Mostly Moved

I am always surprised when I log in and discover it has been two weeks since I’ve posted.  I know I’ve been thinking about it, but life has really intruded.  I guess that’s what reality TV is all about: capture people as they move through their activities because they won’t have time to write about it during and after the fact they will do all sorts of interpretations.  Did I just provide justification for the Kardashians??  Cinema verite for the 21st century.

It is a divine late evening at the farm.  I tore myself away from unpacking…it seems like there are a million little things I could do to make things better and more livable.  The dining room is filled with boxes from out last few trips, but  I made a huge dent by getting all the Christmas stuff into a closet upstairs.  Where did I get all this stuff?  I barely decorated last year because I figured we were moving somewhere in 2011 and didn’t want to unpack.  I had also, over the past few years, been taking advantage of post-holiday container sales to buy big plastic tubs so at the least it was easy to transport the decorations. But what could possibly be in the six or seven tubs in the closet? I guess I’m glad I have a seeming excess since it is going to be a hoot to decorate this house with its 7 mantels, huge ceilings (can’t WAIT to put the tree in the library and hang all the nature and bird ornaments that I’ve collected, many treasured gifts, over the years), and front porch.  I’m guessing that wreaths at the windows are obligatory.

I’m sitting on the front porch right now.  I finally got around to filling the baskets I bought at Big Lots last week.  I bought an already cultivated “basket” mix from my local greenhouse, actually I bought four. Two for each of two baskets. They are basically plugs with three different flowers that will spread over the course of the summer.   Another basket that hangs in a pretty shady spot is sports a fuschia.  The fourth basket has a lovely foamy lavender flower, some thyme and some mint.

They replaced some very scraggly Boston Ferns that should really have been declared DOA when they came out of the green house this Spring, but we just can’t seem to kill things outright if they show any signs of life.  To the end, I filled two pots with a few tomatillos and basil plants that were languishing in pots.  My husband believes that if you get 50 seeds in a packet, you are expecting to get 50 plants.  And, he usually does, which means we have plenty of extra plants.  We put a long row of tomatoes along the front of the property for the neighbors to share.  I have a salsa pot (tomato, pepper, onions, basil, and parsley) that I planted some time ago.  The tomato is gorgeous but wasn’t meant for a pot and is shading out everything else.

The good news is that we have renters for the house who want to move in on July 1.  Husband and nephew have been painting feverishly and there is the ceiling in the bathroom to fix.  But with the exception of a few pieces of furniture including the piano, we are mostly out.  The attic and garage are even mostly empty.  A few more car/truck loads and we will be here.

I AM here.  I work on unpacking around my other work so we have both empty boxes, which we really don’t need since stuff in the attic and garage were mostly packed.  We found a couple surprising boxes of books in the garage: mostly first editions.  I also found my old book spinner from my middle school classroom.  It sits quite nicely on a round table, and I may add some of the firsts to it, but I am also realizing I am going to have to put books in other rooms of the house.  The handyman books that my husband inherited from someone went on the pantry bookshelf, and I will have a nice selection in the guest room and my room.

I find myself defining pieces of furniture I need.  In the library, I need a book display rack for some of my bigger volumes; my Audobon is open to orchard orioles, of which we have several pairs around the farm, but I may flip to bobwhite since I listened to one call at dusk as I trudged up and down the steps with boxes.  I also need a cabinet for sheet music and musical instruments as well as a way to display some of them.  I have a beautiful dulcimer with hummingbird cutouts that I bought from the maker in eastern Kentucky when I went on a work week there more than 20 years ago.  I know how to play a bit.

But that is all in the future.  Right now, it is about getting furniture into rooms and putting things away.  We are blessed with closets in most rooms and an amazing built in china cabinet in the den.  We are also using the milking parlor for more long term storage.  Suddenly, we have space!

I have been trying to outwit nature a bit.  We have a honey bee hive in the front part of the house where the decorative wood has broken away from the house.  They discovered my hummingbird feeders and quickly became a nuisance.  I got stung trying to refill a feeder and they were chasing away the hummers as they piled around the openings of the small hanging feeders.  We played around with some bee guard designs but none of them worked.  I did a little research and decided the best course was compromise.  I moved the feeders they liked off the porch and nearer the hive.  I put the two feeders they didn’t use on or near the porch.  I have seen a hummer at one of them and the bees seemed to have moved on so perhaps I have succeeded.  We would very much like to figure out how to relocate the hive to the hives we have but they still need work and we just haven’t had time to pursue it.  They need painted and we need to get the beeswax foundation in place.  Then, it’s a matter of somehow capturing the hive and the queen.  So, maybe it isn’t a priority.  They aren’t a problem in the house and I like thinking that somewhere under the floor boards upstairs there is honey.  We should have sweet dreams 😉

I have been reading.  I finally settled on an odd choice: Norman Mailer’s story of Lee Harvey Oswald called Oswald’s Tale.  It is this odd third person/first person, narrator/primary source narrative interwoven with statements from the Warren Commission, interview transcripts, KGB and CIA reports, and Oswald’s diary.

NB: I lost my network connection when the battery died on the wireless device.  I took a break and managed to unpack another box or two, discovering my collection of old fashioned table cloths in one of the tubs.  For now, linens go on the shelves between the den and the dining room so that box was easy to unpack. There is a wide passageway created by the chimney that services the fireplace in both rooms and it is great storage.  For now it is a staging ground, first for the candles which are now back in their cupboard, now for linens that I think will end up in the marble top. I also found the doorway curtains I made for our old house. They could be used to cover the doors and keep the air conditioning in the living room.  One panel will make a nice curtain to cover the open shelving in the passageway.  And so it goes…I could walk a few more things upstairs before heading to bed.  Every thing that moves gets me one step closer to being done or at least as far along as I can get as I wait for the rest of the furniture to get moved upstairs. And walking up the stairs is good exercise.

If you have read this far, congratulations…you are up to date on the world of the farm!  The weather has cooled off so we can keep the windows open to catch the breezes and the cool night air.  A train is going past, its whistle warning of its approach, and I feel at home.

Happy Earth Day!

It is a beautiful day here in the ‘burg! The early morning rain cleared off and now it is sunny and warm. I saw my first hummingbird, huddling cold and wet on the feeder outside the front window. I worked all morning putting together slides for a presentation next week but then had to go outside. There should be some perks to working from home, right? I took some pictures to commemorate the holiday and then walked down the winery road with Tina Turner, my beagle, not the singer. Perfect!

I’ve got an hour before the webinar and am planning to head back outside with holiday-appropriate reading: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I’m supposed to have it done by book group on Sunday…we all picked different books this month. I’m enjoying it: thick prose and sometimes disturbing images of nature that jar a bit but seem authentic. I’m not sure I always completely understand her philosophical points but she captures the moment better than anyone I know. Her concerns about missing spring really spoke to me:

So, I have been thinking about the change of seasons. I don’t want to miss spring this year. I want to distinguish the last winter frost from the out-of-season one, the frost of spring. I want to be there on the spot the moment the grass turns green. I always miss this radical revolution: I see it the next day from a window, the yard so suddenly green and lush I could envy Nebuchadnezzar down on all fours eating grass. This year I want to stick a net into time and say ‘now,’ as men plant flags on the ice and snow and say, ‘here.’ But it occurred to me that I could no more catch spring by the tip of the tail than I could untie the apparent knot in the snakeskin; there are no edges to grasp. Both are continuous loops.

That desire to capture spring is one of the reasons I’m taking so many pictures this year. Well, that and the new phone!

I’m going to take some other ecology related book with me on Sunday in hopes of convincing them to read one or two: maybe Wallace Berry and Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve still got to finish Bound for Glory and the Civil War essays.

Wednesday Morning

The dogs let me sleep until almost 7:30! We walked, ate, let the chickens out…all the morning chores. Now, I’m at my desk and I rearranged the monitor so I can see the whole backyard. The hummingbirds returned the minute I put up the feeders on Saturday. Better stock up on sugar! I’m also keeping an eye out for chickens. They figured out how to get over the fence somehow and have been whacking away at my herb garden. One parsley plant was completely obliterated–just a hole where it used to be. They also tore up the two dill plants my husband gave me. I think he’s got more back in the green house.

My lunch date canceled for today so that makes these morning hours less crucial for work. I did two hours of research work yesterday first thing. Now, I have three memos to write, another interview to transcribe and then an interview this afternoon as well. Been fooling around with recording phone calls and ended up buying a speaker phone. The iPod picks it up ok plus with a phone interview, I can type while we talk. I also bought a little $8 suction cup from Radio Shack that sticks on the receiver and then feeds into the analog recorder. I’ll put that on the phone as well. You really can’t be too careful.

I rewarded myself for all the research work by playing some more with Flash. It is coming back to me and I’ve got one module for a “what food when” game to learn about Jewish holidays. I’m going to start a new one about holidays that include lights. These are samples for a client. No huge bells and whistles but some animation and music.

It’s been nice to be home the last few days. I can putter and get things done on my own time. I’ve got a running “to do” list and managed to check a few things off of it. Put in a big Amnesty International order for my nephew’s birthday and may make a few CDs from vinyl for him, too. I’m hoping to be off doing research next week so am making the most of being at home.

I was going to make chicken salad for lunch. I think I’ll turn those chicken breasts into tortilla soup instead. And I’ve got turkey and potato rolls for turkey burgers. I’ll do those tonight and then make the soup in the crock pot tomorrow. We have folks coming for wine and snacks and I think I’m going to try home backed tortilla chips again. I have a big stack of tortillas to work with. Mostly I’m trying to work with what I’ve got so I can avoid leaving the house until Friday morning when I head to a workshop.

I’ve been feeling pretty lousy the last two or three days so gave myself off from WW. I need to get back on the plan, though. Mostly I’ve eaten cheese: I really miss it! Big chunks dipped in mustard and eaten with crackers. Yum! I haven’t written anything down for at least two days and I’m aware of how the act of recording does keep me from overeating. So, today I’m shooting for a 26 point day. So far, I’ve only had coffee so I’m on track.

Blessings to all!

A Glorious Day

I spent three nights in a hotel room this week. I slept better than I usually do and got a lot of work done, but I was ready for a day off today. After a bit of work this morning (mostly chatting with two colleagues), I headed outside and started transplanting perennials. I moved some phlox from a spot that has gotten shady over the years. But I also just relocated some plants and even worked on the herb garden, which had been worked over by the chickens before we fenced them out. I earned somewhere between 12 and 16 exercise points for WW so I am having two glasses of wine. And, dinner will be pretty healthy: skinless chicken breasts in Trader Joe’s curry sauce and rice and a salad.

My husband is the real gardener is the family and is considering signing up for the master gardener program in our town. But I like digging in the dirt, too, and am generally in charge of the flower beds, of which we have 4 major areas. I’ve been working on them slowly over the past several years, moving things, dividing things, and I think this will be the best year ever. I’m going to buy a few herbs tomorrow: basil and basil seeds, thyme, and a pineapple sage. I’ll get just a few annuals for the barrels in the front.

The only thing I haven’t accounted for is zinnias. I used to do them in the garden beside the front path but I’ve made that almost completely perennials and is a more “controlled” atmosphere. Maybe I can get my husband to dig up a plot in the front yard, where we are trying to reduce the amount of grass. I could just sow a swatch of them. I’ve got a big bag of seeds from last year and may get a few more tomorrow.

Aah…my window is open and I’m looking out on the back yard as usual. There are still chores to be done. The birds need fed after four days, and I should make hummingbird food and put those feeders out. But I think that shall be tomorrow’s job. A very small chickadee just stopped at the feeder for a sunflower seed then headed off to eat it. Simple but elegant and always exciting to have birds just a foot or so away.

I drank my first glass of wine sitting in the backyard reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Falls the Shadow, the second in a series of books about the relationship of England and Wales.  I’m going to both those places in October and have a pile to read, including The Other Boleyn Girl on my Kindle.

I’m on my second glass of wine. I can hear a dove cooing in the woods. There’s that chickadee again and then the flutter of his wings as he heads off with his seed. I know I’ll have to work tomorrow, mostly on research stuff, but today was indeed a glorious day!

A Most Lovely Weekend

I read (The Living by Annie Dillard), crocheted, played on my computer, and even managed to get outside.  We spent a few hours at our property morris creekyesterday.  The view isn’t quite as green as the one in this post; it is still pretty barren, but signs of spring are everywhere.  The daffodils are doing great; we planted clumps of them along the driveway and they are naturalizing nicely.  I did a water test.  I’ve been testing for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for ten years now.  Then, we just sat and watched the world: saw at least one eagle and one osprey.  We watched a cormorant circle his way down to the creek.  He landed and immediately started fishing so we rarely saw him again.

I was up early today.  It’s getting lighter earlier and the dogs wake up and start making dog noises around 6:30 or so.  Just caught sight of a big V of geese flying overhead.  I guess there are still some Canada Geese that actually migrate.  So, spring is here.

Now, I’m getting caught up on podcasts.  According to Garrison Keillor at The Writer’s Almanac, it’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s birthday.  I went to visit City Lights Bookstore when I was in San Francisco and bought a copy of Maxim Gorky’s great revolutionary novel, Mother.  It just seemed appropriate.  I love starting the day with poetry.

Now, I’m listening to Harry Shearer’s LeShow from KCRW, one of my favorite public broadcasting stations.  Thank goodness for the web so I can access the station.

My live frog for today is listening to some mp3 files so I may have to cut Harry short and get started.  I’m teaching today, too, and then meeting with my advisor to figure out the logistics of doing my research.  There may be grocery shopping as well.

After eating pretty well for several days in a row, I went a little crazy yesterday.  Although there isn’t much bad food in the house so crazy is relative.  I did have more than one serving of wine 😉  But I’m back on the WW wagon today.  I did get a nice walk at the property yesterday as my husband drops us at the beginning of the road into the neighborhood and we walk in.  Just about a mile.

Wildlife siting: there are two flickers sitting in the oak tree.  One looks like a fledgling with fluffy feathers.  It’s sort of amazing that I get anything done.  I also noticed that all the birdies need fed.  They particularly like the peanut butter suet we’ve been making.  That feeder is completely cleaned out!  I have a little left in the fridge and then need ingredients to make more, mostly peanut butter.

Blessing to all!

Tuesday Morning Blues

My office window is open and I’m watching the birds. So far, I’ve seen the yellow-rumped warbler, the pine warbler, the red-bellied woodpecker, and a brown thrasher.  It just feels like spring out there. As I walked the dog, a wren sat at the top of the oak tree, just singing his heart out.

So, why does my title refer to the blues?  Partially because after two months free of hot flashes, I’ve woken up the past two nights feeling hot and uncomfortable.  Nowhere near as bad as they were in the fall, but I was hoping they were over.  I did fall asleep last night, but I’m just a little depressed this morning.  I tried scrambling up on the weight watchers wagon yesterday but fell off pretty quickly and was crushed under the wheels, my mouth stuffed with cheese and chocolate.  Now, I’m wearing my sister’s cast off denim capris because they are baggy and comfortable.

But, there is good news.  My dissertation proposal took about three hours and is essentially done.  I’m going to give it another read through tomorrow before sending it to my advisor. And, my school district is working on getting volunteers.  I also got most of the data entered for taxes.  All that, and we spent a couple hours at our property in Charles City and I spent two hours playing recorders with two friends.   Finally, I took a long walk with the dogs.  So, it was a productive day.

Today is all about digital storytelling.  I want to do a short introduction and then play with the software and my flip camera.  Just putter a bit since the workshop isn’t until next week.  I should also write the VITALNews, which takes about three hours.  Actually, maybe I’ll wait until tonight while I’m watching election returns.

I just feel tired despite sleeping pretty well.  I’m still limping a bit from my back injury in February.  Lately, I have just felt old.  And, I’m depressed because I know what the answer is: exercise and eat right.  My blood pressure would go down, I would lose a little weight, and so on.  So, why is it so hard?  Fruits, vegetables, some whole grains and dairy, and a little protein:  I’m picturing what’s in my kitchen: carrots, V-8, high fiber bread, apples, bananas, yogurt, milk, a London Broil for dinner.  All of that is completely legitimate and would be considered good food.  Oh…add apple sauce to the list.  I like all those things, they are generally easy to eat, so why when I get to the kitchen do I find myself reaching for the cheese or the chocolate?  Even while part of my brain is screeching, “NO!”  Maybe this isn’t about willpower.  Maybe it’s about listening to the screeching voice, understanding that the panic comes from the sneaking suspicion that I will never figure this out.  I just don’t want to be thinking about this for the rest of my life.  Just one day. You can do it.  Blessings.