||Monday, 17 February 2014 7:03pm
Desserts! And Some Gardening
2 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I've been trying a lot of dessert recipes lately. My dinner efforts have subsided (hopefully temporarily) into routine repetition of already familiar recipes, but my desserts have been adventurous. First, a few weeks ago, I tried Claudia Roden's orange almond cake recipe
, which is a very strange cake recipe because, first, it does not contain any flour (which means I can serve it to my gluten-free friends!) and second, it does contain two entire oranges . . . including the peels. You're supposed to remove the seeds, but I used homegrown oranges that didn't have any seeds. Also, I substituted homegrown pecans for almonds, so what I made was actually orange pecan cake. It turned out quite well. Grinding the pecans into tiny bits was a lot of work, though. In the future, I should probably just buy pre-ground nuts rather than grinding my own.
Next, I followed a recipe called Impossible Pie
. The recipe claims that although you just mix all the ingredients together, the "flour will settle to form crust" while the "coconut forms the topping." The different ingredients didn't really look to me like they separated much at all though, nor do they look to me in the pictures online like they separated much for anyone else either. I don't think it deserves to be called either impossible or pie. It turned out to be a perfectly delicious custard, though, and very easy to make.
Then yesterday I followed a recipe for Nutella cheesecake
, except that as with the orange almond cake recipe, I didn't actually follow it. I substituted a Nutella-equivalent chocolate-almond spread for the chocolate-hazelnut that the recipe called for, and I substituted chopped homegrown pecans for the chopped hazelnuts on top. (I never miss an opportunity to use up some of my pecans.) It turned out extremely well.
I also gardened a bit this weekend. It will be interesting to see what sort of results I get from my garden this spring, considering that I spent all last summer taking obsessively good care of it in anticipation of a backyard wedding, then completely ignored it from late September through late November while dealing with having the wedding called off, managed to pay more attention to it in December when I was starting to feel better again, and then promptly resumed completely ignoring it for the next month and a half due to being diagnosed with breast cancer. And then there's the drought; I provided absolutely no supplemental water, not so much due to eco-consciousness as due to being completely distracted from the garden. Hopefully my two huge 60-year-old trees (pecan and southern magnolia) will forgive me for leaving them to suffer through the drought without help. They seem all right. A few of the smaller plants I put in last summer are dead, but all things considered, the garden is in much better shape (and a lot less hopelessly overrun by weeds) than it easily could be - my December efforts must have helped.
A few of the plants are starting to suspect now that spring is on the way, but they're mostly the non-natives that came with the house. ( plant pictures!Collapse ) Mood: accomplished
|Tuesday, 10 December 2013|
||Tuesday, 10 December 2013 11:26pm
Apple-Pecan Cooking Efforts, and One Misguided Carrot-Pecan Cooking EffortSpeak Your Mind
My major cooking theme has now shifted from oranges and pecans to apples and pecans. I need to buy more ingredients, though, because there are several apple-pecan dishes I want to make that I don't have the proper ingredients for. So far I've followed two recipes, one for "nut-filled baked apples" (in the crock-pot) and one for "caramel apple and pecan bread" (in the bread machine). Both are pictured below. I was fairly happy with the the nut-filled baked apples, but not as happy with the bread. My bread machine breads practically all come out denser than I want them to, to one extent or another, and this bread was no exception. I think I need to experiment with shrinking the recipes slightly, because lack of sufficient space in the bread machine might be what's causing the problem.
Diverging from the apple portion of my theme, I pulled up another monstrously humongous carrot from my garden and attempted to make dinner out of it tonight, but things took some unexpected turns. I followed a recipe for carrot salad and somehow accidentally made pasta sauce instead.
The recipe called for a mix of shredded carrots, dill, and raisins topped with a salad dressing made from lemon juice, mustard, honey, garlic, and olive oil. I skipped the dill because it's green, thereby turning this into my perfect idea of salad: one with absolutely no green vegetables whatsoever. And I added toasted pecans because I'm adding pecans to everything
until I use up all the homegrown pecans.
However, things went rather wrong with the carrot. I remembered that a month ago I successfully shredded carrots in the blender by cooking them slightly beforehand to soften them up, so I thought I would do that again this time. Unfortunately, this time around I forgot the "slightly" part and cooked the carrot very thoroughly. As a result, when I put it in the blender I got liquefied carrot rather than shredded carrot. So I stirred the liquid carrot into the salad dressing and tried to turn it into carrot-raisin soup. Unfortunately, the lemon juice was way, way
too strong for my tastes. So to dilute it to tolerable levels, I used it as a pasta sauce instead. It was actually a fairly decent pasta sauce. I don't think I'd intentionally make it again in quite the same way, but it might be worth experimenting with variations on it. Mood: creative
|Saturday, 7 December 2013|
||Saturday, 7 December 2013 1:37pm
It Snowed! It Snowed!
3 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It snowed! It snowed! Real snow, not just a large amount of hail that sort of looks like snow, which is somewhat less unheard of here. But real snow! I don't think it's ever before snowed this much at my home in my adult life. It snowed about this much once when I was a kid, and also once in the first winter after I was born. But not since then.
It snowed for about 20 minutes! And then it stopped for about an hour, and I took pictures. And then it rained for about 20 minutes. By the time the rain stopped, the snow was all gone. Then the sun came out, and it hasn't stopped shining brightly ever since.
But look! It snowed on my very own house!( Snow! Snow! More pictures of snow!Collapse ) Mood: ecstatic
||Monday, 2 December 2013 7:57pm
Orange-Pecan Cooking Efforts
1 Mind Spoken | Speak Your Mind
The theme of my cooking efforts lately is oranges and pecans. It's a particularly appropriate theme for me since I have both a pecan tree and an orange tree in my yard. I didn't go looking for orange-pecan recipes, though; I went looking for pecan recipes, and they turned out to frequently feature oranges. I used homegrown pecans but not homegrown oranges, because none of the ten oranges on my orange tree are ripe yet. Well, and neither of the recipes I tried used actual oranges anyway.
Yesterday I made chicken with orange-pecan rice. This is only a little advanced beyond Rice-a-Roni; it comes from a boxed mix, but rather than following the recipe on the box, I followed a recipe in a cookbook that said to add orange juice, chicken, and pecans, and then bake the result in the oven. It tastes fantastic. (And while you're looking at it, you can admire my new china. I love that it has insects on it.)
I also started some orange-pecan buns yesterday, and finished them today. I've owned my breadmaker for about eight or nine years now, but this was the first time I've ever used it just on the "dough" cycle and shaped the dough by hand and finished the cooking in the oven. They're filled with a mixture of toasted pecans and orange marmalade; I cut one open to try to show the filling, but you can't actually see much. They're okay, but I was more thrilled by the orange-pecan rice. The marmalade is a bit more sugary than I would have preferred. Mood: accomplished
|Saturday, 30 November 2013|
||Saturday, 30 November 2013 11:44am
Exciting New Household Chores
1 Mind Spoken | Speak Your Mind
Today I mowed the lawn for the first time ever! My first time mowing any lawn at all, ever. I'm sure it will be less exciting in future times, but it will probably also be less confusing in future times. I had to stop several times to read the instructions manual to figure out why the mower engine was stopping and refusing to restart.
It's a self-propelled mower, so I still have no idea how much harder it would be with a non-self-propelled mower. But my house is on more than a quarter-acre lot, so it was still a fair amount of work. Midway through the task, I figured out that wearing gloves is extremely helpful for reducing hand fatigue. I also took a five-minute break between the front yard and the back yard, which seemed to really help. And I'm extremely glad that I dug out as much lawn as I did over the past year to install garden beds. The lawn is still huge, but it's a little bit less huge than it started out being.
Immediately after I finished the mowing, I also edged both yards with the weedeater. I've used a weedeater before, but it's been a while, and I found that it was a lot easier than I remembered. The weedeating really required practically no effort at all.
Yesterday I achieved another major first by using my new crock-pot for the first time. I followed a recipe that came with the crock-pot, for barbecue pulled pork. Except I didn't actually bother with much pulling of the pork, and I decided not to make a sandwich out of it as the recipe suggested. Also, the warnings in the crock-pot directions to make sure to always include enough liquid caused me to question whether even the recipes that came with the crock-pot included enough liquid, so I added some apple juice just to be on the safe side.
And then, just to make myself feel like I'd prepared more of a fully developed meal, even though there was already so much food that it's going to take me all weekend to finish the leftovers, I also put together a side dish. A spontaneous side dish without any particular recipe: a red potato and a sweet potato, baked and mashed together with butter and the now-pork-flavored apple juice/barbecue sauce on it. I was pleased with the results. I was also pleased with the way the crock-pot made the entire house food-scented.
I also weeded the garden a bit yesterday, harvested some more pecans, and raked the back lawn in preparation for today's mowing. It's been nearly two months since my fingers were last their normal color; they get permanently stained dark brown or black by pecan juices, and I keep re-staining them every few days, so the stain isn't going to get a chance to wear off until the pecans stop falling.
The pecan curing and storage process doesn't seem to be going as well this year as last year, though. The pecans are supposed to cure for several weeks and then go into storage in the freezer, but some of them seem to rot before I get them into the freezer. I'm not sure why. Last year I didn't have this problem.
I also did one load of dishes and two loads of laundry today, and changed the bedsheets. All this when I also worked half a day of overtime today and another half a day of overtime yesterday.
Jessica is coming over tomorrow afternoon, and I'm hoping to get her help in figuring out where to hang my various pictures on the walls. If I get up early enough, I may also go hiking in the morning before she arrives, probably at Daugherty Hill State Wildlife Area again, just taking a different path than last time. I'm not sure whether I'll end up actually having time for that, but if I do, it would be nice to get a chance to use my new hiking backback with hydration reservoir for the first time.
Stardust seems to be really enjoying being the only cat of the household now. Wherever I go, she's constantly within a few inches of me and usually purring very loudly. Right now I'm on the couch, so she's sitting behind my head. She's made it very clear that she does not believe in sitting on the actual seat of the couch, ever. She always sits behind my head. Then if I don't pay enough attention to her, she squeaks plaintively directly into my ear until I pet her. Then she starts purring again. Mood: accomplished
||Sunday, 24 November 2013 10:51pm
6 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I didn't get nearly as much done this weekend as I had hoped to, but I suppose my hopes were a bit unrealistic. For a weekend that I was forced to work through a significant portion of, I accomplished a fair amount.
I scattered the last of my native wildflower seeds today. I should have done this at least a month ago, but, well, becoming abruptly and unexpectedly single can really throw off a gardening schedule. Now it's done. I also managed to weed a little and to harvest some more pecans. Pecan season is starting to wind down, I think. Next will be pecan leaf
season, in which every leaf on the tree falls to the ground.
With high expectations, I dug up my sweet potato plant today. It was a huge disappointment. The top growth was lovely, and the roots were numerous, but the only actual sweet potato I found among the roots was the one I'd planted in the first place. Oh well. I made the best of it by picking all the best-looking leaves off the vine to save for Jessica's family. I tried eating one myself, but it tasted like what it is - a green vegetable - so I didn't like it. Oh, and I took this picture of the sweet potato plant just before I dug it up, so you can see how beautiful and promising it looked from above ground.
My efforts to teach myself to cook seem to have veered off on a tangent that I'm not sure whether I like. I went shopping at Grocery Outlet and ran across a couple of specialized containers designed to improve the quality of microwave cooking. These have helped me make a wider variety of foods, but they're not helping me learn to make anything outside of the microwave. I did finally receive the first two cookbooks I ordered in the mail everal weeks ago, though, so maybe things will continue improving. I also bought a crock-pot, but I'm feeling rather confused by it. I ordered a crock-pot cookbook, but I haven't received it yet, and I don't think I'm going to start feeling very comfortable with the crock-pot until I do.
I need to figure out how to cook something or other to bring to a Thanksgiving-on-Saturday dinner next weekend with my friends Alyson and Jackie and various other friends of theirs. My usual go-to food for pot-luck events at work, back when I didn't work from home, was homemade bread, but Alyson and Jackie are gluten-free, and I think I'd rather learn to make something else entirely than just experiment with gluten-free bread. I suppose that if all else fails, I could just bring some homegrown pecans, but I'd like to use the event as a reason to actually learn to cook something instead. I'd also like to host Jessica's family for a Christmas Eve dinner like Susan and I did last year, but since it's just me now, that also means that I need to learn how to cook something. Though I suppose I actually do know how to cook turkey already. At least, I used to cook turkey roast all the time back when I was last single. I should still be able to manage that much now, even though I haven't done it in more than six years.
My biggest step toward making the kitchen mine so far has been to simply buy my own china. I owned practically no dishwares of my own anymore - I never owned much to begin with, and most of what I did own had broken over the years since I was last single - but now I own lovely fine china with pictures of flowers, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs, and bees on it. The insects really won me over. It's nice to see ecological health on my dinner plates. Anyway, buying the china does bring me a significant step closer to being able to entertain company like an adult again. Now I just need to develop a few dinners that I can cook reliably. I can master at least one good dinner by Christmas, right? With a decent array of side dishes? I can probably manage a few side dishes right now, actually. Timing them to be ready at the same time as the dinner, though, I doubt I'd be much good at.
Another thing I did this weekend was to repaint the ceiling of the pink bathroom shower. It needs a few more coats, though, before it will be done.
Yesterday I went for a walk at sunset. Not a particularly long walk. This panoramic photo shows almost the entire area that I walked through. On the far right is my neighborhood. To the left of that is the asphalt walking paths on the levee. To the left of that is the railroad track, and to the left of that is the city cemetery. If you could see just a little farther left, you'd see Highway 70, and to the left of that is St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, which is where I walked to. Not for any particular reason; it just happened to be as far as I had time to walk by sunset.( A few more pictures.Collapse ) Mood: contemplative
||Sunday, 17 November 2013 2:26am
Daugherty HillSpeak Your Mind
On Friday I took the afternoon off work and went hiking at the Daugherty Hill Unit of Daugherty Hill State Wildlife Area. I had previously hiked at the Donovan Hill Unit of the same state wildlife area, but not at this unit. I thought about taking Boston with me, but there were cattle at the Donovan Hill Unit when I hiked there, so I thought there might be cattle at the Daugherty Hill Unit also, and I didn't want to deal with Boston freaking out at the sight of cattle. As it turned out, there weren't any cattle. However, I did see two horseback riders with an unleashed dog between them, so I was glad not to have Boston with me during that.
I think I hiked about six or seven miles. That's a very rough estimate based on looking at the aerial view of the trails in Google Maps. It felt like a much, much easier hike than the seven-mile hike to Feather Falls, but I suppose that was because it was a lot flatter. Not actually flat, that is, but merely hilly rather than mountainous. I did wish I'd had the good sense to bring some water with me. I need to buy myself a CamelBak or equivalent and bring it with me whenever I hike. Susan had one, but I never bothered buying a separate one for myself, and now I need to.
Anyway, it was a good hike, even without water. Here is a view of the Sutter Buttes from Daugherty Hill.( More pictures!Collapse ) Mood: independent
|Thursday, 7 November 2013|
||Thursday, 7 November 2013 10:45pm
Putting My Life Back Together
2 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I made a carrot cake today. I also made carrot juice, but I drank the carrot juice before I took this picture. Both creations happened for the purpose of using up some incredibly humongous carrots from my garden. (Like, carrots four inches in diameter. Serious monstrosity carrots.) I don't even really like
carrots, I only planted the stupid carrots because Susan wanted them, and then whenever I harvested any she didn't seem to like them. And then it turned out she didn't like me either, at least not enough to refrain from romancing another woman while still living with me. Apparently this has been going on since May. I found out about it in September. On October 16, Susan officially dumped me to be with the other woman.
And tomorrow marks one week since Susan moved out of here and into the other woman's house. Today's carrot juice and carrot cake are, I think, the first two good things to result from her leaving me. Hopefully they'll be the first of many.
I don't absolutely hate carrots. When I was a little kid and my parents said I had to eat one vegetable or I wouldn't be allowed to eat dessert, I would choose to eat one carrot stick because it was preferable to eating one pea, or one of really any vegetable that was green. Carrots are not green, so I can sort of stand to eat them sometimes. However, they do tend to have a distinctly greenish taste that prevents me from enjoying them. And the carrot monstrosities from my garden added up to way more carrot than I could ever possibly have persuaded myself to eat. Thus, creativity was called for. It was a perfect opportunity to attempt to fill one of the many holes Susan left in my life by learning to make food.
(Technically, I suppose, I had already made the carrot. Susan never made food
in that sense of the phrase, so on some level, I actually have a whole lot more experience than Susan does at making food. Still, I can't grow many complete meals in my garden, so I'm going to have to learn new skills.)
Anyway, my first idea was carrot juice. I looked up some recipes online. The recipes all said to blend the carrot in a blender, possibly combining it with various other ingredients. I doubted that my blender was up to the task. I chopped my carrot monstrosities into little bits and boiled them on the stovetop for a while to soften them up enough that I thought my blender might be able to handle them. I filled the blender to the brim with chopped carrot bits and then filled the gaps between the carrot bits with apple juice, also all the way to the brim. The blender struggled a whole lot. I've actually never seen to blender struggle as much with anything as it struggled with this (and the blender is one of the few kitchen appliances that I do actually have considerable experience using). Eventually, though, it shredded most of the carrot.
I used a strainer to remove the carrot shreds from the carrot juice. The carrot juice is really probably more apple juice than carrot, but I've had carrot juice from the grocery store before, and my homemade carrot juice tastes pretty much identical.
However, I only obtained one glass of carrot juice. The remainder of the blender's contents consisted of carrot shreds. I searched the Internet for possible uses for carrot shreds. Thus, the carrot cake was born.
Technically, I didn't finish the recipe. I was supposed to make frosting for it as well, but I don't think I'm up to that tonight. Also, I made the carrot cake in lieu of making any dinner, which detracts somewhat from my sense of accomplishment. Unless the carrot juice can count as dinner? I'll just say I had a liquid dinner tonight.
Anyway, the carrot cake tastes good! It really, really does. Unfortunately it's so filling and so huge that I estimate it will take me at least a month to finish eating it all on my own, and I'm sure it won't last that long. Well, former neighbor Jessica will probably visit soon, and maybe she'll bring her kids, and I can feed a good portion of the cake to them. Or I can go visit my friends Alyson and Jackie and their kids and bring them some cake. So I'll find ways to get rid of it.
The photograph itself is a study in pretending that everything is okay. The little table and two chairs in the background, giving the impression of happy couplehood even though that's all over. The table and chairs themselves will be gone soon; they're Susan's, and she's taking them with her. If you look very closely, you can kind of see, in the shadows of the doorway at the upper right, the stacks of cardboard boxes that I've been frantically packing Susan's stuff into. Yes, I'm packing most of her stuff for her - the alternatives would be to have her spend a whole lot of time here packing it herself or have it linger for a long time, taking up space and bringing back painful memories, so packing it for her seems to me like the best of the options.
But the baskets of fruit and nuts are the main things adding a sense of abundance to the background of the photograph. And those things aren't going to leave when Susan does. The nuts are from our, excuse me, my
pecan tree, in our, excuse me, my
back yard (well, not really all mine yet, in the monetary sense, but hopefully it will all be legally in my name only by the end of this month). The tree is at the peak of its harvest season right now, and I've been harvesting daily. I harvested all the pecans myself. Even last year, I harvested all the pecans myself; pecan harvesting was my job alone all along. So it's fair for me to claim full credit for the abundance of pecans.
The fruit in the baskets isn't homegrown. It includes some of the same kinds of fruit that will be homegrown soon; the orange tree has ten oranges on it that should all start ripening very soon (okay, in the photograph you can't even see any oranges in the baskets, but they're there), and I've planted two apple trees, although they're too small to produce fruit yet. But the actual fruit in the photograph is just fruit from our, excuse me, my
box of fruit delivered to the doorstep once a month. Still, I paid for this month's delivery all by myself, so I suppose I can claim credit for that also.
So: abundance! Food! Harvest! Successful acquisition of new skills! I can do this! I can keep the whole household running all by myself, even though I still have three mammalian pets to take care of (I got Susan to agree to take Ganymede with her) and all the fish and, well, Jessica's entire family, kind of. And even though I have yet to actually operate the lawnmower successfully (though I did get Susan to show me how). Okay, so I'm not really quite entirely confident about any of this yet, but there's hope. At least today's cooking experiment was a success. Mood: accomplished
|Sunday, 15 September 2013|
||Sunday, 15 September 2013 12:35pm
September Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
6 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It's time for September Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
! The best thing about trying to prepare a garden for a wedding is the opportunity to mentally excuse myself for spending tons of money on plants since, after all, the amount of extra money I'll spend on gardening this year compared to most years is still far less than most people spend money on flowers and decor for their weddings. Gardening is the only form of wedding decor we're buying, and I get to keep all the plants for as long as they live.
This is a coyote mint (Monardella villosa
) in the garden bed under our front window. The flower is at the end of a two-foot-long stem, so I pulled it onto my lap yesterday to photograph it with my purple corduroy skirt as a background. (Yes, I know the background looks blue rather than purple. No, I don't know why my camera decided to make my purple skirt look blue. The other colors seem true to life, though.) Coyote mint doesn't normally develop two-foot-long stems, but I think this plant is getting more shade than it's comfortable with, so it's reaching out to try to find some sun. ( More pictures!Collapse )
||Friday, 16 August 2013 5:20pm
August Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
2 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I missed the last two Garden Bloggers' Bloom Days
, and I'm already running a bit late for this one, and I'm likely to miss more in the near future, because, well . . . wedding-planning is time-consuming! At least if you're also doing other things with your life that keep you busy as well. But for now, I'm going to try to catch up by posting all my garden pictures from the last three months. We'll start with June. One of the most exciting garden events in June was the continued blooming of my leopard lily (Lilium pardalinum
), which began blooming in May. It's native to California and Oregon. I saw this plant in the wild on our Snake Lake camping trip
in 2009.( June to AugustCollapse ) Mood: busy
||Wednesday, 26 June 2013 7:51am
We're Getting Married!!!!!
17 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
Only five years later than we wanted to. Still feeling bitter about having to ask four different courts for permission first (one state court and three federal courts), but . . . we're getting married! We're getting married! We're getting married! Mood: FINALLY.
||Thursday, 16 May 2013 1:23am
May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
7 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
again, and the garden has peaked. The wildflower meadow in the side yard that I showed off last month is completely gone now, and I've been digging out the Bermuda grass underneath it. Some plants are still at their peak, and a very small number haven't reached their peak yet, but the majority of them have passed their peak. No matter; I have photos from all throughout the past month, and nearly all the plants have looked great at some point in the past month.
I'll start with some plants that are winding down. The little garden I installed alongside the patio last summer no longer looks as good as it did when I took this picture. The native annual mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata
) is not entirely dead yet, but there's a lot less of it now than there was in this picture.( Much more!Collapse ) Mood: accomplished
||Tuesday, 16 April 2013 8:21am
April Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
5 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
again, and I'm trying hard to keep up with it all. Skipping too many months of Bloom Day posts in a row has caused me to have more trouble remembering plant names than I ever used to. Now that the initial overwhelming period after buying a new house has somewhat subsided, I need to try to stay in practice better.
One of my first gardening activities when we moved in last summer was to dig out the Bermuda grass lawn in the side yard to create a food garden. However, I was only able to finish digging out about two thirds of the area before the weather turned too wintery to facilitate killing Bermuda grass. Upon realizing that I would have to postpone the rest of the digging until next summer, I decided, more or less on the spur of the moment, to toss some native wildflower seeds into the undug area. Not having planned this ahead of time, I'd already used up my seeds of most of the native wildflower species, so I only had seeds of two species left: birds' eye gilyflower (Gilia tricolor
) and Douglas' meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii
). I tossed them both in the undug area, and for good measure, I also tossed some in the pathway down the middle of the dug area. Having always believed that native wildflower beds needed to be weeded to grow well, I did not anticipate nearly such dramatic results as I got.
The undug area is in the foreground below. The tall plant with pink flowers is a native mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata
) that somehow got mixed in. The food is planted in the back two thirds, but there's a stripe of meadowfoam down the middle where the path is. Silhouetted against the air conditioner is a lettuce plant that has bolted. ( More!Collapse )
||Wednesday, 27 March 2013 1:22am
Prop 8 Arguments, Summarized
11 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
The actual transcript is here
. Below is my summary.Cooper Argues for the Sponsors of Prop 8COOPER:
My clients have standing to bring this case.GINSBURG, KAGAN, ROBERTS, and SOTOMAYOR:
We don't think so.SCALIA and KENNEDY:
We do think so! They do have standing!BREYER:
I'm not sure. We need to think some more about standing.COOPER:
Anyway, marriage can't be allowed between same-sex couples because, well, it hasn't been in the past. Not ever at all anywhere, because I am hopelessly ignorant of history. Also, babies! Same-sex couples don't have them the right way.GINSBURG:
Sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, so it should be subject to heightened scrutiny.KENNEDY:
I'm afraid Ginsburg might be right. But that makes me uncomfortable, so I'm trying really hard to find a way to avoid that conclusion. I just haven't found a way quite yet.SOTOMAYOR:
Ginsburg is right.KAGAN:
Well, Prop 8 doesn't even pass rational basis scrutiny.KENNEDY:
Kagan may have a point. Hmm. I'll make a point of not seeming fully decided here, because I don't want to ruin the suspense. I like how everyone is paying so much attention to me!SCALIA:
Cooper is incompetent, so I'll take over and argue his case for him. Obviously, gay people should not be allowed to get married, because they should not be allowed to raise children.KENNEDY:
But the 40,000 children being raised by same-sex couples in California want their parents to be allowed to get married. Think of the children! Oops, did I tip my hand? Pretend you didn't hear that. Carry on.BREYER, KAGAN, and GINSBURG:
People don't have to be capable of having children together to be allowed to get married.SCALIA:
Oh, shut up. I'm not listening to you people. See my fingers in my ears? La la la la la la la.COOPER:
In conclusion, marriage licenses exist for the purpose of preventing old married heterosexual men from impregnating younger women who are not their wives. I will of course completely ignore both the obvious question of what on earth is wrong with also preventing old same-sex-married bisexual men from impregnating younger women who are not their husbands and also the fact that my own marriage license didn't prevent me from cheating on my own wife.Olson Argues for Same-Sex CouplesOLSON:
The sponsors of Prop 8 do not have standing to bring this case.KENNEDY, ALITO, and SCALIA:
They do too have standing!ROBERTS:
No, they don't have standing. Maybe we can give standing to somebody else and they can appeal, so we'll be able to drag this case out for even more years.SOTOMAYOR and BREYER:
Yes, it seems like somebody ought to have standing, but maybe not these particular people.OLSON:
Anyway, marriage is important to people. Preventing couples from getting married makes them feel very, very sad, and it's not fair to do mean things like that to people just because the people they want to marry are of the same sex as them. There isn't any good reason to be mean to them like that.ROBERTS:
But that's what we've always done in the past, so obviously that makes it perfectly okay.SCALIA:
I completely agree. Since I don't see gay people mentioned in the Bill of Rights, there can't possibly be any right to same-sex marriage. I mean, if there were such a right, when could it possibly have started existing?OLSON:
It started existing when we as a society decided to just assume that surely scientists are going to discover a gay gene any moment now and so we assume that gay people can't control themselves.ALL NINE JUSTICES:
Let's just silently fail to take any notice of how Olson just threw his clients under the bus by implying that the moment that either a gay gene is proven not to exist or a gene therapy is developed to eliminate the gay gene (one or the other of which will surely happen eventually), it's okay to rescind the right to same-sex marriage and tell all the same-sex couples that they should just break up with each other and convert to heterosexuality if they want any rights.KENNEDY:
Making a broad ruling that would affect states other than California seems way too scary for me, but the Ninth Circuit's excuse for not doing that was stupid. Could you please give me an actual decent-sounding excuse that will allow me to avoid letting most same-sex couples in the country actually get married yet?ALITO:
But gay people in California aren't fundamentally different from gay people in other states, are they?ROBERTS:
No same-sex couples anywhere can be allowed to get married because that just doesn't count as marriage. It just doesn't.SOTOMAYOR:
If we allow same-sex marriage, do we have to allow polygamy?OLSON:
Of course not, because having one spouse is a different thing than having more than one spouse. Having more than one spouse is a lot more complicated.SOTOMAYOR:
Well, I agree with Kennedy that making a broad ruling that would affect states other than California seems way too scary. Could you please hurry up and give us a decent-sounding excuse that will allow us to avoid providing justice to any same-sex couples outside of California?KENNEDY:
The problem is that we have no idea what would happen if we allowed same-sex couples to get married, because even though we've been doing that already in Massachusetts for almost a decade and in other countries for longer, I'm sure no one has actually collected any data whatsoever about the results. Oh, this is so terrifying! I don't want to have to make this decision right now! Why in the world did we agree to decide this case at all?Verrilli Argues for the Department of JusticeVERRILLI:
We really don't want to take any position about standing, but I guess if we have to, we tend to think that the sponsors of Prop 8 don't have standing.ALITO:
I can hardly wait to hear what you're going to say about standing in the DOMA case tomorrow. This one today is so much less interesting.VERRILLI:
Anyway, my main point is that it's wrong to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, so we should only prevent them from getting married in states where the homophobes are really insistent about it.GINSBURG:
That doesn't make any sense. Either same-sex couples have a right to get married or they don't.VERRILLI:
Well, yes, but it's just easier for us if we only focus on the states where they have civil unions or domestic partnerships. The same-sex couples in other states can file their own separate lawsuit. That way, a lot more different lawyers will get the chance to make money while we're delaying people's weddings for years and years.BREYER:
I'm a good person who cares about making same-sex couples' lives better. However, because I'm completely out of touch with the way people under the age of 70 think about these issues, I think that taking away civil unions as an option would cause most states to just never give same-sex couples any rights at all. So I think it would be better to let same-sex couples have civil unions. And of course, like Kennedy and Sotomayor, I certainly wouldn't dare to actually do my job and tell all the states that they're required to let same-sex couples marry.ALITO:
This is all just much too soon! We really need to wait at least two millennia after same-sex marriage has been legalized before we can possibly justify legalizing it.SCALIA and ROBERTS:
Yes, exactly! We totally agree with Alito.SOTOMAYOR:
I'm so confused. I just need to figure out what makes same-sex couples outside of California not deserve to get married, because obviously we can't go letting them all
get married. That would just be way more weddings than we could possibly expect the American people to accept.Cooper's RebuttalKENNEDY and SOTOMAYOR:
Tell us again why we should have to bother deciding this case right now at all.COOPER:
Because everyone but you wants it to be decided.SOTOMAYOR:
We avoided bothering to end racial segregation for 56 years, so I don't see any reason why we can't postpone same-sex marriage for 56 years also. It's only fair to discrimate equally against gay people and people of color, right?SCALIA:
Didn't we already agree to make a decision in this case? That's why the lawyers are here making arguments, isn't it?COOPER:
Even Verrilli basically agreed that it would be wrong to let same-sex couples in red states get married.GINSBURG:
No, he didn't.COOPER:
Well, let's pretend that he did. The point is that same-sex marriage is just very wrong. And even if it isn't wrong, it's very important to continue encouraging millions of people to vote to call off the weddings of their own children, grandchildren, co-workers, supervisors, next-door neighbors, and so on, because turning people against each other in intense and seriously life-damaging ways is what makes America great.
In conclusion, having the right to same-sex marriage decided by nine heterosexuals who are mostly from generations more or less oblivious to the existence of gay people is really not an ideal situation at all. Ginsburg and Kagan are only people who didn't infuriate me. Kennedy, Sotomayor, and Breyer want to do the right thing but are terrible cowards. Ginsburg and Kagan may very well be equally terrible cowards; they just didn't clarify whether they are or not. Scalia hates gay people, and Roberts and Alito do too, although perhaps with slightly less venom than Scalia (only because I'm not sure anyone
else can hate gay people with as much venom as Scalia does, with the possible exception of Fred Phelps). The ever-silent Thomas is presumably in the Scalia-Roberts-Alito camp. That gives us four vicious gay-haters and three to five terrible cowards who know what the right ruling would be but can't bring themselves to actually make it.
This court case is still very extremely likely to restore same-sex marriage in California. However, the Supreme Court looks unlikely to bring same-sex marriage to any state other than California anytime soon. Mood: aggravated
||Sunday, 24 March 2013 11:52pm
Iraq War Postmortem
5 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I was reading "That Piece Killed by the 'Post'"
just now and was struck by an anonymous comment listing three reasons that the invasion of Iraq happened:
- the uber-patriotic/paranoid American reaction to 9/11 - which included almost all the media.
- the utterly cynical exploitation of that national mood by the Iraq warmongers and Bush Administration, which effectively intimidated most of the media from challenging their bogus WMD etc. narrative.
- the outright complicity in hyping the war by some members of the media seeking insider status and furthering their personal ambitions.
Much as I dislike points #2 and #3, I at least feel able to understand
them - that is, I recognize the motivations involved, although I condemn those motivations. But even now, ten years later, I still don't feel like I even understand
point #1. And if we - the people who are not inclined to support mass murder - are to have any hope at all of preventing the same sort of thing from happening again in the future, surely it behooves us to try to understand the motivations of the ordinary Americans' "national mood" of being "uber-patriotic/paranoid" in response to the events of September 11, 2001.
I remember my own reaction when I turned on my television - the first time in months that I'd turned it on at all - on September 11, 2001, and watched the news. First I watched the reports about planes crashing into buildings, and of course that was very scary. It was obviously unprecedented in my lifetime, and there was so little information yet, on the actual day that it happened, that it was impossible not to wonder what might be attacked next, and when, and just how much worse this might all continue to become. And then I remember the news suddenly switching to live video of a large fire in Kabul, Afghanistan, as seen from the air. The TV reporters speculated - incorrectly, as it turned out later - that the U.S. government might already have launched a counterstrike against Afghanistan, and that the fire we were watching live video of might be the result of a bomb that the U.S. government had already dropped on Kabul in retribution for the attacks on the United States.
And I remember being horrified
by this. Both by the possibility that the reporters' speculation was accurate, and by the approving tones in which the reporters voiced this speculation. It was already clear, on the day of September 11 itself, that the TV reporters were eager to believe that this fire burning in Kabul was in fact caused by a bomb that had already been dropped by the U.S. government. But if that had actually been a bomb dropped, it was clear that civilians would be suffering for something they took no part in doing. And when actual bombs really were dropped a few weeks later, civilians did indeed suffer and did indeed die in retribution for something they took no part in doing.
What I don't understand is how anyone in the world could possibly fail to be horrified by that. As it turned out, a majority of United States citizens failed to be horrified by that. But why? How was that possible? What on earth were they all thinking?
Most of you reading this did not fail to be horrified by that. I know this because a large portion of you reading this are the same people I was reading on LiveJournal back then, on the day of September 11, 2001. Only a tiny fraction of a percentage of the people I knew online supported invading Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. Those few who did support it were people I didn't know very well. As a result, seeing them support war did not give me any insights into how anyone could support war. I was baffled by their reactions, and I've remained baffled by their reactions ever since. The most I've been able to gather is that for some people, having their government slaughter innocent people in other countries makes them feel safer. But why?
For me and for everyone I knew well - for almost everyone I knew at all - having our government slaughter innocent people in other countries made us feel less
safe. So how could it make so many other people feel more
safe? What caused the difference?
I really don't understand. I have to suppose, since virtually everyone on both sides of this issue seemed to have such an immediate, almost instinctual, gut reaction - that we all instantly felt that having our government bomb other countries would make us feel either less
safe or more
safe - that the courses of our lives had already sorted us, long before September 11, into one category or the other, setting us up as people who would react in one way or the other way to an event that we never anticipated would actually happen at all.
I'm oversimplifying the duality of the two positions. I think that for those who felt that war would make them safer, their primary motivation in wanting war was exactly that, to feel safer. But I think that for those of us who opposed war, our primary motivation in opposing it was not that it made us feel less safe - although I do think it made us feel less safe. I just don't think the war, or the prospect of war, had as big an impact on how safe we felt as it had on how safe the pro-war people felt. I think we felt that war would make us somewhat less safe, but I think we also felt that war's impact on our own safety was of extremely minimal importance compared to war's impact on the safety of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And I think, too, that there seemed to be a correlation between being queer and being antiwar. It definitely wasn't a 100% correlation, but it was a general trend, I think.
But let's get back to the major question: What caused some people to feel that war would make them safer?
Did it have to do with how much we trusted our government? Or with how much we empathized with people who live in other countries? Or with how much experience we had being frightened of things other than terrorist attacks? Did it have to do with how much we were in the habit of letting our televisions tell us what opinions to hold? Or with how much experience we had being on the losing sides in interpersonal battles? Or with how much experience we had being "collateral damage" in interpersonal battles that we never wanted to be party to at all?
Don't tell me "all of the above." I want to sort out which factors matter most.
What can we do, here and now, to coax people toward a mindset that will make them less likely, the next time some unexpected international event frightens them terribly, to feel that bombing innocent people in other countries will somehow make them safer? Mood: contemplative
||Saturday, 16 March 2013 12:46am
March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
6 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It's been many months since I last participated in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
. I haven't participated regularly since we bought our house, although I did make a token effort to participate in August and October. I took a few pictures in November and thought about participating, but then I got so busy refinishing kitchen cabinets that I didn't have any time for it. In December there was practically nothing blooming. In January there still wasn't much blooming, but I really meant to participate anyway - to start the new year properly. But I got busy with house things again and completely forgot. In February some things started blooming, and I intended more than ever to make sure to participate - but then we went camping during Bloom Day, and when we got back I had camping photographs to post, and by the time that was all over with, it seemed much too late to bother.
So now it's March, and spring is definitely ramping up. This means not only that more plants are blooming, but also that more of the plants blooming are mine
- plants that I planted, that is, rather than plants that came with the house. And plants that I planted are always the most important.
This is my first time participating in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day since I got my new camera in December. I had a very hard time figuring out how to take extreme closeups of flowers with my new camera. Unlike my old camera, my new camera doesn't have a macro button. It does have a macro function - there's a macro icon that shows up on the viewscreen - but the extremely short manual that came with the camera did not mention that at all, so it took me a lot of experiementation to discover that there was a macro icon at all, and then it took me a whole lot more experimentation to figure out how to make the macro icon show up when I wanted it to. And then there was this terribly annoying problem that whenever I did succeed in getting the camera to focus properly on something closeup, the camera would display the word "Processing" for several seconds and then reveal that the colors in the photo were unnaturally hypersaturated and unrealistic-looking. This, it turned out, was because my camera was set to apply "artistic effects" to macro images but not to other images. So it took me even more experimentation to figure out how to turn off the "artistic effects."
This picture is one that I took during my period of experimentation, when the "artistic effects" were still on. I later edited the picture on my computer to tone down the "artistic effects" because I didn't think neon colors were really appropriate, artistically speaking. However, some faint traces of the "artistic effects" remain, making the plant pot look a little more glazed than it actually is, and making my gardening clogs look slightly glazed as well. I kind of like the result. The plant in the pot is "baby black eyes" (Nemophila
'Penny Black'), a garden cultivar that looks like a hybrid between two California natives, baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii
) and five spot (Nemophila maculata
). I'm not sure what the cultivar's actual parentage is, however, and I must say that in my garden, it grows much more like baby blue eyes than like five spot - which is to say that it grows very well! Five spot isn't well adapted to the Central Valley, so I usually only get a few flowers from it. Baby blue eyes thrives here, and baby black eyes is also thriving. It has many more flowers on it now than it had when I took this picture.( Many more flowers!Collapse ) Mood: busy
|Tuesday, 26 February 2013|
||Tuesday, 26 February 2013 10:59pm
2 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
Way back in May 2005, when I bought my first digital camera, one of the things I wanted to take pictures of was tule fog
. Growing up in the Sacramento area and now living in Marysville, I have never lived apart from tule fog. Driving from Sacramento (or rather, from one of its suburbs, Rancho Cordova) to Marysville to see Susan when we were dating, I drove through sixty miles of tule fog each week. Tule fog is a very thick blanket of fog that covers the entire California Central Valley for much of the winter. From December through February, hardly a night passes without tule fog rolling in after the sun sets, although some days it burns off quickly enough at sunrise that you may never notice it if you don't have a reason to go outside in the middle of the night. In January, it often lingers till nearly noon, thickly enough that you can hardly see across the street. In January, even when it does burn off at ground level, it tends to linger up above, obscuring the sun in an undifferentiated gray. People with seasonal affective disorder hate it. But I don't have seasonal affective disorder, so I've always rather loved the fog. Though I don't so much love driving through it - but I'm sufficiently used to it by now that it's not that bad.
Anyway, I was disappointed to find that my first digital camera wasn't capable of rendering fog accurately. My pictures of fog all came out showing individual water drops in the air, which made them look not so much like fog as like . . . well, you tell me. Here's one of the pictures I took long ago with my old digital camera.
An unexpected benefit of my new digital camera is that it can take pictures of fog. So one morning earlier this month, I took pictures of fog. Look! Fog! Fog as it actually looks in real life! My new digital camera has allowed me to capture fog at long last!( More pictures of fog!Collapse ) Mood: accomplished
||Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:59am
Camping! Blue Oak Campground and Bear Creek Campground
5 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
A week ago, Susan and I went camping. We used to go camping several times a year, but for the past several years we hadn't felt safe leaving town for more than a few hours because the duplex we were renting was becoming surrounded by unsavory characters who we feared would burglarize it if they saw that we were away for any significant length of time. Now that we own a house of our own where we can feel safe again, we're finally free to go camping again. (Meanwhile, there are now apparently about 20 people living in the 800 square feet of what used to be our half of the duplex - or maybe only 19 now, because the local newspaper reported that one of them was arrested for burglary in December and went to state prison.)
Anyway, we were eager to camp again, and a three-day weekend seemed like the perfect time to do it. It seems a little weird to spend our life savings (more or less) on a fancy house and then go sleep in a tent instead, but, well, we've never claimed not to be weird. This being February, however, we tried our best to pick a campground at a relatively low elevation and somewhat near the ocean so we wouldn't freeze to death. The ocean is quite a long drive from here, though, and we also wanted to be able to start driving immediately after we got off work on Friday and arrive at the campground before dark. And dark arrives early in February, so we figured we only had time to arrive at the eastern edge of the coastal mountain range, not really very near the actual coast at all. Specifically, we decided to camp at Indian Valley Reservoir
. This was a drive of about an hour and 45 minutes, as opposed to the three hours and 20 minutes it would take us to arrive at the ocean.
We hoped to camp at Wintun Campground, because it is a single-site campground very isolated from other people, so we could let the dogs off leash all weekend and not worry about them bothering anyone nor about anyone bothering us. However, we recognized that it might already be occupied by the time we arrived, so we made a backup plan: Blue Oak Campground. Both campgrounds are at Indian Valley Reservoir, and they're only seven miles apart - although that's seven miles of twisting dirt roads, so it's a half-hour drive from one campground to the other. The sun was already setting as we neared Wintun Campground, and since we were driving west, each time we rounded a bend in the dirt road, the sun would blind us so badly that Susan kept having to bring her truck to a complete stop until she could figure out where the road was and where the cliff at the edge of the road was. Luckily, there were no other vehicles around, so we had all the time we needed to figure out where the road was. We did get a little lost. Our directions said that Wintun Campground was half a mile down Wintun Access Road, so we drove half a mile down an unmarked road that seemed to be in the right location and then, not finding a campground, decided that the unmarked road must not be Wintun Access Road. We turned back and drove several more miles but couldn't find any other road that could plausibly be Wintun Access Road. So we went back to the unmarked road and drove a little farther down it this time - and there was Wintun Campground! It looked beautiful. Unfortunately, there was already a truck parked and a tent pitched. Reluctantly, we turned around and made our way to Blue Oak Campground instead. The last few rays of sun vanished at just about the moment we arrived there.
Only one of the six campsites at Blue Oak Campground was taken before we arrived. It was taken by two hunters, men about fifty years old or so. They had put up separate tents for each of them, as straight men tend to feel the need to do when they camp together. They had a boat with them, and a dog. Their dog was off leash but obedient enough to stay in its own campsite. Our dogs are not so obedient, so chose a campsite at the far opposite end of the campground from theirs and then tied our dogs' leashes to a tree while we put up our tent and started our campfire. We've had trouble in the past with Boston breaking out of our tent during the night - she persistently bangs her head against the zipper until the zipper splits open - so I had brought along a canvas dog crate as a sort of separate tent just for the dogs. However, Susan insisted that Boston wouldn't be able to break out of the tent we were using on this camping trip. We have two tents, and Susan said that Boston was only able to break out of the large red one, not the little green one we had brought for this trip. I wasn't one bit convinced. But then the two hunters started shooting. From right in their campsite. When it was pitch dark outside! I have no idea what they were shooting at, but whatever it was, I also have no idea how they could possibly see
it to shoot at it. Anyway, the shooting scared Susan to the point that whatever small chance I might otherwise have had of persuading her to let the dogs sleep in their own separate tent was clearly gone, and the dogs slept with us.
Blue Oak Campground is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and it's illegal to shoot within one mile of any campground on BLM land. However, at free campgrounds like this one, there's pretty much never anyone present with the authority to enforce such laws. We were not happy about the illegal shooting, but since the hunters' guns weren't especially loud and they were at the opposite end of the campground from us, we just resigned ourselves to putting up with it. They did stop shooting by 8:00 p.m., which was before we went to bed, so they didn't disrupt our sleep. And Susan was right - Boston didn't break out of the little green tent.( But the unexpected turns of this camping trip had hardly even begun.Collapse ) Mood: satisfied
|Wednesday, 15 August 2012|
||Wednesday, 15 August 2012 12:07am
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in a Brand-New Garden
6 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
again, and the garden I had a month ago is no more. And I do mean is no more,
not just is no longer mine.
On August 9 - four days before we were scheduled to officially move out, since we had paid rent through August 13 - our landlady made her son mow the front garden flat to the ground. She didn't give us any advance warning that she was going to do this, but luckily I happened to have already finished digging up one of every plant species that I wanted to keep before she killed all the others.
I'm not sure whether she's done the same thing to the back yard yet, but when Susan did the final walkthrough with her (without me present), the landlady avoided using my name (since she chooses to refer to me only as Susan's "roommate") but demanded of Susan, "When is she
going to get all that crap
out of the back yard? There was lawn there when you moved in, so there should be lawn there when you move out" - even though (1) there wasn't lawn when Susan moved in, just weedy thistles and occasional straggly patches of Bermuda grass in a predominantly brown, dead yard, and (2) the landlady specifically gave us permission to plant a garden.
Anyway, it's all gone now, or probably soon will be. But there was one exciting final bloom in the back yard before we left: Sacramento rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpus
), an endangered species with flowers four to five inches in diameter.( Pictures!Collapse ) Mood: busy
||Friday, 15 June 2012 9:21pm
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Almost Goodbye Edition
15 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
This may or may not be the very last Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
post I will make about my current garden. We probably won't have moved out a month from now, but if all goes well, we'll officially be homeowners within a day or two of then, and I hope that our house will be all full of boxes in preparation for moving. The garden will probably still be intact, but we'll see how much time I have to take pictures of it.
Here is a picture of what, with any luck, will soon be our house. The inspections are done, and the (excruciatingly stressful) mortgage papers are signed, but we still have to get the appraisal, repair estimates, and repairs done.
The weird metal things in the lawn are in the lawns of most of the corner lots in the neighborhood, apparently intended to prevent cars from driving over the lawn. This house is not
on a corner lot and is the only non-corner house that has these. However, this house is directly at the end of a street, so I guess the idea was that cars going down that street might just keep driving straight into the house without these metal things to stop them? Anyway, we don't think that's likely to happen, so we plan to remove the weird metal things. They are probably set in concrete, though, so removing them will require digging up quite a bit of lawn, so we'll probably wait a few years until I'm ready to convert the dug-up lawn to a garden bed. In the meantime, I'm not sure how we'll come to terms with them. Turn them into stick-figure animals by adding heads and tails? I'm not sure how the new neighbors would like that, though.
The house is considerably more suburban, both in architectural style and in actual location, than most of the houses we looked at. Its exterior appearance doesn't thrill me as much as that of some other houses we looked at. However, both its interior and its location are far better than anything else we looked at, and its exterior is certainly not bad-looking. I think it has a very "solid" look to it, and the house inspector tells us that it is indeed extremely solidly built, with very high quality wood throughout.
Although the new house is only nine blocks from the horrible place we currently live in, it's unlikely to have any remotely comparable flood problems. In fact, even the houses a few doors away from ours don't seem to have remotely comparable flood problems. We're not sure what the issue is with our particular place. The landlady told us the flood problems are caused by the fact that several neighbors have paved over most of their yards with patios and pool decks, so the water from their yards runs off into ours. However, the landlady told the former tenants in the other half of our duplex that the flood problems are caused by the fact that this duplex was built on top of a cement pad that extends under the entire yard, about ten feet below the soil level. She did not explain why it would have been built on such a thing or why there would have been a cement pad here in the first place. We're not sure whether to believe that story or not, but certainly the drainage does not seem to be as bad in most of town as it is here. In fact, even our current front yard is drastically better drained than the back yard. I think the new house will probably have both a front and a back yard that are pretty much like the current front yard, in terms of drainage. I will probably never again have a yard as thoroughly wetland-like as this one.( Many more garden pictures!Collapse ) Mood: anxious
||Tuesday, 15 May 2012 8:36pm
May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
4 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
Happy May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
! Spring is definitely winding down now, but you probably won't be able to tell that from these pictures, since I took most of them two weeks ago, when the garden was still more or less at its peak. As I said last month, this was definitely a banner year for the blue flax. It was a slow year for a lot of native annuals - baby blue eyes, Chinese pagodas, tidy tips, maybe even the two gilia species, a bit. But the blue flax put on a good enough show to make up for the relative absence of the others.( 55 more pictures!Collapse ) Mood: busy
||Monday, 30 April 2012 10:53pm
Why Dogs and Backyard Swamps Don't Go Well Together
4 Minds Spoken | Speak Your Mind
I've decided to try a new dog-parenting technique: publicly humiliating our misbehaving dog in front of all her admiring fans. That's right: you, the people who've previously commented on what a cute and adorable dog she is, shall now see the disaster she inflicted on our home today.
We have, as you've no doubt seen in previous posts of mine, a swamp in the back yard of our duplex. It's not just ordinary rain puddles; the water remains standing on the surface for weeks or even months on end, to the point that it develops a thick layer of green pond scum. It also reeks
, in the way that only water left standing for weeks or months can reek. Particularly water with vast amounts of organic matter (dog poop, drowned plants, partially composted kitchen scraps, and so on) decaying in it. The entire yard reeks. I'm sure all the neighbors directly adjacent to us can smell it. I'd feel a need to apologize profusely to them, if not for the fact that in this neighborhood, the smell of a reeking yard is by far the least of anyone's problems.
Anyway, Boston sometimes goes wading in the swamp. This is actually less of a problem in the middle of winter, when the water level is at its highest, because at least it's liquid enough not to stick to her too much. But in the spring, when the water level recedes, the swamp turns into extremely thick muck. Extremely thick muck that Boston sinks into right up to her neck. Which, unfortunately, she loves
Usually her dive into the muck is precipitated by her effort to dig out a rock or a toy to play with. For this reason, her dive into the muck usually occurs while one or both of us are out in the yard with her, so we see that she's filthy, and we wash her off before she tracks the mud indoors. Today while I was at work in my office with the door closed, Susan saw Boston covered in muck and washed her off. Then Susan went out in the front yard and left Boston indoors. This was where things went badly wrong.
Our pet door is open to the dogs at all times, because Ganymede broke the barrier that we used to be able to insert into the pet door to block the dogs on one side or the other. So when Susan went in the front yard, Boston went through the pet door into the back yard. And then she went back into the muck. And then she came back in the house and tracked mucky footprints all over the house
. And did I mention that these footprints reek?
Here is where she came in through the pet door.( six more disaster photographsCollapse ) Mood: distressed