Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So many people have charged up (or sidled up) to ask me what, you know, I’m going to be doing, you know, WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE lately…that I’m beginning to develop something of a nervous tic on the subject.

Mind you, it’s not just me; pretty much our entire team is being dismantled. We’re talking about dozens of people who are…ahem…exploring other avenues right now.

“What are you doing? Who are you networking with? What are the job boards looking like where you’re looking? Thoughts? Opinions? Do you happen to know a guy who knows a guy who needs a {project manager, business analyst, requirements writer, QA analyst}?”

It’s kind of the topic of the day right now.

But still. I was asked this question, I kid you not, eight (8) times today. EIGHT. One person asked twice (so, obviously, the first answer didn’t work out for them).

The last person who asked it got this long, long moment of silence. And then he was all, “Oh, uh, sorry, was that, I didn’t mean, I mean, um…are you…er…okay…?”

Which made me laugh, because ohmygah, he sounded like a boyfriend who is suddenly afraid that what you’re not telling him is something like I’m pregnant.

I think what makes this a bit awkward for me is precisely the fact that everybody asking is so…completely engrossed in asking themselves the same question.

It’s a very large and important question. This is your life you’re talking about here. The question of what you’re going to do next when a job is coming to an abrupt end in a meh economy is something that should be carefully thought out, with as good a roadmap as you can reasonably get, and goals and maybe a ten-step order of events involved and all like that.

Which makes it a little hard for me to answer that question honestly…because honestly, the answer is kind of like this: Eh, I’m just going to wait and see what presents itself.

I’m not committing to much of anything. I’m not actively looking for a new gig, and I’m not actively avoiding one, either. I’m keeping my ears open, but I’m not putting out an aggressive “hire me!” campaign, either.

I’m just…open. To whatever is going to come along next.

See…something always does, is the thing.

And it’s just about always something good.

It would be good to keep on working where I am. I know this business and these systems really well – I’m a power lifter, and I like being that kind of worker.

It would also be good to switch things up and learn something new. I like learning new stuff, and let’s face it – nothing builds your skills faster than being shoved into something you haven’t done before and having to figure it out.

It would be good to take the summer off and come back at it after a six month sabbatical – I could focus on the garden and the Den, not have to deal with summertime daycare (ugh), and have us beautifully positioned for a transition back to me being unavailable a lot for a while.

It would be good financially to keep the paychecks coming. It would be good emotionally/spiritually for me to be home again.

See? It’s all good, really.

Or, it is if you choose to see it that way, maybe.

Because there are downsides to both, too; everything that is a “pro” of the one can also be seen as the “con” for the other, I suppose.

But…I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

I’m not particularly worried. I’m just…watchful. And waiting. And ready to pluck whatever manifests out of thin air – which I know it will – and just…enjoy it.

Which isn’t an answer I feel comfortable giving to people who aren’t able to be so…zen? dense? childish?

I really don’t know what to call it.

I certainly wouldn’t call it particularly smart; it’s not exactly a “take charge of your life” kind of attitude, for sure.

And I can’t explain how somebody like me – who is so big on lists and goals and execution plans and let’s break this down, let’s keep our eyes on the prize, let’s be ORGANIZED about the APPROACH, here! – can be so irritatingly laid back on something like this.

Which leaves me with little to say to someone asking that question except something lame like, “Oh, I haven’t fully decided yet…I’m just staying open to the possibilities, you know…” and then listen while they try to teach me how to network, how to lobby, how to go about getting the Next Big Thing going.

And all I can think is…I wish I knew how to teach you to pray not for any specific thing, but just for something good, for that thing you need most, whatever it may be.

With your chin up, and your eyes and hands open.

Blessings will fall around us, like cherry blossoms in a warm May breeze. But we won’t see them if our eyes are squeezed tight with effort, and we can’t catch them if our hands are cramped into fists.

I wish, how I wish, that was a thing I could teach to someone asking what to do by asking what I am going to do; but, the only thing closed harder than their eyes and hands are their ears at such a time.

Don’t give me philosophy, dammit, give me action

So I guess all I can do there, too, is wait…until the time comes when they open again. And hope it can be said in such a time, and such a place, that it can be heard.

And in the meantime, add to my own prayers a footnote…may blessings be, to all who seek…amen, amen, amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Random and Rambling

So, last week was Hell Week for most of us at work. The husband and I played tag-team all week, staying up all night handing the baton back and forth. Your turn!...your turn!...yours!...allllll yours, buddy…pssst, hey, you awake? Ya, you need to do that next thing now…

There are actually distinct advantages to the two of us working together like this – both of us slept easier when it was time to sleep, because we didn’t have to worry that the next guy wouldn’t get in touch with us the instant things were ready for our next step. And we never had the problem of “crap, I’ve called, texted, emailed, paged and still nothing…guess I have to escalate up the food chain to get somebody to start that next thing!”

The person we needed was, like, four feet away, the whole time.

Which is kinda cool. And not something you’re going to get…you know, outside the military or a snow-bunker research facility in the arctic. Or possibly the space station.

But I digress.

Around midnight Tuesday, I was starting to feel a little less than fresh. I left the house four and a half hours later, on about three hours of sleep and knowing that, after putting in a ten hour day in the office, I was going to rush home, grab something to eat, and plop back down in my increasingly uncomfortable office chair so that I could combine the mind-numbingly dull task of watching jobs run (ooo, row counts! fascinating!) with frantic spurts of activity (done! OK! I have twenty-seven minutes to completely validate that, which gives me fifteen minutes to insert any changes that need to happen before the next step fires!) until about 1:00 a.m.

I had more than a few moments, from midnight Tuesday through about, oh, 4;30 p.m. Friday, when I found myself counting to ten.


Also, I would like to pause a moment in order to bless the name of the guy who invented the delete key. FOR LO, I have been spared having to issue many apologies last week by this most miraculous of inventions…which hath permitted me to undo snarky commentary regarding the intelligence, education, and even ancestry of others and replace them with milder responses.

…sigh…Yeah. It was a long week.

But, it went well. Nothing blew up. I jumped into my crummy not-even-an-hour window three times to massage some things back where they actually belonged; one of the applications I’m supporting right now is a little bit…ahem…delicate (pronounced: buggy as @*^&@).

It can get confused if you hit it, rapid fire, with changes over consecutive nights. It also wasn’t built with an eye toward data conversions…it expects things to remain the same pretty much always, and has to be carefully taught what each new thing is and how to handle it.

So when you hit it with multiple waves of converting data over a four night period (followed by a fifth night when you add unrelated new things to it), well.

Best that somebody who knows about its tricky little ways is sitting up to handle anything…unwanted.

In related news, it hit me, really hard, that I’m the only such person still around right now. And that there is no way in @*^&@ I’m going to be able to train somebody new to do, um, any of it.

Whenever I try to think about how I would go about teaching somebody brand-spankin’-new All This…my brain locks up.

I got nothin’.

And when I then add in trying to train somebody to do this stuff while also finishing up the whackity-majillion things I absolutely, positively, without fail MUST finish up…ohmygah.

I almost feel a little sick to my stomach.

And then I sit back and try to envision a way by which we can circumnavigate the multiple policies that are standing firmly in the way of either another contract extension or a conversion to full time employee for myself so that I don’t have to deal with All This Crazy…and I ask myself, I ask, …wait, WHY did you WANT that, again…?

And I have no answer for myself. I really don’t. I don’t know why I want to stay so much; it’s not all that rational, come right down to it.

It’s just that I look around at this team of people and I think…they not only need protecting, they deserve it. Which I know makes no damned sense. They’re grownups. They can take care of themselves. They did so before I arrived, they will do so long after I’m gone. They will be fine.

But…{kicks at dirt}…it’s just…this system is so…high visibility. It does stuff that does stuff, you know? And then people, hard-working, diligent people who care deeply about their work quality but who had no reasonable way to see this ugly thing coming…get yelled at.

And that’s so damned unfair, it half kills me.

But, not a whole lot anybody can do about it. Corporate policy exists to protect the corporation from lawsuits and other unpleasantries, and should not be “always, unless of course you’d really rather not in which case, do as you please,” you know?

So, I’m just going to have to do the best I can to finish “everything” (knowing full damned well I won’t in a million years be able to), and then have faith that everything will turn out fine regardless. Because it will. That’s kind of how these things tend to go.

Meanwhile in other news, I (finally) went to the dentist this morning. Where I was promptly informed that a) yes, I have indeed broken one of my back molars, b) wow, AWESOME decay patterns, and c) eeeeeeyeah, no, we can’t just fill that sucker, you’re gonna need a new crown on that bad boy.

Wooooo, how awesome is my life?!

And then his assistant informed me that the reason one of my other teeth was reacting (ahem) negatively to the acid cold water she was spraying all over it was because, QUOTE, “well, he just removed some tartar build up in that area.” END_QUOTE

Now, friends…I really should have argued with her. Because you know what? That was not the first time that dumb tooth has reacted (ahem) negatively to hot and/or cold. Or pressure. Say, the pressure of drinking oatmeal.

That tooth…is on the fast-track to a root canal, y’all.

But I did not argue with her. Or point any of this out. Partially because she was just so smugly convinced that I was an ignorant buffoon who had no idea what the difference would be between recently-un-tartar-build-up-ed tooth sensitivity and impending-root-canal sensitivity…and partially because this would undoubtedly have resulted in the nice dentist being summoned back into the room to “investigate” what was going on there, which would have involved more pain, and you now what? @^*&@ it, I’m OUTTA here!

…yeah, I…um…don’t really…enjoy my trips to the dentist too terribly much…

…but, now that I’m home and the Motrin is wearing off…eeeeeyeah, I…am probably…going to have to…mention…this stupid tooth…when I go back…Friday…for that OTHER thing that isn’t going to be fun plus will also be rather expensive…


In happier news, I went to Stitches Saturday! And I will do a better report later, but for now the highlights:

There was yarn. Lots of yarn. I didn’t actually buy a whole lot of it because I haven’t used a whole lot of it since last year and, you know, at some point one does have to say one has enough of something.

There were also books. And I showed a lot of restraint there, too. Which is miraculous and not at all related to my current stash of knitting books, which consists merely of three of every knitting book published in the last fifteen years of so. (Kidding! It’s not that extensive! I only have a couple…hundred…of them…)

And there were all kinds of tools. And I bought a couple of them. Like a new Knit Kit, because my old one got played with by the Denizens, and they yanked the tape measure out past its breaking point and broke the counter while trying to fix the tape measure (what, with a rock or something?!) and then ‘somehow’ the little door on the back cracked off plus, where is the little crochet hook? Um…oh, there was something there…?

And I also bought some itty-bitty circular needles, which I’ve been wanting to try about forever for sock and sleeve knitting, but hadn’t actually bought yet. And I started a sock with a set of 9” 3 mm needles, and you know what?

I like it. It’s a little awkward to get used to, because the ‘needle’ part is so much smaller in length, but the smooth and switch ‘just keep knitting around and around’ is triple awesome. Plus – zero jog.

I like.

The other thing I like is, I brought Boo Bug with me. So far of all the kids, she’s the only one for whom knitting “stuck” enough to get past about three rows of garter stitch. She’s been making a scarf for quite a while now, and while it is something that she puts down far more than she picks up…well, you know what? The scarf has been growing, and she really-really wanted to come with me this year.

I was expecting a lot of whining and complaining within an hour of arriving, but she gamely trudged through the whole market – half of it twice – and stood around while I went “blah blah blah! Blah blah blah! OHMYGAH, I KNOW, RIGHT? BLAH BLAH BLAH!!” with other knitters.

And then she tried a drop spindle, and she liked it, and bwahahaha.


It was awesome to have her with me, exploring all the different stuff in the marketplace. She even bought some yarn for herself, and a couple books.

I may not be able to teach somebody how to work our relationship-ownership-application at work, but by Gah, I can teach a ten year old to appreciate hand-dyed wool.

I’m not completely hopeless, y’all.

I think that’s about all the catching up for one week. (Good grief, really? What is up with that lately? It’s like I hit Monday night and vroom! It’s Monday morning again!)

Only five more weeks before I’m cut loose from this contract. I wonder if I’ll have more time then…or less…?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An idle moment between storms

Yesterday, I pretty much worked from 7:30 a.m. right around the clock to 4:00 a.m. Then I slept in until 9:00 (well…stayed in bed until 9:00…I was awakened by a non-work text message at 5:30, and then by the nanny [pause to bless her and all her descendent unto the end of time, amen] getting the Denizens off to school, and then by a work text message to the husband at 8:00 [note that he too was up until about 3:30 in the morning for this same exercise], and then my hip decided to be angry and poke-poke-poke at me…but by golly, I stayed in bed until 9:00!).

And then I had a very slow breakfast. And lots of coffee. Lots of coffee. And then I logged in to work at 11:30. And then I worked until 4:30. And took a couple hours away to do other stuff. And then I started checking stuff. And now I have a few hours to catch some shut eye before the next round of checking stuff.

And then, after I’ve dotted the last ‘i’ and crossed the last ‘t’ for tonight (tomorrow morning?), guess what?! I have to immediately hit the road for the office. BECAUSE (ohmygah, get this) (it only gets funnier the more I think about it), I have an in-person interview.

Oh, no, not for me in re: a new job…no-no-no, for my replacement in this one.


…there must be triple the irony points that I will be interviewing this poor sap candidate after pulling two all-nighters in a row, and with the third all-nighter staring me right in the eye as I’m doing it…

…I only hope I don’t scare him off by being any combination of excessively tired, distracted, being pinged every eight seconds for one real quick thing or appearing extra hag-like…which I have to admit, I rather do right now.

Ugh. Bleary eyes. Not attractive. My eyeballs look like canned cherries that are way past their use-by date. Nice.

Anyway! Needless to say…we are in the throes of the last big data migration for the overall project this week. And in the way of Such Things, most of the action is taking place in the wee hours of the night because, inexplicably, users get a little testy when we ask if we can, you know, close down their relationship management tools for, I dunno, 2-3 days.

Picky, picky, picky.

The prolonged drama is courtesy of the President’s Day Weekend, which was a fantastic weekend to pick for this, doancha think?!

Half of the systems were closed…the other half were not. This stuff ran, that stuff didn’t. This is coming in Monday, that is coming in Tuesday, and the other won’t saunter by until Wednesday.

And for every single new inflow…Your Faithful Correspondent over here has to babysit all night. I have this one (1) tiny window of opportunity to actually intervene if something is going wrong.

And…I am literally the only person around with the know-how to actually do it right now. Which both scares the @^*&@ out of me, and stiffens my resolve that nothing, nothing, is going to get by me this week.

I will be damned – that’s right! actual cuss-word damned! – if we are going to trip over our own shoelaces right at the finish line here…there will be NO freakin’ emergency wee-hours calls with 47 people dragged out of bed to discuss the massacre and jab Fingers of Blame™ at my boss and/or my team on MY WATCH.

Thus have I spoken…thus shall it be. Hail Pharaoh!!! {clashing of cymbals, waving of palm fronds, drinking of fruity beverages}


It’s going to be a looooooong week.

Wake me when it’s over, ‘kay?…yawn…oh hey!...my schema finished snapping…gtg, ttyl!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Garden Report: February 19, 2012

The next few weeks are the part of this whole “I’m going to grow things!” exercise that I have to admit I like the least: The part where I emerge from my cozy little den, blinking in the crisp light of late winter / almost spring, to find that, for the most part, my empire looks something like this.

Organic Weeds

Aw, @^*&@.

This, friends, is the finest crop of organic weeds in the entire San Joaquin county. Yessir. We knows how to grow’em, we does.


Now to be honest…this is nothing new. I have had this annual groan-fest every year since we bought the Den. Every year, somewhere between February and March, I start dealing with the weeds and make all kinds of sweeping vows. This year (I will declare, solemnly, with the air of a knight pledging to do something all heroic and some junk) I am going to stay on TOP of this, even in the winter!

And then, well, it starts getting cold…and rainy…and there aren’t that many weeds anyway…aaaaaaaaaaand so I kind of…you know…whatever.

A few weeks ago, there were, eh, a handful of tiny weeds out here. But then we had a couple warm-ish days. And some rain. And then I looked out here the other day and went, “HOLY @*^&@ ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!?!”

…and then I thought of a few thousand other things that were way more important right now…

…and then I spent some time hoping they would, I dunno, feed the cutworms and die off…

…and then I finally motivated myself this weekend to get out there and deal with mah issues.

Weed-Free for now

Pretty much ready for duty.

And this is what my city yard waste tote looks like now.

Organic Weeds


I still need to finish fixing the drip system along this row. We had a blow-out back there last year that we never fixed, so the manifold (the sticky-up-y bit where the tubing joins) needs to be replaced and then, of course, somebody has to sit around for, like, a hundred hours, clipping tubing, doing battle with the inline drippers, capping and then installing All That onto the new manifold.

I got the manifold done today, and about a quarter of the tubing. And then the husband said, “Hey, are you going to help me with the lemons?” …ugh…

I’d been leaving them on the tree until the last second, because, well, um, because…well, officially, because I wanted to extend the season.

Unofficially? Between you and me? Because…it’s a bumper crop this year. We had counted to 400-something before our minds shut down and we stopped counting.

Bumper Batch o’Lemons


Lemons don’t last well off the tree. I now have to do something with all this. The vast majority of them will be zested and juiced. Which is hard on my hands. I seem to recall a couple years ago when we had this level of crazy-awesome gifting from this amazing little tree, my hands didn’t bend right for a week after I’d done that. I am looking forward to it in almost the exact same way I look forward to seeing the dentist.

But, darned if I’m going to waste them. I go through a lot of lemon juice with all the canning I do (aside: if you’re planning to do the same, using home-grown lemon juice instead of ‘Real Lemon’ or what-have-you, invest in some pH strips to make sure you’ve got the right acidity…it matters a lot, and varies wildly in “fresh” lemons and their juice…you need it to be between 2.4 and 2.6 pH to be ‘right’ for home canning!), and the kids are very into lemonade and so forth.

But still…sigh…maybe if I ignore them for a while, they will process themselves…?

Oh well. Worth a shot. Moving on.

Something new this year (or, newly finished) is my compost system. The husband started building this for me last season, and then it sort of sat there more or less half done-ish, and then, the poor fool made the mistake of a) noticing that I was taking some time off around our anniversary and b) thinking this would mean we would/could go somewhere fancy and romantic.

Hahahahahahahahaha! I know, right? We’ve been married fifteen years, you’d think he’d know better! So instead of going somewhere expensive and sophisticated and so forth…we went into the backyard and he finished this.

Compost system

Awwwww! Best. Anniversary. Present. EVER.

It has three bins with removable fronts on them – those slats lift out so that short people like me can get in there without a whole lot of drama.

The first bin is where the ‘fresh’ stuff goes.

Future compost

After it has cooked down about halfway or so, I turn it into the second bin.

Halfway done compost

Eventually, the stuff in the second bin looks a bit like this – at which point, it goes into the third bin to finish up.

Almost finished compost

When I need “more dirt and/or compost” somewhere, this will go through the wire mesh sieve – what falls through is finished compost / dirt, and what won’t go through trots back to the first bin for a second ride through the whole process.

Most of the beds are empty right now, waiting for it to get just a little warmer, a little more reliably. Right now we’re in the unchancy bit; our “average” last frost happens around February 9 or so, and it has started getting warmer and warmer during the day…but, funny thing about California (which is, after all, a bit of a ‘dessert’ state). We will be nice and warm during the day, but then overnight we plummet. It got up to almost 60 degrees out here today, but will probably drop down to around 34 overnight, and if you dig your hand into the soil, even at the warmest time of the day…it’s still pretty cold underground.

Seeds don’t like to germinate when it’s cold. It’s kind of a thing with them.

So instead…I’m starting them in the bathroom. Because nothing says “country chic like turning your master bathroom into a greenhouse! Am I right?!

Bathroom Greenhouse

Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!!

Now mind you, this is actually inconvenient. I like having a few plants around the bathtub – not the entire bathtub area including the bathtub itself covered in the things. BUT, it is also hands-down the single best place to get seeds started…it is sunny during the day, and gets nice and warm in there even when it’s not so warm in the rest of the house. It’s also a relatively high-Tama-traffic-area, so the plants have a much better shot at not dying from neglect.

Which is a thing that can happen to just about any living thing in this house that doesn’t make me trip over it regularly.

So I’ve got…a bunch of Roma tomatoes in some of the flats, and about five each of Cherokee Purples, yellow Jubilee, and Homestead (smaller beefsteak-type) tomatoes. I’ve got watermelons, butternut squash and pumpkins. There’s a ton of red onions, too. Jalapeno and bell peppers. Broccoli, cantaloupe and cucumbers. And brussel sprouts, which I’ve tried to grow three times now, only to lose all of them to one stupid thing or other. (Rampaging kids, a falling tree (!!) and Bug Attack of Doom + 10.)

A lot of these things could technically be direct-sown right now, but I am having a helluva time with Something chewing them down to the root out there. (I’m strongly suspecting it is slugs or snails…it might be earwigs, but frankly their numbers are way down this year, soooooo, I’m really thinking snails and/or slugs.)

And, I have had abysmal results with direct-sowing broccoli since the beginning of my gardening days. So I’m going to grow them inside until they are nice, big, hardy little transplants, and then I’m going to give them an extra-long hardening off, and I’m not putting them outside until everything is just right for them.

And then they’ll probably die anyway. But I will have given it my best effort.

Meanwhile, things are starting to slowly pick up. The artichokes are taking off – I had cut them right down to the ground to overwinter. You wouldn’t know it, looking at them today.


Some of the onions I thought had failed are actually doing just fine now.

Onions in a row

The “dead” blackberries are also starting to look alive.

Not-dead blackberries

And then, there’s this.

Nectarine blossom

The little 5-in-1 stone fruit tree has thrown out a couple of these showy pink blossoms – I looked out my kitchen window the other evening as the light was fading, and could see them from clear “over there.”

Those are the moments when I know there is hope for me yet. Sometimes I wonder if I’m losing my ability to believe in magic; I wonder if I’ve become, you know…a grownup.

And then, while up to my eyebrows in Very Important Adult Things, looking up from rinsing the dregs of my third or fourth cup of Certified Grownup Coffee© (now with extra bitter nastiness!) (sometimes I suspect it is the bitterness of coffee that actually wakes me up, not the caffeine), I see a tiny flash of pink – the first flash of color on sticks that played dead all winter.

And I feel like a kid on Christmas morning, when magically there are a thousand boxes – no, a million boxes!! – under the tree.

The magic is coming again. My empire will be fruitful. And vegetableful. Living, and giving life…rewarding my work with food.

The same old magic trick that we’ve seen since our kind crawled onto land.

Amazing that something as old as time…never gets old, for some of us.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seedlings, SQL and Strange Dreams

Man. I feel as though time is just – telescoping. The days are passing in such a blur, it’s hard for me to fix the passage of them.

Did that happen last weekend? Or the one before? Surely I still have enough time to get this or that done, wait! What day is it again? How can it be February already?!?!

And then somebody sends me an email saying, “Dude, are you sick or something? Where are you?” and I go…huh?

I don’t know that I have ever had quite this…frenetic…a pace, at the end of a contract. Usually when a longer-term contract is coming to a known end, there’s a long, slow ramping down…more and more tasks get finished, or handed off to other people…and I have less and less to do, or be responsible for…until by the time I get to the end, well, I’m usually working rather short weeks and most of my daily grind consists of sitting around knowing stuff. Others do the work, I’m just there to advise when they get stuck.

But this time…whoa nelly, it ain’t like that. Nossir. Instead of ramping down, as Dawg is my witness, things are heating up. I’m not doing less and less, I’m doing more and more.

And then I look at everything that I absolutely, positively, no matter WHAT must get done before that fast-approaching date of March 30, and I find myself torn between being grumpy as hell about having to go, and halfway to desperate to not have to go.

Can’t I just get, say, another 90 days? I think I could get ALL of this finished, if I had 90 more days… (<= this would be a lie…because in 90 days, I would probably find / be gifted with another 900 days worth of work…this is how these things always go…)

Probably in large part because I’m working myself into a tizzy about how All This is going to a) get done by me before I have to go and b) continue being done by somebody else – somebody new, GAH HELP US, I’m having a lot of trouble in my “free” time with disengaging.

And also sleeping.

A lot of trouble with that, lately. Too many thinks, not enough off button.

And then, of course, because I’m working up a fine case of sleep deprivation, I’m starting to become various combinations of grouchy, incoherent, irrational, and other fancy terms that boil down to a real pain in the arse.


Well…anyway…I have beets starting to come up!

Sprouts a beet

And one (1) pea plant!

First pea, please

Plus, when I was moving the blueberry bushes to a sunnier spot, there were some surprise Blue Nile potatoes to be had. I’d thought I’d seen a potato plant in that bed a while ago, but then I’d thought I must have been wrong because it had “vanished.” Well, it didn’t “vanish,” it died off – and the potatoes kept just fine in the ground.

Blue Nile

Last weekend I planted ten sweet potato slips (not sure how well they’re going to do, but, we’ll see). I moved the blueberries, pulled up a million more pounds of weeds, watched my husband drop five tons of tree branches right onto my onions (!!), pruned the fruit trees, and walked around my little empire just touching, touching, touching.

Feeling the dirt between my fingers, cold in some places, warm in others. Clay here, sand there. This bed, perfect. This bed, hmm.

And then it was getting dark and cold, and it was time to come in, wash up, and get ready for the week to start again.

Sometimes, my life feels like a very strange dream; like I’m moving between two different worlds that know nothing of each other.

One moving at a crazy and artificial pace, where my mind is constantly revving and racing, where I’m expected to just know, well, everything. It’s exhilarating and exhausting and wonderful and awful.

And the other, well. It moves at a languid, unhurried and unrushable pace. It will be what it will be, and it will be that when it will. Even if I apply my human cunning to the problem and make all conditions ideal…a seed will become a carrot at its own pace. It will not germinate even one day sooner no matter how much I want it to…it will not reach its full size an hour before its time. It’s awe-inspiring and humbling and frustrating and satisfying.

I dreamed today that, having gotten a really weird result from a coalesce statement and wanting to know, uh, why it had done that…I learned about data type precedence, coalesce and isnull statements, and how those three things actually function, in the dark and secret underpinnings of SQL Server. I dreamed then that I shared this with the tiny, tiny fraction of the developer team that shares my curiosity about Such Things. And that we spent about half an hour animatedly talking about it, and that it led to wondering how similar things played out in Oracle, and then there was Googling. It was awesome, and it felt incredibly good to have that interaction, to use my mind in that way, to learn something cool and useful and kinda secret, too…the dream chooses to ignore that it’s only ‘secret’ in that most people really could not care less, and therefore they don’t know and don’t wanna know.

I dreamed today that I dug my hands into soft earth, my skin analyzing how moist it was, how it held together, how it crumbled – I need to adjust the drip system here, and here and here, probably need a higher-flow bubbler at this end, too. I dreamed that I noticed my nails were, once again, ruined, and that I had a hopeless amount of dirt under them, and also that I had thoughtlessly rubbed mud on my favorite vest. And that I didn’t really care. That I stood and looked around this whispering, hope-filled place and breathed in the smells – of dirt, finished compost, the neighbor’s horses. It was cold, there in the dusk, and my nose was running…but the dirt sang promises of spring and I felt slow and timeless, like an oak tree that stands and watches for countless unmoving years.

Such strange and disparate dreams…but I suppose, they balance each other. Either one on its own could be in danger of plunging into a world that was sharply skewed, and completely unreal.

Perhaps that’s where my balance actually is – in the center-point between the two dreams, each pulling the other back from its height or depth. Without either one, I could be left too high or too low, lost and unable to find my way back down to where real, or reasonable, is.

Or perhaps…I think too darned much, about very random and esoteric things. And should really just go to bed and try to sleep all this philosophy-stuff off.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Blueberry of happiness

This is my dehydrator in action! Blueberries from last season I had dried were rehydrated in boiling water for about half an hour before being folded into muffin batter...which was then topped with a brown sugar struedel before being baked and if you'll excuse me...I have something I really need to get back to right now...


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wherein I definitely need a keeper, and possibly a chauffeur

I took Thursday, Friday and Monday off work – you know, “vacation” days? So naturally, I am now thoroughly exhausted.

Instead of spending my time away from the daily grind sipping tea with my pinkie in the air and perhaps nibbling a scone or two while pouring over books about fancy lace knitting, Your Faithful Correspondent was doing things like…yanking up so many weeds that she literally couldn’t budge the wheeled yard waste tote to the curb.

Plus some cleaning. And a lot of stuffing the remaining freezer space with things to eat. With a side serving of doing the initial run at the 2011 taxes (there’s some fun times, let-me-tell-you) and also trying to get on top of the pile of papers I’m told I’m supposed to read and understand and (here’s the corker) respond to in some way.


Naturally, I was still dashing around like a crazy person Sunday night trying to do just one more thing. I didn’t get to sleep until almost 1:00 in the morning.

Then, when the alarm went off at 3:30…for some unknown reason…I found it incredibly hard to, you know, get up.

In fact, I found it impossible. I didn’t pry myself out of bed until 6:00, when I had to because it was time to start motivating the children.

At 6:30, Vanessa the Great (our nanny) arrived to take over the child-motivating, and I sat down at my corporate laptop to sheepishly admit that I would be working from home that day – because one of the awesome things about my commute is that it is extremely time-of-day sensitive.

If I leave by 4:30 a.m., I will be in the office by 6:00. If I leave at 5:00, it will be around 7:30. If I leave at 5:30, we’re looking at 8:30. And if I leave at 6:30 in the morning…eeeeeyeah. Um. I will be there…eventually. Probably. (But I do always make sure pack a lunch, dinner, a change of clothes, plenty of water, signal flares, a portable toilet…just in case…)

And then…well. See, the downside of working from home for me is that it is entirely too easy for me to just kind of keep going. Which I did. From 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., with one (1) dash downstairs between meetings to make another coffee and microwave a bowl of Spanish rice. And frankly, at 10:00, it was a bit of a struggle for me to disengage, already.

I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place right now; somehow I’ve become that person for a couple of our applications – the “only one” who knows how to figure out why something is happening, and whether we should do anything about it, and what to do about it. So when things start going wrong somewhere, wellllllll…there’s only one person who can set it right and dammit, that’s ME.

The minute I opened my email, I was already in trouble. I was in Email Jail and it wasn’t only successful batch reports and cute pictures of kittens. Curses.

We have a Big Visible Thing coming up next weekend (which may cause “my” applications to do all kinds of bizarre, unexpected things), and there were questions around that from the testers.

PLUS there’s this other Big Visible Thing (which “my” applications have the most amazing ability to completely screw up due to such ‘unexpected’ things as it being a Monday) (Dawg mah witness, sometimes I think I’m just dreaming some of the crazy-arsed crap that goes down in this so-called system of mine…it’s like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole or something!).

And I’ve got a whack of questions in my inbox from folks about why this is that and that is this and where did that go and I can’t know whether it’s something scary or something eh, whatever until I’ve looked at it…which takes time and speaking of time…holy crap, now it’s almost 11:00 and I’m still sitting here staring at the wall visualizing the data lifecycle in my head trying to figure out where and why as we go through this huge Magic Loop of ours we would have dropped that override because honestly, it makes no sense no matter how I look at it…GAH, STOP, DISENGAGE, REPEAT! DISENGAGE!!!!!

(You know what would help me a lot? Not caring. If I could just not care about people on my team looking bad and/or our data being Total Crap and/or screwing up downstream systems and having them look bad [followed of course by us looking bad, AGAIN], I’d get so much more sleep. Curse you, sense of honor and responsibility!)

But eventually I wandered to bed and fell into it.

And then we come to this morning.

My alarm went off and I – having sworn on a stack of holy writs in front of about forty witnesses that I would so do, amen – rolled out of bed with what might be called a hint of resentment and proceeded to perform my morning dressing ritual.

Which consisted first of standing in the middle of my closet with a blank expression on my face going, “Duuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh…” while staring at all the clean, pressed, ready-to-wear garments all around me because wait, what do I do with these again…?

Having finally selected something that didn’t really go together but who would notice anyway and pulled half of it on, I realized that my armpits were an offense to God and Man and that really, for the good of humanity, I needed to remove that layer of clothing and apply some deodorant.

So then I…wait. I must preface the next scene of this farce with the following: At the time this took place, I swore myself to secrecy. I will NEVER tell a living soul this happened, I promised myself. This is because I take myself way more seriously in the first hour or so of being-awake than I do the rest of the time, and felt it might damage my image if I revealed what had happened.

A few hours later, I remembered that I really don’t even have an image, so, what the hell – this is kinda funny, I oughta share it.

So I yanked off the first layer of shirt-stuff, opened the cupboard, grabbed the deodorant out of it and rubbed it vigorously on my stinky armpits.

It felt weird, like I had forgotten to take the cap off it or something. Gah danged stupid why can’t they make these things easier to…wait…that’s…oh…


It wasn’t deodorant.

It was a bottle of prescription medication. A bottle which is a) maybe a quarter the diameter of the deodorant and b) a circle, whereas the deodorant is an oval and c) so not gonna help with my stinky problem.


And then I finished dressing, made coffee, got in the car and drove myself to the train station. And the whole time I was driving, I was nervously aware that if any of the police officers I was undoubtedly passing along the way knew that they were looking at a car driven by a woman who had attempted to de-stink her armpits with a bottle of prescription anti-inflammatory medication…well, they would have Just Cause for pulling me over, don’t you think?

Now, I told you all of that so I could tell you this: I’m pretty sure I need a keeper. And probably also a chauffeur. Plus also to go to bed about, um, now-ish.


Friday, February 03, 2012

Happy feet, a favorite thing

Y'all know how I am in the kitchen, right? During the work week, I probably spend less than 30 minutes altogether in there, but on most weekends?

I practically have a cot under the kitchen table to sleep on. I try to remember to SIT! DOWN! whenever I can - while peeling or slicing or whatever - but usually the angle ends up being awkward or something...so I pretty much end up logging anywhere from 10 to 14 hours on my feet in the kitchen at least ONE of my precious, fleeting two days of glorious, catch-up-on-everything weekend. Sometimes BOTH days, when I've got enormous quantities of garden output to process or something.

And then I wonder why my hip and back hurt so $&#%*#ing much on Monday. GEE I WONDER WHY.

I had been looking at those "professional gel mats" that suddenly started showing up everywhere, but had shied away from the $70 - $149 price tags. (Go figure.)

How much could it REALLY help, anyway? Maybe some nice $5-10 gel inserts would be just as good. (They are not. Mind you they don't HURT [for the most part, except when the fit is so bad in the shoes that they throw my entire body off], but they are NOT a cure for being on my feet way too long at one go.)

A while back, Costco had these mats for (if memory serves) $15. I circled them about three times before finally deciding that for $15, it was worth a try.


When this wears out (which it will, all too soon - it really wasn't designed for the heavy use I'm putting it through), I am SO investing in the biggest, most industrial gel mat I can find.

I'm already watching for sales, yo.

My Monday Morning joint pain is so much better (well, with a little seasonal adjustment for the cold / damp weather, which tends to add some Owie Points regardless), and even better, my weekend use of pain killers (aside: I only WISH they ACTUALLY killed it...not to whine or anything [warning: whining ahead!] but I am HEARTILY tired of the achy-joint thing!) use is way, way, WAY down.

Which makes me happy in a hundred ways.

Thank you, Cheap Little Floor Mat. You are one of my favorite little things. I will mourn when you go to the Great Floor Mat Hereafter.