Monday, January 19, 2015

The garden report: January 18, 2015

I stepped out into my realm last weekend to find, predictably…utter anarchy. The Supreme Ruler had, after all, been completely laid up for a full month, and had then had a verrrrrrrrrrry slow return to ‘being mobile’ after that.

Last month we had almost two full weeks of nearly non-stop rain; this naturally led to an explosion of weeds. Plus the construction crews have…not exactly had ‘keeping the yard tidy’ at the top of their priority list, either.

In short, it is an absolute nightmare out there right now.

A view of construction trash through the scaffolding, with weed riot.

Garden bed, now with bonus broken roofing tiles stacked on the sprinkler manifold.

You know what this strawberry bed needs? MORE ROOFING TILES! And also some PLYWOOD!

More weeds and debris…

Aaaaaaaaand, even MORE weeds and debris…

Perhaps we can just take it as-read that the ENTIRE yard is pretty much an enormous cesspool of weeds, machinery that REALLY should have been overwintered somewhere ELSE, masonry that NOBODY remembers putting “there” and yet “there” it is and so forth??

But, in among all the sedition, there were a few loyal subjects. Like the “dead” artichoke plant which suddenly exploded back to life.

If all goes well, we should have artichokes by Easter!

(Although to be more accurate, “the” artichoke plant actually is still dead – these are its children, about five of them, which grew up out of shoots that were just dormant during the drought and heat wave.)

There were some ‘forgotten’ carrots.

And a fair amount of spinach. Very sweet spinach, courtesy of the “light frost” weather.

And one absolutely gorgeous head of lettuce. (Seriously. Delicious.)

It took almost the entire weekend just to collect together the masonry and random wood planks and such from Everywhere, and stack it neatly in the future greenhouse masonry storage unit.

This is one (1) of the shelves. I filled four (4) of them altogether. We have a LOT of bricks, slabs, tiles, lumber of all sorts etc. Almost ALL of it from Freecycle, which is an AMAZING source of Such Things around here.

I cleaned up around the artichokes, dropped a Tree Gator Jr. around it even though right now there is so much moisture in the air that the soil is damp 24/7…and then ringed it with river rocks from all over the yard to further encourage water to stay put.

It seems happier now.

And then I got busy on that big old pile of fill-dirt and the just general trash all over the back 40 (yards).

This. Took. FOREVER.

In related news, I overdid it a little bit last weekend.

And by “a little bit” I mean “rather a lot.”

And I paid for it for quite a few days last week. Man. It was like I had a fish hook caught in my calf or something; my foot started swelling up again, and trying to sleep was like hahahahahaha, good luck with that!


So today when I got back out there to start building the new beds, and I got one lousy bed (mostly) done and then that muscle started going, “Twinge! Twinge! TWINGE!” while my back was going, “Twitch! Twitch-twitch! TWITCH-TWITCH-TWITCH!!” and shooting little electric shocks up and down my other leg, I abandoned my plan to build two beds today and contented myself with just the one.

Dropped some broccoli seed in there, covered it up with plastic to discourage cats and construction crews looking for places to dump their trash, and called it a day.

I have to admit, this is something that I struggle with – identifying the point at which ‘reasonable’ becomes ‘unreasonable,’ and where I should be stopping, and what the consequences of not finishing everything on my list exactly when I wanted to actually are.

I always feel as if not finishing “everything” means that epic disaster is going to befall; like the whole thing is now jinxed and I’m going to have to work twice as hard to catch up the next time I’m out there.

But I seldom actually stop and ask myself what happens if I don’t try to double-down on the effort next time – what happens if it simply takes twice as long to finish.

For some things, it is a bit of a disaster; not harvesting things when they’re ready tends to mean you end up with compost rather than food, not paying bills on time results in late fees, stuff like that.

…but still not, you know, end of life as we know it sorts of consequences.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep that in mind as we stroll leisurely toward the next main growing season, and find a lot more enjoyment out of the process than I’ve had the last couple seasons.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Real life is still so very real

So, today was my first day back to work after my unexpected three-day “vacation” in Resort du Hospitale.

Normally when I’m taking even one day off, there’s a certain amount of ‘putting things to bed’ before I log off before I take off. Just kind of proactively dealing with certain things, giving others the background info they might need in case things go awry, that kind of stuff.

Obviously, I didn’t do any of that. It was supposed to just be a quick, after-work-even appointment with the orthopedic guy; I had absolutely no idea, I never would have guessed, that I’d end up in the hospital for gah’s sake.

Even when I was getting the ultrasound because he was all, “{mutter-mutter-clots}”, I still didn’t honestly think that, you know, there actually would be…anything in there.

I expected the usual fuss-n-bother-and-nothing-comes-of-it. Because that’s what always happens. Except when it doesn’t.

So today basically went like this:

  1. I made my own coffee this morning
    1. Which meant having to go downstairs all by myself like a Big Girl
      1. Illusion of being on the road back to self-reliance: Shattered
      2. It costs me way more than I like to admit to do something as simple as “get downstairs, and then back up again”
      3. Also, I do still need the stupid crutches
        1. Argh!
        2. NOT THAT I’M COUNTING (<= lies!), but, this would be Day 17 since I tore that @^*&2ing muscle
        3. ARGH!
  2. Several people are asking me – rather pointedly – how long this or that is going to take, because, per their email from AHEM, LAST WEEK WEDNESDAY…!
    1. It would be much simpler if I would just own up and say, “Sorry, heh-heh, funny story, actually, see, I was unexpectedly hospitalized last week so I lost a couple days…?”
    2. But I would rather die than have this become common knowledge at work
      1. Well. Maybe not die.
      2. But I’d definitely rather put up with people growling at me about their timelines
  3. AND THEN, I got a call from the nurse advocate at the insurance company
    1. Because the hospital stay was declined
      1. Because the information they got was basically “we admitted her because of reasons”
        1. Attending physician? => blank
        2. Diagnosis/Reason for Incarceration Admission? => blank
        3. Treatment Plan? => blank
        4. Reason for Discharge? => blank
    2. Apparently, “because we admitted her” is not considered a ‘medically necessary’ reason to admit someone to the hospital
      1. Go figure
      2. {bangs head on desk for a while}
  4. That One Guy on the team naturally managed to go charging off in all the wrong directions while I was away
    1. He always does this
    2. ALWAYS
    3. Honestly, his capacity for being Just Completely Wrong seems bottomless
      1. It’s like a gift, really
      2. A dark, dark gift…
    4. And, why the end result of this always seems to boomerang back to me is something I ask myself on pretty much a weekly basis…
  5. THEN, when I’m up to my eyebrows in All The Above, I got a call from the ‘patient something or other’ person – basically the nurse who makes sure you’re behaving yourself when you’ve been discharged
    1. I was asked if I was remembering to do the elebenty-bazillion salutations in the cardinal directions on hourly intervals per release protocol
    2. “…yes…?” <= lies, had only done one (1) round of the salutations, while still in bed that morning
      1. And in only two of the cardinal directions
      2. Bah, humbug!
  6. AND TO CAP IT ALL OFF, RIGHT BEFORE LOGGING OFF FOR THE DAY…I find that the reason something “looks a little wrong” in the thing I was working on a while ago was because I had made a mistake in the code
    1. …one that somebody else discovered…
    2. @^*&@!

So, to sum up:

  1. I quit
  2. I quit
  3. I quit
  4. I quit
  5. I quit
  6. I quit

There. I think that about covers it for tonight.

Tune in next time, when I’ll complain vigorously about the clothes moths (!!!!) that moved in shortly after all the construction began, and which now love to flutter juuuuuuuust out of my reach because I’d swear they know I can’t leap to my feet to squash them…!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What a long, strange trip it was

The orthopedic surgeon we saw Wednesday afternoon confirmed that I had a moderate tear in my gastrocnemius (<= the bigger calf muscle).

Then he sent us for an ultrasound to check for blood clots, because my leg and foot were rather swollen, and had been for a while, and I had not had any particular success with getting that swelling to go away.

And that was how it was that I ended up spending two and a half days in the hospital hooked up to a heparin drip and having blood drawn every 4-6 hours to check for progress (and me with my bordering-on-actual-phobia about needles…you can imagine how well I dealt with this) before My Beloved Physician was able to confirm that I didn’t actually have an actual clot, but rather only alarmingly elevated risk of one.

This is one of the things we love so much about this guy: A lot of doctors would have been more like, “Look, you’re already here and we’re halfway down this path, so, my work here is done. You have another four to seven days in the hospital (!!!) while the warfarin takes over from the heparin, then three months (!!!!!!) of taking the warfarin daily (with daily / every-other-day lab work, I might add), because that’s what we’re doing.”

Instead, I got to just come home with instructions to be very alert about the swelling returning, and with a prescription for a mega-dose of aspirin.

It’s not exactly that I’m furious and want to have stern words with anybody for making me go through all that “for no reason.” There was a reason for it. They saw veins that looked like they were under stress, there were markers in my blood that said, “probably has a clot in there” – I think what they did was the right thing to do.

You don’t fool around with suspected deep vein thrombosis. Having a clot break loose and travel up into your lungs can kill you – I’ve still got an awful lot of Denizen-rearing to do, and I’m kinda curious how it all turns out.

So on the whole, I’d like to, you know, not die of something stupid and miss all that.

Still. It’s a bit…vexing, to spend all that time hooked up to an IV and being stabbed by cheerful, smiling lab folks what felt like every fifteen minutes over and over in the same general area, only to be told a couple days later, “Oh. Never mind. You ‘just’ have a rather elevated risk of clotting from that area. Here. Have a prescription for a mega-aspirin, aaaaaaaand if your foot or leg puffs up like that again and you can’t get the swelling back down quickly? Get your arse to the emergency room, what are you, STUPID or something?!

The crook of my left arm looks like I have a serious drug problem (or like I was attacked by near-sighted vampires mistaking my elbow for my neck or something); plus, of course, the fact that I was on a blood thinner means that I bruise fairly easily, so I have all kinds of beautifully yellowing marks all over me.


I probably have about six to eight weeks of recovery time ahead for this stupid thing altogether before I’ll be back to more or less normal, and a month or two after that where I’ll still need to be a bit circumspect about how much stress I put on the leg; it’s just one of those injuries that take a looooong time to heal.


But, it could be worse. I could have been stuck in the hospital for over a week.

With the convenient, in-house, available 24/7 lab people.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leisure, or nothing like it

I haven’t done a single chore for six days, y’all. Not so much as rinsing my own dishes.


I have been sitting right here…for the last six straight days…reading…playing video games…watching an endless parade of brain candy flicker past my eyeballs…eating food brought to me by my family…

It’s…it’s…well, it’s miserable. It is exhausting. It is frustrating in the extreme.

SEE…what happened was…a freak laundry accident.

I am being totally serious right now.





…you absolutely can-NOT make this kind of stuff up, people.

SO THERE I WAS, last week Friday, getting a jump on my weekend chores. I’m standing next to my bed folding the clean sheets like a boss and I went to put the latest example of my rather poor sheet-folding skills on top of the pile and…well.

Over the course of less than a second, I thought to myself, “Huh, my left calf feels kinda tight, is it trying to cramp up…?”

And then, pretty much simultaneously, there was a feeling like somebody had snuck up behind me and whacked me, really hard, in the back of the leg with a rather blunt axe; it was like a punch and a cut, if that makes sense?

And, there was this…sound. Not a very nice sound. It sounded like somebody biting into an apple – not a super crisp one, but one of those mealy ones.

I hit the ground like I’d been clubbed, both hands wrapped in a death-grip around my calf, almost before the pain even hit me.

You know those moments when you totally know the reality of a situation almost the instant it arises, but you also just can’t quite believe it has happened so you keep second-guessing yourself?

Yeah. That was my whole entire weekend. Within about five seconds of hitting the floor, I knew exactly what I’d done. There was really no question that what I had here was a classic example of Ye Olde Torn Calf Muscle. The only question left to answer was how bad a tear I’d gotten.

But…it just…didn’t seem possible. This is a pretty strong muscle group (I said to myself). C’mon. How could I POSSIBLY have done REAL DAMAGE to it, JUST by leaning forward to drop a sheet onto a pile?

I had to be mistaken.

But, looks like I wasn’t. When My Beloved Physician started poking at it, he pretty quickly discovered that I’ve got some “weird” deformation in the muscles, and at least one ligament is kind of “floppy” when it should be “springy.”

So now I’m on crutches until further notice, and going for an MRI next week so we can figure out exactly how bad it really is, and I’m in for anywhere from “just” about a month of this “keep off it” nonsense to three months if I really did a number on it.

Well, damn.

Then, because insult loves injury so much…guess what? After four days of zero swelling, and zero bruising, and only very mild pain as long as I kept my carcass parked in my chair?

Yeah. That honeymoon was over. My calf feels like an overfull water balloon, my foot is all puffy, and the pain is starting to become quite annoying.




Saturday, September 27, 2014

We walk among you

Sooooooooooooooo…I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) a lot lately. (The five-second review? I like it. It has its problems, it has its rough edges and things that make me go, “Pah, this again?!” – but by and large, it’s a fun way for me to spend my evenings.)

So. In just about every game I play which has such things, I am…ahem…a somewhat avid farmer. Meaning that I collect raw materials – plants for potions, ores for smithing, wood for bows and so forth – whenever I see them.

It almost pains me to pass up an ore-node, or leave a pile of lumber on the ground…not pick the lock on a chest, or open the barrel to see what’s inside.

I also have a somewhat embarrassing tendency to be so focused on my farming that I don’t notice things like, say, the level ha-ha-MUCH-higher-than-YOU super-elite troll now with Super Special Player Killing One-Shot Powers that is standing right on top of the ore-node.

“…oh…well, hello there, big fellah…aaaaaaaaand, I’m dead again…sigh…”

Now, I told you all of that so I could tell you about this.

One of my guilds in ESO is called ‘Get Rich or Die Farming.’ I think I’d actually call it my “main” guild – it’s definitely the one I enjoy most in terms of interactions with others, and it’s extremely active and full of fun, helpful people who help each other over the rough bits and such.

One afternoon our guild master came up with these.

And of course I bought one, because it made me laugh. 

In due course it went through the laundry and percolated to the top of the stack in my drawer and I put it on and wore it. Because it was a) clean and b) the next one on the stack in my drawer.

Look, I’ll be blunt: I’m getting dressed at about 4:45 in the morning, OK? And I probably didn’t get to bed before 11:00 or 11:30 the night before. Because that’s just what always happens, no matter how ardently I vow that tonight, I am TOTALLY going to be IN BED by no later than 9:30.

“Let’s see, which of my fine frocks shall I wear today, and what cunning accessories shall I wear with it?” are just not questions I’m willing to entertain at that hour. Next shirt in the drawer, pants aaaaaand, DONE.

But I digress.

So I’m wearing this shirt, and I’m not thinking anything of it really. I wear a lot of shirts that have things Muggles might not understand on them. Anime characters, slogans from the 70s, the occasional “if you work in any of the major coding languages, you will totally get this” or “decode these math symbols for a joke!” thing – so I’m not too surprised if someone is kind of looking at my chest with an expression that clearly says something like, “Math…hurts…” (The one thing we can rule out pretty much immediately is that they’re looking at my breasts. Unless they have a magnifying glass in their hand. Or binoculars. Ahem. Moving on.)

SO THERE I AM. Sporting my guild t-shirt and heading back across the street to Homer the Odyssey after having deposited Captain Adventure at the gates of the Hallowed Halls of Learning.

AND THERE’S THIS OTHER MOM, standing at the crosswalk with me, staring at my chest and making the math-hurts face.

I had to glance down at my shirt to remember which one I was wearing. And then I was a bit confused because really…uh…this isn’t one of those puzzle-shirts, it’s just, you know, a slogan, right?

And then she suddenly goes, “Is that, like, a statement about how conventional farming is totally about corporate greed these days, and that’s why our food chain is so broken that it is killing us?” 

First I went Disappointed smile

Then I went Thinking smileoooooookayyyyyy, that was an…INTERESTING…leap, but I GUESS I can KINDA see it…

“Er, no. Hahaha. No. This is actually from a game – it’s the name of one of my guilds in Elder Scrolls.”

She’s still making math hurts face at me, which really should have been my cue to just say, “…it’s a video game” and shut up, but oh no, that would have been something a normal person would do.

Instead, I went full on Alien

And that was why, $DEITY forgive me, I tried to explain MMOs, guilds, ‘farming’ in video games and in-game economies.

You know, the talking-too-fast Cliff’s Notes version. Because we’re standing on the street waiting for the crossing guard to force the reluctant drivers to obey her.

And now then she’s looking at me like I just went, “Meepa-beepa! MeepMeep! Boop-boop-meep-waaaaaaahka-whaka-wahKA! Woot-woot! Beep!”

So she did what any suburban mother would do when confronted by an alien making beeping noises and said, “Oh, that sounds like fun…”

“Uh, yeah. It…yeah, it is. Hahaha. Ahem. Have a good one!”

“You too, hahaha!”

I couldn’t help but think, though, as I settled in front of my massive monitors, ergonomic keyboard and Mouse of Many Buttons that she was actually pretty darned lucky.

I might have been wearing my “Not Normalized” shirt.

No, well, hahaha, OK, see, in database development? ‘normalization’ refers to…uh, noooo, actually, not ‘OH GOD, MAKE IT STOP!!!’ but rather…

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Meanwhile, in knitting…

According to my Ravelry notebook, I started working on the Fia Pullover in March 2013; as I recall, I got the sleeves done in no time flat, and then shot through about the first three inches of the main body…and then…well…I suddenly went, “…eh…” and set it aside.

Just as suddenly, I regained my enthusiasm for it not terribly long ago, pulled it out and started working on it again. It’s actually a rather pleasant knit – the “main” pattern requires having the ability to count and pay attention and thus I can readily see why I decided it made lousy BART knitting…but the side patterns are very easily memorized and require almost zero thought to speak of.

Which means that I can totally work on this while I’m watching foreign films with subtitles. Woot.

I realized last night that I was a mere ten rounds from the Beginning of the End – the shoulder shaping. 

At the moment, I am choosing to ignore the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done on this after the shoulders are cast off, and am allowing myself to enjoy the feeling of being “almost done” with it at last.

That I then have the blocking to do, and sewing and cutting the steeks on the main body and the sleeves, attaching the sleeves, and then the picking up and knitting of the collar…are problems for later.

For right now, I’m almost done.

Yay me!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Colds and Ceilings

I have a cold. A really nasty one, the kind where symptoms just kind of keep piling up on you. Fever, chills, cement-in-sinuses, coughing so hard you’re a little afraid you’re going to throw up, can’t breathe, wait, how can my nose be RUNNING this much when I’m so STUFFED UP?!, and no-medicine-on-earth-seems-to-do-anything-for-me sort of cold.

This has got to be some kind of record: The Denizens have only been in school for about two weeks, and bam. They brought home the bubonic plague for me to catch. Awesome.

Meanwhile, of course, both work and the construction on the Den continue without the slightest pause. Which is also desperately unfair. I mean, really, there ought to be some kind of law which says that when someone is clearly dying, everything around them should just, you know, stop. As a sign of some respect for their increasingly-delicate condition.

Especially things that involve loud banging noises or asking the dying person whether or not something is on-track for deploy on a specific date.

And man, it should be straight-up illegal to ask The Afflicted about items they’re allegedly supposed to be finishing up by a specific – and all-too-quickly approaching – date while there are loud banging noises going on in the background.

But, alas, the world does not work as it should. So work has this completely irrational idea that I’m going to be, you know, working during my shift (feh!), and that I’m going to be getting things done on time (whatever!) and that I will be maintaining “professional behavior” (pfffft!) and stuff like that.

While there has been much hammering, sawing, banging, thumping, and the occasional whoop of “whoa!” going on in the background.

Meanwhile, I opened my home office door (a.k.a., my bedroom door) Tuesday afternoon at the end of my work day and my house looked absolutely surreal.

The whole house seemed to be swathed in this plastic. Floor to ceiling. Taped down, so, um…question…? How do I get into my KITCHEN…?

It was kind of creepy, actually. Like something out of a slasher film. Brrrr.

But, there has been a lot of progress in four short days. On the outside of the house, we have a new office downstairs, and a bedroom upstairs.

My office has a door out to the garden (squee!), and windows on the other walls looking out into it (double squee!). (It also has a door inside the house – I won’t have to, you know, go outside to get into my office or anything.)

It’s a little hard to envision what it will be like when it’s a house instead of…a garage? or a storage shed? which is kind of how it feels right now.

To get access to the upstairs bedroom, well, we needed a new walkway. This was trickier than we expected, naturally, because it couldn’t go where we had sort of thought it should due to code-stuff and clearance-stuff and load-bearing stuff.

So instead, you come up to the top of the stairs and make a u-turn onto the new walkway. But not right now. It’s missing the railings and such. Really kind of asking for trouble, trying to walk across that right now. (This does not, of course, stop the cats. In fact, they were also undaunted when it was just the support beams. What? I’m just out for a little STROLL, clumsy human…)

That walkway leads to a big new loft area, formerly the vaulted ceiling over the dining room…

…and the new upstairs bedroom is on the other side of that lit-up area. Which is a window. Which is going to be torn out of there pretty soon.

Much as we’d like to think we’re “nearly there” given that we have, you know, walls and floors and stuff, the sad truth is: We’re barely getting started. This is actually the “easy” part – the hard parts are still to come.

Like, it’s a little hard to get the perspective from that picture, but the total clearance where the door to the new bedroom will be is, I think, less than four feet.

Clearly not going to work.

So, the whole roof on that side of the house has to be “lifted” up by several feet.

That’s where I’m pretty sure things are going to suddenly start slowing way down; and of course the “finishing” work is extremely frustrating on that front. It’s like, done, buuuuuuuut, now you’re waiting for somebody to show up with paint, and then there’s all this “OK, so, we did our hour of work and now we have to wait X-long for things to dry or set, so, see ya tomorrow, lady!” stuff…

So I’m trying to enjoy this period of easily-measurable progress while it lasts.

Even if it does involve a rather insane amount of hammering, and sawing, and banging, and crashing, and…