Posts Tagged ‘garden’

On being uptight

If you are the sort of person who prides yourself on not being uptight then it’s a shock to realize the ways you’ve totally got a stick up your butt and in fact, are completely insane. For me it was just a few years ago when I realized that certain unreasonable things drove me up the wall.

Pre-expedition dawdling

One was planning to go somewhere on a big trip like to the beach or out shopping or to an event with other people and them not being ready, dawdling, not having gas in the car, suddenly deciding it was a great time to clip their toenails, etc. That makes me insane! Be ready! Lay everything out beforehand! I am like a general of an army for a week beforehand thinking of all the small things that must be accomplished to lay the ground for an expedition to the beach. 10am the morning of the beach trip is not the time to check your oil, buy sun screen, stop to pick up a sandwich, etc etc OMG! There should be no fuss! No! Fussing! Now, I try to endure with patience and be adaptable if there is an oversight but if I can see that dawdling and faffing is the order of the day, I have to re-imagine everything properly in my head in order to stay sane. (“Sane”.)

Expedition mealtime “surprise”

Another one is eating food in museums and amusement parks. If you are only going to be in a museum for like 2 hours why are you spending 45 minutes of that in a claustrophobic loud horrible plastic generic cafetorium eating a 12 dollar wilty lettuced sandwich? Fuck me! Eat beforehand! You know you have to eat, plan for it! Eat some crackers from your backpack, drink from the water fountain, and suck it up till you get home. It is not so much about the money or being thrifty. It’s that it’s a totally crappy atmosphere. I have geared up my finest receptor and sensory and analysis modules to have an Experience, my input dials are maxed out, and now I’m in a Denny’s. Aaaaaaaa!

The Balance of the Universe, in my mouth

Another — you see what I mean, I find as I get older there are either more and more of these uptightnesses, or I’m more self-aware — is about the way of eating food. This one is probably very common on iamneurotic.com. I sort of mentally portion out my food so it is balanced all around and I like it to come out even. Yes! Neurotic! The other day, Rook brought a sandwich at work, with the extra pickle I asked for (yay) and … It’s so hard to explain. It was a lovely sandwich that I had increased the pleasure of by having looked forward to it all morning. As if from my little officey world of withered grey cubicles I had pinned all my shining hopes on this delicious Sandwich With Pickle. The pickle was in 2 halves. Of course, half the pickle for one half of the sandwich and the other half for the other. RIGHT??? Well just as I came to the end of the first half Rook casually picked up the pickle and went to take a giant 6-foot-tall-guy-bite out of it. I squawked like a motherfucking cockatoo. Hello, this is a man who can put his entire fist into his mouth. PUT DOWN THAT PICKLE.

The next second I fell over myself trying to assess whether it was his lovely expectation that that was his pickle and plus trying to suppress any selfishness and at least allot him half if not handing over the whole thing. (While still internally shrieking OMG if you wanted one, why didn’t you get your own!) And re-imagining my sandwich trying to still see it as glorious rather than a sad tarnished wistful wrong-ish half-sandwich-without-its-rightful-flavor.

As I thought over my own uptightness and yet, adaptability and willingness to hand over MY HALF OF MY FOOD, I realized the key to my being able to adapt like a normal human being is in imagining-out. If I can pause for a moment and imagine out the alternate future to the one I had already prepared myself for, then I’m all good and right with the world again and can be a gracious person. If not, then I’m stuck in being a surly petty bitch. So for example on going to the beach if I see that things aren’t happening as I wished then I make a new plan to go outside and mess around in the garden (the key thing here is avoiding the deadly feeling of waiting for other people.)

I told my sister Minnie the pickle story to make her laugh because she’s exactly the same way. If she had olives, she would have an unconscious awareness of portioning out the olive to sandwich consumption ratio and I would never presume to perturb that balance in mid sandwich. Am I right??? This is possibly part of our crucial sister telepathy (which has decreased as we get older but is still there.) Doubly so, perhaps, for bacon and pancakes. There is a special circle of hell for bacon-stealers.

These things are the minor things; the actual ways I’m actually uptight I can’t tell you because I’m too freaked out by them to talk about them, like phobias. Before any talking about it happens, denial hits and I veer off onto some other subject for the sake of self-preservation.

The thing about this way of thinking is that normally it works very well. I keenly enjoy the pleasures of the imaginary becoming real and I have a great time and am full of enthusiasms, major and minor.

Related posts




Getting rid of some books, part 2

Another small round of decluttering. I spent most of the day in bed reading 5 Miss Marple novels. They are so classist and racist and sexist and full of horrible gender stereotypes but they are oddly satisfying because there are so many active women characters in them who are smart, powerful, shrewd, or who have other positive qualities – usually, they pass the Bechdel test very well. I kind of enjoy the classist bits because they make particular attitudes about class very clear – as in girls’ series books.

- The Mirror Crack’d. The neurotic American film star at the top of the stairs whose baby was born “mentally defective” and was put away in a home. Ugh! Makes one appreciate how times have changed. Sly blackmailing secretary with a nasal atomizer. Scatterbrained, gardening Mrs. Bantry whose house it use to be. Arty photographer girl from London. Busybody self centered organizing woman who does a ton of charity work (victim). Stupid parlormaid (victim) though not actually a parlormaid, is temporary help from, uh, the village. Or something.

- A Carribean Mystery. Miss Marple on some tropical island. Casual racism. Nice young couple who own a hotel. Stuffy old bore who tells stories of shooting lions in Africa, and murders (victim). Black parlormaid (victim) blackmailer. Cantankerous semi-paralyzed old man, Mr. Raffiel, who is insanely rich and who teams up with Miss Marple. His snoopy male secretary/valet/masseur. His widowed assistant/nurse/attendant.

- Nemesis. Sequel to Caribbean Mystery. Mr. Raffiel leaves a mysterious mystery to Miss Marple. Gardening tour. Middle aged ladies (I liked them.) Three sisters who live in a decaying old house. Many interesting references to a bad girl from the village who has been running around with boys since she was 12 (victim). Pure schoolgirl with heart of gold from days of yore (victim). Saintly, powerful headmistress of a school (victim). Miss Marple seems quite old in this book and it is suggested she might die in the next year or so.

- What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. Miss Marple’s friend witnesses a murder on a passing train. Good character of the insanely competent university educated woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, who chooses to be an incredibly high paid domestic servant instead of academia, in order to have an independent life. Big family. Cantankerous old Mr. Crackenthorpe and his various children who want to inherit his cash and estate.

- The Body in the Library. Mrs. Bantry, much younger and still living in her enormous estate which was later bought by the neurotic film star in Mirror Crack’d. Arty, scandalous film people. A hotel in a nearby village or town where idle people seem to come and stay for an entire season, dancing, playing bridge, taking tennis lessons, and being secretly scandalous. Hotels seem to routinely keep a staff of “hosts” who mix with the guests and play up to them (as in Caribbean Mystery)

Why am I poisoning my mind with this crap! I have so many nice books to read!

Other books on the way out:

* Our National Parks vol. 1 and 2 (from the 50s, with cool illustrations)
* Several other very old guidebooks to parks and regions and beaches
* Sew Simply, Sew Perfect (for its 1960s-ness and basic concepts)
* Comparative Mythology by Puhvel (textbook?)
* How the Irish Saved Civilization
* The Voice of the Whirlwind: The Book of Job (???)
* The New Golden Bough
* Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga
* The Book of the Dead – dover thrift of the Wallis Budge version. Tempted to keep this one.

Related posts




Garage Sale for Obama

I saw this flyer up on a post outside of the Safeway at 29th and Mission, a garage sale to raise money to give to the Obama campaign.

Garage Sale for Obama

The other day in a friend’s blog I noticed her thinking of saving money for some expensive Fluevog boots, but then she reconsidered and decided to give that money to the campaign instead.

I wear a size eight and covet these boots. How can I justify spending over three hundred dollars (that I could conceivably have in a month or so) on boots when I could give that money to the ” Obama FTW ” fund. Its true…. So maybe no boots for me right now. Woe.

Don’t they both seem like very Gen X middle class fundraising ideas, more than bake sales or auctions or whatever? It struck me as something I’ve never seen before.

Today I did a little housecleaning to get ready for Bork to come visit, finished reading I Am a Cat, thought more about Random Acts of Senseless Violence, had lunch with Bork who is here now, yay! Did a driving lesson with Zond-7 and we drove around Pee’s harbor and Ducktown Marina to look at what it is like to live there. Pee’s Harbor was more posh. Ducktown was more the sort of thing that appeals to me especially “Nancy and Jane’s garden” and how everything is a bit half-assed and jumbledy. Apparently the politics of Ducktown are: the owners are a big fancy trust, and want to sell. the people offering are offering a few million too low. Meanwhile there is Measure You-Know-What that defines that area as open space. How could they evict the people who have lived there for 30 years and have giant floating houses not just little boats on their bit of dock?

Then up to the city – rested – had dinner with vito_excalibur – went to SFinSF and liked nihilistic kid and dlevine’s stories – T.B. was very funny and scatterbrained – had a little of Vito’s whiskey – was in pain – didn’t know what to say to people who congratulated me on my verticality – gave out handfuls of Obama buttons. N.K.’s story was a Raymond Carver – HP Lovecraft mashup with 3 people drinking whiskey in a cave. I am sure Ken H. should read it if he hasn’t already. He must have? He’d like it. I shrieked “Wooooooo!!” way too loud when the chick took a mouthful of whiskey and there was mention of a lantern because I am a gamer and knew what was coming, but then felt silly. Then like 5 minutes later she spewed fiery death over a shoggoth and I was vindicated. At least vito got it. We gave dlevine hell teasing him about how he was flying colors (yay sf hanky code) but guessed his code slightly wrong. NK’s comments during the slightly doofusy “question and answer” period were awesome. Yay for people who make sense and are funny. At one point I just wanted to smack dlevine for his comments on the obviousness of deism and then his attempt at a save in saying some people did not think so but there was always room to change one’s mind. Boooo from the row of atheists! His story rocked – he read Charlie the Purple Giraffe, which I enjoyed. Zond-7 asked how one could sustain this sort of meta narrative for a much longer story which led us to some mention of Don Quixote, She-Hulk, and I brought up The Great Good Thing which while it has some twee elements was well done. Vito had some muttery comments about alternate histories and time travel and the point not being the Twist. I cannot remember the other people’s questions or comments all that well or if I do I will remain mercifully silent because some of them were embarrassingly silly. Saw Rina, J.W., klages, whump, cyn, nk’s friend who i can’t remember but who was introduced charmingly to me as my secret stalker, so I hope she comments somewhere, kate, and a jillion other people. Home, bed, merciful horizontalness, lovely warm electric blanket.

Also watched a ton of Sarah Haskins Target Women – go watch them – they’re great. The cleaning and yogurt ones were the funniest.

Tomorrow will do lots of hard work – Rook and Moomin are out camping for the rpg nerdy beach party – I will meet up later on with them and Bork – I’d like to go to the Emperor Norton party at Borderlands for a bit but it might depend on working on the book and how much I get done.

Related posts




Hello from the surface of the motherfucking sun

It’s ONE MILLION DEGREES in my house. I have iced my head and watered the pavement. Can’t think, can’t move! Ill-feeling and cranky! I need an IV and a salt lick. No, fuck it, it’s brain in the jar time. *Schloop* (removes brain from skull & places into nice cold jar with internet connection)

We went out for pizza – Moomin says he is good at pinball – I agree as he kept scoring 5 million more points than I was able to – he’s fast on the flippers. I get all James Dean reckless and end up tilting.

Long good day working, helped out Squid a bit in the corners, could not muster up the energy to do more tonight.

It has been weird to have Rook act the stay at home and to come across him earnestly filling out forms, doing all the paperwork, magic food appearing in house and suddenly all cooked and stuff, the bags of things to take to donation were whisked away, it is eerie, pleasant, and guilt-inducing all at once, along with a very unworthy feeling of NOW YOU TRY IT THEN, HA, which I wish I didn’t feel. Actually my gratitude at not having to fill out those school forms knows no bounds. Just not having to *track* everything… Is it really okay? I find that I really, really, really love it when people make me food. Who doesn’t love it? But, especially now. It makes me want to cry. It always seemed to make sense for me to be doing all the form filling out and insurance-company-calling and crap, but I can’t remember why, even when we both worked, and both had the same commute. Maybe I need to let go of that for a bit. And putter in the garden a little, and focus my house-labor efforts on getting rid of books and things.

I suggested going to the beach tomorrow but that is kind of a dumb plan as I am not prepared at all – there is no beach food – I have no gas – I am physically in bad shape – The thought of wheeling myself down the long path fills me with horror and pre-exhaustion – But I felt bad that I have not done anything special with Moomin and it seemed like a good idea to get us all out of the house. Really, I would like to stay in bed until it is too hot to bear, and then maybe just go to the library. Can I change the plan? I already invited his friend to come… maybe just a regular play date instead and i could sit and play a good long board game with them, and have ice cream. Then fall back into bed. Much more my speed. I meant to do a board game thing tonight, but instead, pizza, books, and pinball. Then I collapsed into bed & computer.

Sunday will be swimming at Squid’s house. Ordinarily Zond-7 would come down for a bit but this week we can’t. I will miss him at the pool party. must – remember – not to drink too many lemon drops – at Squid’s house -

Cats – get off me – you’re sweaty, enormous, hairy animals – it is too hot to cuddle – Why do I not have several box fans in this house, and a minion to gently sponge me with ice water or lemon-flavored vodka –

Read more of the Crypto book, got to the bit about Clinton & Gore, their wonkiness, and the Clipper. WTF! And read a bit of Flora Tristan, and the first Narnia book (which Moomin is about to read) to imagine what Moomin will think of it.

Getting that crazy late-night feeling. Rook is snoring and peaceful. Cats as i mentioned are all over me. I want to cry for no reason and read snippets out of books and jump around and write crazyass poetry and drink some tequila and type till I pass out into this blog, quotes from the most beautiful books, complaints & celebrations, melancholy & nostalgia for bloggings-past. I’d like for the oddest & most rare & true things to come out of my fingers and come to you, in some sort of moment of little bits of paper flying around like the illustration of salome with birds in the comic book version of Wilde’s play. I’d like to do FABULOUS THINGS and just pretend to act like they are usual. I’d like to throw things up in the air and have them, with no explanation, NEVER COME DOWN, and for no one to act surprised by this. Long streaks of rainbow paint coming out from the heels of my converse as I skate around over the pavement, painting out comet-tail footsteps that melt & dissolve into the cement. It’s just what she does, that badgerbag chick over there. *shrug* If even that much notice.

And so to bed.

Related posts




Foolish overuse of those leg-like objects

And maybe of the hand-parts too. Oh well. I know! I’ll lie around typing some more!! SMRT.

Today was fabulous, I enjoyed the programming stuff for work and all my co-workers, crept out for lunch with Minnie & persuaded notcalm to come with us to hang in my back yard with my baby nephew. Mr. Pants does indeed love to fix a bicycle with whatever tools come to hand. He picks up a spoon or whatever, and studies the bicycle. Then he carefully touches the bicycle all over with the tool. He’s so awesome! Minnie and I devoured our fried chicken from Betty’s.

face washing while playing with tripod

We gossiped mightily. I think my favorite part of the conversation was an unprintable statement from one of the three of us about people we know who might expect to have sex with other people we know, two weeks after a c-section. I mimed the hand gesture of leg-parting and a quizzical glance to see if all was well in there before diving in. Ahahaahh! We discussed some of the details of the first 6 weeks of life after giving birth. That’s all I’m at liberty to say. I also realized at lunch that Minnie would understand all the bits of things I’m doing at work and would likely have good advice.

I thought I would use my newly affirmed powers of dashing and sprinting to hobble into Savers and get Moomin a jacket. Uhhh maybe that was too much. Got jackets though. Then was passing grocery outlet and thought “Oh, I can walk so well, I’ll get a soda!” and bought some soda and juice but was totally falling over and regretting that I ever got out of bed. Uhhhhh! Whoops! And so to work. I had that moment of trying not to whimper out loud, wanting to lie down and cry, and then was able to just push it aside. Sometimes concentration is really useful. I got to the point in the last few days where I “know” where I am geographically while poking around in directories on three different servers, four if you count my laptop as one of them since i have stuff on it too, and weird bits of code everywhere. So, our thing works! It was wildly exciting to push the button and see all the directories and the bits of code magically appear! I wish I had time to go understand what J. did in the back end of drupal with the hook, or action, or whatever, which looks like a sort of skeleton of it doing something & then some extra php. I did not read it but stuck to my little bits and then to messing with the javascript parts. J. fixed the IE problem by breaking it all up into bits and nesting the html and the js. It was extremely clever.

I then hauled ass to go pick up moomin at camp. i sent him back in to pay for the after care realizing i needed to cut the walking attempts. ohhhhh. warning sign number MILLION that I completely ignored. Then, back to my work (10 min away in traffic) and i thought, Oh, well, maybe i could send him in for my phone (which i forgot and realized must ahve fallen into the couch cushions.) I can get the wireless from the parking lot… and notcalm sent my phone down with hedonia. I thought moomin woudl balk at being sent in, but he liked the idea. (Warning sign number 2 million, i knew i could not walk up to the office again) Then home!

Where I then tottered about the yard a little because it was nice out! And then made snacks and dinner for 3 children and then a giant salad (mostly sitting down b/c i was losing it then) for me and rook and zond-7! and then washed the dishes and realized I was going to FUCKING DIE

Took celebrex, cursed self a bit, laid down, successfully disappeared into Zond-7′s python (django) and twill and sql stuff which was totally fascinating (and i was helpful i think) Now I can’t wait to make some nifty tests with twill! omg! handy! I pushed past the whole “lie there and cry and whimper” moment again and had a nice time. But, I admitted it was bad and started asking for help to get stuff, open the windows, etc. My hands are in a lot of pain too. i wonder if it is from the attempts at digging and gardening? Or from the excessive leaning on crutches, so much harder than wheeling?

I really love my life. I was reading the bit in the Ben Franklin biography where it describes how all his life he loved to live in a household that was lively with swarms of children and bustling domesticity. I don’t know about all my life…. heh… I’d hate that. I’d hate to have to do it all the time. But I really enjoy the moments when the house is full of people and I have just fed them, or given them all scissors and tape or a rake and a mission, and the kids are swirling about underfoot, emitting strange kid-rays. colliding with reality in all different ways, glowing with excitement.

Related posts




The ocean bottom is in my garden. Also I can walk

garden

I am crutching in to work every day now and walking pretty well. My right leg gets very tired and my foot goes numb and tingly and painful the more I walk. But it is NOTHING to what it used to be. I’m really happy about that and about the level of walking I’m at. I can put down the crutches and walk around the garden or the house for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. Maybe it’s more like 10. I have not measured. Also I am more confident going through a grocery store just holding onto a cart. I feel firmly in rehab-land and not in the “grimly forcing myself to walk a couple of steps” zone. Let us assign numbers by the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Scale! I think I am at 4.5 – 6.5. That’s huge improvement! It’s been like that for a couple of months. My leg has not completely collapsed under me for … I don’t know… a bit longer than that.

I still have a hard time with the bathroom being far away and with trying to work up the energy to go out to lunch. It’s a long way out to the bathroom and down to the car, on crutches. All I can say is I sit there trying to hold it and then realize that if I sneeze, all is lost, so I’d better get up.

One of the things slowing my rehab is that my left knee is crap. So, it gets strained easily. I do my exercise-bike stuff now and then to try and strengthen it.

I feel like I could probably ride my bike if I got it out, but I’m scared to try and hurt myself and backslide. So, not yet.

Today in the garden I dug in the brick-lined area under the cedars and salvias. At about 4 inches I hit hardpan and for a while began to doubt myself. Was there a brick patio under there? But no – it was just the red, rock-hard decay of serpentinite. I sat there chipping away at the old metamorphosed, messed-up ocean bottom. Go read the article about serpentinite. Isn’t the word “ultramafic” nifty? It’s a silicate that has a lot of magnesium and iron (Ma + Fe, thus the “ma- f” of mafic). What, did you forget I worked in a geology library for like 5 years and read all the time?

You can see the greenness of the serpentinite in the photo above – and the way it’s surrounded by the strange, nutrient-deficient red soil that it decays into. It needs nitrogen and phosphorus really bad, and, well, just everything. That’s why I’m going to mulch the hell out of it and fill it with kitchen scraps! Here they are! Slimy old mac & cheese, strawberry tops, coffee grounds, and apple cores!

garden

and here’s me very happily holding up my joby/gorillapod tripod thing, which I now passionately love!

garden

Related posts




Books, work, rock band, music stolen

Every time I get my computer on my lap and kick back to blog all I can do is start to slog through the endless help desk emails for work. The harder problems build up and build up. I get obsessed with fixing them though I have to learn how to say “No, sorry, can’t help you here.” They never stop! It’s not just too much work, it’s also killing my blogging because if I’m on the computer I feel like I should be “catching up”. I can’t let that happen. Not sure what to do about it. We could outsource. “Sorry, beyond the scope we can do for you, but you could pay so-and-so 30 bucks an hour to do it.” That would be a relief and would get people’s problems solved. These are people who need web design support and whose work is *great* – I want to support it. That’s where it gets me!

So in an effort not to work ALL THE TIME I have been reading a bit more. I caught up with some of my blogfriends on LJ (after weeks… months?). I read the last Hostile Takeover book – more about that in a minute. I did some cleaning and gardening (and when Moomin gets back will read more out loud to him.)

Tonight was fun – Zond-7 and I went to a game night – Played Settlers – and a bit of Rock Band. I liked playing bass. What a party – with a wii, some other game console thing, rock band, several board games, a lot of beer & wine, and a crowd of raucous geeks.

My morning was stressful – I was hauling ass to get to work – and my car window was broken. All the cars on the block had windows smashed – My giant book of favorite CDs was stolen – knew I shouldn’t keep it in there – I will try not to miss it but got a little upset over the hard to find venezuelan and cuban stuff. I had resolved to only keep cds I ahd burned in the car – but didn’t stick to it – to the tune of probably 50 cds which built up to be all my favorites. Plus, mix cds other people made for me. I am trying to be detached about it. It’s just stuff. But, music is stuff I hate to lose because it’s memory, it’s the keys to the database of emotions across many years. Sometimes I get deeply melancholy for no reason but in a way that can only be fixed by driving while listening to that one gospel song and crying as I think of the weeks that that song was my only outlet & solace for my horrible feelings on my last breakup – Or joyous in a way that goes with a particular ska CD – Oh – well – I will make new CDs – and at some point will benefit from figuring out which cases are empty and either replacing with digital music or new import cds or THROWING THE CASES AWAY. (I have just remembered the name of that gospel song – “Unconditional” – from a compilation.)

I then hauled ass to tape up my window with a trash bag to try to make it to a meeting, but realized as I got into the car that it would be a bad idea to drive down 101 without being able to see out my side window. It was a sort of survival reflex – like if I were going to lose my job for being late to work, that’s what i would have done – but as I started to do it I realized I’m not in that position, it was not a situation of extreme crisis, and it would be smarter to fix the window!

At the auto glass place (very close! lucky!) my credit cards didn’t go through and there was a bad feeling in the air suddenly as they got suspicious of me. DRAMA… I called my cards (both from one bank, a card and my atm/credit card) & no problem there. The guy didn’t believe me though I offered the phone to him and pointed out the little credit card box-thing said “connection failed” not “card declined” and it was not that I had no money. We went round for a bit because I could not walk as far as the nearest atm that he described – and I did not want to wheel there (somewhat up hill, not sure how far it was really, sounded exhausting). Finally he agreed I would leave one card with him and drive away to the ATM. Just as I was driving off he realized the credit card thing was plugged into the same thing as his phone, which was accidentally left off the hook… HA.

I felt like getting back into bed!

Instead I went to get a sandwich – and after I came out realized I’d left my car running and the door unlocked! OMG!

At that point (now hours later) I decided not to go to the office – and worked from here instead – it was all just too much – plus a 40 minute commute would have just taken away good working time.

Ended up at lunch with a bunch of people from Zond-7′s work and hearing a lot of interesting stuff about Deadweight loss (which was fucking fascinating), monopolies, anti-trust stuff, DRM, talked about all that and about spam, email costs, music industry, and I talked some with the visiting economist dude about the internet ad market. ie. how any blog ad company competes with Google Ads. Good question! Lots of people do, though. It is like the contrast between … well if you had *very small billboards* stuck everywhere kind of randomly but in relation to each thing it was stuck on, like if every parking meter displayed postage-stamp sized ads for parking garages, or every tree by the sidewalk had an index card explaining where to buy trees, vs. there being a public park set up specially with all kinds of ever-changing information about trees and fun things to do in the park. What is more satisfying – making a park and maintaining it and visiting parks & gardens – or wandering around staring at parking meters and smog-ravaged acacias. It is my day of Homely Metaphors as I also had a giant funny picture in my head about the proprietary Egg that you were only legally allowed to cook in special Sony Egg Cookers, it being illegal to invent or sell frying pans even for your own use at home, and the deadweight loss being all the people who might have cooked and ate a fucking egg if not for the $200 Sony Egg Cooker being too expensive, and the Eggs all sprayed with protective anti-frying-pan anti-cracking spray, and no regular eggs in stores since the big chain stores had a special deal with Sony to sell only Eggs not eggs, and the egg industry suffering horribly as a result. (BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKENS, for god’s sake? Pay the chickens with special internet micropellets… okay I’ll stop now…) Then was further picturing the proprietary House, in which you were only allowed to put Furniture specially built by Company X (this, while we were talking about tie-ins) which further locks you in to buy only Houses built by company X in future because you’ve invested so much in Company X Furniture. A bad idea for eggs, furniture, houses, real estate agents, department stores, and right-thinking people everywhere.

Then I laid on the couch and worked for many hours!

It was nice to be around people and have a beer tonight after all that!

So back to Revolutionary, the last book in the Hostile Takeover trilogy. I liked it – although one female character DID go into a coma it was not for the whole book, she was doing stuff and having conversations in imaginary nano-telepathy-hacker-head world while she was out cold.

SPOILERS!!!!!! WARNING!!!

She doesn’t die and the end isn’t all about her incredibly bad-idea romance. Throughout the bad-idea romance she keeps asking Dom and herself, “Why do I even like you? Why am I so obsessed with you? You’re kind of a jerk!” It doesn’t get glossed over! It’s a really good point! Others explain to her that it’s wartime and that can happen easily – there are some other reasons – some explored and some perhaps not (ie her ambivalent feelings about being genetically engineered to bond with computers and machines, and his being like 90% cybernetic complete with extra computer in his brain.) Then instead of swooping in and rescuing her and knocking her up or something… he DIES. TWICE. That was so satisfying! OMG! Actually it might have been more than twice – he kept getting eaten by nanobots, and shot in the face, and then coming back from it somehow, until you were ready to strangle the fucker with your bare hands. DIE DIE DIE! and then… score… he totally died AND his time-travel extra self also died. Awesome!

So, even better than that — it was like candy — The butch as hell ex-Marine traitor Kathy Shane, who got her legs blown off and who is NOT plucky or spunky at all, has lots more angsty and in fact, PTSD-ish moments contemplating (and glorifying) the grave of Mary Houghton (who was her captive and who escaped super cleverly – the art history major and painter and tough Marine who goes spelunking for alien artifacts – and instead of DYING as one somewhat expected her to from the very first – as so many good female characters do – instead she thinks about another (female) character and acts on her thoughts in a consistent interesting way. sorry to gush, it’s just rare to see male sf writers get anything like this right, so I was excited and so pleased not to have to hate the book sighing in disgust even as I enjoyed the space opera bits. More spoilers – so, then Shane ends up finding new purpose in life. Notably she keeps her religion, abandons her military loyalties (though is still devastated by exile and by her continuing guilt over betraying her people – her military subordinates) and completely abandons her political loyalties to a particular planet or state. AND… goes off WITH THE HACKER SPY CHICK into space with the alien star map and a giant colony ship. How can I even talk about this without spoilers? I’ll give it a shot and put it up on the feministsf blog!

Related posts




Garden project, week two

This week I watered the soil daily, put some coffee grounds and vegetable bits into trenches, and dug the patches of soil a bit deeper. The original spot I thought was very dead was NOT completely dead. I think last summer’s vegetables, especially the zucchini plant, lightened it up and then contributed their dead root systems into the mix. After a night’s soaking, I was able to dig it up about 5 inches down. That was a surprise! I did it sitting down with a small hand trowel. Moomin helped me out.

Here’s the place I decided to put a real compost pile. It’s right outside my door and the hose reaches easily.

Garden projects

Today I put in about an hour of light work. That might have been too much; my back and leg are hurting. Here’s what I did:

- put more kitchen scraps into the zombie patch
- Dug up and watered the brick area
- Watered everything else including the front yard
- Dead headed the giant shasta daisy bush
- dead headed the nameless other yellow flowers along the path
- dead headed the poor neglected giant red geranium bush
- swept up a bunch of leaves from under the solanum
- put some of the leaves and dead things on the compost area (will haul more later)

It was relaxing and satisfying… I’m going to enjoy this! I missed it a lot while I was too disabled to walk around much or even to squander my sitting-up time on it.

I sat in a plastic chair to do most of the work including watering. For digging around in the compost area’s dirt, I sat on the ground. I really appreciate that I am able to sit on the ground or floor and get up again without it being an enormous production, but it’s probably the riskiest part of what I did today. So I better watch it and not overdo the up and down action.

The geranium and shasta daisy are very nasty and scraggly looking from neglect, but I know that with the little bit of pruning I did today, and a few weeks of watering, they’re going to bounce right back. I’m hoping that Rook will help me and also that I can teach Moomin to like gardens and about the science of compost over the next few months. I always like the feeling of working together on the house or yard and the feeling of making and maintaining a nice space, of colonizing space and deciding how it will be as a group endeavor.

My house-mate the Acrobat trimmed his irises and told me their story. His dad’s wife (he caught himself saying ‘stepmom’ and then explained that it still made his mom furious if he says that though it is like THIRTY YEARS LATER and we digressed into the politics of families and naming) is a somewhat famous grower of irises, creating hybrids. So the Acrobat has had these irises for many years from Geekhouse where they were somewhat neglected to pots at their rental house where they dried out completely and now in the ground in our front yard for a few years where they totally thrive.

If you want some great irises then email me, come over and he will help you dig them up.

Related posts




Dead dirt

Besides reading and housework I need some excuse to look away from the computer. Now that I’m up and out of bed more, maybe a little garden tending?

I am eyeing spots for compost that is very near my door, and one or two areas also close and easy to water where I can rehabilitate the soil. The long dry season here and the tough rocky soil made from decayed serpentinite combine to make it easy for the dirt to die, in other words, for the worms to leave, the fungi to quit threading their little riots of mycelia, & microbes all dormant so that you could set an apple out in that dirt and nothing would happen to it for weeks.

dead dirt

I used to really like the process of composting, balancing out a compost pile and watching it cook. I produce a steady stream of coffee grounds and eggshells. For leaves we could shred paper. It would be good to have a little pile of dirt and leaves to start with or a trench for burying stuff.

Though the goal is to get myself off the computer and into the physical world, god knows if I don’t blog it I might not stick with it and even then… it’s chancy.

My other project is to get rid of books. I thought that I could start by blogging brief notes on a bunch of heavy literary theory books, so that I remember what I had and read and knew and could find it again if I wanted. Then it won’t be so painful to give away the books.

Fixing broken things, making bare dirt turn fertile with weeds or fruit, nursing half-dead houseplants thrown away in the trash, all those things give me particular pleasure. Then later the triumph over deadness of running my fingers through the soil, easy home for worms, made from waste and trash. It’s like shaking my fist at the world. It brings out all my stubbornness.

I stayed home from Naomi Novik’s reading at Borderlands – last few readings there were so crowded and I couldn’t take it in the wheelchair in a crowd after this weekend! I am sure she was lovely – I will write a review of Victory of Eagles to make up for not going.

Related posts




On Sunday Dinners, Cities, Pubs, Middle and Old Age

I have various observations from my trip, written on the plane from Heathrow to LAX in a 5am delirium.

Out of London
We packed, cleaned, and got on a train to Ch3lmsford to visit Z.’s family, for Sunday dinner. Everything still seemed new to my eyes as we left London and forayed out into fields and suburbs. J. picked us up at the station to drive us the long way round through a Sc4recrow Fete (the first time I’ve heard anyone say that word aloud, I think) which I didn’t care about though the drive was nice. What I was really looking at was how people set up their houses and gardens, at shop fronts and billboards; they all reminded me of the rural bits of R.I. in New England near where I grew up in the summers. The architecture (maybe the time period) of the buildings was the same in some subtle way I couldn’t pin down that wasn’t just about snow and being built of bricks.

The Rules of (not) Saying Hello
I had another observation of going through streets and train stations. I had read in Watching the English that people don’t say hello to strangers and in fact they don’t even look at you in the face or nod – it feels wrong and rude to do that, but it is my instinct because in the U.S. if you are walking past someone in a long corridor or on the street you would at least meet eyes and give a little nod as you pass and you might say “how’re you” or “good morning” in a perfunctory way to someone in an elevator. Certainly in Latino neighborhoods, “how are you/como está” or you are eye-rollingly rude. Here in London I think that would be a sign of madness, over-familiarity that might be a dangerous challenge or open hostility, as if by boldly meeting someone’s eyes, you might be about to steal someone’s wallet — like gorillas smiling to bare their teeth. This puts people in a bind, as they become disconcerted around me and want to leap to open a door or see if I need help but they are prevented from speaking to me by the Rules of Not Saying Hello. It’s extremely amusing!

the pleasures of essex
So, back to the pleasures of Essex, which the saying of the name to anyone carries a load of irony and meaning which I don’t understand but which is equivalent of bemoaning the fact of having come from Modesto, or Nebraska, a flat boring place full of sameness, hay, and hicks. To my eyes it was perfectly new, picturesque, with tall grass or wheat in the fields, little fields charmingly separated by lines of trees or hedges rather than the very ugly barbed wire or chain link I would expect, roads that had character and curve from organic and long development rather than being laid out by a surveyor’s line in an “empty” land seized all at once, parceled out and fenced. The suburbanness I found oddly reassuring as after all I am mostly a suburban creature. So the malls and the equivalent of big-box stories and in fact the very boringness of things were all interesting especially as I considered the things alike in Z. and I and in how deeply he must have chafed at growing up there with his dreamy nervous energy and free roaming thoughts and desire for companionship, for social quickness of mind, and whatever else drives him or drove him then — as I did in the distant outskirts of Houston with its miles and miles of cowfields, metal-buildinged strip malls, and housing developments. (At least he had buses and trains! My god!) The narrow scope of the world and yet thick material comforts, mixed, bourgeois paradise, with definite allure.

Parsnips are the bomb
Immune to family weights and subtleties or nearly so (and securely knowing I could not possibly come off worse than particular others even if I was gauche and also, scandalously married; plus i hosted his family at my house; plus, they are just nice) I had a really lovely time, one of the best dinners ever with actual roast beef carved in slices along with at least 6 kinds of boiled vegetables (which seemed nearly unbearably exotically English like what people eat IN BOOKS) and including PARSNIPS which I don’t think I’ve ever seen and which I could not stop devouring – they were so delicate and faintly caramelized – better than yams and almost as good as plantains. AND apple crumble with … custard sauce? and TRIFLE. I tried to act casual but I know Z. knew how funny and exciting it was. Again, please imagine if you can possibly how strange this was. So aside from my marvelling at how stereotypes and things in books really are true, and my absolute & embarrassing uncontrollable greed for parsnips and custard (separately), one of the more pleasant things was how alike his family’s Sunday dinner was to my mom’s families’ sunday dinners (though we had our own Exotic Stereotype of incredibly great Italian food) at the leaf in the table, the lace tablecloth on top, and how the extended family would stay and play cards far into the night. (Though his did not, it had that feeling like they might have 30 years ago.) I missed his nephew (the MindWind Monkey) and worried over him in the hospital. His other (charming) nephew had a fine time with me and my amazing TWO COMPUTERS and my willingness to learn from him how to play Runescape at least long enough to get his other character online to pass some coveted black armor and a Staff of Air back and forth. (I killed some giant spiders and goblins.) I nearly fell asleep on the couch (and Z. fell asleep upstairs) which shows you how nice they all are (that no one really minded and that one feels comfy and at home enough to do so.) His mum gave us about 40 cadbury bars (I will grow out of this set of pants, dammit.) I liked his sisters especially the one I talked with more, and his teenage niece. Then we had a brief foray off to his dad’s house…

The life of the sunday dinner
Despite loving the visit I have to say that at my (finally true) nearing 40 and feeling like an actual grown-up, I have grown into a person who is relieved not to have a lot of burden of family no matter how nice. I felt no impulse to fulfill any role in their family really or to be specially dutiful (or in anyone’s) and felt satisfied we had not been lured into staying with family (and that I avoid staying with my own though I know that sounds a bit sad) I like to see them and to be friends with them but I really fiercely like to have my own life and complete independence of movement including not being pressured. I thought of course of Moomin and my own life and what my future might be like and how odd it would be for him to be grown, maybe seeing me once a year for a day or two, and I hope we will be closer than that. But, I do see the way people aren’t, and how many of my peers have parents who had such different expectations — they wanted the life with the Sunday Dinner, with extended family across generations getting together regularly, to cook and preside over the table benevolently — to shop and to help — to know the intimate concerns of their adult childrens’ lives. And, that has never been what I chose as an adult. The times I’ve tried it have been a strain. You know the feeling when you are just uncomfortable in your own skin – it is something like that. I feel for the frustrated dreams of the parents who saw themselves as beautiful and benevolent, generous and beloved patriarchs and matriarchs, but it doesn’t work out that way very often, maybe. As I mulled this over on the train on the way back I thought that my picture of myself as an older woman say 30 years from now does include (as I have remarked to my friend wild_irises) that I’d like to have cross generational friendships, to know and listen to people younger than me; and to be useful to them; I hope that will include my child and nephews and nieces and godchildren but it kind of doesn’t have to be them, or me for them, if that makes any sense. And also thinking of wild_irises’s way of having once a month sunday-at-home; very nice; I am not all that good at sustaining structured things; but I do host role-playing game groups which is incredibly nice, and, especially dear to me, having small swarms of kids have the free run of the house and yard (though again, it is also nice when they go…)

Where to be when older
I also continue to think that I will be happiest as I get older in cities, close to the center of things, public transport, good services, and (possibly most importantly) able to just see the daily life of many different people around me. I love to see people on the street, to look out the window and watch them going about their business. How stifling it is in the deep suburbs (not where I live now, but in Houston or Chelmsford’s semi-rural edges), with tiny glimpses of a neighbor perhaps once a week but no real bustle, no feeling part of a mysterious hive of life and purpose.

Rich neighborhoods can suck
Back in London, we switched sadly from A. and C.’s marvellous cosy be-Washleted rooftop-garden flat in Hoxton to the sterile absurd confines of the conference hotel, a scungy Holiday Inn in South Kensington which appeared to me as a hell of tourist-fouled bland international-mall-block overpriced theater-going pretentiousness. (Admittedly the Nathan Barley (or earlier incarnation, Cunt) population of Hoxton was high but still, it was nice and it felt *normal and human* like actual people actually live there.) Anyway, South Kensington. I’m sure I would like going to all the museums but, stay away from the embarrassing awful hotels. How nasty the Holiday Inn was, a little bit of importation of the worst of “America” with its ugly veneers and shoddy conveniences that utterly weren’t.

The conference itself fascinated me and I took extensive notes. (Z. wrote it up for the Ir1sh T1mes so you may go read his summary if you like. He was up all night in a fervor and is asleep on my shoulder in the plane; I had coffee and can’t sleep on planes anyway; thus this blog post.) I went to a half day each day and worked the rest of the time. I have massive notes from conference. Not written up yet. Notable was the home office guy, and the BP1 somewhat shark-like dude and his flunky who quizzed me on whether I download music illegally.

Monday night we went to dinner with S. who was nice, funny, and a bit pleasantly sleazy (like I can talk – I am notorious – and had a hard time not escalating to out do his stories – but could easily, without breaking a sweat). We talked about Internetty things, speculating, analyzing, predicting, trying to be wild-eyed but not quite hyped up or comfortable enough to get to that golden land of prophecy & inspiration. (Dinner was fantastic; can’t believe we lived a few blocks from Cay Tre all week and didn’t know to go there! Will amend C and A.’s house-sitting FAQ! Catfish in a clay pot, slightly caramelized, perfectly cooked with spicey sauce, and the (tender to die for) beef fried at table in rice wrappers. OMG.)

Squirrel with a hoard of small memories
Ultimate pleasure also at Z’s reading aloud of the Fish chapter of my Sumerian book, how happy it makes me to think of it, how absurd, but who else would share my pleasure at it (maybe Minnie) but, no one else could read it so well aloud with such understanding of the particular enjoyment.

You know particular moments stick with you and you know while they are happening that they will and that you are at a pinnacle of happiness? I have so many moments with Rook that are like that, sometimes very little things like watching the coyote pounce on a mouse at Fermilab from the roadside and feeling wordless about it, or when we watch Moomin and just about die of happiness, or watching him do his tap dance as King Herod in the musical. Anyway it is a little silly to say so on my blog since it is a private and unexplainable moment but that is also how I feel about the Sumerian fish.

Pubs and liminial spaces and the nature of time
Tuesday night (after particularly exhausting work, and then more conference where I paid close attention and became more burned out than i thought possible) we went out with S. again and more of Z’s friends and conspirators. I liked seeing him happy amidst his old friends (and as at the Opent. conference his friends’ pleasure in seeing him Cured As If By Miracle Back From Insanity or Nervous Breakdown or Misery or Whatever) Though I was too exhausted again to really be social and connected I had several drinks and talked with L. and S. a bit, but mostly listened to other people. (And I know that one is not Magically Cured from life, middle age, or particular traumas and does not return to an Old Self (as people kept saying “he’s BACK” which is both true and not) but people have continuity of identity throughout whatever scars they have. It is maybe more, ah, you have connected visibly with that old self we knew and that you were and that we thought you were or wanted you to be — when as we get older (speaking again from my getting to be middle aged with my bitter yet spoiled generation’s astonishment that that can HAPPEN) and watch people we know change beyond recognition, go down paths we never thought possible, cut off and disown or forget their former selves we used to love, or simply die. So I enjoyed their pleasure in the moment but found it a little bit sad and ephemeral. (Is it very American of me to be so earnest and analytical rather than sum things up with a little ironic remark – if so then pretend we are in the pub past closing time in the liminal space of drunkenness where such thoughts are permitted.)

Additional thoughts to my post on Cities, suburbs, middle and old age on the other computer when the battery on the first one ran out

At Z’s dad’s house I noticed his frailty and old age and his air of real philosophical detachment which I have noticed in my own father (who is much younger in mind and body, but perhaps on the same path) and wondered at the life path that would take him to this place when nearby was the little bustle of the Sunday dinner which perhaps he might have come to. And that is clearly not part of the way he lives and I think we’ve all seen men who go that path and yet stay in a family, lurking in workshops or basements while the life of the kitchen and its gossip goes on around them. I wonder at it. I have definitely had my moments of desire (and fulfilment) of that matronly vision of the table of lovely food and everyone gathered round (and will have many more such moments) but there is a strand in me that leans another way (or that sees how I could become very different and yet be happy in it though I would not be happy in it now.) I also see another strand in future ways of living, of public involvement or public works or civic works, service rather than of private cultivation of my own garden.

Back to the moments in the monastic living room of Z.’s dad. I got to see Z. become younger suddenly in an indefinable invisible way. (And it was the house where he grew up, which I didn’t realize till later.) Other than looking at a few photos on the wall there was no reminiscing or dwelling on that aspect of the past. His dad had a million mannerisms I recognized as Z’s or really it is opposite and some of them also in other people though in fledgling form. Also, their hands are the same, so it was odd to see basically Z’s future hands and to imagine him old (while right then seeing him as much younger than he is now because of the indefinable slightly melancholy younger-infusion effect of being around one’s parent.) His dad interacted with us by firing a gentle barrage of diffident questions mostly at Z (a relief that there were not many questions for me!) but I felt a little melancholy myself wondering about the relationship. I thought of the time that we were soldering our LED kits together and both feeling a weird bond and memory of bonding with our dads — as if our dads would be pleased with us and pleased at having transmitted something to us that they had liked (even if they don’t like it or do it now.) Or would be proud of us in a minor quiet way. My own dad seems to have forgotten the pleasures of doing things like that (soldering and little projects) and does not really get it that it was important to me or the scale of that importance in a kid’s life (and the life of the future person – as we age and return to earlier memories; he is probably lost in his own bonding moments with his dad when he was young, over baseball; thus, disconnect as our significant memories that formed us are of different times.)

I thought of a blog entry I read recently from someone in the blogher network of being in the snow with her dad and how grateful that she was that he insisted she wake up and ski with him even though she hated it. It was not about the activity really but about giving her some way to remember him and herself, so that now whenever she skis or goes in the snow or whatever they were doing, she thinks of that time and of him. (He is not dead. But he’s different, and it’s harder for them to be close.) Her post was about her consideration of what she is giving to her children.

I think of both Rook and Zond-7 and what they give to their kids as fathers. They are both so good at it, I suspect light-years better than their own fathers were. I wonder if because my own dad was so nice and so good at it, I like them for some of those same qualities. For myself, I have an ideal of being a parent that I don’t at all live up to and never quite have even at my best moments. I am so sporadic in my abilities to do it at all. I’m not running myself down here – it is true – and not an awful thing – just how it is.

Partly this is because my particular skills – that I thought would be so useful in parenting – are not in my case becasue they are not what Moomin responds to and maybe I have not known how to learn and shift fast enough. Partly I might just suck wih little kids (beyond an ability to entertain and bond with any little kid for about an hour) and will come into my own & into usefulness when he is in middle and high school. But so farmy main strengths or things he will remember fondly might be much like my memories of my grandma Hemulen and the absent-minded way she would put hot dogs into the toaster oven for me and my uncle Redolb with a beautiful absence of fuss and we would run around doign whatever we liked, watching junky tv shows, playing with legos or making elaborate stuffed animal battles without interference.

While I do have a very solid comforting motherly reality-bending home-making ability I also think it is a bit unstable and (especially in the last year with health problems) I have pulled back from it. I like that quality in myself and value it and see how other people like it in me, but it’s like it breaks down daily – this might be part of my own damage or frailty that I don’t have clear grasp of yet – the damage that being in fairly high levels of physical pain has done – and the effect of my own fears.

Related posts