my life and it's something that gets left behind if I move, which always feels possible.  And pressure canners aren't something I want to buy used.  Too many things can go wrong there.  My extension service in Oregon would test them for safety - I'd take it in every couple of years to make sure it was all good (the seal, the gauge).  But I don't think that's offered here.  We do have soil testing here, to make sure we're not planting in poisonous ground.  Sigh.

So the Cute Man and I have been talking farming - he grew up on a farm and considers that important to his identity (though he doesn't farm now), and I told him of my love for urban farming for now and the desire to really farm.  I have no rational reason for this, I think it's just in my bones.  And he gets that and we plan to speak more in depth in person later on these subjects. ("I would absolutely enjoy talking more with you farming and your urban farming.")  I know he's being polite but I like talking about these things.  And have a book to finish reading about it today and then another dozen articles and then I need to finish the lit review, and then do another project.  AND FINISH.  BE DONE WITH SCHOOL.  (for now) Tomorrow I take my truck to Uhaul in another town to get the correct electronics installed for my camper - and while it's aggravating that the 4-pin that I already have won't work and I just discovered that, and I m not exactly thrilled about driving 30 miles and spending $70 at least - I am pretty excited too because I installed that hitch myself about nine years ago and all kinds of things could have gone wrong with it, so this will ensure that it's all working well, which is a load off my mind.  I'll also stop at the metal place to finish and place my order for the roofing, etc. - the guy is aggravated with me because I can't properly explain the flashing that I need, and I think we're at an impasse that requires an in-person visit.  Which is fine, because it's a holiday for me and I'm kind of headed that way anyway for the trailer hitch.

But I do need to be careful to not fill my days - this is a long weekend that I MUST stay focused on schoolwork to get FINISHED.  It will make me be finished more than a week early, but that's necessary because I have to travel for a week starting end of next week, and I can't do work then.  Won't?  Nah, can't.  Really - like, I'm on the committee and have to staff the hospitality suite late into the night.  And I tacked on an extra day to visit with friends in another town and they have two small children and I'll be sleeping on the couch, and there won't be work done then.

Today I'm going to make rolls and potatoes to take to Thanksgiving.  It's more labor than expense which is great for me right now.  I'm going to have to really tighten down on spending to get this camper.  For dinner I'm going to the house of people whom I don't know that well but whom I know are cool.  I met her at a party we had to write postcards to representatives, and he's a big deal in an environmental issue here.  I might know one person who will stop by later, and nobody else.  And it will be interesting and fun.  And I'm sure the food will be good.  And I"ll take wine (which I have a stash of, which I've gotten on sale when I've felt flush, and which I never drink) and eggs.  Finally I'm getting to know people who get as excited about frontyard hen eggs as I am - I was kind of disappointed for awhile at how people didn't think it was the coolest thing ever.  Now I'm getting lots of exclamation marks from people when expressing their excitement about getting eggs.  And the hens are producing a good amount for winter, despite the molting. 

I want to do some yardwork today and move the chicken fence again.  I planted cover crops in an area but the weeds just whooshed in before they could, and it's a weed that the hens like a lot so I'll let them at it for three months and then hopefully it'll be gone and I can plant bananas and papaya and such in February. 

Yesterday I got the wood delivered for the carport and the delivery guy was really responsive to my yard.  "It's supposed to get cold tonight.  What will the chickens do?"  "Wow, I love that you have all these things planted here, but I think you need a fence so people don't steal it."  My response as always: if somebody needs it, they can have it.  "OK, I'll be back later."  Help yourself.  Apparently my mizuna and lettuce seeds will never sprout so I think I'm going to plant a bunch of collards. Just tons of collards, because it grows so well and I know I'll find people here to give it away to (unlike the Swiss chard which is apparently a wypipo thing).  Or maybe I'll get some starts.  Meh.  I just want things growing.  I know once the squash take off that they'll take over a lot of area and then it'll seem full.  Oh, and then I'll have too much butternut (and another type: red kuri or something) squash to handle. 

OK, the dog is adamant that I feed and water the chickens now.  She hates when I deviate from the program.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Cute man and I are emailing back and forth tonight, making jokes and being friendly. 

I saw him ten hours ago and he didn't even make eye contact with me.  I had approached his buddy he was standing with, and the buddy and I exchanged warm hugs and caught up, and cute man stood there awkwardly, as though he doesn't like to be anywhere near me.

Could I intimidate him?  Is he shy?  Can he read my mind that I think he's pretty? 

AGain, this is all completely professional, but I thought based on his interactions with me in person that he found me unpleasant, yet now we're exchanging funnies?  (I started - I had a good reason, and I was very serious.  He responded with a joke.) 

I will never understand people. 

Also, he can stop thanking me again.  That's now like #17.  We're done. 

Until next time.  If there is one. 

Monday, November 20, 2017


I'm at a function where I prepared the materials for somebody else. And he's up there doing great in the introduction of himself and topic and all that, and then he starts to talk and I'm all: BITCH I KNOW YOU'RE NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT THIS WITHOUT GIVING ME CREDIT and what do you know?  He immediately stopped and said: "I must give credit where it is due ..." and spoke highly of me. 

It's like he can read my mind.

He better not read the parts where I picture him naked and ... well, you get the picture.  Look, I know he's happily married.  I would never do anything against that.  I just notice that he's cute.  And that he damn well better give me credit. 

He's probably happily married because he can read people's minds.

buckets of grateful

I'm in a super quaint little town and drove her with an entertaining co-worker, whom Ziggy got to meet and adores, so that made her day.  The dog where we dropped her off was delighted to see her and they frolic, and then they sent me a picture of curled up on her mat, which is a very good dog. 

It's chilly and I have heating and the hotel is fine.  I started to say it wouldn't age well, but it is fine. 

My co-worker is also here doing the heavy lifting - literally.  Schlepping equipment and being there early and making things work and coordinating with vendors and it's all good.  So I'm leisurely sipping coffee and will wind my way there.  A short walk that I'll make on this crisp day through a charming town.  No driving required. 

Of all the lives I could be living, that the worst right now is having to leave my crazy pup behind with people who are kind to her - I think we'll be all right.  Hope the chickens are tucked up snug because it's cold, and they'll be fine.  It'll all be fine.

I'm hoping to convince my entertaining co-worker that he wants to stay at my house and watch Ziggy for my next trip.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Yesterday I went to see the camper trailer again and put down a deposit.  It's so cute and comfy.

Just now on a Facebook page for owners of the campers who want to talk about them, a woman posted a picture of water coming from her water heater.  The CEO of the company posted the email address for her to email to get help fixing the problem.

That's the kind of community this is - people love them and the company supports that love.

I think I'm making the right decision getting this.  I have to get my trailer hitch rewired so hopefully my mechanic can/will do that in time around my travel schedule. 

OK, time to vacuum, shower, and pack.  I need to head out in an hour to pick up a co-worker, drop off the dog, and head on a several hour drive for work. 


At least the dog got a good walk this morning and she's tired.  Here's hoping she's not a pain in the ass.

Friday, November 17, 2017

she just wants a job well done

I've been trying to get up before 6 am to make it to work around 8.  I have so much to do at work and personally so don't want to have to stay late.  (I'm sure my boss thinks I work few hours because she seems to struggle to get there before 10, but I can't worry about that). 

But it's Friday and I'm going to let myself be late since I have to give up almost all of Sunday to drive for work.  So yeah.  I'm good with this. 

But poor Ziggy didn't get the memo and she's pretty frustrated with me.  She tried all her tricks to get me up.  She came in and said good morning.  She snuggled.  She nudged me.  She stared at me.

She finally got so frustrated that she left the room and I could hear her crying.  She was sitting and staring at the door, so she was only upset about me not being up (I thought she was alerting to the chickens making alarm noises, but she wasn't).  And so then I got up and she was fine.  Just sticking to me very closely except now that she's protecting me from the evil monster in the form of my neighbor going to work.  I try to be walking now or have her locked in the house because it must be aggravating to my tenant.  But it's Friday and I'm lazy. 

OK, I"m not lazy.  I'm saving my energy because I need a ton of it for the next three weeks. 

Ziggy doesn't conserve energy.  She puts it all out there.  She lives so hard.  She's always looking for every opportunity to save the world.  Or at least me. 

She needs a more exciting life but can't be trusted, which sucks and I don't know what to do about it.  Living on a farm would be great because she could be trusted with her own people in situations she knows.  Maybe she could be taught to not harass cattle and sheep.  She could make friends with baby goats.

Maybe I'm romanticizing a life which isn't.  But I think of my uncle's dogs (one at a time in a line of Dusty, Rusty, and the like) and how they were always ready to jump in the truck with him and go do whatever needed to be doing on his wheat farm, and how the neighbors thought he was having an affair with the auburn colored hair woman in the passenger seat.  Not that there were really neighbors, this is a very unpopulated area of the country.  The nearest neighbors were well over ten miles away, but my uncle farmed a lot of land in various locations.  Having neighbors that far away would be easy for me because while Ziggy is always looking for a better hook-up she wouldn't run that far away.


I"m on the seven year plan still.  Seven more years where I am.  But hoping something better comes along.  Maybe a few years in the country would be good for both of us.

OK, and now I'm really running late and unfortunately will likely run into a lot more dogs out to walk, which makes Ziggy go crazy.  We really need to work on that. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

what a great afternoon

I left work EARLY.  Like before 1 pm.  Using personal time even though I've received approximately two million emails from people expecting and IMMEDIATE RESPONSE.  Too bad.

I went to a metal place that my realtor - who always gives the best advice - recommended.  I had called on the phone to unsatisfactory results so I drove.  And it's pretty far, like half an hour out in the suburbs - but the other way suburbs, not the rich way.

And I entered and was directed to a young man with a big fat black cat in the middle of his desk and that cat was not moving.  Which the young man had learned to work around by having three desks and leaving the cat be, as a buffer between us.

And we went through every laborious detail and even though this is what he speaks daily, he was patient with me when I said things like: "Can you show me again on here what you mean by the gable?"  OK maybe I only said that once, but I said lots of other things that are really uneducated.  Because I am uneducated.  But man oh man, this place.  They CUSTOM everything so instead of ill-fitted sheets that neighbor will have to cut, it will be just right already.  How cool is that?  Gutters and eaves and all of it, and it will come with the screws and caulking tape and foam and EVERYTHING.  I just need the frame to put it on.

So I went to the lumber company that the neighbor had recommended and they ... they were beyond my wildest dreams.  It was a young woman helping, of the family name so clearly born into the business, and she was efficient.  Let me just explain a little: the service in New Orleans is abysmal.  Most places I call and visit, they know nothing about what they're talking about.  I have frequently been standing in Home Depot and unable to find anybody who knows anything (I often have to correct them if they do tell me things because they just make shit up), calling my friend who works at an Oregon Home Depot to get correct info.

This was like entering a foreign land.  And it was so pleasant.  Delightful.  And then she even gave me a contractor's date book for 2018 that has pages and pages of helpful construction hints.  Because let's be honest: 95% of the shit on the internet is just fucking wrong.  It's getting pretty frustrating to research things on-line about chickens or construction or whatever because it's just people talking out of their ass.  So this with things like how to hang a door properly is just so damn delightful.

So I didn't place these orders because I need to confirm a couple things with neighbor, but they gave me quotes and let me just breathe a sigh of relief.  Every quote that I was getting for a low roof that I didn't want was for like $4,000 or so.  One wanted over $2,000 just to demo.  It was frustrating and nobody wanted to touch a metal roof.  The metal guy today was like: of course this is common.  So why did people act like it wasn't?

So I will get a carport that meets my needs for the trailer with height and quality, and the materials will cost me less than $1,200 with delivery.  I'll probably pay the neighbor around $500, and we'll fight about it because he'll want to do the neighborly thing and just help me out and I will goddamn pay him and I know they'll appreciate it - heck, I"ll pay him more than that if it takes longer than he thinks.  He already blocked the path that the possum kept trying to break into the garage.  So I'll get all that I want for less money than the other people.  And I just needed to take off an afternoon to make that happen.  I have to rebuild the carport, it is collapsing.  This is just lagniappe timing.

And then I went to the Vietnamese bakery nearby there (we have a very thriving Vietnamese community here) and got some macaroons and an egg tart and they gave me a little sweet potato pie as lagniappe and COULD THIS DAY GET ANY BETTER. Plus I did finish the two assignments due tonight and printed them out and will turn them in and they're fine.  Not great, but I think I stripped out the sarcastic responses to her stupid questions.  She expects and undergrad level of earnestness and I lost that long ago.

Now I am home and I will play ball with the dog and collect eggs and take pictures of my collapsing carport (oh yeah - and lagniappe once that's repaired I can switch my insurance to a company I like better and is cheaper) in case the permit people ask why we're doing this without a permit (apparently neighbor has been busted before) and return these work emails only to the important people and so on.  And then go to class and it's my penultimate class of my penultimate class (and next semester's class will only meet a few times, on the weekends).

I'm kind of rethinking taking off a semester.  I may play it by ear, see how the summer goes.  Sometimes things seem really overwhelming because they pile up, but then you end up handling them and they turn into datebooks with super helpful information and a free sweet potato pie.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

nostalgic for wayward youth

Rarely do I regret the passage of time.  I try to squeeze all I can out of each age, so the passing to the next stage is one to be welcomed.

But sometimes.

Next week I have to go to another town and one of my meetings will be with a man with whom I've been flirting the past couple of weeks.  He's been flirting, too.  Oh, nothing that crosses the line at all but enough that we entertain each other.

And in a past life, I would have known it's pretty likely that we'd hook up.  And in this life, I know it's not likely at all. 

I kind of miss sleeping around.  I mean, I don't actually miss it because if I did then I'd still be doing it.  But it doesn't much appeal to me.  My libido and physiology have changed.  Sex has always been to scratch an itch, and now I don't much itch. 

I guess I miss sometimes the other fun stuff with it - the dance, the first kiss.  The "will-they-won't-they" having become the "they did." 

And I won't sleep with this man whom I find attractive.  And I guess it's just a realization that life passes on.