Rites of Spring

I understand from my friend Cedar that a young woman in possession of a back porch must use it for coffee in the morning. Or even a middle aged woman, in my case.

Now, for several years, I had a back porch, but it was unusable, having been built by crazy people and being dry rotted and dangerous. It was rebuilt just before we moved, so I had no time to use it for coffee. At any rate, it was at a third floor height, in an area where winds were often strong, and I suspect it would be uncomfortable this morning, when the weather report tells me it’s in the high thirties over there.

Over here it’s supposed to get to the seventies today, and it’s just warm enough now not to shiver out on the porch, with the slight breeze blowing. I’m in possession of a patio umbrella to shade the laptop, as previous attempts at writing out here made me squint at the screen like someone trying to read a crystal ball.

I probably won’t stay outside, or not any amount of time, really, because it’s still a little brisk, and because the shadows on the laptop are still too weird to see clearly. (It’s best out here at sunset, but then the mosquitos come out. Yes, I have acquired a zapper and will install it before the weekend. I’ve also acquired bookshelves, that must be installed around the living room so I can unpack my library, which is after all my tools of the trade. Husband had an idea for a novel and I told him I have the books to research it, but right now they’re in storage. This weekend, younger son will hopefully help with project bookshelves. (Well, it needs help, because everything I build tilts slightly to the left (!) on account of an old brain injury.) I’m also in possession of grapevines “suitable to the region.” weirdly, this micro climate supports the same sort of grapevine that grew in the village. I suspect I won’t grow enough grapes for wine for some years (And I’m going to clobber my husband if he says this is a 5 year house, I swear, though to be honest, we still don’t know precisely where the boys will end up, and if there are grandchildren we’ll want to be within visiting distance of at least one set of them. On the other hand, perhaps we can commute, as I really like this house, and I’m planning to improve it.) But it will smell “right” in fall. I’m going to grow them as a canopy over the patio, or at least that is the idea.

So, this weekend, I have a bunch of things to plant — the person who owned this house, let the flowerbeds go unplanted to the point they lost dirt or became covered with grass. I really want to plant roses, but for now I will probably seed the front with cosmos and the back I’ll plant berry bushes. We’ll see how things grow. Since Manitou Springs, now 22 years in the rearview mirror, I’ve not had a successful garden. This is because where we bought in Colorado Springs, only rocks grew. And then in Denver, our neighborhood was too high and the soil was like cement.

If you see me dithering on my back porch, in front of a laptop, and with a shovel and soil by my side, you’re not wrong.

My problem right now is that I wish to be already settled, with everything unpacked, and my routine established, and at least the minor stuff that needs to be done on the house done. (I need to get the kitchen and family room expanded, and the mind gibbers away fro it. But if it’s to be done, it were better to be done soon.) The minor stuff is stuff like bookshelves, finishes, car repairs…. that stuff.

It seems like it will be trouble enough to become…. accustomed to a new place and establish new routines and social contacts. We did live for most of our lives in Colorado, so this seems very odd, very different. On the other hand–

It must be done.

I suppose I’m not the only one here in this position. Most of my friends moved over the last year. Though to be fair, most of them moved before me, and are now more settled. But in away the entire country — or at least those who are aware of what is going on in the country and the world at large (because of the corruption of our information streams, I don’t even know if we’re a minority or not) — is like this, moving their networks, their sources of support, and preparing for something they can sense but not quite predict.

And of course we want to do everything at once, but time and the physical body have limits.

So, here I am, writing a blog post about two feet away from a bird hopping around on the grass (apparently I’m not threatening at all, yo) and squinting at the screen out of sheer stubbornness, wanting to be outside, but knowing I must go back in and work.

Soon enough things will settle. For a value of settle.

The new normal? I’ve hated the definition of “new normal” from the moment the glitterati tried to introduce it. No. We want a normal/normal.

But are things going to go back to the way they were? Ah. Have they ever?

In many ways, the golden years of our lives were the six (were they really only six?) years we lived in Manitou Springs. That was my favorite of all our houses. We had a writers’ group which met every Saturday, and though it had some troublesome elements, it was by and large harmonious, at least for a while. I grew roses and a big cosmos bed (good for cut flowers) and I had a terrace, where I wrote during spring and summer, while annoying the neighbors with my writing music. (Each book wants its own kind, and some are weird.) And I wrote — a lot — and got published for the first time.

But even that house wasn’t ideal. To stay there as the kids got older, we’d have had to do major remodeling to the second floor (doable, but a mess) and the neighbors would have gotten more annoying as politics became more polarized (Manitou is Boulder South.) The schools were already a hot bed of drug use, and I wonder what legalization did. We moved when we had to. That 9/11 and polarization nuked our writers’ group is…. something else.

More importantly, while I lived there I gained 10 lb a year, because the street was so steep I never walked.

I was never that fond of the downtown Colorado Springs house, but I loved the walks, and being near coffee shops and museums oh, and the art school. But by the time we moved that was …. dangerous due to homeless.

The Denver suburb was in many ways my being a fish out of water. The truth — sad, for someone of my political persuasion, I guess — is that I’ve never been happy in suburbs. I liked our particularly neighbors, but not the neighborhood at large, and being lazy, I found there was nothing nearby to entice me to walk, much less drive, so I became a kind of hermit.

Here? I don’t know yet. There are places nearby I want to drive to (though I haven’t yet. I need to start my “getting used to driving again” thing going.) There’s a nice park Dan and I walk in. The yard needs a lot of work, and at this point I’m completely inexperienced in gardening, because it’s been decades. (But I did do a lot of it as a kid.)

I like the church. And it’s been 10 years since I liked our local church.

Yeah, everything still feels weird and uncomfortable.

We’ll get used to it.

I want to write a lot, but I keep getting sidetracked by health and stuff that needs to be done. I suppose the health, it’s the after-shocks of the stress and moving. It had to come out somewhere, and I suppose my body thinks it’s safe now.

The stuff…. will get done in time.

If this sounds incredibly rambling, it is. It’s a state of the writer, with the writer recovering from being ill and having a mild case of spring fever and wanting to be done moving already.

But as our impatience with the country and state thereof (and of the world) I suppose there’s no way out but through. Keep pushing for better, and things will slowly improve. There will be a new-normal. Let’s make it the one we want, not the crazy “masters of the universe” one that can’t work.

And let’s be thankful every day that we’re not about to have the kind of boring old age where you settle into a routine, and slowly let go of the world until we die. No, our generation is likely to be blessed with innovation, rebuilding and work until our last days.

If you don’t think it’s a blessing, you haven’t seen the alternative.

As long as the days don’t get terminally interesting.

And it’s our job to make sure of that.

Let’s get it done.

136 thoughts on “Rites of Spring

  1. The back porch will help cure you. Buy a cheap egg timer. Go out on the porch with tea/coffee/rum and set the egg timer for 15 minutes. Do not turn on anything electronic or look at anything printed until the egg timer rings. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Repeat daily. If this is too dull, install and maintain a bird feeder. We love you and want you to be healthy!

      1. That sounds fun…. I need to start dragging the kids to the park again. I sit in the van and read, unless it’s warm enough to go sit in the sun and read, while they play.

  2. If you don’t get any work done, blame it on vernal feverous. [Crazy Grin]

    1. My Crazy Mind.

      I wondered what the fancy medical term for fever was and I found it.

      So blame your laziness on vernal pyrexia. I suspect some people might think it was a real disease. 😉

  3. A little at a time, right?
    I’ve discovered it’s the only way I get projects done, anymore. I have to decide to work on something specific when I get home from my job, or nothing gets done.
    And it has to be small, if I want to get to bed on time.
    And at my age/health, sufficient sleep is very important.
    Do your best, but don’t try to do it all at once, or you get overwhelmed, and nothing gets done.

  4. Yes to Spring! A couple of days ago I had 80 degrees on my deck and watched the local birds zoom around my feeders. Today the wind is awful and it’s only in the mid 30’s. You (and me too) have picked up on the positive trend of mother nature and the beginnings of the next cycle. Your move and adjusting to it is just another beginning and a good one at that!
    Enjoy the deck time and the feel, sound and smells of the new environment. Work too but be sure to embrace all the day brings.

  5. And for amusement, Musk made an offer to buy all Twitter this morning. The weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over there is noticeable.
    (Also notable: a Saudi prince who owns 5% thinks Musk’s offer of $43 BILLION is too low).

    1. Should the board reject this offer and the price drop, Musk, as a shareholder, can sue them, personally. There’s precedent for it. The board has a limited fiduciary responsibility to maximize the shareholder’s value and can be found personally liable. Not likely in this corrupt age, but still the law.

      1. They have to be careful about talk of a white knight sale. If they try to find someone for a friendly takeover, then the company is for sale and they have to take the highest bid or show why they didn’t. The onus is on them. Hard to believe they might be that stupid, but they’ve been that stupid up till now.

        1. No matter what happens, I will likely be amused by the outcome.

          I’m curious, though, whether the bid is just a result of being upset with Twitter’s censorship, or whether he has an idea for it in his “Here’s what’s needed for off-world settlements!” vision.

        2. I saw a gab from ZeroHedge. The Twit board hired Goldman to advise it, and GS said that $54..20 is too low. OTOH, their own guidance has Twitter at $30, with a SELL recommendation.


      2. Fiduciary Duty is one of those quaint concepts that ‘woke’ board members have no clue about. The only reason the Reader is hanging onto his (very) small amount of Disney stock is to join a shareholder suit against the board for the loss of value caused by their ‘woke’ behavior.

        1. Very tough sell that is, bad judgement and running the company into the ground typically won’t be held as a violation of fiduciary duty. However, if a bid comes in you have to be able to show the company was not for sale. if it’s “for sale”, and the bar for that is low, the. You have to take the highest bid.

          Still, Musk can just keep buying shares on the market so long as he’s willing to pay the price,. Once he get a certain amount he can vote his shares and the Saudi prince can go whistle.

          The board is trying to put in a poison pill against Musk. They can be sued for that too as it puts their interest before the shareholder.

          As far as “news” goes, beware the fog of war and remember that the regime, and thus the official press, is against Musk here.

            1. I’m sure it is just a coincidence that those rockets just crashed into the DOJ and SEC. ;-p

          1. Thoma Bravo apparently is looking at making a bid I think it is fair to say that Twitter is pretty much in play a this point. Would not surprise me if the Saudi’s reaction to Musk’s bid was due to their being the ones who want to acquire control.

        2. In yet another example of synchronicity, as I read this comment I was watching Valliant Renegade’s video on YouTube that breaks down the recent poll of how pissed people are at Disney’s antics. TL;DR version: absolute majorities of virtually all demographic breakdowns are pissed.

            1. You’re welcome. Valliant Renegade’s videos are often a good place for business and financial analysis of Hollywood.

  6. Are Hummingbirds possible in your area? I know mom loves the hummingbirds that feed at the specialized stations she puts up. She only puts out water, that way she just waits until it is down in quantity vs replacing contents regularly to prevent bacterial buildup. She has other plants for them to get nectar from most the year. We have varieties that are local all year, and others that migrate.

    1. They migrate up that way. If I guess correctly, she’s somewhere around the Central Flyway, north of Dallas, south of Canada.

  7. I agree about the suburbs. I’ve lived in NYC, Dublin, London, Paris, and HK; I’ve also lived in tiny villages in the country. I loved them all. Now I live in the suburbs and I hate it. I do like my garden, and my back porch, but they don’t balance out the downside.

    1. I’ve lived in small towns most of my life. I lived in a suburub for a few years. I loved the swimming pool in the back yard, and the garden where we could grow fruit and vegetables. But 7 years was long enough. Too long.

    2. Same here. I’ve lived in major cities (though now they are unlivable) and in a remote cabin in a pine forest in the mountains, and adored each day in both. But when I lived in the suburbs, I was totally miserable. It seemed like everything was mediocre – no inspiring natural beauty, and no energy of the city. Just chain stores, bland people, and a stifling of creativity.

  8. Dan stood at the bottom of the valley with his hands on his hips. He did a slow 360 and let out a low whistle. The valley was like a bowl, almost perfectly round and covered with dark green vines that held a long, purple fruit. What was this? A meteor strike or something? He shook his head. Which way to go? Well, anyplace is better than where you are, he thought. Picking a direction where the sun was not in his eyes, he started out, and up.

    We all have to pick a direction and stick with it. I know mine, and I think most of you know yours. Good Luck and Happy Easter.

  9. We had a back porch cast last weekend (It was supposed to be this week, they showed up early. Given the shortage of contractors, not complaining.) It is now cured enough for sitting out there, enjoying the morning or the moonlight, and we’ve been doing more of that.

    I started sitting outside last year, trying to get 10 minutes a day of daylight, and it’s done wonders for my mental health and relaxation… and for the backyard, as I have the time and attention to pay attention and actually keep my herbs alive through a Texas summer. (More fraught than the winter, really.)

    I may not do any gardening this year, beyond my herbs, but just being out watering them, tending them, deciding on projects, working on plotting and sometimes writing… it’s been good.

  10. Happy for your and Cedar’s back porch coffee.

    Yesterday evening mosyed over to my son’s for our first, this Alaska spring, outside beer and conversation, one of our rites of spring. Alaska spring, of course still two feet of snow but a few feet of bare ground on the south side of the house, enough for a couple of lawn chairs.

    Talked gardening, second week of June before we can ground plants with no fear of a hard frost during the night. Short, but intense, fruitful, growing season with 24 hours of daylight.

    No matter what Johnny Hortorn, Hank Snow or Johnny Cash sings, t’ain’t really forty below here in spring: https://youtu.be/qIXF8We9qlI

    1. The video shows a photo of Mendenhall Glacier, in Juneau. Definitely not 40 below in the spring! Spring is such a short season way up north, we’d call it spring breakup. Love those long summer days.Never slept much during the summers.

  11. because everything I build tilts slightly to the left

    Build on the floor, check for square by comparing diagonal measurements, then tilt up or lift onto the wall and use a level to check for plumb (not a tiny “torpedo” level, use at least a 3′ one).

  12. As for mosquitos, read up on Purple Martins.
    The bug zapper doesn’t really attract mosquitos unless there is a CO2 source near it. You don’t want to be that source.

    1. My experience has been that bug zappers get lots of moths but very few mosquitoes. For moths, you really need citronella candles

    2. Also good are bat boxes. Of course bats are no where near as appealing as purple martins…

  13. Last spring we had a patio put in out back, got a nice outdoor couch and umbrella for it. We made decent use of it over the summer.

    We had THOUGHT we might put the furniture back on the patio 2 weeks ago. Yeah, it’s been below 50 near consistently every weekend and today’s windy enough any furniture might be in other yards by now.

    While I wouldn’t mind on nice days working outside on the patio, I like having multiple screens far more.

    1. Spring, eh? Flyover County is a bit fuzzy on the concept right now. Last week, it was shirtsleeves weather, nearing 80F. Then the rain started, and turned into snow. At a rough guess, we’ve had 8″ of wet snow in the meantime, with the water being very welcome.

      OTOH, the forecast has 10 Degrees F for tomorrow morning. I don’t think I’ll set that last fence post for a few more days. At least it’s postive 10 degrees… 🙂

      1. We just got an inch of hail. Won’t last. Willamette Southern Valley is running from 30’s to 55, this week. Wind is constant and cold, so chill factor is affecting perceptions. Last week it was a welcome 75 for an hour or so. North of Salem into Washington State, had snow on the ground. A few inches to almost a foot east of Battle Ground (as reported by sister).

  14. “a young woman in possession of a back porch must use it for coffee in the morning”

    Great line! Yours or Cedar’s?

    As to research books, I have discovered another consideration for those of us who are aging, My wife had a collection of Chinese books for research, many of them scholarly tomes, and some even medical textbooks on Oriental Medicine. Not my real area of interest, so I tried the UC Rivers9de library (we are undergrad alums). No interest. He recommended UCSD, but Sharon, although she got her Masters there, loathed the place. Next try will be San Diego State, then maybe our downtown public library. It’s a rather special collection of about 200 volumes, and I don’t want to just cast them to the winds.

    I’ve left instructions for my executor the gift the Heinlein Society with our SF collections as well as all our SF original art if they want it. I figure they can at least dispose of it to fans at a profit for themselves.

    1. When I was writing GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers a number of years ago, I found a two-volume work on Chinese medicine on the shelves at San Diego State, which gave a lucid explanation of which organs are associated with which of the five elements. So conceivably they might be interested.

      I spent about a year trying to donate some books to the UC Riverside library’s collection of science fiction. I had absolutely no luck; I could not get through the bureaucratic routine to get them to take anything.

      1. Thanks William. The Eaton Collection is such a great archive. It’s a shame to find out they’re not interested in updating it.

        For those interested in such things, “The Web That Has No Weaver” is a very good introductory book on the traditional Chinese view of the body from a medical standpoint. It’s by a Harvard professor and has been in print for many decades. For those more casually interested there’s my wife’s novel “China Harbor: Out of Time”. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine serve as a small part of the background, and she had one interning acupuncturist say that, her book explained it better than any of her professors did.

      2. Kansas State University’s archive had some really Odd stuff, especially early horror/fantasy/sci-fi. They ended up with a bunch of Arkham House documents and letters (to and from H. P. Lovecraft and others) that were scavenged from the garbage by fans when the press closed.

      1. Yes, and also the linked piece by Paul Kingsnorth who is quoted there. I hadn’t heard of him before, and while we don’t share the same political journey, his spiritual journey is very familiar.

  15. Growing a garden, writing a book, raising children. They all seem to be fixed in place while you labor over them, but they’re growing all the time. Eventually, you see those bright red tomatoes. Or you type “the end.” Or your son says: “Don’t lift that, mom, I’ll get it.”

    And eventually you’ll be settled, too, even though it seems so slow right now. I find it beautiful to contemplate you with your book and the sunshine and the flowers. Those commie bastards hate our happiness. Stick it to them by being happy.

  16. Sigh …I do have a back porch, a nice covered porch, with a view of the back yard, but alas, it is where the catio cats live, and they routinely trash anything that I could possibly sit on and relish the morning, or the afternoon. Perhaps when my daughter moves out, and the two move with her, I can reclaim the back porch …
    OTO – I have three grape vines, growing over a trellis or on the back fence and into the plum tree, and all three are simply covered with embryonic grape clusters.
    I will have a simply humongous grape harvest, if all goes well this year. I’ll be making wine by the six-gallon bucket, in that case. Or raisins by the bushel-basket.

  17. I think a year from now your garden’s going to be beautiful, Sarah.

    Up here in North Idaho? Well, the nurseries are all open, and we put on two jackets, our wooly cap, and boots and venture forth. I’ve got my herb garden sitting on the sunny ledge. I got two root pouches filled with dirt, one pea plant, one seed potato. We’re all waiting for June where we can plant everything.

    Meantime, it’s supposed to snow this afternoon, and it’s been in the 20s at night.

    Mountain springtime.

    Today is so tough I’m not going to write about it anymore. Tomorrow is a new day.

    1. The native plants nursery (Canyon’s Edge, highly recommend, two paws up) opens a week from Saturday. I’ve been scouting holes in the flowerbeds and my wallet is already whimpering.

        1. If y’all ever want tulips, roses, daffodils, and assorted Appalachian wildflowers, I gots. Lots. Plus a danged lot of English ivy (which nobody in their right mind wants), plenty of maple cuttings that just seem to grow in any patch of dirt the cut twigs fall into, and assorted woody weeds with ambition.

          And mint. The mint that never ends. Makes mowing the lawn smell better, doesn’t hurt my allergies as much. But the mint encroaches on basically everything. Because it’s basically a weed.

          1. Mom and Dad Red waged the War on Mint two decades or so ago. It took two years to get the last remains of a mint bed out of the garden and yard. This was before I gave in and attacked the wild catnip because 1) it was taking over and 2) it was a mosquito haven. I filled four 55 Gallon garbage cans full of false catnip before I got it back under control. Mints are opportunists of the first water.

              1. I have a piece of ground that nothing would grow on, heavy, acidic clay, so I planted it with thugs, mint, campanula glomerata, that sort of thing. Pure Darwinism, works a treat. I mow the whole thing down when the seeds start to come in and there’s a patch of driveway between it and the main beds. I’m extremely vigilant about it seeding elsewhere though because it is a bed of thugs.

                I’m fairly live and let live with my garden, but, if you let them in, soon you don’t have a garden, you have a big patch of mint. Even the bloody deer won’t eat it.

              2. When we bought our place, our front yard was listed as “Low maintenance”. It was wild strawberries. Took forever to eradicate them. Didn’t know about the mice, but then our cats might have 🙂

            1. Mint, even (real) catnip, I’ve been told, need to be cultivated in pots, indoors, or greenhouse with lined floor, only. Least they take over, everything. Some herbs can be contained into outdoor raised lined beds or patio pots, supposedly. Not long after we moved in, I planted a pretty plant (Lemon something) that was an herb. Dug it out a few years later. We’ve been here 33 years. I’m still fighting that plant. Just a few here and there, but I know better than to let it get started. The Grape Hyacinths and Bluebells are another that once established spread like crazy and are difficult to eradicate. Then there are the pansies. I’ve never once planted a pansies. They are all through the grass. Who needs dandelions to eradicate? There are a lot of other opportunistic flowers willing to come in. At least with dandelions they can be used for salads and tea (not an argument would agree with, but …)

              1. And horseradish. I was warned, so I grew it in a pot. I set it outside one summer and the plant snuck out through the drainhole in the pot’s bottom and spread.

          2. I’ve got Big Leaf Maple seedlings ALL over that I’m pulling out by the handful or two, regularly. Do not need more volunteers; already have two I let grow. I guess some could be from the non-Native Red Maple. Do not know how the maple seedlings would travel. Better yet, if someone wants some, I’ll just ship baggies of seed wings in the late fall. Should be able to get seedlings easily (from the Big Leaf Maple seeds, IDK about the commercial Red Maples). Maple, in our mountains, is a firewood weed species. Alder is logged. A few specialty companies do stuff from maple per their websites.

        2. I’m trying to figure out how much Dan will kill me.

          Remind him that if you’re only MOSTLY dead, you can be brought back later if he changes his mind. Just be sure to keep a cranky Jewish miracle worker on hand.

    2. Yeah, the weather/climate in the high country in the west is a challenge. We didn’t get the 10 degree chill the weather-guessers forecast, but 19 F was cold enough. OTOH, we’re going to get warmer temps in the next few days, so I can start thinking about mixing dirt for the greenhouse pots and getting the raised beds ready.

      We tried daffodils in our garden several years ago. The ground squirrels rather liked the snack, and the sum total of plants from the Costco Bag-o-Bulbs was one plant the squirrels missed. There’s now a colony of semi-feral cats (Momma kitteh and her offspring were caught and fixed, but stray kitties do add to the group) who have taken the ground squirrel population to manageable numbers.

      1. I have a farm in my living room, and my herb garden lives on the windowsill in the bedroom.
        Snowed what, five or six inches last night. Now I get why people say “Not till June….”
        All our cats used to do was watch the squirrels eat all the seed, the bulbs, and everything else not made of concrete.

        1. Our cats are death on the mice, occasional garter snake, and invasive starlings, but while they try the squirrels haven’t been caught. They do keep them out of the yard though so bulbs survive. Dog helps with keeping the squirrels out too. Once bulbs get started in the clay, they are impossible to extract short of a backhoe.

          We’ve been seeing a lot of large predators flying overhead. Eagles and hawks mostly. But have heard the owls. We are suburb central not rural. We aren’t far from fields. We are only a mile west of the Willamette River. Which is why we see them now. Didn’t use to be that way. That is how well they have recovered over the last 60 years. Haven’t heard of cats or small dogs being taken. But …

          1. Your part of the world is so, so beautiful. Especially this time of the year. Not for the mice or other rodents, but hey, they don’t help with taxes or yardwork, so forget about ’em.

            My big longhair, Jimmy, catches anything he can get his hands on, when he’s allowed outdoors. His favorite was birds. He was amazingly successful when he hunted the bird feeder.

            1. We do live in a very green area. Pollen included. Luckily I have no allergies.

              Surprisingly the higher desert locals, the Lodgepole Pines, Juniper, Sage and Bitterbrush, etc., can set me sneezing. But I don’t get stuffy, or watery eyes. The invasive Scotch Broom does the same. Used to be only on the coast range, now it is in the up into west side Cascades to where 126 and 20 merge. Note. Alder can too, when fresh cut. Used to be able to tell a load of alder was coming in before we saw it. The odor preceded it.

            2. Don’t know how our newest 3 cats will shake out on the hunting. Lil Bit, age 7, oldest of our 4, is the only one allowed out unattended. Have never caught her hunting. Working on in/out access for the younger 3 (ages 2 and 1). I figure on TJ being a hunter. He’s already caught two baby garter snake. Near as we can figure they came in under the small gaps into the garage door. Next thing we know he’s hauling around these short pieces of “rope”. No problem he does that with real rope, but not that short. First one, went to take it away from him … it moved. Scream caused hubby and son to come running. When they quit laughing … Second was dead. The youngest lived on the street for a bit before we got her at least 6 months, so if she ever goes out … About that. We take them out for attended outdoors “Adventure”, yell that and she beelines for our bedroom. Clear attitude of “nope”.

              Personally? I really don’t want to let them out. We lost our last cat, Thump, because he caught a Rat or Mouse that had been poisoned. Critical terminal kidney failure. Fast decline that no medicine could help with. But I only get 1 or 3 votes. One in 7 if you count the cats. I’m outvoted regardless.

  18. My books are still in boxes. I’ve read them often enough that shelving them isn’t on the top of my list. I’ve been borrowing the latest books from the library. I don’t have a porch, but I open the front door (it has a screen) and sit a few feet away where I can still see the sky and the trees.

  19. “I’m also in possession of grapevines “suitable to the region.” weirdly, this micro climate supports the same sort of grapevine that grew in the village. I suspect I won’t grow enough grapes for wine for some years … I’m going to grow them as a canopy over the patio, or at least that is the idea.”

    I’ve seen that before…in northern Portugal. Struck me as a smart idea…the vines get sunlight, you get shade. And grapes.

    1. “I’ve seen that before…in northern Portugal. Struck me as a smart idea…the vines get sunlight, you get shade. And grapes.”

      And if your SO isn’t available to drop them into your mouth as you recline, you can always hope for a fortunate breeze. 😉

    2. Yep. Grandma’s massive patio (like 60×60) was covered in grape vines. Lovely place to play in spring and summer. If I have grandkids eventually, I’d like them to have that.

      1. Sigh … Redwood House, when I was in middle to high school – had a massive grape arbor, overgrown with concord grapes of the most insipid flavor imaginable. Dad tried to make wine from them once, – we stomped on them in a bucket – and finished up with gallons of vinegar. Granny Jessie made jelly of them, and had to add a lot of sugar to even begin making them palatable. Or even with a bit of flavor. She put it up in recycled baby food jars with a paraffin wax seal. We ate it for years with peanut butter in our school lunches: the reason that I gag on PB&J even to this day. I think only the wandering wildlife actually liked the grapes from that arbor. (Dad caught an opossum, once – and holding it with heavy gloves, let us feel inside the furry pouch. I hope the opossum wasn’t terribly traumatized by this invasion of her person … but Dad gave the most AMAZING nature walks!)
        I have serious hopes that I will get a nice crop of grapes off the current set of backyard vines.

        1. Went to a wine festival near Erie, PA, many years ago. The area is where Dr. Welch moved to grow Concord grapes for his non-alcoholic communion wine. (Yes, that’s the original purpose of Welch’s Grape Juice).
          The “dry,” wine could be drunk for dessert, and they went downhill from there.

          1. I have to say Welch’s Grape juice beats the Manishewitz that the church I grew up in used :-). They had used Welch’s when I was younger (had been teatoaler/ WCTY back in my maternal grandmothers day). Some Baptist still are and say cup instead of wine in the words of institution, always seemed silly to me.

              1. I ran across a website a few years ago where the author earnestly stated the New Testament authors clearly were speaking of unfermented grape juice as was the custom, and….so far as I could tell the argument boiled down to, “It must have been unfermented grape juice, because Jesus would NEVER do something I disapprove of!”
                People arguing for teetotalism would be better off using, “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until I drink it new with you at the coming of the Kingdom,” as their justification.
                For the record, I have only had actual wine with Communion once, in British Columbia, at a tiny, tiny Anglican service on the Alaska Highway.( Meant for Tregonsee).

                1. So the wedding party at Cana should have gotten drunk on grape juice before they drank the inferior brew.

                2. People arguing for teetotalism would be better off using, “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until I drink it new with you at the coming of the Kingdom,” as their justification.

                  EEeeeee! Thank you, I needed a theological oddity for a group so they aren’t just Quakers In Space, that works wonderfully AND lets me make a point about a t-totaling character– that works wonderfully as a discipline.

                3. It was wine. It’s actually almost impossible to stop the thing from fermenting, without chemicals. OTOH it was probably low alcohol, because house-wine often is.

              2. A reasonable choice 🙂 . Many Episcopal/Anglican churches I have attended use port often because it’s higher alcohol content means its a bit safer when using a shared cup.

                  1. As does Lead, although pewter was used only in the poorest of churches :-). Church I grew up in had a pewter set on display from c. 1700 (or perhaps a bit before), and some beautiful silver sets from somewhat (1730?) later. Proof that even in the Protestant churches individual communion was NOT the norm. Where the heck a tiny Connecticut church on the shoreline got wine in the late 17th/ early 18th century beats me. Concord grapes grew wild, but they have so little sugar that you have to throw sugar at them to make wine (or jelly) and sugar was probably even rarer than wine until the molasses trade got rolling.

                  2. Silver and gold also have antibiotic properties.

                    Viruses and germs also die after just a few hours of contact with copper, so furnishing your home or workplace with the stuff can be beneficial.

            1. The little Baptist church my grandparents went to used Welch’s for the cup and saltines for the bread. I feel certain God didn’t care. 😎

              1. The current pastor in my parish is Portuguese and used to run restaurants so Lord only knows what they’re using, WuFlu restrictions have put us back to one species only so I haven’t tasted it.

                Speaking of which, first Triduum since the stupidity started. Full church, bells and smells, cloth of gold, the full Monty. Even dusted off our Latin.

                Tantum ergo Sacramentum
                Veneremur cernui:
                Et antiquum documentum
                Novo cedat ritui:
                Præstet fides supplementum
                Sensuum defectui.
                Genitori, Genitoque
                Laus et Jubilatio,
                Salus, honor, virtus quoque
                Sit et benedictio:
                Procedenti ab utroque
                Compar sit laudatio.

                  1. Then go on Saturday for the vigil. If you’re in any kind of parish at all they’ll do it then. Number two son used to do it with a flint and steel when he was a Boy Scout. The pastor was a modernist so we didn’t tell him we’d done it the old way.

                    Orémus. Deus, qui per Fílium tuum, angulárem scílicet lápidem, claritátis tuæ ignem fidélibus contulísti: prodúctum e sílice, nostris profutúrum úsibus, novum hunc ignem sancti?fica: et concéde nobis, ita per hæc festa paschália cœléstibus desidériis inflammári: ut ad perpétuæ claritátis, puris méntibus, valeámus festa pertíngere. Per eúmdem Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen.

                    It’s a beautiful Mass, a long one certainly, but beautiful, even in my rather ugly, modern ski lodge, church.

                    1. In my college years the conductor of the Glee Club (Men’s Chorus) was also the music director at a local LARGE Catholic parish in Worcester. My freshman year his choir needed male voices (particularly tenors) to sing the stuff he performed with the Churches Boy’s school choir at sunday services. Going rate was $10 a week (Out of his pocket, he was a trust fund baby and had money to burn) for tenors that could hack Latin once a month and could hit a flat below middle C (Somehow they had permission to do a Latin service from the bishop in the early 80’s, would have been early in John Paul II). Hey it was beer money, I’m a big guy and (in those days) drank Lots of Beer. I thought it was funny the Catholic church was (indirecly) providing me with beer, and its not often you get to be a paid(professional !!!) singer. One of my favorite memories was the Saturday Vigil in Holy week. That liturgy is gorgeous and very moving. I’ve also experienced it in the Episcopal/Anglican (ECUSA) church. Truly a beautiful service it’s a shame that the evangelical Protestants have ignored it. And yes in all places I have experienced it it starts as sunset happens, or just after.

                  2. Minor bragging– local bishop got very firm that the Vigil Mass for Easter can’t start before sunset.

                    (Candle-lit Mass when the sun is full in the sky just really lacks a certain something, y’know?)

                1. Me, too. He only knows what they use in Chinese house churches. (For Snelson, WP is being itself)

              2. In my young adulthood, I bought a bottle of red grape juice to drink. I felt vaguely guilt-ridden all day and then finally realized it was apparently what my childhood church had used for communion. 🙂

                1. New wine is limited. That is, as long as you did nothing to prevent fermentation, unfermented yet works.

              3. Indeed I’ve seen that, although more often they use Matzoh in modern times. It is the bread from Passover and that OUGHT to be unleavened. And yes I think all our silly machinations probably amuse the Author immensely.

            2. The church I was baptised in used Mogen David 20/20.
              I still think the 20/20 stands for 20% alcohol, 20% sugar.

              1. Same concept as the Manoshewitz, it was a fortified wine (all well as Port as mentioned by our Hostess). So the bottle can be opened and used over time, making it a favorite of budget conscious deacons/deaconesses 🙂 . At least in most of the Bapist/Congregational churches I grew up in a shared cup is not an issue, communion is usually served in individual tiny cups. They were glass and reusable in my youth, cleaned via a neat little plastic dingus that would hold 50 of the cups and could be run through the church’s commercial dishwasher.

      2. Make sure it’s well anchored. I got a bumper crop of grapes and the weight pulled the lines off the side of the house – along with the window framing into which it was screwed.

              1. Harbors can be on land. As in the explanation of the name of Cold Harbor — shelter without fire — which got a lot of grim jokes during the American Civil War.

      1. My dad had a rule that any tree or bush should also produce something. We had High bush blueberry bushes as arbor along the driveway, apples (three types) Butternuts and Carpathian Walnuts (note Carpathian Walnuts are NASTY if not let sit and the husks around the outside make an excellent brown stain). He also tried figs (to cold they died off) and apricots (only got fruit set 1 in 4 years, even in Southern Connecticut the buds would get hit by the last frost). Sadly it looks like many of those are gone from what I can see in google (no street view, too unimportant a road in too unimportant a town 🙂 ).

        1. Tell your Dad I love him, and the founding fathers would have been proud.

          “Carpathian, the Walnut Too Awful To Eat.” Isn’t it always that way? The nastiest junk has the grandest name? Could have been named “Icky” or “acid”. But no.

          I lived on 860 acres of tree farm wilderness in central South Carolina while I attended college Sophomore – Senior years. We homesteaded because we were broke, and it was almost idyllic. The front yard included, if memory serves, 10 or 12 blueberry bushes and other edible etceteras. I got a ton of practice growing, and killing plants and creatures while there. Wonderful.

          Nearest neighbor? Half mile as the crow flies, closer to 3/4 walking/driving the sandy strips they called roads.

          1. Sadly telling him is at present impossible as he passed in 1982 almost 40 years ago. Perhaps someday I may get to tell him 🙂 . I think his obsession both annoyed and amused my Mom. He did break the rule twice. First was a decorative bush called Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, legalistically it would pass as it is a Hazelnut cultivar, but darned if I ever saw any hazelnuts (I like those) on it. Twists and grows like a gnarly mess, truly impressive. The other is a Dawn Redwood a living fossil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metasequoia_glyptostroboides) thought to be extinct until found in China in 1941. Still considered endangered in its natural habitat but cultivated in arboreta and by amateurs across the world it will grow anywhere south of about 40 degrees lattitude in the US, a little further north if you have a locally warm microclimate for it. Its leaves are seen in fossils from across the world. It is a decidous conifer (!). That tree I’m pretty certain is gone, Hurricane Bob in 1991 broke many of its branches off and it likely did not survive the next couple winters and the google sattelite photo does not show it where I expect it.

    3. University of Santa Clara had something like that on an arbor over a walkway to the mission church. No idea what kind of grapes they had, but it was a neat concept.

  20. Back porch is better than front porch for coffee I think. When I was younger I used to walk to work at night. The walk home took me past a house with a front porch, and the wife was typically out there drinking her coffee in her robe and fuzzy slippers. It was a bit of a sight the first couple of times.

    Hope you like the new place. It sounds lovely.

  21. “No, our generation is likely to be blessed with innovation, rebuilding and work until our last days.”

    Not the way I envisioned spending my “golden years” but, assuming I survive the troubles, it’s probably better than being dead.

    1. I’m not likely to ever be able to retire in the traditional sense, so if there’s a way I can support myself while doing something that contributes to innovation and rebuilding, it’s just as well.

  22. Being able to do work, regardless of how much one is paid, is a blessing. Even if compelled. Of course, if it’s voluntary it’s better.

  23. Last night/this morning I wrote too much. Now I feel like sleeping the day away, but I cannot do that. Too much to do. The chirpy birds of the morning are tempting the terrible foursome, nesting so close to cat territory.

    Miniature fuzzballs are now officially up for adoption. Looking at the sign, one suspects that Tiny Woman does not want to let them go. The sign is small, stuck to a post, facing the wrong direction down the street so you can’t read it as you go by. Nonetheless, neighbor child knows, and is actively lobbying the neighbor parents to abscond with all the wee ones.

    Doubtless this will not happen. But neighbor child has hopes. And, should his household pass Tiny Woman’s inspection, doubtless there will be a new fuzzball down the street.

    This is fine.

    Doofus has been walking the yard, insufferably pleased with himself of late. You see, he actually caught a car this time.


    One of those little radio controlled jobbies, nabbed it in his jaws and took off with it. The boys with the controller were quite cross when he hid under the porch with his prize. The offending feline squirted away as the twosome fussed and hollered and finally got their toy back. But Doofus seems to view this as a mighty victory. Who are we mere mortals to gainsay him?

    Othercat returned from a half-week long sojourn yesterday. Cat of mystery, is Othercat. A few new scars, but nothing debilitating. Othercat sleeps on the porch rail, tempting foolish birds to land anywhere within pouncing distance. And, often enough, there is at least one a season that underestimates him.

    It rained this week. Typical mid-flood season weather. Nastycat found himself a mud put to wallow in somewhere. The bath he got after was, of course, mightily protested. He got it anyway. Immediately after, he rushed back out to do battle with his eternal foes- the Stick In The Yard, the Bug In The Window, and Being Clean, Ever. There is something mentally wrong with that cat. Doofus may be stupid, but Nastycat is just plain crazy.

    Neighborcat somehow managed to sneak into the Kitten House this week, as well. Tiny Woman thinks he’s adorable, the way he snuggles up with Momma Cat and the littles. This may well cinch just who the daddy is. Afterwards, his daily mouse and scritches routine ever-so-slightly delayed, he comes back to patrol his patch of ground, keeping it safe from dogs, birds, rodents, and other felines. Neighborcat is not ambitious- but he knows what’s his, and protects it fiercely.

    And on that note, mornings are not to be trusted, breakfast pasta is totally a thing, and tinnitus can go die in a fire. Be of good cheer, fellow beings, as it confuses the busybodies something awful. They just know you’re up to something but can’t quite figure out what.

    1. “Othercat sleeps on the porch rail, tempting foolish birds to land anywhere within pouncing distance. ”

      My neighbor across the street had a couple of cats and one of them was being harassed by a mockingbird perched at the top of a bush that was just shorter than the house eaves, and too thick for the cat to jump up to him. Cat went away and about 10 minutes later is spotted slinking over the roof line from the other side of the house.

      Mockingbird’s last “words”: Cats can’t FLY!!!! 😎

      1. The starlings dive bombing Hobs, them from the eves of the house across the street, him in our front yard, or in the street, but NOT in “their” yard, let alone under the nest, also learned differently. He was an average cat size, not huge. (Yeller and Emerald were each easily double his, and all the other cats, size. Big domestic cats.) But he was solid. He had no problem leaping up so that it appeared he was flying.

    2. Sara, the late Lab/Aussie was enjoying life by the Two Trees when she was a pup. This quite irritated five blackbirds, who proceeded to perform diving attacks. This was not a recreation of the Midway attack. Sara thought it was quite fun, and the two survivors decided that not being a meal was the better part of valor.

      Sara (and Angie, the two years younger Border Collie) had a non-aggression pact with the hawks and eagles. We didn’t let them run after dark, so we never had to find out how the Great Horned Owls would behave. After seeing a headless jackrabbit who ran afoul of one, we weren’t going to chance it.

  24. In the good news department, Ace.mu.nu has a video of Israel’s new Iron Beam system being tested. It is similar to our Air Force and Navy’s frickin’ laser beams with computer control, but they have three different sizes of laser for destroying three different kinds of threats. The one for shooting down itty bitty UAVs does not burn them up, but leaves them mostly intact for study after destroying the wings.

    That said… Although the system is defensive, it is small enough that the laser looks like you could put it in an RV and take it for a drive. So other people could make that kind of thing offensive, or use it to destroy air cover and other defenses. Potentially. I guess to destroy big planes would be difficult, but the UAV wing thing shows that you could.

  25. I can empathize so much with wanting to be done with unpacking. After 5 1/2 months our living room and downstairs family room are still heaped with piles of book boxes. Because I said that bricks and boards just were no longer acceptable interior decoration and I would personally build some hardwood bookshelves for the hardbound books.

    Which I have not started to do because I have been trying to organize my shop so I can move my machinery into it. The lathe, etc, is currently in a downstairs carpeted “rumpus” room because I thought we would have to park the cars in the garage. Turns out that not only is the climate mild enough to park them outside year round (deepest snow this year was only seven inches, coldest temp only -5ºF or so), most of the neighborhood parks their cars outside year round as well.

    I finally have nearly all of my wood organized (over the years I have collected wood like my spouse collected books), and I am close to having a floor plan for where the cabinets and machines will go. Next step is to hire an electrician to wire the shop. Because one double outlet in the garage just will not suffice, and one socket is already in use.

    After that I have to find a supplier of decent lumber. Early on I checked at one of the big box stores and frankly I would not have built a doghouse with the quality of construction lumber they had. And I am making an attempt at no-dig gardening using last fall’s leaves as a start. Ghu knows we have enough cardboard boxes to cover much of the back yard eventually! 😉

    Fortunately we do not need to remodel, the interior paint job was new and a pleasant color, and we can live with the house as is for a long time. Check back in six months and I’ll report on the state of the book boxes. 😉

  26. My problem right now is that I wish to be already settled
    Welcome to the club. The kitchen remodel – started in November – is getting drywalled, right now. The cabinetry is supposed to show up any day now. Then measured for countertops, which take weeks to be delivered. The oven is supposed to be “April”. The range hood has no ETA. Then there is the millwright (who I accidentally called a milliner, which may explain why he doesn’t email me)…

      1. Traditionally, someone who moved and reassembled heavy equipment, like grist mills or saw mills. He was a master mechanic who specialized in BIG stuff, but didn’t operate the equipment himself. Now the term is used for someone who can look at a production mill (super lathe, giant drill-press, industrial fabrication machines), take them apart, move them, and put them back together at a new site without any “spare” parts. If you are trying to move a lot of hard-core shop tools, it’s probably easier to hire a millwright than try to do things yourself.

        I’ve also heard the term used for someone who is milling old wood (salvage/reclaimed) into planks for flooring or to use elsewhere in building.

    1. who I accidentally called a milliner

      A studio head back in the day referred to to Hollywood epics as “Cecil B. DeMillinery”.

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