Monday, November 20, 2017

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. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

always of two minds

I've been absolutely swamped at work so unable to spend the half hour or so on the phone making materials orders for my carport. 

And this evening I need to tell the trailer people either yay or nay on purchasing it.

On the one hand, when I decide not to get, I feel relief.  Less hassle, less expense.

On the other hand, when I do decide to get it, I feel interest.  More adventures, more freedom.  

I'm torn. 

I have about one more hour to decide. 

Monday, November 13, 2017


They are building a house directly behind me.  Before I could even think if I could financially manage the lot behind me, it was sold and plans were made, and now a house is being built.  It looks large.  They all look large now.  It doesn't appear very elevated.  I'm one of the highest houses in the neighborhood, up about 6 feet or so.  We took on a lot of water here with Katrina so it gives me some level of comfort, and I can't understand why new construction would only be a foot up.  I guess that's enough for mild street flooding, which we get too regularly as a result of a shady sewerage and water board. 

There is generator power as they lay the foundations upon the pier.  It's like magic to watch, this process of building a house. 

Ziggy wants no part of it, ignores it entirely.  I'll probably do the same. 

I hope the house is not tall and towering as it would mean people peering into my yard.  Oh how spoiled I've been these two years here with the solitude.  One neighbor family who know how to be very good neighbors, and a small little bit of shared back with people who were kind of a pain in the ass sometimes until the FBI came and took their son away, shortly after his big blowout 40th birthday on Labor Day.  Now they're back to being quiet and we rarely see each other. 

Those were my only neighbors really.  The street in front of me is very wide.  And now there will be neighbors behind me and I hope that they are nice and either don't have a dog or that the dog and Ziggy get along.  There is one last lot now, to the carport side of me, the bedroom side.  No idea what they'll do; the city surveyor who came for the final survey on the house to the other side of that says he's seen nothing in the pipeline on that.  I will miss that vacant lot when it fills, as they all are. 

I miss the openness of this neighborhood when I moved in almost two years ago, the almost eerie quiet.  The crazy little 3-year-old across the street who would patrol the neighborhood in boots and underwear, walking really far, sometimes propping on the porch with elderly ladies down the way. 

This is a good neighborhood.  I love the diversity - the little white boy sitting with old black women, my Spanish speaking neighbors, my Asian neighbor who gives me plant cuttings.  The age, the class.  There are relatively expensive houses and Section 8 housing.  It's a really good neighborhood for me.

But not forever.

So the mechanics looked at my truck and it's ok for now but things are starting to happen.  The horn and seatbelt light are wonky perhaps because of a steering wheel column issue which can be $600 as it has to be a manufacturer part.  The bushings are all starting to go out, which can be over $1,000.  That's just what they saw because I brought it to their attention.  Little things adding up.

The truck is 16 years old.  I mean, how long can I really expect to drive cross-country with this poor tired vehicle?  I don't know.  They said it's fine for now and encourage me to bring it in before any long-distance drive for a close check.  Which is what I do.  These are good mechanics but they're not great.  They're by far the best I've found in New Orleans - honest and forthcoming.  They also were exceedingly attentive to me today because I gave a pretty bad report on them last time because they sort of blew me off because they overextended and didn't do everything I asked.  That they are responding by being so thorough and attentive is a good thing.  And gave me discounts without asking.

So maybe the plan is this: I buy the trailer and use it for little trips and then my big 50th birthday.  We have a camping place on the beach already planned (friend of a friend's family's property).  Those weeks on the road will be my vision quest, to put things into focus for the next decades.  50 is a big deal and I want to do it right, and this feels right.  I'll pay what it takes to keep my truck running.  And then I reevaluate if I want to keep the trailer or sell it, and when a big repair expense comes on the truck I get a new vehicle.  If I want to keep the trailer, it will be one that can tow.  If that isn't important to me, a smaller more fuel efficient vehicle.  Maybe 4WD is more important.  I'll see.

Which all means I need to save money.  Sigh.  No fancy canoe, no trip to Montreal or Iceland, no kitchen renovation.  Need to consider a roommate.  More lentils in my future and food I grow myself.  No short haircut that requires regular maintenance (ugh, I hate long hair but I'm too cheap to keep it short).  No wondering which house I'll try to pay more on or how to maximize retirement savings because I'll be paying back my friend for the camper. 

I do need to make some repairs at my other house, but one step at a time.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

an end in sight

So I spoke with my advisor about taking a term off and he was quite amenable.  I asked if there was a process and he said if I'm gone more than two semesters I'd need to reapply but that's just a formality.  "Oh, if I'm gone for more than two semesters, I'm not coming back."  Finally that got some reaction from him.

"Look, you have come much too far to not finish.  You are essentially done.  If you move next week, you can still finish - we will accommodate you.  You can do it anywhere in the world."  Well, moving wasn't really what I was thinking, but that's good to know.

I'm closing in on the end of the semester - I have one more book and about eight more articles to read for one class, then a bit about them and I'm done.  I'm almost done with two assignments for the other class due on Thursday and then I'll have a final project for that class which I think I can do in two full days with another half day for revising.

And then I'l be done with the semester. 

And I"ll feel done because I'm not forcing myself to take exams in April - if i were, I would need to start studying for those. 

My advisor said: "Look, you could take your exams next week and do well.  YOu already know this stuff and you're smart."  I think he seriously overestimates my intelligence, but I *do* like to overprepare.  I overwork.  But that's ok, it's me. 

The fellow whose book I was so impressed with for being an obvious feminist - we've exchanged some emails and he's offered himself to discuss things that come up as I'm working on my dissertation.  That is mighty kind of him, a total stranger. 

But I like this not having school looming over me right now.  I can get everything done and then relax and what a delightful feeling that is.  I just vacuumed and shredded sweet potatoes for breakfasts (I found some more in the ground).  I would prep lunches but I wasn't motivated to go to the grocery store so I'll have to do that tomorrow.  I plan to make a lentil shepherd's pie and pasta with ground beef and green beans as a side, which should get me through most of the week.  I just can't make myself eat the same meal more than three times, so then it becomes chicken food.  Which they don't complain about, except they hate the delicata squash that I offered them.  Fine, the dog gets all the squash.  I just put more of her breakfast bowls in the freezer - various things frozen together.  I'd noticed my carrots were going bad so I got off the good parts, boiled them, mashed them, and then put them in bowls with yogurt, kibble, and black-eyed peas.  I'll add an egg when I serve it to her for breakfast.  It keeps her occupied when I leave her. I have a big bag of pumpkin that I froze - I put it in the oven when other things were baking and cut it into big chunks.  I think I need to cook it some more and puree it. She'll love it.  The chickens will scoff.  They don't know what they're mising. Or they do and they don't care.  They take the fresh collards I toss to them.  Much of what I'm gardening is not for me - the squash for the dog, the greens for the chickens.  I will enjoy the beets.  And the papaya if it grows.  And other things.

Oh, there are dwarf mulberries so I think I'll get one of those.  I want more fruit.  I try to eat berries but they're really expensive. And banana trees.  And and and. 

The thing about gardening year round is that there's no real break, obviously.  I already have my eye to February when I put in summer crops.  which I will do, and then if I take my massive road trip I'll probably tear it all up and put in cover crops. 

When I 'm really done with this semester I have a stack of books to read for fun.  Well ... "fun."  I really want to focus on the dog's behavioral issues, and there are some other things I promised to read.  Like Strangers in their Own Land.  I promised somebody I respect a lot.  One of the few people whom I actually care what he thinks, so of course he withholds praise of any kind.  He's just ... really something.  I hate disappointing him, and he thinks I'm a mere human.  Compared to him, I am.  He once gave me a spontaneous hug and the memory of that just has to power me on.  Mostly I think I exasperate him.  I never know how what I say will land with him - sometimes I'll think I'm right on and it flops.  When I told him of my feelings with Trump's election, he was like: really?  You didn't know that was the world we're living in?  How did you not know that.  Oh right, white privilege. 


I need to get on that last book. 

I love it when a plan comes together

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the A-Team. 

That probably says a lot about me.

But also from somewhere I got the idea that things that are easy are not wrong.  I like to do things the hard way but if it's an obstacle at every single turn, then maybe it's not the best path.

The whole trailer thing though is coming together like so easy.  I just happened to see my neighbor and asked him to discuss the carport repairs and he's in.  He says it's not a big job, that he could do it in a week or two in evenings/weekends.  The people who have the trailer have agreed to hang onto it for a month until I finish my work trips and can get the carport done.  They are giving me a good price. 

I've been wanting to do these carport repairs ever since I bought the house but I couldn't quite figure out how or what I wanted - it's not ideal - too low for my truck but also too narrow so I just store bales of pine straw and such out there.  I would love to put up a gate and now I have a reason to - to prevent vandalism to the camper.  But I also want a gate to help when I'm working in the yard - if I could have a two-door system (one gate, one garage door) then it's much easier to control the dog.  For instance: I take my bike out of garage and into the carport, where it's secure until I'm ready to open the carport gate and bicycle away.  Now I have to open the garage door and risk the dog escaping. 

Anyway.  Things I've been needing to - the carport is literally collapsing from rotting. And once I have that repaired, then I can switch insurance to a company that I found that I like - a better price and an agent I like.  But I couldn't do that due to the rotting carport.

Things are coming together!

So he'll give me a list of materials and I'll order to have them delivered most likely, and then I'll pay attention to how many hours he is working so that I can pay him a good wage.  He's like "No, you're my neighbor, don't pay me," but that's a bunch of rubbish.  Plus the timing is probably good for him with Christmas. 

Like I said, I've been actively contemplating how to repair this carport for about 18 months.  I got a number of quotes, had several discussions, but nothing seemed quite right until now. 

So what will I need to get this T@b on the road once I get it?  Propane.  Sheets for the bed.  That's probably it to start and then other things will happen.  I have camping pots and pans that I can use. 

Oh wow, he's already getting started with tearing it down. Sweet.  I better go move things out of his way and then focus on getting a shit-ton of work done for school.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

a very good deal

So, my transportation maven friend came over and while the dogs frolicked, she and I went over to check out this camper trailer.

Inline image 1

It was even better than I expected. 

The people are beyond delightful.  I would be friends with them. They were so honest and forthcoming.  They have a shelter dog who is super sweet and adores them. 

And the trailer is in such good shape, it even still smells new. 

It's probably exactly what I want. 

As usual, I hate buying things.  I hate owning things.  And this is not an investment. 

But it would be fun.  I would get to do my big 50th birthday roadtrip.  I would have a vehicle for easy evacuation.  I can go places with the hound.  I can go to that amazing place in New Mexico/Utah that I've been dreaming of since I saw it. 

OK, I still have to work on the dog's behavior.  But in THEORY I can go places. So long as my neighbors will take care of my chickens. Or they get rehomed. 

I am in an unusual place in New Orleans because I have a carport and I need it rebuilt.  I could have it rebuilt to fit the trailer. 


If it doesn't fit my lifestyle after awhile, I sell it.  They have good resale value.

I have cash on hand because of a shared bank account with a friend and I just got permission to use it. I could get a cashier's check on Monday at a shared branch.   

Oh goodness. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

lazy day

November is the most glorious month for all the holidays included.  Today is one: Veterans Day.  What a complicated day if I think about it much - I was raised a pacifist and do still believe in much of that, and I think we're a war-mongering nation, but I also think there's a time and a place and I do appreciate those willing to lay their lives on the line. 


If there's anything more delicious than waking up under a warm comforter when it's cold, I do not know what that would be. 

The dog is HYPER.  Seriously, she keeps doing serious acrobatics in her laps.  This cooler weather has her amped up and I cannot keep up with her.  We'll need to do some training and figure something to tire her out.  Days like today I sure wish I had a farm and she had a job because she needs to go herd something in a far-flung pasture.  If I can just get the edge off, she'll be fine.  Maybe we'll go to a university with a long line to let her run - problem is that I don't think it's a holiday for them.  We'll figure it out. She's a good dog, she just needs to cut back on her caffeine or cocaine or whatever is giving her all this motivation - or she needs to share it.

Chickens need tending. Another scrub out of the coop, more diatomaceous earth, some herbs, some vinegar, and I hope the mites move along.  I can't tell that they're bothering the chickens, but they don't complain so it's hard to see. 

So much schoolwork to do but little motivation there.  I need to do three pretty significant assignments and read two books. 

And tomorrow I'm going to see a little camper trailer for sale nearby at a good price.  My friend who just bought a camper van will come with me, and she's great with this sort of thing - very methodical.  When I told her I wanted a bike, she researched the possibilities and went with me to make the purchase.  She's my transportation friend.  Plus hopefully she'll bring her dog over to play with Ziggy and rip up my backyard while we go do that, to wear the Catahooligan out. 

OK.  Feed chickens. Laundry into machine.  Walk dog. Step by step to another productive day. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

life with dog

Last night I slept in the guest room.  I couldn't fall asleep in my bedroom and I can't decide if it's the light from the new house nearby that the developer leaves on all the time, or the sand in the sheets even though I had just changed the sheets the day before. 

To be fair, it's not entirely my dog's fault that she makes my sheets dirty.  The room is small and where I have her dog door, if I'm trying to come when she is, she kinda needs to jump up on the bed to get out of my way. 

But with all the construction and sinkholes and everything else, there's a lot of sand outside, and it gets on the dog's paws, and it gets in my bed, and that I do not like.

So, I slept in the guest room and she woke me up at the perfect time and did not get into the bed at any point.  She is a good little alarm dog.

I had opened the window because it's been warm and I'm way too damn cheap to run the air conditioning (actually, I've been tempted and probably would but that I'm curing sweet potatoes in the guest bedroom), and when I tried to close it this morning it was stuck and I got frustrated, and returned tonight. 

I have no idea why it's stuck, so I went to get some WD40 and the dog flipped with excitement.  A JOB, A TASK, A TOOL, WE'RE GOING TO THE GARAGE!! 

You know your dog has a small world when these things excite her.  She stood right at the base of the footstool, like, "I got you, lady!  I'm spotting you!  I'm here for you!"  I let her sniff the cleaning rags and she was all: "Man, that was close!  So glad I saved you!"

And now she's passed out. 

It's hard being my right-hand dog, the one who saves me from everything. 

She's a good little dog. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

press pause

Remember the "pause" button on the old clunky tape recorders?  Man I miss those.  Because I'm an analog girl living in a digital world. And I want to take a beat and slow things down.

My life is good.  I mean, really good.  It's beyond my wildest dreams.  The amount of independence and security that I have is astounding.  IT's mostly luck, with a little bit of grit. 

And I'm tired of waiting - I want life to be good now.  I mean, it is good, but I still feel like I'm waiting, mostly for school to be over.  And for what? 

What if instead of powering through and finishing, if I took some time off.  I could work on training the hound.  We could go on road trips near and far (I am really obsessed with the west coast road trip for my 50th).  I could paint the exterior of my house myself.  I could garden and give produce away to neighbors and food justice causes.  I could take action on social justice.  I could socialize and see friends.  I could read for fun.  I could volunteer.  I could exercise and build strength and endurance.  I could ... oh this embarrassing, but I could hang things on my walls.  I have nothing hanging on my walls, no decoration of any kind, and I've lived here almost two years. 

There are so many things that I can do, with more time.  And I will never live this life again. 

When I started my job and it because SO awful, I went into survival mode and took two actions: first, I started school again, and second, I got a dog.  And those two things saved my life.  Ziggy forced me outside my own misery and to be in the moment.  School let me think intellectually.

But things have gotten better, and I think they're going to continue in that trajectory.  Yesterday I met with next year's board president, and he said: "Look, I"m not going to micromanage.  You know what you're doing."  AND, I will have a supervisor.  I haven't taken vacation time because all my staff is part-time and I've had to be responsible for everything, but with another full-time person who is taking the responsibility?  Life will be awesomesauce. 

I leave on time almost every day, and I am pushing my way into more interesting work.  Not always - much of it is bullshit.  But sometimes I do interesting things. 

Yesterday my former supervisor called me and mentioned that he still will keep me informed of any openings.  He knows I love that work, that I'm good at it.  And then he said: "But you're also doing good things where you are."  "I'm sucking it up. Sometimes, change from within.  And it's gotten better." 

It has. In so many ways.  It can still turn bad, but I've got my heels dug in because being there is what's best for me.  Financially.  Leisure time.  Dress code.  Vehicle. 

I have to stay at least another seven years for student loan purposes, and sometimes that makes me feel like an indentured servant and really miserable, but I want to turn that around.  Not the reality, but my reaction to it.

And sometimes I want to make sacrifices to be able to retire early, but I also want to enjoy life.  I'll never be here again. 

So what I"m thinking is - take class next semester, but not exams.  Take summer and fall off, study but only as one thing that I'm doing, among other things.  Next spring take exams and proposal and do research over the summer and write in fall and finish in the following spring perhaps.  Or maybe slow it even more.  I don't know.  I have lots more to read and I want to do some of it while I'm sitting in a little camper with my crazy dog in the mountains somewhere. 

Or maybe I don't do much but relax.  That's ok, too. 

But I don't want the next two years to be ALL SCHOOL.  It's not worth it.  IF I stretch it out to three years, it could be school and life.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

99 items on this to-do list, and fun ain't one

How on earth do I have so many things to do?  Some are little (clean out chicken food container to get rid of the weevils that came with something), some are larger (read a book or two).  Some aren't absolutely urgent (get compost to mulch the curbstrip vegetable beds) but others are more (get soil to fill in the holes that develop in yard due to improper foundation prep and also at electric fence where animals made a path to get to chickens; clean coop again and treat heavily with diatomaceous earth).  Some are daily routine (walk dog, water garden) and others irregular (find and replace the step tread on the 2x6 that I have Ziggy file down her nails).  Some are very necessary (go grocery shopping and get a card for a business associate who just lost his wife) and others maybe not as much (get horse manure from the police yard to add to compost).  Oh yeah, I need to plant green manure up front to get bed ready.  (I have a lot of "front" at my house.  It's kind of delightful.) 

And the dog wants attention.  Lots of it.  She's going through a phase of being obsessed with me.  She's not particularly demanding, she's not trying to push me to be pet or anything - but she's across the room staring at me.  Wondering what today brings.  I took her into the pet store last night when I got the DE and she was overly excited of course and very nervous, but also quite well behaved - she sniffed all the good stuff but didn't try to take anything and she wasn't really trying to jump on anybody - she ignored some people even.  I was trying to do too much but we'll go back when I can better focus on her and help her socialize better with people (I should have encouraged people to pet her and given her treats for not jumping).  The guy said there's usually not other dog there at night, since they extended their hours they're there later, so this could be a semi-regular thing perhaps. 

All right, coffee's almost gone, time to put on pants and feed the chooks and start on everything else.  It'll be a good weekend.  I just need to stop looking at RVs.  Today's special:

The thing is that I don't need an RV or trailer for me.  I am a tent camper/car camper with no problem.  But I have to contain the hound - I need a vehicle where we can retire which is secure.  PLus, with her nervousness in new situations, this could be home base.  And if I were to get one like this, I could even bring other people with us if we want.

The more I think on it the more I wonder if I shoudln't just pull the plug and do it and use it over the holidays.  I have friends in North Carolina whom I would absolutely love to see, and we could have a beautiful time with an RV headed up there.  Take a week off to explore and get to know the vehicle.  December is likely pushing it too much with the dog behavior - they also have a dog and I don' tknow how they'd do together, but worst case we sleep out in the RV and don't stay long.  But the woman person adores Ziggy and is so very understanding of her - she came to stay with us when I'd only had her a week and gifted me a book that was really helpful in understanding that what I thought I knew about dogs was all wrong.

OK, time to embrace the day. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

pretty day, got me thinking about mountains

This morning I looked around at the homestead and felt so fortunate.  Healthy happy hens scratching in my large front yard, vegetables growing nicely.  I own the home all on my own and I have good tenants.  During the workday I walked through a beautiful part of New Orleans and marveled at the beauty. I called an HR person to ask if my leave time ever increases and we discovered that not only does it but I'm due retroactive extra leave time because she erred - she kept apologizing, but what is there to apologize for when you're telling me I get an extra week per year of paid leave?

What a day.  What a life.  I'm so very lucky. 

And then I finally got home and realized I have a nasty infestation of mites in my chicken coop.  Sigh.  There's the downside to self-sufficiency right there. 

I've never seen any indication though I'm not sure I would know, but I reached in and an egg was completely covered in them.  Another egg had been eaten most of the way and there was a big mess and mites.  Yuck.

So I called the feed store that I had JUST been to for feed and dog food and asked if they have food grade diatamaceous earth, and they do, and then I quickly scrubbed down the coop with vinegar water, and got out all the mitey wood shavings, and here we go. 

If you want to know what topic spurs up more bullshit on the internet than any other, it's chickens.  Seriously.  So much bullshit info and so few reliable sources.  Everybody contradicts and I don't have the time or energy to figure out who knows what.  I just probably need to get a really good book and rely on that exclusively.  Well, that and Ms. Moon. 

I've been wanting to take the dog for more rides, so there's that.  There's also a spot rubbed raw under her arm because she's been pulling on leash again and I feel like a horrible dog owner.  And we need to walk more - she's chunking up. Probably too many training treats as I work on her reactivity and such. 

I'm getting more serious about this little guy.

I think it would be so much fun to have a little camping trailer that I can just put on the back of the truck and head out with the hound.  It has AC and a stovetop and a sink and toilet and so many amenities.  A table top and beds for two people (ok, one for me, one for the dog), and it's light and easy to pull and we could hit the road and how fun would this be? 

If I were to take a beat with the PhD and just live life, then the dog and I could take long weekends camping, seeing different places.  Next summer, in time for my 50th birthday, we could take a road trip to Oregon.  She could see her godmother and be reunited with her favorite puppy in the world and her beloved tenant.  I could take two or three weeks off of work and just really go and see and enjoy things. And if I really love this life, I sell the little one and save up for a camper van like what my friends just got - it's beautiful and luxurious and they are having A BALL.  The one I like, I found a dealer closer than the dealer I visited before, but there's also one on sale from a buyer in TX for a good price. 

One thing that would have to change though is Ziggy's behavior.  She would have to stop being so goddamn belligerent.  I mean, her protectiveness is great, but she's just a jackass sometimes for no good reason.  Now I think it's more habit than reactivity sometimes, and we need to change that.  She needs to get MUCH better behaved.  And I probably need to muzzle train her, because I don't know if I'd really trust her to meet other dogs out and about.  I mean, she's never been a problem like that - she LOVES other dogs.  But she did bite that dog at my house, and possibly the one when I first got her, so there is work to be done. 

She would not like this life.  The life on the road is NOT for her.  But I would love to see her hiking around one of my favorite lakes in Oregon, running on the coast, frolicking in her auntie's yard, meeting the wild children of my oldest friend.  There is the place in NM/AZ/UT that is so breathtaking and amazing - the colors of the sandstone simply take my breath away.  And it would be so much fun to take her there and go explore. Maybe we go see old friends in CO whom I know from AK, when their sled dog would get loose and come running straight for my house to visit me and my little Selma.  Oh we were all such good friends.  Ziggy would make them nuts but maybe now that she's 3 and if I can focus more energy on her training, we could make her less insane.  The problem is that she's actually well-behaved at other people's houses, she's just really nervous, so she paces and pants and keeps the closest eye on me and comes unglued if I try to step out.  That's not bad behavior, that's abandonment anxiety.  But maybe we can work on it. 

I want that piece of my life back, the new adventures.  Maybe I start using my vacation time. 

OK, if i were to really take off for 2-3 weeks next August, I would need a good tenant in the apartment and my neighbors to watch the chickens and possibly water things.  I think that's it.  My tenants could contact me in case of emergency so it's not a big deal, and I could have a designee. 

I'm loving this idea more and more.  And if work was weird about it, maybe I say I'll work a few hours each week, promise to check emails every other day or something.  (The HR person said that she only has heard of my coworkers taking off at max one week vacation!  We are insane.)

And maybe I slow my roll with the PhD.  Accept that this is my life and it has a whole lot of good.  Take time off to smell the flowers with the hound while we're both still young and healthy. 

the guy I emailed said he took the trailer out twice but then got health conditions and can't do it anymore.  That's what I'm afraid of.  Life is short.  I'm jealous of my friends with their super fancy camper van, but while she is healthy I've noticed his health really deteriorate and he's not that old.  EArly-mid 60s I think.  We never know what will happen.  Life should be enjoyed. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sweet potato haul

It's hard to see scale but some of those are massive. Maybe should have been pulled weeks ago, but no apparent bug damage or rotting like last time when I first got Ziggy and she dug them up because I waited too long.

And I previously pulled about half of what is here. I should probably weigh but I'll forget. Best guess is about 30 pounds. That'll keep me for awhile and the small ones I'll boil in the skin for Ziggy. I eat them everyday but I may buy more at store since it's season and they're cheap and can some for the dog.

I'll put them in the guest bathroom to cure. I'll turn on that heater and put in boiling water as necessary and hopefully that's close enough.

Will I grow them again? Maybe. The most time and investment is soil prep since I'm removing grass and the chickens aren't in the backyard to help with that. But the dog is and she loves when I'm working back there.

Looks like the purple ones did poorly but orange and white ones ok. I think OHenry and Garnet but I'll look.

On to the next project.

Chicken butt

Here is my fearless little Maverick hen, charging into a mountain of sweet potato plants.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Today was the perfect weather for digging in the dirt, and so I did.  I harvested the remaining sweet potatoes, with a good amount of help from my hen friends.  They are now in there leveling it out, hunting grubs.  They do this like it's their job, which of course it is.  They're not hungry - for breakfast they got a bunch of lasagna I was tired of eating.  They're just industrious little soldiers.  I need to figure out a configuration of the electric fencing that will give them this area to maintain, otherwise weeds will come in before I have time to work it. Plus they will poop on it and that will get worked in.  Yes, the eggs that my hens bless me with are wonderful, but the garden chores they happily and efficiently do are even better. 

I think I'll put tropical things there.  Bananas, papayas, curry plant (somebody just offered on FB), that sort of thing.  Once things are established I can open it up again for them and they'll enjoy the vegetation. 

I'm thinking of putting in a mulberry bush, maybe in the backyard.  I do want to put a tree in the front that doesn't "litter" to be near cars/sidewalk and also gives shade.  Next year if I grow sweet potatoes, it may be in the backyard.

The other creature doing her job is the dog, of course.  I just got new boots that I'd ordered, and as I walked back and forth on carpet to be sure I'd keep them, she kept pace with me.  She examines everything that enters the house with a very strict eye, and she approves. 

I've decided to own that I'm cheap and underdressed and I got these boots to wear almost every day this winter.

It's not really acceptable but who's going to tell me?  It's almost acceptable. They're really comfortable and make me feel badass, and the tread give good traction.  I have a pair, in a different color, that I've only worn on casual Fridays.  I've completely worn the tread down in the ten years that I've had them and the cobbler said it's not worth it to repair them.  I'll keep them as gardening boots, they're great for weedwhacking foot protection.  But I like footwear that's practical, and these very much are.  So instead of worrying about getting another pair of shoes to replace the ones that truly wore out (when your sock hits the ground, it's time to get new shoes - because the cobbler also said they weren't fixable), I'm going to wear these boots nearly every day until it's warm enough again to wear sandals every day which are really too casual especially since I refuse to waste money or time on pedicures.  If my feet are clean, I can wear sandals.  That's my rule.  You can borrow it.

I had kind of a strange conversation at work, and I wish I could give enough details without exposing myself but I can't.  Basically it's been noticed the favoritism played at work and how unqualified people have been put into positions for which they're entirely unsuited.  This fellow was just rejecting out of hand the person whom he's supposed to work with on some issues ("She's very nice, but she doesn't know anything about this") and wanting me to step in on it because I have some expertise.  Oh well that can't work out well for me so I politely said: "I'm happy to continue to work behind the scenes" because that is both true and easy.  But he is the second person in the past week to ask me to join him in a public role and ... that is something.  Are people FINALLY recognizing that I'm relatively intelligent and hard-working?  I'm doing another man's work and it's interesting but it's researching about which I knew nothing.  I will not lie: I am doing this for him because he is the second cutest man involved in this.  The first time I saw him I said, "Who the hell is that?  He is trouble for me," and then I went and got a double old-fashioned that the bartender put into a big soda cup for me and I got wasted pretending to ignore him.  And I'm sure that the feeling is in no way mutual, and he is married with children and lives far away and all that.  But I saw him recently and offered my help on this project because he is doing it as a favor to me, and now I'm doing it all and he's thanking me and telling me it's very good.  And part of it kind of is - I found two pieces that surprised me but really took him where he wanted to go. 

So here's what's happening: I'm FINALLY starting to do some things that are a bit more intellectual AND I'm being noticed. 

I don't entirely know how to feel about this.  The people who made my life a living hell the first two years on this job area mostly gone, with one of the worst actually getting more actively involved but being kept at bay by others who speak highly of me.  She goes whichever direction she'll be most popular - she would turn on me in a second but it's not politically blowing that way right now. 

I never thought I'd be able to say that.  I thought that I would be on the shitlist for as long as I stayed.  And I'm still on plenty of people's shitlists, but I've now also become a bit of an institution.  Want to know anything about what is going on?  Just call me directly.  I'll give you the real scoop that I won't put into an email.  I juggle so many things simultaneously and keep information organized and accessible - I have really moved us to a next level.  I have no idea how it will all work with the new person who will be my boss.  I hope it's good. I hope she manages the ugly politics and I get to do fun things, but we'll see.  In our brief time meeting, I can tell there's no way she can keep track of things as well as I can. She's smart but in different ways.  Which could work out really well.  Or not. We'll see. 

But this is a new day, a different time, a better place for me.  It's still dysfunctional to the nth degree and that is extremely problematic, but as long as I don't think about that too much I am enjoying the benefits that this job provides me.  It is in so many ways the most cush job I've ever had, and it pays second best.  The best paying job I ever had was my brief brush with six figures, which I socked away and bought my other house for cash.  I don't care how much money I make, I don't spend it all once my needs are met.  My needs are simple.  I need boots with good tread so I don't slip on the sidewalk on my way to work. 

Next year I turn 50, which means that I'm allowed to contribute $24,000 to the 401(k).  I don't think I can swing that until I finish school but I want to do as much as I can because my student loan payments are income-based and those motherfuckas are pissing me off with the bullshit they've pulled me and many others.  I also really want to pay off my house and that's a long-term proposition.  I'm trying to make a second payment each month of the monthly principal payment; it isn't much now but it's something.  The reality is that the bulk of my payment each month is escrow: taxes and insurance, and that won't go away once I own my house outright.  But, there is still something SO NICE about not being under the bank's thumb.  I don't think that my interest amount paid makes itemizing deductions worthwhile but I'll see that for sure this tax season.  Interest on my rental property is deductible, but I really loved owning that house outright, with no lienholder.

I shockingly even got a raise this year, which might happen every few years.  At this rate I'm stupid as fuck to leave before I'm 60.  But ... yeah.  I"m not real smart.  And I have other shit to do.  World saving and all that, but maybe I can do that outside of work hours.  I need to establish a relationship with the woman who gave me the papaya starts - I so respect her and would appreciate her guidance.

OK, time to think of food more nutritious than Halloween candy and to put the electric fence power source together again. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

a holiday for Z-Dust

The dog had a very happy halloween, I believe.

The day started with her freaking out.  Why?  Because a stray dog was in the vicinity and showing interest in the chickens.  Good Ziggy, I went out and chased the dog away (and was later told "They keep trying to get the landlord to fix the fence, just take the dog back home."  What?  No.  Your dog, you fix the damn fence).

I went to work.  I came home.  We sat outside on the porch, but we did it too early.  We stayed out until 7:30 but kids didn't come until after that and I was already inside, thankyouverymuch.  She loved hanging on the porch (secured gates to the steps - I might ask neighbor to build me an actual gate for that) because she got a ton of treats that I gave her for staying calm and on her mat.  Well, calm is too strong a work.  She stayed ... animated.  All the pictures I tried to take are such a blue because she's just so much dog.  LIke my friend who watches her said when I showed how she'll sit on her mat on command: "I've never seen a dog sit still with so much energy before." 

But then things got really good because she started freaking out in the laundry room.  Why?  Oh good lord, I thought: psychotic break.  Because I couldn't see anything.  A mouse under the washer?  What? 

A juvenile possum - probably the same one that scared the chickens before - was stuck in the wall outside trying to get into the garage.  Oh lord.  I pounded on the wall inside and Ziggy approved.  The possum left (I later saw it running to the neighbors, and I locked the chickens in) and Ziggy was satisfied.

But then we had to take a little stroll because there were sirens and lights.  Ambulance a few houses down.  No idea what, but Ziggy was really good.  Usually walks at night can spook her, but she was focused on the mission at hand. 

And now she's zonked out because that's a big day for a little dog.  No wonder she's happy when I leave - she likes the break from protecting me. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

because I do things the difficult way. always.

This morning I was grousing about how long it takes me to get ready in the morning and then I looked down at the sweet potatoes that I had grown and was shredding to make breakfast, with the eggs from the chickens that I have to take care of every day.  I was putting a carcass on to slow cook for making my own broth for the soups I make from scratch, of course.

And it's annoying how much time it all takes, the garden care, the chickens, the dog, the kitchen time.  My time is limited.

But I still do it because it's who I am.

And I've been thinking how I'd like to be making tortillas from scratch again, and I can even one-up myself.  I think I'll grow corn for masa.  Looks like I can plant in February so that works fine - I can spend Mardi Gras weekend prepping the garden beds that are currently growing chard and collards and various other things - things which could stay in the ground longer, but maybe I pull it up and put corn and beans and squash in instead because that's fun.  Maybe I let it lie fallow in August and September, put in a cover crop, because it's too fucking hot then to do anything.  The corn would grow tall, maybe I put in some sunflowers too, and would shade the chickens from the first morning sun.

I think I'll put in more garden bed space in my backyard.  I still like having a full backyard to play for reactive dog, but I can carve it up bit by bit.

I think I'm done with tomatoes.  A Facebook friend who gardens for a living says he respects tomatoes too much to grow them here, that it's not the right soil or climate.  He's right.  Maybe I'll have some cherry tomato bushes but I'm done fighting hornworms and mildew and everything else.  Fuckers. 

And I would have to buy a mill for the corn.  Or maybe find somebody to borrow from.  I might be going to Southern California in January for a Mexican wedding so some abuela could tell me where to find what I need for a good price.  (I'm kind of looking forward to this wedding because the groom and his best friend met because every wedding they went to ended up with them hiding under tables while mayhem ensued.  Who will I meet while hiding from flying furniture?  The groom says it won't be that kind of wedding, and the bride wouldn't like it that way, but we'll see.  The groom is a very dear friend, we've traveled a lot together, and he was my date to my Chinese friends' wedding, so it would be fitting to have the bride of that wedding be my date to the Mexican friends' wedding, no?  I'm always the token white girl and I'm fine with that.)  Plus my neighbor is from Oaxaca so I got the hookup.

Now it's time to strain the broth and pick out the carrots and bits of chicken to feed to the hound. 

Nothing the easy way. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

it's not all bad

I've said here maybe a hundred times how much I hate my job.  It's awful.  All that.

But, it's not all bad.

I like my health insurance.  It's really high deductible, but it's an HSA and they match some of the funds, and that suits me just fine.  At the end of the year I pay nothing for health insurance because of the match, and since I rarely use healthcare I can squirrel money away for a rainy ill day.  (I used a fair amount this year because of trying to fix some issues but they're not fixable so I give up.)  (Also, I feel somewhat better, so there's that.)

Sometimes I find fun things to do.  Yesterday I took my co-worker to visit a railroad.  We came up with an excuse though what we do has nothing to do with railroads, but we had fun.  She was entranced and I think she's ready to quit the job and go work for the railroad.  Sometimes I've skipped work to go to watch Purple Rain with a co-worker.  Sometimes to go to a museum.  Rarely, but still.  I do have a wee bit of flexibility so long as I don't push it. 

And of the hundreds of people I interact with, there are three whom I consider to have saintly status.  They are the people who when you enter their presence you just get touched with a gold light that makes you want to be a better person - more loving, more kind.  They deeply touch me whenever I see them - which is rare, but still.  Today I had an extensive email exchange with one and I just am always so touched with his kindness and generosity of spirit. 

And then there are some others - one especially that I think of - who inspire me intellectually.  This person is amazing and I would do most anything to earn his respect.  He is superhuman.  Some of the others are superhuman with their energies too, but he is also an exceptional human being.  I rarely see him but when I do I know that I'll be inspired and also be assigned homework.  He is tough.  I mean, really tough.  I learn so much from him.

So, there are these people who inspire me to be a better person, and even though they aren't my quotidian interactions, not everybody in the hundreds of people I have to interact with are assholes.  It just seems that way sometimes. 

Also, watching Mr. Robot* has made me realize something rather important: ideas matter more to me than people.  Quite a lot more.  Don't get me wrong - I like people fine.  I don't want to murder people.  But I have very little patience with human drama because it's nonsense.  I can turn my back on anyone if I feel it justified.  It makes me quite difficult to manipulate but also a cold bitch.

Reality check: I am a cold bitch. I don't care about people as other people seem to.  I'm much more interested in social justice which is all about the IDEA of people.  Theory more than reality.  I've often wanted foster children but it's not because I have maternal desires - it's because I want to help people.  The theory of it.  Actual people annoy me.

Which is not to say that I don't love people - I do.  I have very good friends whom I cherish.  And have been in love, though in retrospect I see that was mostly about ideas, too.  Which makes me realize why the warlord and I get on so well - he's exactly the same.  He uses people more than I do (I don't think that I use people, as I'm driven by a sense of fairness), but he is much more about ideas than he is about people. 

So what does this mean?  Well, I can stop wondering why I don't want a partner or family - it's because that bores me.  Not that it's objectively boring - I know many people love their lives with that in the center.  But it's not what's best for me.  Unless I meet somebody as much about ideas as me. 

I don't want to post about my ideas here because ... well, I'm starting to get paranoid.  Also I'm getting paranoid about the collapse of money but mostly about my massive student debt and how I've been fucked over with that.  Seriously fucked over and now I'm in indentured servitude for at least another seven years and three months - and potentially until the day I die - and that's feeling awful. 

What else is means is understanding why my job so sucks for me - all these people think that my job is to serve their whims.  Their whims are stupid.  I should be doing Great Things and they won't let me.  Which shows how arrogant I am, which I recognize.  There are worse things to be.

I don't need people like some people do.  It's hard to manipulate me with feelings; I am manipulable with ideology and ethics, but not generally emotions.  I don't need or usually desire having a partner; I've never felt a need to have children.  I think more on environmental impact, realize we need no more people in this world.  Ideas trump people to me.

This doesn't make me sociopathic - there are many people like this.  Good, kind people.  Better people than me.  But it's good to know that this is my motivation. 

*First episode awesome, but it doesn't keep the promise of that.

Monday, October 23, 2017

mysteries of Catahooligan mind

The cool weather has Ziggy ON.  She's like a super bright bulb that's been just turned on and she is ON FIRE.  If I could teach her meditation, we'd be in that class right now because she is so not centered.  I mean, she is my dog, and I lack focus and center.  She flipped out on a car that was dumping trash because - well, she's my dog.  She sees that upset me, so she responds.  She's such a good little pal.

Tonight she brought a flip flop to me, very proud of herself.  And I was like - dog, what?  You haven't stolen shoes in almost two years - what's this about?

And then I realized that this is a flip flop that was outside.  When Roux was here he'd hide his poop and I stepped in it and I left the flip flop outside to weather clean for awhile - I put it upside down on a rain barrel.  And that's where it's stayed for weeks - even through a bad storm or two.  I weedwhacked tonight and it was still there.  On top of a tall rain barrel, on top of cinder blocks. 

Somehow this dog got an item that was on top of something five feet tall, surrounded on three sides (wall, coop, cinder blocks).  And it wasn't a toy or something she really wanted - it was there for weeks.  She just decided tonight that I needed my flip flop, and so she brought it to me.  And she was so very proud of herself, as she should be. 

When I say to this dog: "Do you want to help - " it doesn't matter what follows.  She LIVES to help.  Right now it's 10 pm and she's patrolling the perimeter.  Possums are out? 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

clean bill of health

We survived another vet visit for Ziggy's annual check-up/shots, and the vet said that not only is she in exceedingly good health (as always, props for the dental health, for which I credit meaty bones) but that she is "well-behaved." 

No, I didn't mishear - he actually said that. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday morning

Ziggy woke me up before 6 today, concerned about something going on outside.  It may have been the trash collectors, though she usually pays them no mind.

How does she decide what is danger and what is not?  I have no idea.

We're going to try to go to the vet today for her annual check-up, though I may consider canceling if she spins out in worry.  She is such a sensitive soul which she masks with belligerence.

So anyway, getting me up early has me seeing an absolutely gorgeous sunrise.  'Tis the season - when we finally get cooler weather here, it's often spectacular.

Along with the cooler weather comes less humidity, which makes my skin very unhappy.  As soon as the air is dry at all, the skin on the bottom of my nose peels.  Badly.  It's quite embarrassing.  Other places too, but that's the one that is most visible.

Apparently I am a fool to think that I'll be able to live in a desert or tundra again because my skin adores this air moisture.

It's Friday.  Thank goodness.  But, there's a party tonight I'm supposed to go to and I'm not sure about that.  It's people I'm very fond of, but ... leave the house?  In the evening?  And no, taking the dog isn't an option, as this friend has a dog - a now cranky beast who would have no patience with Ziggy.  It's funny that this is a friend of mine - he's ... well, there are a few friends from law school that people have no idea how I can be friends with them, but let's just say - there are quite a few redneck Louisiana white boys who are really good people.  Just because you talk a certain way and do steroids and drink heavily and drive a big truck and carry a gun and make bad jokes - that doesn't mean you're racist or sexist necessarily.  So I give people a chance.  Sometimes.

I also have zero tolerance for bullshit and I think I'm going to fire my professor off my dissertation committee.  She's really moody and immature - which makes no sense, as she's nearly my age, but I'm at about saturation point with her; I was tolerant of her snapping at me because I don't care, but then a classmate was complaining to me about how she always interrupts the classmate and I started to pay attention to that and it's true - the teacher is in love with the sound of her own voice and unable to have a class discussion, and I find that boring - when I bring up examples of things she's saying that apply to other situations - the heart of grad studies - she dismisses them because she just wants to tell her examples over and over and over.  It's also perhaps an anthropology vs. sociology approach to the world.  I deliberately chose this class because I felt that I had better training in anthro and wanted more soc - but now I'm recalling that I chose an anthro focus because I don't like most sociologists and how they approach the world.  I need to better figure out how to articulate that, but it sort of boils down to - anthropologists say: "Hm, that's curious, I want to look at that and make sense of that," and sociologists say: "OK, here is an explanation for that and I am right."  I'm not that interested in developing iron-clad rules of human behavior (which I think is laughable with our limited abilities now) and every time she throws that down I can think of a million exceptions or other ways to frame it.  I'm more about the curiosity, the looking closely at things and wondering about them and theorizing than I am in saying: I have all the answers and you are ignorant lay people.

So now I know.

OH, Ziggy was upset about a water line break up front.  There's quite a mess - lots of water flowing.  Looks like the chickens got a bit flooded as they're all perched.  I know I'm self-congratulatory, but I do think my chickens are pretty happy.  They do love the big branch in there to perch on, the pallet lean-to, the bugs in the grass, the regularity of feeding, the safety from predators, etc.

So I'd best go take care of them.  Get ready for the day.  I have to haul a bunch of shit around - shit that is not mine.  This is annoying.  Oh well.  I am fortunate to have an employee who is very helpful and upbeat - she is an airhead and I have to break her tasks into discrete bits - but she's a good sport.  She's also technology cursed - whatever she touches breaks.  It makes things challenging.

Poor Ziggy, struggling to feel safe in the scary world.  She's barking at the neighbor man now.

I better get a move on with taking a shower before they come to repair and turn off the water main.  They were just around the corner replacing a bunch of pipes so I wonder if they did something to mess up our street.  Though, the first thing I did as a resident here was call the water company to fix a break in front of my house, so apparently it's just all faulty.  and this neighborhood was developed in the 40s and 50s, so not that old.  We just don't do infrastructure well here.  I'll be surprised if they fix the leak today - they are most likely to appear on holidays and weekends, when I think they probably get overtime.  For me, they appeared on Mardi Gras day to rip up in front of my house.

OK, moving along with this day.  It's Friday morning, the universe is abundant, and I will remain that person who goes out of her way to recycle.  (I almost threw away a few boxes of things at work yesterday, but instead I brought them home to recycle.  It is really aggravating to not have real recycling options at work, but at least I do at home.)

I just gave Ziggy some CBD oil to take the edge off her anxiety, and she's now staring at the door like she's stoned.  I'm pretty sure she can't get stoned from it but maybe she's finding a mellow.  Poor girl.  All she really wants in life is to sit between my feet, leaning against my knee.  

ETA:  holy fuck, this leak has taken out asphalt.  The big chunk of the street is gone in front of my neighbor's house now.  Washed away.  Crazy.  Somewhat related: when I first bought the house I had to have the sewerage pipe fixed on my side of the water line, and when they finished the work they said the water was too clay-ey to replace it exactly, so I've been dealing with bizarre holes appearing in my yard ever since.  I keep throwing stuff down there to fill it up, but it's this hungry underground beast.  I need to deal with a couple incidents of it.  IT's pretty close to the house, which makes me nervous in terms of foundation issues - but on the scale of things that make me nervous, this qualifies as a "rarely think about it" kind of thing. 

We are built on swamp land and it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't prepped properly.  So yeah, if my house falls into a giant sinkhole - well, hope the insurance covers it, and mostly I hope that the hound and I get out safe. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Starting yesterday, some friends have been posting on Facebook, asking for prayers for their friend who had suffered a horrible tragedy.  These are all social justice warriors who don't overstate, so I wondered.

And then I connected the dots.

Their mutual friend has worked at a number of non-profits and is now working for the mayor attempting to improve a nearby city.  And she was at work when her husband called the police, because he had murdered their 18-month-old daughter.  He had stabbed her repeatedly to make her bleed to death, but she kept crying.  In his arms.  For hours.  And so he suffocated her.

He said that God made him do it, that he wanted the State of Louisiana to kill him so he could be resurrected.

What this woman must be going through is beyond what I can imagine. 

I can't stop thinking about this.  What could make somebody do this? 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

newest obsession

The friends who watched Ziggy are heading out tomorrow to check out some RVs.  They're taking their retirement very seriously.

And then I drove past an RV lot with these adorable teardrop campers.

nuCamp RV | T@B Teardrop Camper

Is that not adorable?  And inside has what I need - well this one may be the one only with a bed inside, but the others have bed and seating and a bit more room.  Kitchens are inside or outside.  AC included, though solar powering that would be tricky - the other things can be.  Propane for the stovetop and water heater, a shower and toilet inside.

Here's a typical exchange: "So, they all have TVs.  What's up with that?"  "They used to make them without but then they realized everybody wanted a TV."  "I've never owned a TV.  Why would I want one when camping?"  Seriously!

I like the containment - I could put the dog in there and she'd be secure, even if we were at a campground with others.  I can run the AC when plugged in or with a generator.  I just have to come to terms with the reality that as long as I live in the South, I'm going to need AC to feel comfortable.  I anticipate this will be even more true when I hit menopause.  Plus, setting up and breaking camp isn't that much fun - how much more delightful to just close the door, get into the pickup and go.

Plus ... evacuation.  Y'all, evacuation.  This was a really bad season and it's made me think even more about things like how to survive when your city falls apart.  How better than with a camping trailer?  We could go literally anywhere in style, especially with a generator and water container and extra propane.

Travels with Ziggy.

I know I'm romanticizing just about everything in this scene.

But they're still nice little campers.

I'm on a seven year plan.  Hopefully my student loans will be disposed of then and if I rigorously make double payments on both properties they should be about paid off.  So no new $25K in debt.  Though I may have to do that with a vehicle - my truck is 16 years old and counting. 

double take

I need to memorialize this so I don't forget.

Today in a meeting with the upcoming board president and outsiders, he said: "[Gringa] was hired to be [my job.]  And because of how things were, she's really had to be everything.  And she's done a great job."

Wait, WHAT? 

too much

I've traveled for work and the venue gave me a goddamn suite which is probably larger than my house.  It's huge.  It has four TVs.  The bathroom - which is four separate areas - is about as large as my studio apartment. 

It's way too much.

And now I'm in a king bed and it's WAAY too much.  It's unpleasantly so.

And I realize that I don't live a simple life because that's all I can afford (to meet financial goals) - it's also what I want. I like less.

I have a bunch of miles with United that I want to use up but (a) I don't travel much, and (b) I don't prefer to fly United, and (c) often they don't have availability for when I want to use them.   They have a catalog of products I can purchase instead and in theory this sounds great, but as I spend time looking at the options - it's not just a matter of free, it's a matter of stuff.  I don't want more stuff.  Sure, I could probably use both a blender and a waffle maker, but ... it's more stuff.  I have a small kitchen and not a lot of storage, which makes me almost averse to these things.

But it's more.  I have packed up and moved everything I own SO many times.  There are a number of things I have to keep - tax and house purchase records, etc.  Things that I want to keep - my favorite old towels I've had 15 years and are threadbare, etc.  There are practical things to keep - pretty much everything else. 

Part too of this simplicity is that I know that I can lose everything in an instant.  Hurricanes, fires, oh my. 

And also: fancy doesn't impress me.  Never has.  Functionality is where it's at. 

Now I'm going to take a shower in an overly fancy shower, and then pack to leave.  After meetings and a long damn drive, I'll get my simple dog and we'll go back to my simple house and we will be happy. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

soft and hard

Yesterday I went to pick up some papaya starts from a woman who is a Facebook friend, who is a social justice activist that inspires me.

What I had forgotten - because we did meet once in person briefly some years ago - is how she exudes love.  She is a religious person, having committed herself to her faith, and she is one of those who doesn't do it to be hypocritical or judgmental, but out of love. 

From the warm smile she gave when I entered to the kindness with which we talked instructions through and she was grateful for my chickens' eggs, she brought me into her kindness aura. 

When I say she is soft, I mean that in no disparaging way.  I mean, she has no sharp edges.  If somebody were to be upset with her, she would reach out with kindness and love to find a solution. 

She is truly inspiring and I want to be around her more. 

At the same time, I will never be her.  It's not just my atheism, it's that I have a different tactic.  For all the love and kindness she has, I have forcefulness.  I stand up to bullies and I strongly reject bullshit.  I can be harsh and rough, resolute.  I am very much a Don't Fuck With Me kind of person.  And most people don't even try. 

The thing is: every movement needs people like her and people like me.  We need many different kinds of people to exercise passion in a number of ways.  

I have work to do.  I cannot be quiet.  And there are people who inspire me, such as her - from her activism to her beautiful garden, both of which she happily shares with me. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

paycheck turkey

Right now I'm looking at a bouquet of flowers delivered to me on order of somebody I helped out at work.

In a few days, I have to travel to a fancy resort where I will be wined and dined.  OK, not exactly.  I'm invited to "at least a glass of wine" and all my expenses are paid by not me.  I need to put air in my tires.  I've already plotted top shelf margaritas since I'm just walking to my room and not driving.

Holy fuck.  Maybe this isn't the worst job in the world. 

Neither of these things matter to me.  I'd rather use my own blow dryer and drink my own coffee - travel has never been much fun for me.  I like BEING other places, to stay.  Not to go through.  But this will be fine, I'll make it fun.

I just carved up my paycheck, as I do.  $500 to savings (for things like tuition and car insurance), pay off the credit card, student loan, put another principal payment on this house, pay electrical bill.  And that's all there is. I was putting my savings away to go to my Roth IRA but I just ran numbers and I think it would $700 advantageous to instead maximize my 401k, so I need to basically put all of the next two months salary into that account and live off the savings I have for the Roth, until next year.  Though, next year I am allowed to put another $6K into the 401k because of my age - but where do I find another $6,000?  When I no longer have to pay tuition I'll have some, so there's that.  Which means I need to really start studying to avoid dreams of canceling exams. 

And also that I want to dig into frugality more.  More to savings.  More to paying off the houses. 

I'm getting annoyed with owning the other house and the work that needs to be done on it.  Had a Facebook friend come look at it today and I think her prices will be way too high, but I do need to get things done. 

Maybe once I'm done with school I can find another income stream. Consulting? Urban farming?  I dunno.  But more money would be nice.


sometimes simple

I finally called the plumber and he came today, so I'm working from home (this afternoon am also meeting with a window restoration person who is a FB friend as some of the windows at my other house are poorly held together with Bondo at this point).  I have had for well over a year a seriously strong knocking when I turn my bathroom sink cold water on more than a trickle.  I climbed under the house and couldn't access the pipes, and I feared the worst after talking with a plumber at my other house who said - when I described the symptoms - that it would probably involve ripping out a wall.  But I finally girded my loins and called.  And this plumber thank goodness starts simple, and it was just a matter of a valve not turned all the way on.

So, what I had feared not only didn't come to fruition, but I learned a valuable lesson.  And as he was leaving he mentioned that he loves dogs and I sure wish I'd asked him that at the beginning and let Ziggy interact with him - she does love most repairmen.  I just assume people don't appreciate her belligerence, but some people are fine with it - like the guy who originally installed my internet and spent a good 20 minutes rolling around on the floor with Ziggy once the installation was complete.  Or the HVAC guy whom Ziggy adores.  Anyway, it's a missed opportunity which is too bad, but also not an expensive problem, so yay. 

When I woke up this morning I noticed the difference between the days I go to work and the days I don't are vast in terms of the nausea and well-being I feel.  I love my life in general; I hate going to my job.  And a lot of it is waaay better than my first year, but I carry the negative energy with me.  I had a very long conversation with my new boss (starting next year) and broke things down for her - as I said: I had to jump in immediately with both feet, but she has time to reflect on things.  At one point we were talking about our level of engagement with something and she said; "that would require us knowing where all of these events are and arranging everything for every one."  I stared at her blankly: "That's what i do now.  On top of everything else."  I sometimes give myself a hard time for no longer having superhuman stamina, but the reality is that I am still extremely effective.  If I got credit for a fraction of what I do, well, I can't even imagine that.  I did get flowers last week from someone grateful for work I did, so that's nice.  I guess.  Truth is I'm so intrinsically motivated that credit isn't really what I work for.    

Last night I dreamed that I cancelled my doctoral comprehensive exams the night before when I realized I wasn't ready.  I'm definitely not ready now and I don't see how I can be ready for April, but hopefully I'll get into the groove and make it happen.  I need to get on the ball in several different ways on that. 

Can I mention again how much I love Facebook?  I am FB friends with a woman who is an incredible social justice warrior - she is so inspiring.  And I'm stopping by her house tomorrow to pick up baby papaya trees from papaya she planted and grew and is now eating.  So I know they'll grow well here. 

Oh, lots I plan to do today.  Laundry.  Drop off items at Goodwill.  Drop a package in the mail to my former tenant's puppy (that is with used Ziggy toys that smell like her).  Window repair appointment.  Check truck tire pressure to see if I can make the eight hour drive I need to do on Tuesday.  Bake sardine dog treats.  And so on.  Right now I'm cooking the cowpeas I harvested months ago, to feed to the chickens.  I'm buckling down and cleaning thoroughly, to prepare to focus on my studies.  It's my process. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

and then there were 4, no, 5

When I watered the hens this morning there were only four.  I got sad as I knew it was the other middle girl who was missing, but I saw no signs of struggle or carnage.  Piles of feathers, but molting season is in full swing so who knows what those ar
When I gave up and started to head back in, I heard bwawking from under my truck.  What?

Apparently this hen has decided to start sleeping under my truck.  That feels safer to her than the hen house, since the possum incursion, quite possibly.  She was really upset about that possum - the other hens were groggy with sleep when that happened and they were like: what's the big deal?  But she was FREAKED OUT. 

I can start locking up the hen house to keep her in, unless she's fleeing at dusk.  Then I'll just live with this situation.  She's a sweet girl but she's getting more difficult to contain, and honestly in New Orleans a wild hen is not that big of a deal.  My neighbors will know she's mine and some may try to shoo her home, but if she roams she'll be fine until a predator gets her.  Circle of life.  And if she knows her way out of the fence, she knows her way back in to where it's safer, without me having to lure and chase her. 

Then i thought: at what number do I look to rehome?  these are still good layers and I could blend a few of them with another flock, and I have a couple friends who have interest maybe.  But I don't think I need more.  Fun experiment, not really the lifestyle for me right now.   So maybe if I get down to three hens, I look for another flock for them to join.  

The thing about chickens is that they're really interesting.  Mine have different tastes - some like some foods I give them, others don't.  One hen is obsessed with cow peas but the others are "meh."  One will eat peaches but the others don't like them. And so on.  It's entertaining, their personalities and mannerisms.  They are sweet girls and I'm glad to give them a good life. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

we are the sum of where we've been

Yesterday I went to the other side of the river in search of a shoe repair place that had been recommended to me.  The people were hilarious - it's like a sitcom, the rundown look of it, the cigarette smoke filled air, the way they talk to each other and me.  They unfortunately couldn't repair any of the shoes I'd brought to them and I got rather filled with rage at our disposable ways and I just really REALLY wished that I was back in Germany where I could buy really good quality shoes that would last many years, with cobblers at the ready to keep them in tiptop shape. 

IT's rare that I miss Germany, but that did it, and then I went to Cost Plus World Market because I really want a tiffin tin.  I had one before and it was awesome - a convenient metal way to transport my lunch to work.  It's what many people carry in India - well, they get delivered from home to office.  It's a really elaborate system. 

I hate plastic.  I mean, I use it a fair amount, but I still hate it and try to avoid using it, and carrying glass containers to work for lunch is heavy and just waiting to be broken. 

And then I found marzipan Ritter bar and I bought one.  I remember the first time I had marzipan, in Germany, and marveled that I'd never had such excellence before. And then I remember when I lived in West Africa and my friend Joerg would call me so excited to tell me which store had Ritter Sport bars and how I needed to rush there right away or he would pick some up for me.  He was a really good friend.  A really, really good friend.  He was aggravating as fuck sometimes but such a good guy and loyal almost to a fault, and we would speak German because while his English was ok his accent was so thick that it was painful to my ear. 

Joerg is the kind of friend who called me years later to say he was at a meeting of some sort and my name came up as an expert to bring in and somebody brought up that I had been romantically involved with a high-ranking political figure, and Joerg came unglued and let them have it about their sexist double standards.  He called me, so full of rage, that I had none to add.  He was such a good friend, is such a good person.  The times he hosted me later in Paris - just so much.  I need to get in touch with him.  He loves so deeply, so loyally, and believes that anything is possible.  He has an infectious energy and can even get me to do things like play squash and host brunch with war criminals.  I miss him.  I should go to Chile and visit him and his wife, meet their young children. 

Good god I've been so fortunate with such good people all throughout my life.  And good places.  that make me want well-manufactured shoes and chocolate.  

I ache for this country where I met Joerg.  An extremely important election was held there this week and I am on pins and needles for the outcome and analysis.  I can't get enough of the news, my friends' posts.  I see the pictures and I know that international news sources run them because they show wild jungle and backward people, but all I see is a home.  And life there is not easy, not by a longshot.  It's such a hard life there and here I am so comfortable with everything and I don't know if I can go back.  I've drastically changed in the past five years, to a woman who often hurts and wants comfort.  Not the kind of woman who rides into deep jungle on unmaintained roads, without electricity or potable water, to bring justice.  Or a reasonable appearance of it. 

I miss that version of me, too.  Who was unstoppable.  Nearly.  Malaria did knock me out.  But I do miss that country, oh lord, how I miss it.  I miss the people, the music everywhere, the smell of the air, the food.  I met friends of friends in Morocco who had done Frontline documentaries in this country as the war was ending and they were like; "Whoa, you like the food?  You are HARD CORE."  These are tough investigative journalists and I won points with them.  But I do, I love the food.  I'm not crazy about the thought of monkey meat or maggots, but I don't think too hard on it.  The only thing I don't love is the soda that they put in the food in the northern county (where everyone thought I would fit in because of my large butt) - it tastes icky to me and my stomach doesn't appreciate it.  A friend of mine from there now living elsewhere on the continent has been posting about going home and getting the soda to take with him to put in his food and I'm like: man, better you than me.  But most of the other food I find tasty and satisfying. 

And not just the local food.  The expat restaurants had some really good Lebanese and other dishes.  Some sort of hybrids based on available ingredients, but I sometimes find myself missing those crazy places.  The time we took my beloved Isaac to dinner for his birthday and make a big deal about it and I drove the jeep into a ditch in a torrential rain storm and we were saved by a mystery man and oh, I have just too any memories of Isaac and I miss him too much.   I can't believe he's dead.  I can't imagine returning to that country and him not being there.  I have other dear friends there but we were so close, I trusted him so much.  I will always miss him, no matter where I am. 

So.  These places have influenced me heavily, but I have to say: y'all, this country has many sides I do not know.

Today I went to Sav-A-Lot.  What do they sell there?  Food-like products.  There are some vegetables and meat, but it's mostly aisles of off-brand junk.  I bought macaroni and Lil Debbie snack cakes which I really hate myself for but I couldn't even handle thinking about buying anything else.

My privilege is so thick, I disgust even myself.  I am so removed from how a huge chunk of American population shops and eats because of my relative wealth and my Whole Food shopping ways.  Say what you want about gentrification, the vegetables at Whole Foods nearly make me blush with lust. 

So here's what really concerns me - poor people in America are eating highly overprocessed foods, whereas poor people in other countries I've been to rely on vegetables and carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes.  Say what you want about white foods, rice and potatoes are staples for a goddamn reason.  I just read an interesting article about Russians and potatoes, and it whooshed me back to my time in Russia, weekends spent at the dacha with babushka, as she taught me how to grow vegetables on a little plot of land.  This article talks of how important this production of vegetables is for Russians, how they feed themselves.  And sure - you can think of heavy Russian food, but I remember the carrots.  And the beets.  And the dill.  And the potatoes. 

Today I saw what I fear - the gap between have and have nots is so vast and we who have are essentially starving the poor people.  Denying living wages, quality education, healthcare, etc. - forcing a diet heavy on HFCS and transfats and fake food.  Not the vegetables of poor people elsewhere in the world.

And I doubled down on holy fuck I need to keep my job because I'm far from rich really but i can eat well.  But I am seriously concerned about where we're going as a country.