Thursday, January 31, 2008

On substance use

I just got back from a fab dinner with Michele at a newish Cuban restaurant in that one town where everything looks the same.

I'm a bit hopped up, as I just finished two, count them TWO Diet Matervas. Michele didn't like hers. Neither of us knew what to expect, but I'm a fan of Yerba Mate. The soda tastes remarkably the same as a diet Red Bull. Whoa. But apparently it has health benefits like improving my immune system and sexual health, according to, my go-to website for health information.

Today's my grandma's 89th birthday, and she was cuter even than she normally is when I called her tonight after work. She talked about the fantastic food my mom had made her, at length. We discussed how she never used to like lamb when she lived in Chicago, which just goes to show you that that you have to keep trying things, and my goodness I've had a lot of wine, and Freddie called me today, and Sissy sang Happy Birthday over the phone to me, and we had the best potatoes, they're little and long and skinny, fingers? Fingerlings. Yes. Oh, and Anne Churchill came to visit you know her, don't you Stew? I didn't think you'd remember your grandma's birthday, Stewie! Oh and Linda was in on Sunday and she's probably coming by tomorrow, too, and oh, I don't remember what else. I've had so much wine I can't remember anything!

I'm guessing she had one glass. Grandma is the bestest. I heart her.

Dad seems to be doing well. He's still in the hospital, but had some visitors today. My sister brought him flowers from "us" and let him know that I didn't know about them. Aw! They're always picking up my slack. I am such a slacker.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tawk Amongst Yourselves

The perfect banana for eating straight:

Me? All yellow, no green, no brown spots at all. It's the perfect combination of sweet and slimy and not yet mushy.

Approximate window of opportunity: 3 hours.

I have 2.2 left to consume. Now.



At this moment, my father is about 40 minutes into a bariatric surgery. He's worried, naturally, and so am I. It's a major surgery, which has its risks, but perhaps the bigger concern is how to cope afterwards.

He's opted for this surgery after a long adulthood of being overweight, nay, obese, which has led to no end of physical health problems. Type II diabetes, high blood pressure--the works. There will be a lot of tough lifestyle changes that HAVE to happen post surgery, and I worry about the aftermath. As does he, and rightfully so. There will be both physical and psychological changes, and I hope he hangs tough emotionally. He and my stepmother's social life revolves a lot around having dinner with friends (doesn't everyone's?), so that will be a particular stress.

A really scary part about this morning is that going in, they weren't sure just what kind of surgery they were going to do. Dad has a lot of scar tissue in his abdomen. He had his gallbladder out back when they slit your tummy a foot across rather than pluck it out through the belly button using a laparoscope and three small incisions like they did with me. He's also had one (or maybe multiple?) hernia repair in the navel region. So they're not sure they can do the typical gastric bypass. I'm not entirely sure what the second option is, but from what he explained about it, I'm thinking it's a sleeve gastrectomy.

At any rate, help me think good thoughts for him.

Update: He's having the sleeve gastrectomy, which actually worries me a little more than the regular gastric bypass does. I guess it's because it's a newer surgery. They had a bad storm last night, so things actually didn't begin until about an hour ago (it's 12:15 currently) rather than at 8 as expected. Stepmom is keeping me in the loop.

Update #2: He's out of surgery, will be in the hospital for a couple of days and seems to be doing fine. Whew.


Out of respect for my Dad's surgery I'll leave aside the entry about the restaurant I went to last night for another time. Suffice to say it was really good, and I used to be somewhat of a regular when it first opened. The owner (who's hot) sent out an appetizer for us, so glad was he to see us back. "Stew! Where have you been?" Ok, maybe I'm not so respectful, because that's basically the whole story. But my lord is he hot. And the Osh is fantastic. They need beer on tap, though, and it's a little cold in there. Let me make myself feel a bit better by mentioning that the food there is really, really healthy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Still planning...

The NC Cooperative Extension is a fabulous resource for help with gardening. They have publications related to vegetable gardening, composting/recycling, and a bunch of other neato things. They even have a free master beekeeper program. The Master Gardener program, though it must be beneficial to SOMEONE, seems a little creepy and certainly unprofessional. My evidence? Why, first, they publish an inane "You know you're a Master Gardener when..." webpage. Secondly, they also make fun of people's questions. Often they're making fun of someone's mispronunciation, which is ironic, given their inability to use the past tense in the title of their rant.

Overall, though, it's a good service. Check this out: it's a graph of a garden that in theory provides enough veg for a family of two for a year, provided you're also canning and freezing. The way it's going to be good for me is that it gives me an idea of when to plant things. Obviously my garden isn't 25'x42', so I'll need to scale this down. But how cool that they've given home veg gardeners an actual example garden layout??

From here. NB: this is for the lower Piedmont and Upper Coastal Plain areas of NC.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Real quick

Marc has moved back to the USA, so he can comment now. I'm heading out to the Piedmont to meet him for dinner with another of his friends in just a bit now.

I plan to have:
smoked mackerel with hard boiled eggs, capers, shallots & créme fraîche
farmer’s lettuce salad with picked herbs & roasted shallott vinaigrette
pommes frîtes with aïoli

I've never eaten there before, so we'll see how it is!

A big bonus: they didn't have the menu on the blog when I was looking at it, so I emailed them. They emailed me back when it was posted and apologized for it being late.

Update: the results.
I'm very, very full. I ended up switching out the salad with a cheese plate:
mountaineer with pistachios, raw cow’s milk, va
carolina moon with honeycomb, cow’s milk, nc

The carolina moon was the best part of the dinner. Honeycomb made it more fabulous than normal.

OK I have to fall asleep now. G'nite.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I started to try to come up with a garden plan for this year using a powerpoint slide and inserting some tables that could break my beds down into one foot square modules. Not perfect, but would work for a rough sketch by season.

Then I looked at my seeds. What a mess!

So I spent a little time organizing. Now they fit into a shoebox and I know what I have. And I know what I need to get!

The season is creeping up way sooner than I realized. It's almost time to start planting the hardiest of the spring crops, and I really need to know what I'm going to put in and when. When you're trying to use the smallest of areas to get both a large variety of plants as well as ideal yield, you need to have things planned down to the week, practically!! That includes not just planting, but starting seedlings, too.

For the record, this is what I'm lacking: swiss chard, sweet peppers, zucchini/summer squash.

For seedlings, I'm considering outfitting a section of my bedroom (southern exposure) with the stainless steel shelving that's out in the shed. If I get a grow light for myself (For my birthday. Hmmm! Great idea!), I can hang it up along the shelving and have a decent place for starting plants out. Last year I tried to use the extra bedroom and no grow light, and well, that didn't work so well.

Of course the shelving and a grow light will only add to the chaos that is my bedroom, but maybe I can use the bottom shelf for laundry, and get it off the floor.

That's a lot to dream about, though. We'll see. I'll measure the space in the bedroom and see if the shelving will fit. If it does, I'll get New Roommate to help me set up the shelves. It's a two person job.


I've been a bad worm mommy. I keep my vermiculture setup in the outbuilding in the backyard, along with the lawnmower, a broken-down (in the not-put-together sense) stainless wire shelving unit, shovels, rakes, garden accessories and a few more storage items.

I hadn't actually gone out there since about mid-December. And it's been COLD. I've been worrying the last week or so, but unwilling to brave the crazy freezing weather we've been having of late to go check on them.

Today it's warm and sunny, so I trudged out in my slippers to see what the damage had been. The idea of sorting through dead worms and any living ones made my heart beat a little faster than normal. When I unlocked the shed, I felt a very cold and ominous draft come out. I hauled out the bin, grabbed a stick, and took the lid off.

First I lifted the one nested bin out to look in the bottom one, where the worms sometimes fall. There were only a couple down there, which is normal. But. They. Weren't. Moving.

Oh, wait, yes they are. Nice.

Then I used the stick to move aside the shredded paper and see all the little wormy corpses that I'd have to pick out. Ew.

Heh. They're all alive! And they still have food! Poor sweet things. I wonder if they froze solid and then thawed and then lived even through that?

Hardy little mo-fos. Good thing there's not a CPS or Animal Control for red worms.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Jamie and I had some conversations about knitting versus crocheting when I visited her last weekend. I crochet; she knits.

Crocheting gets a REALLY bad rap. Most people think it's all granny squares, but I've never made one. I hate them. Truth be told, I've only ever made scarves. Wait. Once I crocheted a "scrubby" with my grandma, made of strips of tulle. It kind of resembled this, but it was double thick.

I think I wooed Jamie a little bit with that scarf I made her. She wooed me with the knitting she taught me. I've always been a bit intimidated by knitting, to tell the truth. But it worked just so very well when I was there, that I decided this week to get my knit on. I stopped by my local "good" yarn store and picked up a few skeins of wool and some bamboo knitting needles (one set of straight and one in the round).

What a pain in the ass this has been so far. First, I had to wind all the damn yarn from the skein into a ball. It took an hour, and I spent most of that time detangling. That's just wrong. Then, when I tried to knit, I just couldn't do it. I mean, I knew WHAT to do, but I couldn't make it happen. The straight bamboo needles were too rough. The bamboo round ones were just weird (that's way too complex for me, I fear) and sticky. I went to my fabric cupboard and pulled out some aluminum needles I had, to see if that made a difference. Nope.

By now I've "knit" and unraveled again about four times. The wool is fuzzy and splitty. Very very splitty. Damn it.

I've given up knitting for the moment. But I want to do something other than just crochet scarves, you know??

So I went on the search for free patterns. Wow. Now I really, really get the stigma attached to crochet. Check these out.

Lacy Crochet Basket
Ornament Jacket
Masquerade Mask
Crocheted Hoop Earrings
Flamingo in Filet (By the way? What the FUCK is a "Star Wars" birthday? 77?)
Crocheted Turkey Ornament
Ferret Hammock
Lacy Candle Cozy
"Apache Tears" afghan
Barbie "Red, Hot and Blue 4th of July Dress"

And not least: Doo Rag.

Dude. This is what gives crochet a bad name. Seriously. Woo.

Here are some things I might actually make:

Toe-up socks
Plastic bag tote

And this is really cute
, but I'm not interested.

Friday, January 25, 2008


The last few years I've thrown my own birthday parties. I decided to do that when I realized that, unlike many other people, I really dig having a big celebration and people to surround me and make a (minor) fuss. I don't get that very often, so it feels really good.

I'd spent the prior few birthdays before very down, and even alone. So I changed that. It was a little weird and self-centered feeling (that, and people don't seem to understand what "no presents" means, creating both guilt and glee), but I got over that.

The next b-day is coming up, and this time I just don't have it in me to throw a party. I don't want to clean the house before and after. That, and it's on a Monday. Blech.

I see I'm not the only one with the Birthday Quandary.

(This is not a "throw me a party!" post. Nonetheless, if you have any ideas of alternate ways I can celebrate, please let me know.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Frustration of the day

It's really annoying that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association puts out fact sheets about Adolescent Vegetarianism (PDF).

There's very little free nutrition education materials out there that aren't sponsored by biased sources.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seeds Seeds Seeds Seeds!

Recent visits with both Laurie and Jamie have left me with seeds GALORE. I won't list them all, but suffice to say, I'm pretty boggled by what to try this spring and summer and what to put where.

And since Jamie's SO gave me a bottle gourd (which I've already fashioned into a purple martin house) filled with THOSE seeds, I'm seriously at a loss.

I think I need to write down a planting plan, as well as figuring out the optimal placement for each vegetable. My goal is maximum bed use, which will need to factor in growing seasons, available light, and probably 20 other things I can't imagine.

Anyone know of a free, Mac-friendly, easy drawing software? I want to sketch out a plan. Oof this is a boring post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Safe, legal and rare.

Just short of two years before after I was born*, the supreme court decision of Roe v. Wade made abortion legal throughout the US.

Let's mark the 35th anniversary of that by acknowledging the lives saved by that court, who determined that abortion is a fundamental right under the US constitution.

And please, do everything you can to protect that.

*Wishful thinking??

As per usual

My time at Jamie's is more than fantastic. It's such a warm, loving place, their farm, and I can't help but think I'd love to live here with her forever. I'm sure she'd get extremely sick of me after about two weeks. But still.

To show my appreciation (and as some kind of challenge to myself), I crocheted her a scarf in 1.5 hours. All at once. The time flew by. I decided it was an early, early birthday present. It actually turned out quite well. Maybe if I get into it some more I can learn how to read patterns and actually make projects other than scarves.

Actually, this scarf is patterned. It's very lace-esque, like a loose string market bag. Which I think will be my next project. Basically you start with a long chain stitch, as is typical. Then you anchor back a few stitches with a single crochet, chain a bunch more (4 in this case), anchor again, etc. Then for the next row you make a turn stitch, chain four and anchor through the whole loop you've made. Maybe I'll post a picture. Ok, I just did.

And dude. Dinner. Oh My God. Roast leg of lamb with pan-browned potatoes, homemade pita and tzatziki, a carrot/parsnip mash and then broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce. Veg provided by a guest named Holly Golightly. Crabapple pie for dessert. And breakfast.

I don't want to go hoooooooome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


"Hey, do you remember my Laura Palmer halloween costume? The one where I put on a flesh toned bodysuit, made my hair all big, made my face an ashy gray and wrapped myself in a clear plastic tarp?"
"YES! That was the best costume ever. And Joel came as what's his name...Kyle MacLachlan...Agent Cooper! But all he did was slick his hair back, because he already wore a barn jacket. Such a cop out, and he thought it was so great."

At this moment I am entirely content. I'm at Nemoid's, and I just got back from brunch and a long catch-up session.

I'm rarely at a loss for words, but as I try to figure this out right now, I can't explain the depth of how this encounter has affected me today--all positive.

It's been fabulous to see Crush again, and I am just extremely happy and at ease. He lived part of my life with me that I'd not revisited since it happened, and the feeling of shared history is one that I'm beginning to value more and more.

"And what about that time we sat outside my dorm and we just kept talking until the sun came up?"
"I don't remember that, specifically, but I do remember one time when you had a big linguistics project and we were both in the Tunnel until all hours while you transcribed."
"That's the same time! That's what I had been doing down there!"

I'm trying my best to live in this moment, this glorious moment, but my mind keeps jumping ahead to when this mini-vacation will be over, and I'll be back in the rut. I need to both rekindle and forge new relationships that will sustain me like this one has. It seems like such a small thing, but the worth of it is immeasurable.

"Hey, do you remember when I sat on Tip O'Neill's lap?"
"Of course I do. I took the picture!"
"Do you still have it???!!!"
" was for the newspaper, so I never really had it, per se. Do you remember his speech, though? The font was so large it was, like, one sentence per page."
"You actually got his speech?"
"Yeah, he was so funny. He finished it up, and turned to us and said 'Want this?'"
"That's awesome."

We reminisced, and we caught up, and we had some glorious conversation about hopes, dreams, and many fears. We share a lot, I think, and there's also a wide enough gap in our experiences and where we are that it would be folly to consider more than friendship. I sense that this friendship renewal is going to be fabulous for us both, if we can keep up contact reliably.

I'm just so happy. I'm with friends, I've reconnected with a very old friend, and I'm about to go to one of the other places that makes me happiest to see other friends.

Does it get better than this?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

And the 1" of snow we have so far with another expected, combined with scary low temps, is probably going to put the kibosh on the dinner Crush asked me out to tonight and the festive plans we were making with others for later in the evening.


Ever optimistic, though, I figure I can stay here until Monday morning and then take off for Jamie's house. Maybe the extra day will mean Crush and I can spend some more time together. We'll see! He'll be calling later, and then maybe we can discuss alternate plans. He's really cute. (HEE!) And I'm also not as crazy crushy as I was. Luckily, swoony fantasy land does become tempered with time and so hasn't overwhelmed the reality of what is at any given time. I'm fantastically content, and it's great to get away from the pressures of work and my messy, messy bedroom.

Meanwhile, Nemoid and the family are treating me phenomenally well, as per usual. There's a big ol' pot of gumbo on the stove, and it's going to take supreme willpower not to dunk my entire head into the pot. I don't need any more bizarre, cuisine-related facial burns, now, do I? The roux...oh the roux. It was perfectly chocolate in color. The gumbo is for tomorrow. It's better to let it rest for a day.

Dinner tonight, since the plan of me taking MARTA to midtown and meeting up with Crush for the potentially romantic Ethiopian dinner has been thwarted, will be an Indian chicken dish. Not everything is or should be determined by the food you consume, but my cooking habits of late have been abysmal. Noodles with butter and parmesan. Or a can of tuna with salad dressing on it. Or fast food. Sigh.

SO this spoiling with gumbo and homemade Indian is just paradise.

Oh, and homemade waffles for breakfast. Dude.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh lord

ETA Crush=15 minutes. HOLY SHIT.

Update: 2 hours later. I promise I'm not going to liveblog this whole encounter. I was nervous, but then I was fine. We reminisced, and Nemoid was there with us. She and Crush and I all went to college together, and we all talked about old times. It was good.


I'm guessing I won't be posting much, if at all, during my trip.

In case you miss me (HA!) here's a link to the Old Blog, here it is.

I've never really put this one out there to y'all, so I might erase this link when I get back. It'll be interesting to see what I used to write about versus what I tackle now.

RIP Bobo

Marc had to put his sweet Boris down this morning, in Ethiopia. It was time, but as y'all know all too well, that doesn't take away the pain. Bobo was about 20 years old. Read Marc's beautiful memorial here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sicka my mug?

Yeah, so am I. Even though I got somewhat of a perverse pleasure in exhibiting a close-up shot of the un-makeuped, burned lip, wet hair Stew, I can't take it up there much more.

--> I've not completed my to-do lists, but I've made good headway.
--> The new meds are treating me well.
--> I heart Cristin, who had a fantastic long talk with me about Crush. Got some good insights.
--> Work Colleague did not "out" me. Correction on that. Bad wording on my part. I meant I was discovered. Different beast. And it's fine. We emailed a bit today about birds. He, too, had a Cooper's Hawk sighting.
--> Michele ID'd a Great Horned Owl in flight and contends that she's not a real birder. (BS)
--> ETD for fab GA vaycay is ~15-16 hours and counting.
--> Am keeping Crush giddyness in check. Probably a wise move.
--> Crush knows about blog, but I didn't give him a link when he asked. Instead I emailed him a couple of innocuous entries. I doubt he'll google me.
--> I want new bullets for these lists. The arrows are a potential change, but they're still not cool-looking
--> I spent way too much time at work today ordering fake food online for our nutritionist. That's called dedication.
--> My dad is having a gastric bypass on the 3oth.
--> Almost all of the 'rents are retiring all of a sudden, in seemingly unplanned ways.
--> Other friends have big changes in life coming up that's making me root for them.

I'm going on vacation and will see my sweet Nemoid and my sweet Jamie. Woot! bedtime

The perils of peeling eggs

Don't mind the not-quite-awakeness, please, or, for that matter, the blur.

See right there above my lip? A redness? Right at the bow? Up close it looks worse. It's a line of angry red. I don't get cold sores. It doesn't hurt. It came overnight. There's no covering it.

I think I burned my lip on the hard-boiled eggs I peeled with my mouth last night.

Hilarious! I'm glad I can laugh at myself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dribs and Drabs

Let's see.

I just ate about 2 cups of mesclun and a bit of sorrel directly from the plants. The rest of my dinner will be hard-boiled eggs. I'm living life on the edge. I got the above technique to work for the first time ever.

My car is covered with a tarp, to ward off any crazy ice on the windows. I don't have a scraper, but I do have a pot full of dirt on the roof in an attempt to make the tarp not blow away. My preparations will likely make there be no snow day tomorrow here.

I just spelled tomorrow tommorow somehow. No idea.

A work colleague from a different organization emailed me today: "Odd, quick question. Do you have a blog? I was googling x topic that we work with, and a blog came up. I'm 92% sure it's you, and you need to try the donuts at the Fractured Prune." Apparently they're made to order, those donuts. He promised not to out me to the world of other colleagues. Not that I say anything on here that would be a fireable offense, but still. I do get personal.

Anyone wanna take bets on whether my cabbages live through this wintery mix? They made it through the two days of extremely low temperatures when they had their leaves frozen solid, and are finally beginning to head a little.

Wintry Mix

...Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 4 am to 12 PM EST

Snow, sleet, freezing rain turning into rain tomorrow.

Bad=worry about Friday driving weather.


There are already two mixtapes created that need to be delivered to me, after all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Math Help Please?

I can't get my mind wrapped around this. If you can, please help me. It's for a reimbursement thing.

Situation: I have a total price, but the tax is not indicated. I need to break out what the tax was and indicate it on my TPS form. (Note that this is not pointless. Just annoying)

The tax rate is 6.75%
The total bill, including tax=$14.66

What is the total tax in dollars/cents?
What then is the bill prior to tax? (I know this will be $14.66-tax)

THANKS mathy people!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chill, honey.

I've been communicating back and forth quite a lot over the last couple of weeks with Crush, who is one of many people I'll be seeing this weekend when I road trip around Georgia. The most recent conversation ended with him promising to make me some mixtapes for the ride back, using the CD format.

Y'all. Mixtapes. Swoon.

I have to get a hold of my emotions on this. On the one hand, the giddiness I'm feeling is just a beautiful thing to behold. I feel like I'm 14 years old. I hop along on a cloud and reread our communications over and over. I analyze every word he says to see if I can tell any intentions or interest on his part beyond friends touching base again. On average, when we IM it's for like, 1-2 hours straight, non-multitasking. He makes me laugh. Oh, my, does he ever make me laugh.
On the other hand, all of this is happening just over IM! He's impossible to read—he could either be joking or flirting!! This could be anything! And also, I haven't seen him for 16 (holy shit) years! Since 1992! I've only seen a couple of pictures! And besides, there's the distance to consider.

I’ve been obsessing a bit about this guy. I admit it. My mind is running ahead of reality. I don’t know if he has any interest in me beyond reminiscing about Old Times, and yet I’m finding myself considering such insanities as whether or not I’d move if it came down to it. Whether I’d like his family. Whether he has a cat and if so, will he please get rid of it. Whether he’d want a traditional wedding or could we just elope, as I’ve always planned to do?

Hey Cart? Get back over behind Nelly where you belong, ok?

I’m analyzing our similarities and differences in areas ranging from communication style, to religion, to politics, to life goals…the things we have in common are uncanny. The differences don’t seem to be deal breakers. I was extremely relieved, for example, when his self-categorization as a “Staunch Republican” was quickly followed by a “just kidding.” I mean, we’re not 100% on everything, but who is? There are some major obstacles, though. We’re from extremely different cultural backgrounds, for example. But again, it seems more of a challenge/opportunity than a brick wall.

That’s all just fantasy, I know. And it’s not related to Crush himself, I don't think. No matter who the person was, I’d be having these racing thoughts if I were as interested as I am in Crush.

I'm trying REALLY hard to be balanced in my approach to meeting up with Crush. I tell myself that no matter what happens this weekend, I am lucky to be back in touch with a dear friend. I’m trying to sit with the uncertainty of how he might feel.

But I don’t think I’m doing very well at finding the balance. If you’ve talked or IMed with me in the last few weeks, I’ve probably told you something like this:

“Ooooh! Crush said BLAH!! What do you think? Do you think it means Something? Is he really interested? Isn’t he so funny? Let me tell you what he said about BLAH! Oh, he’s just cute as can be. Look at how cute he is! Isn't he handsome? I love how the gray looks. You know, we practically finish each others sentences when we talk. And he and I have lived in the same places, but just at different times, over the years. It’s like we weren’t quite ready to meet back up and now we have!”

(I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now, but I'm still smiling.)

Emily tells me that usually I'm pretty fatalistic about any possible love interest. I'm worried about whether I'm being sufficiently cautious, this time. I'm scared that I'm idealizing this too much, and I'm scared that I'll be crushed if it doesn't work out, whatever THAT means. I have NO IDEA what I expect to come out of this weekend, and that scares me too. I'm so inexperienced at this whole romance thing.

I'm just a mess. But I'm grinning about it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I went outside just now to take in my roommate's coat, which he'd left on the porch.

Attuned as I am to bird sounds, I was surprised to hear a bunch of cheeping. Until....SHAZAM! There I saw a raptor of some sort, wanting to nibble some sparrow giblets. S/he landed, facing me for a moment, and I got a decent look at the breast and belly. Then I crept back in for my binocs to get a better look. There was much rustling around over in the NE corner of my backyard, where there's an overgrown tree stump covered in briars. Perfect sparrow habitat.

Soon it flew out of my yard, over past the neighbors house. I saw it in flight and was able to confirm the ID as a Cooper's Hawk.

New yard bird, people. Cool.

The Day I Get Things Done

Today is going to be dedicated to Getting Things Done. I don't use the time management techniques of the same name, though maybe I should. I just need to Get Some Things Done today.

My friend Emily uses to-do lists in a fantastic fashion. She writes down the Things She Wants To Get Done, does them, and crosses them off. Very easy. I, on the other hand, tend to just think and think and think and think, worry and worry and worry and worry, all the while doing nothing or very little about it until the situation is dire.

I primed myself last night, psyching myself up to do the Things I Need To Get Done, cheering myself on, making an action plan in my head, and setting the alarm bright and early to do it.

Here's the list for today. I'm also going to physically write them down and cross them off as they happen. I've already begun to procrastinate. Coffee, think about what I need to do, decide to write a blog entry about it, put some clothes on, chat with Marc a little, spray some Psssst! on to get me presentable* before leaving the house to do one of the Things I Need To Do, etc.


Things I Need To Do
• Go get prescriptions filled
• Put my shoes away.
• Put my clean clothes away
• Gather my dirty clothes
• Wash my dirty clothes
• Put my now clean clothes away
• Clean my room beyond just getting the clothes put away
• Other stuff that I haven't listed yet.

OK, now GO! GO Stew! Brush out that dry shampoo and head out to the drugstore!

*I didn't shower yesterday. I haven't showered today yet. We've discussed my greasy-if-not-washed-daily hair before. You can imagine what the hair seems like to me today. So I opted for the dry shampoo crutch for now. No sense showering in order to clean, right? I suppose I don't mind the little flakes of powder that will remain behind. I will turn them into absurdist joy, much as my sister does for hairnets. Aside: Talking to my mother the other day on the phone while walking to pick up some lunch, I came across a hairnet dangling from a tree that had low branches. I decided it was an auspicious sign.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Maria and I went birding this a.m. with her new spotting scope. We were hoping to score some fun water birds at a nearby state park, but we didn't have much luck there.

Overall we did get 29 species, though. (Maria, you forgot to write down the grackles and crows!) Of those, there were several highlights. For one, we saw three, count them three bald eagles. We had a very good look at two of them; one was sitting on an osprey's nest, and the other was in a nearby tree. They were both juveniles, and hard as hell to identify. Juvie Bald Eagles are a mottled brown, with a brown head and a brown beak. These were mottled brown, with a brown head and a YELLOW beak. Eventually we decided they were second-year birds. Here's a photo that shows a second year bird. The other one was also a juvie, but it was in flight, so we didn't feel compelled to study it as closely.

Other fun birds we saw: red-headed woodpecker, a flicker, a brown creeper, probably 30-40 (or more!) great blue herons, and both the golden- and ruby-crowned kinglets. None of those is rare, but they were still cool. We also saw a heron rookery with 30 nests.

I had two lifers: 50 or so buffleheads at a water treatment facility and a swamp sparrow. We also saw a huge beaver chugging along in the swamp, barely off of the road. It was quite precious.

I'm exhausted!

Friday, January 11, 2008


Since I've moved to this state, I've lived and worked in all three cities that make up the geometric shape the region is often referred to as.

I started out living and working 10 years in Smaller City, where I stayed for 10 years before moving to Medium City. Before moving to Medium City I did work there for about 9 months, but my job then was sadly limited to about a 10'x10' office (NO LEAVING! YOU CAN DO COMMUNITY WORK IN THE OFFICE!).

Then eventually I got this fabulous job I have now (every job has its downsides, but this one is good overall), which is located in Big City. It worried me a bit, I have to say. It's 25 miles from my house to work, one way. That's a lot of gas, but my salary can take it, barely. The environment, on the other hand...not as great. I'll deal with that later, though, because I love where I live now. And my field requires me to drive a lot in the course of the day, so it's not like I can get away with riding a bike to my job (even if it were closer).

I'm getting off track here. Let me see if I can finagle my way back to where I was going.

So I've now experienced most of the area by either living or working there, and I feel like I can finally make an informed judgment about all three cities.

Small City: too small, too expensive, impossible parking, bad housing unless you're Richy Rich. Fabulous public transportation (considering the size of the town and that it's located in the US), progressive people, kick ass music scene that I never took advantage of, and a wonderful farmer's market.

Medium City: urban in feel, affordable housing in close-knit, walkable neighborhoods, growing farmer's market, feels small but still big, close to green spaces (including a fantastic state park), diversity* abounds, and we benefit from being close to Local Private University and the culture and discussions that brings. Local Private University is also a con, by the way, because they're a little manipulative of the community, in my opinion. It's also a decently progressive on the whole.

Big City: Traditional, sprawly, and there exists such a thing as a signature women's haircut. It's the capital, so you've got all the good and bad that goes along with that. I have easy access to my legislators, and the legislative cafeteria makes a mean spanikopita. The state museums are here, along with the larger arts venues that showcase mainstream plays and musicals, the orchestra, etc. The worst part about Big City is the suburbs. The city mimics Atlanta, in that there's a distinctly different feel and social connotation for those who live outside the looped highway that circles the city, versus those that live inside. It's cooler to live inside. The outside living areas are those horrible builder's communities where the houses mostly all look alike. If I had to live in Big City, I'd probably live over by where a few of my friends bought houses in an area that borders some pretty sketchy neighborhoods.

Y'all? I wasn't able to get back to where I was going. There was one and only one motivator for me to write today, and yet I managed to expand this into a quick and dirty comparison of three communities that are different enough that there's really no comparing them.


Big City has easy access to donuts. Small and Medium city do not. That's the difference.

*in this case, we have approximately equal numbers of black and white folk--sadly, though, it's pretty segregated as far as housing goes, and there is definitely racial tension. My guess is that the housing segregation is mostly due to socio-economic status. I live in a neighborhood that is pretty white, middle class. I make almost 50% above the per capita income, and I don't make much at all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Does anyone have a pennywhistle they can loan me?

Or maybe you'd just prefer to accompany me in singing, once I get my voice back. Because, thanks to our Marianne, I have a new favorite song.

Perhaps you'd like to hear it? Everyone loves a midi, right? Well, that's just the tune, though. Such a sweet melody. Da da da daa da da da daa...

Why don't you now begin to memorize the lyrics!

Nine Inch Will Please a Lady
(Robert Burns)

Come rede me dame, come tell me dame,
My dame come tell me truly,
What length o' graith when weel ca'd hame
Will sair a woman duly?"
The carlin clew her wanton tail,
Her wanton tail sae ready,
"l learn'd a sang in Annandale,
Nine inch will please a lady."

"But for a koontrie cunt like mine,
In sooth we're not sae gentle;
We'll tak tway thumb-bread to the nine,
And that is a sonsy pintle.
Oh, Leeze me on, my Charlie lad,
I'll ne'er forget my Charlie,
Tway roaring handfuls and a daud
He nidged it in fu' rarely."

But wear fa' the laithron doup
And may it ne'er be thriving,
It's not the length that makes me loup
But it's the double drivin.
Come nidge me Tom, come nidge me Tom
Come nidge me, o'er the nyvel
Come lowse an lug your battering ram
And thrash him at my gyvel!

graith=gear, equipment; clew=scratched, fondled;
tway thum-bread=two thumb-breadths; sonsy=healthy;
daud=a lump, a bit; laithron=lazy; doup=rump;

(images, lyrics, etc from here)
(pennywhistle accompaniment here)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Small world, man.


Today when I went to the doctor, I remembered that I'd actually be seeing a PA rather than my regular guy. That, understandingly, gave me a bit of anxiety, considering where my health is at the moment. I also knew though that my doctor is closely supervising her and would be actually stopping in during the appointment.

My main concerns: a) lack of background knowledge. This woman wouldn't know me, wouldn't know my current situation, and thusly wouldn't have the same insight into what works for me. And then b) I didn't know her. Compatibility, confidence and trust are practically as important in provider/patient relationships as with romantic relationships, in my book. I was facing uncertainty during a time that can only be described as crisis.

Never doubt that the universe will provide, people. The woman I was scheduled to see, whose name didn't even ring a bell to me, is a PA that I used to see when she was working in the neurology clinic at Big Public Teaching Hospital. She knew me. I knew her. I trust her. I adore her. She's fab. She knew who I'd be before I even showed up. ("Could it be the same Stewie McStewerson I used to treat for epilepsy?" she told me she had asked herself) As soon as I saw her the chips fell into place.

Sum total: We're upping my meds, and I'm going to be better at taking others that I'm prescribed for "as needed" that I tend to avoid. Any medicine that is a controlled substance kind of makes me wary. (No, I won't be taking Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid or peyote or anything--just some run of the mill and mild things, and short term at that.)


"New" provider is not so new.
Meds are going to be good.
Optimism reigns in the face of challenges.
It's also pretty clearly a physiological issue rather than situational or psychological.

I'm good. I'll be better. But we knew that already, no?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


For once it's not my own pain.

Suicide just touched me, if indirectly. I heard soft crying coming from my colleague's office, but thought it was a patient out in the hall and so tuned it out. Then another coworker came in to my office, slightly frantic, for my kleenex and told me what was going on. We got some help, canceled my coworker's duties for the day, and I waited in the office until we got my coworker into the hands of someone who could help better than we could.

Depression to the point of suicide is something I can't fathom. I'm really, really lucky that my suffering, as bad as it's been, has never reached that point. Suicidal ideation, yeah. It's been that bad before, and it's that bad now. But with me it's never been to the point where there was a plan, much less a successful one. With me it's been fleeting thoughts, benign when compared to other people, really. Suicide and attempts in general happen as a way to get rid of the pain, to escape the very, very real pain that comes along with major depression. When I'm suffering enough, what goes through my head isn't exactly thoughts of killing myself, but rather a more vague desire to just not exist. Thankfully, I am able to see this as a very worrying sign and get the help I need. (Like the ongoing care of my doctor, who I see tomorrow.)

Thinking about the degree of pain and isolation that friend of my colleague's must have gone through, to be in a place where the only viable option seemed to be death, reminds me to be grateful for what I have. For what I've accomplished through my own hard work. For medication. For the support I get from professionals, family, friends, coworkers, dogs, and pictures of baby animals.

I feel good today. I know the pain I've been feeling will pass, and I know I'm not as bad off as I could be and have been before. I'm strong, and I can share this pain with other people, so that I don't have to shoulder it all myself. I can reach out in a way that others, the ones who are the ultimate casualties, cannot. I'm lucky.

One of the things I feel most passionate about is the mental health situation in society, and today with a level head, balanced between the logical and the emotional, I want to just remind myself and anyone who reads this, that there is NOTHING wrong with getting help.

And I want to ask you to do as I do, and fight like fucking crazy to support people like me, my colleague's friend, and the legions of people I know have dealt with depression. Talk about it openly when you can. Be strong like me and others who work to reduce the stupid stigma that goes along with illnesses of the brain and emotions. I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here, but it just eats me up to see all the ways that mental health treatment and prevention are marginalized. Insurers and societal attitudes are forces that are tough to change, but I've seen so much progress over the last 20 years that I feel hope now.

Take care of yourself. Take care of others. Fight.

I'm strong as hell.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Random points

  • Drinking lots of fluids also means peeing a lot. Why can't it just all come out as snot and make me better, already?
  • A cousin of mine whom I've not seen in probably 15 years at least called me this weekend. He wanted to know about a rock I had that floated in water that he remembered from when we were little, and could he borrow it? (!!!???) I remember him as being on the bizarre side, and the voice mail kind of cemented that. I bit the bullet and called him back (I wasn't taking calls this weekend from anyone). It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Turns out he just didn't know what pumice was, and there was an actual context--his niece had a science project. I referred him to the nail care section of the nearest Meijer to pick up some pumice and managed to get off the phone lickity split. It was a major accomplishment, given my state of mind, to have called him back.
  • Looks like I'll be headed down (the) Atlanta (high) way to visit Nemoid the Fab and Jamie the Goddess over the MLK long weekend. Woot. Complication: Crush lives in the same basic location. I included him in the original email to see if any of the three of them would be around that weekend, but he hasn't responded yet. Logically, that's fine--maybe he's checking his schedule, he doesn't always email back immediately, etc. Emotionally, it's more like "OMG I told him I had a crush and now he's going to avoid me at all costs and OMG how stupid am I and OMG nobody's going to like me ever again!" (NB--I recognize the over-the-top-ness of the emotions, as well as the jumping-to-conclusions-ness, along with the who-knows?-you-sure-don't,-Stew!-ness.)
  • When do you stay home from work because you're sick with a cold? I'm being extremely anal about reducing the transmission risk, and I don't feel too bad. I mean, yes, it's annoying that my diaphragm and chest hurt from coughing, and yes, I didn't hardly sleep last night, but considering all that, I feel damn decent! I have hand sanitizer galore, and kleenex rather than hankies. My office is segregated from the rest of the employees, and I am not touching things that others will come into contact with. I've been washing my hands with the zeal of someone who is overcompensating, and I still feel guilty. But I'd feel guilty if I'd stayed home, also. Can't win.
  • I have nothing more to say.

Edit: Have heard from Crush. He is going to make sure he's in town for the weekend that I'll be around, and is looking forward to it. Sigh. I'm such a dork.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The answer


Yarn help plz?

Anyone know how this is gonna crochet up? Is it self-stripy? Or will it be mottled? The store people didn't know.


No, it wasn't just you. I had a slight meltdown in the middle of the night last night and questioned the wiseness of my whole blog's existence, and so I closed it to anyone but me. I opened it back up this morning.

I overshare, and I overshared again last night. I've taken the post down that I wrote. It embarrassed me. The whole blog embarrasses me! I feel so...DRAMATIC. I hate DRAMA.

The truth is I'm doing really badly, and have been for some time. I have another doctor's appointment on Wednesday, so that's good. I dunno.

I don't want people to judge me based on how pathetic I must come across recently.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I'm dupped dup.

You know how occasionally you'll get one of those head colds that causes one of your nostrils never to work? (How's that for an awkwardly unsplit infinitive? Y'all should already know my take on that.)

Back to the headcolds. For the last two nights I've taken decongestants, and, as a consequence, have spent a couple of hours in the middle of each night awake. Blah. One night it was 2-4 a.m, and last night it was 12:20-2:30 a.m.

I'm not ever really sure when to go to the doctor about this kind of illness. I mean, they can't do much for a typical cold, but then at some point it can develop into one of the nasty infections.

Behold potential TMI and proceed at your own risk:

Yellow, thick SNOT! When I'm lucky it comes out my nose, but more often that not I have to hork to get it out.

If I'm not better by Monday I'm for sure calling the doctor.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I still have that crush I mentioned several weeks ago. And I just admitted it to him directly after hinting for quite some time. And I can't tell whether his response was encouraging or discouraging. The direct response was opaque (basically that I didn't have to worry, because he was innoculating me with a weakened strain, and so I'd be immune soon--have I mentioned he's hilarious?), and the action was to say that he had to go to the gym NOW. Maybe he doesn't know himself, right? I'm still having fun with it, though. It scares me to think about what feels like an inevitable dashing onto the rocks of rejection, but I'll keep plugging onward, living in the moment.

I have never heard of this.

So, Laurie, remember those fireworks on New Year's Eve?

Yeah. Apparently it was actually "celebratory gunshots."

That's tacky.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Last second

The grant is due in hand on Friday by 5 p.m. at an address located in the city where I work. It's 95% done. My job at this point is to copy, hole punch, collate and double check that all the I's are crossed and the T's dotted.

I'm out at a high school all day tomorrow. There are a few documents that need to be notarized before they can be included in the application; our ED is doing that part. The last piece of the puzzle will be complete on Friday morning, when our board chair is available to sign something. Then the ED will hand deliver the application, and we'll be done with it.

I'm not happy with the budget; I had some say as to what was included, but in order to make it fit the amount we can be awarded, the ED cut some areas. I can understand some of her changes, but I'd have re-allocated things a bit differently. For the most part it's OK, but there's one expense related to program marketing that I am definitely annoyed was left out. I'm pretty sure, however, that we can tweak things around if we get awarded the grant.

I have other concerns about the content as well, but the ED is done with it and just wants to turn it in--and she has said this in no uncertain terms. My issue is that there are significant tasks in there that will be my responsibility that I a) didn't know about until this morning and b) will have to negotiate if we get the grant, cause there's just no way I can do it all on top of what I'm currently doing. We'll have to have that conversation later on, I suppose. I'm not glad that I didn't get to give her feedback on the new information. I have questions and some very strong opinions about doing things slightly differently, but in effect, I've been silenced.

(ED. My part is done. Six copies are collated and put into binders.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A bit more normal now, but please let me have another liter or so of water, ok?

Oh my, did I wake up feeling nasty this morning. Thanks New Year's Eve! (In reality: "Thanks, Stew, for drinking those last two glasses of prosecco that tipped you over the comfort zone right before bed AND a huge cup of strong coffee that kept you from sleeping!")

Laurie came over last night for a slumber party!! We hadn't ever met before, so it was truly courageous on her part to hike 45 min to an hour away.

I made dinner--local, of course. Baked rainbow trout with my garden's still-surviving dill and sorrel, green salad with butter lettuce from some hydroponic place around here somewhere, with added carrot, arugula and some other unidentified lettuces from the tub-o-greens I have growing and then a homemade (kind of messed up, but tasty!) cherry-crisp with some Maple View Farms cream whipped up on it. Please note that when I take pictures these days, I resort to some extreme body and laptop contortions in order to do so. I wish I had a picture of me taking pictures of this dinner with the built in laptop camera.

Laurie also introduced me last night to an uber-local (to her) brew: Old Town Brown Ale. Rowr.

We traded seeds. Totally fun. Actually, it felt more like I took seeds from Laurie while she either already had or didn't need the ones I had to offer her. At the same time, it also felt like we were participating in a ritual that we'd done before, only as different women, many years ago. That sounds hokey to me, reading what I just wrote, but I really did feel a pang of connection to a long tradition. Maybe it's just a good imagination on my part. I've got my work cut out for me to try to fit all of these new veggies into my small space!

I had a fab time, and am thrilled to have met our Miss Laurie!