Jesus died for your damp basement

Apr. 21st, 2019 03:59 pm
chhotii: (Default)
[personal profile] chhotii
Yay, dehumidifier purchased and in place.

soggy Easter

Apr. 21st, 2019 07:21 am
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[personal profile] chhotii
Suddenly this is clear to me: The sooner I buy a dehumidifier, the sooner I can get the basement of the house into less embarrassing condition. The sooner that happens, the sooner the realtors can show the house. The sooner that happens, the sooner I can get my life back.

Suddenly I desperately want to buy a dehumidifier.

I wonder if any stores are open today? Repeatedly over the years I've forgotten that it's Easter and tried to go shopping (because nothing else is scheduled because it's Easter!) and I have been frustrated and disappointed.

If both Lowe's and Home Depot are closed today, I will be ranting at length about how much I hate Easter.

An itch I can't stop picking at

Apr. 20th, 2019 05:16 pm
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[personal profile] breakinglight11
I am absolutely obsessed with the desire to begin editing my new book. I finished the first draft of my “Adonis” novel on Monday, after kind of being kind of wishy-washy about it for about a year and a half, then working steadily and with focus on it for maybe the past six months.

I know it’s not good right now. While that’s totally okay for a first draft, it’s extremely difficult for me to know a piece of work with my name on it that means this much to me is currently this bad. I want to DO something about it, FIX it, TAKE ACTION in order to make it good. I know it’s going to need some serious editing work to get there, and I want to GET ON THAT. So much so I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else.

But right now, perhaps partially because I’m feeling so frantic about it, I know I don’t have the correct distance from it, neither emotional nor intellectual. By emotional distance, I need to have let go of how stressed and nervous I am about my ability to write prose up to the level I want for a project this precious to me. By intellectual, I need to get out of what I call “the design hole”— where you are so distracted by what you MEANT to say or accomplish with your artistic choices that you’re not in a great place to evaluate whether your choices actually DO say or accomplish those things.

The only way to get that necessary distance is to take time away from the project. I have not looked at the text since I finished it; actually, other than the stuff I was actively working with, I avoided going back and rereading anything in the last few weeks of work. My goal is, as much as possible, to forget what I actually wrote so when I go back to it I can evaluate it more objectively than if I’m just influenced by the emotions (mostly negative) I attached to it when initially generating it. But that takes time, and patience that has never been my strong suit.

It’s like having a wound that’s itching like mad. All I can think about it scratching it because it’s bugging me so much. But I know if I do, that will only make it worse; I’ve got to leave it alone to give it time to heal.

Based on past experience, when I return to my work after not having looked at it for a little while, it tends to not be “so much” of however I remember it. If I’m feeling really, really pleased, when I go back it tends not to quite live up to my memory. If I feel really bad about it, another look tends to seem not as bad as I thought. That’s honestly probably what will happen when I finally do start the edit. And since I’ve improved as a writer, I feel overall more positive about my writing in general. But that’s been in reference to my later, more polished dramatic work. I’m not at that point with my prose yet, so I imagine it will sort of revert to the older reaction pattern.

I marked the 29th of April as two weeks out from the completion date, as the very earliest I’m allowed to go back to it. Of course, by that point I’ll be into the final two weeks of production before the next Mrs. Hawking shows, Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost on May 11th at the Watch City Steampunk Festival. So maybe I’ll be so busy then that I won’t have time to dig in, even if I want to. That might be a good thing, as it could force me to take even more time. I don’t want to lose momentum on it, but God knows right now I’m itching so hard to keep going on it that’s hard to imagine.

hiring a realtor

Apr. 19th, 2019 07:30 am
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[personal profile] chhotii
The realtor I showed the house to on Tuesday was the realtor who handled the sale of my Brookline apartment. I haven't signed anything committing myself to working with him. As far as the sale of my condo went, he was fine; he seemed to know his stuff, and things worked out OK. I brought a lot of my own clue into the picture. I overrode his decision on the listing price, and I proved to be right. And I knew to ask the fire department about the 26F, which was fortunate; if I hadn't done that until he mentioned it, that might've been too late. But, no big complaints, and he was very nice to work with. So when he was eager to help me sell the house in the 'burbs, I was like, sure, come take a look at it, and tell me what you think.

But I think he's more of an expert on property in the city, and I think that the market is so different in the Suburbs of Despair. He still hasn't gotten back to me with an estimate of the price we should list. Maybe he's as stumped as I am: it's much harder to figure out from the comps. When I sold my condo, there were 3 or 4 apartments of similar size for sale in the same complex. Extrapolating from that much data was easy. In the town where the house is, there are, maybe, 3 houses of the same size range for sale in the whole town, and they are all really really different.
despair about house values in the Suburbs of Despair )
Anyway, not having given up yet on the value of the house, I have made an appointment to meet with another realtor, to find out what she thinks the house is worth. This one has an office a stone's throw from the house, so she should be a lot more knowledgeable about the market in that area. We'll see what she thinks!

small babies are cool

Apr. 18th, 2019 10:56 pm
julian: Picture of the sign for Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
My nephew Fritzie, at 5 months or so, is in the "oh, hey, I have feet, my feet are cool!" stage of things. He can turn over and do various energetic movements and is now eating a few things other than breast milk, too. And smiles all over the place. Plus he tells you instantly if he has just peed, because he hates marinating in his own fluids and does not wish to do it ever. (Frederick says this is atypical of most infants, but I can't say's I blame him. Fritzie, I mean.)

An overly-lit picture of him from a couple days ago. )

I went and hung out and was useful occasionally as a second pair of hands to do baby things with, this afternoon. K went to a dentist's appointment, F did some work, and Fritzie hung out with me, and was perfectly cromulent for a bit, but eventually decided he was inconsolable; that's just what babies do, sometimes. Mostly I think he didn't want cereal, he wanted *milk*. So K coming back was a relief to him. (The picture's from our combined birthday celebration a few days ago, though. I enjoy it because he is, to quote Diane DiMassa, playing the cello.)

Also, I met the neighbor's three dogs. Two of them are brother-and-sister golden retrievers, and the third is a Leonberger. (This is, for those who don't know, a ginormous dog which just got its AKC certification in 2010. They originated as a mixture of St. Bernard, Newfoundland, and Great Pyrenees. Yes indeed, they are muckin' huge. Also, kindly.) The neighbor let me come in his yard and give them a thorough scritching, so hopefully in future the (protective of her turf) Leonberger will be good with me wandering by.

Then I went to a Dedham Historical Society lecture on "The Indigenous Peoples of Dedham", which was given by a 2nd year grad student in history (going for a Masters but not a Doctorate), who is very shy and not yet all that good at public speaking (in that I could tell she was holding back panic), but was knocking it *out of the park* in terms of being detailed enough to be useful, but never getting lost in the weeds. She went on about how things were vaguely collaborative in the 1600s, and got worse, and then the semi-genocidal King Phillip's War happened and yeah, not good, to understate.

Factoid I didn't know: Apparently the accepted Dedham wisdom is that there were no indigenous settlements in what-is-now-Dedham itself. (I make that specification because Dedham is now about 10 square miles, but was originally 200+ square miles; their turf went down to the Rhode Island border.) She said that there's archeological evidence of seasonal encampments in the area of what is now Wigwam Pond, and that these encampments were generally just about around where the white settlements were. This makes sense, given that the local tribes did tend to have different wintering and summering locations.

Other factoid: She made sure to note that while there was no battle of King Phillip's War in what-is-now-Dedham, what-is-now-Dedham did serve as the common rendezvous spot for the four local counties. This caused murmuring from the clued-in crowd. (In other words, nope, the town was nothing like blameless.)

I could tell she was going to be The Best when, in the first few minutes of her talk, she made glancing reference to the 2008 struggle to change the Dedham High mascot, which was at the time a stereotypical Native American mascot (subdivision red-faced brave). She called the mascot, or possibly the people supporting it, "well-intentioned but misguided," and I was like, "Ah, I am in good hands" and relaxed. (Also, in the course of events, she noted that the current state seal is fairly enh, but the original one is actively awful. I had no idea.)
chhotii: (bills)
[personal profile] chhotii
In my condo, I have all the home-maintenance items I need to maintain a condo that I'm actually living in-- a vacuum cleaner, a broom, a mop, a power drill, various screwdrivers, a hammer, a small step stool, a level.

I also own a house. For now. Hopefully, in 4 or 5 months, I will no longer own a house. I might never own a house again. If I ever own a house again, far in the future, it will probably be a smaller house, hopefully surrounded with no lawn, just trees.

So, there's all these things I need to do all the maintenance on the house that's suddenly urgent to make the house presentable for showing and selling, that I might never need again. I'm reluctant to rush out and buy them. I don't want to spend money stupidly; I'm sure to be unpleasantly surprised by how much something costs, and bump up against the limit of my house-improvement budget; and it's ecologically unfortunate that we collectively buy so much stuff and stuff it all into storage for "someday".

Thus, I would like to propose something: that if you, dear friends, own any of these items, and will not be using them immediately, loan them to me? You will get them back when the house sells (probably around mid-August) and if your thing is not in satisfactory condition when I'm done with it, I will buy you a new one.

Here's my wish-list:
Paint rollers
Paint trays
Drop cloths
Dehumidifier
Shovel
Pruning shears
Garden trowel
Hose sprayer nozzle
Rake
Lawn spreader
Bucket
Metal detector
Weed whacker
Long-handled soft-bristle brush
Air mattresses
Possibly anything else helpful for house maintenance that I'm not thinking of.

Thanks!

trying to find the septic tank

Apr. 18th, 2019 09:02 am
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[personal profile] chhotii
Yesterday's adventures in owning a house in the 'burbs:

Tuesday and Wednesday were non-rainy, so on Wednesday morning I spent about 40 minutes watering the lawn. This feels futile. I'm having trouble having faith that any of the grass seed will sprout. The ground is damp all the time, with all the rain we have been getting, but the grass seed sits on top of the ground, and probably dries out. I should've gotten the grass seed in the matrix of greenish-whitish stuff to hold moisture around the seeds.

Not having faith that I'm not going to have to go through putting down seed all over again anyway, I didn't mind the idea of digging up some of the yard. And I have to find the cap to the septic tank, to get it pumped. This seems imperative for passing the Title V inspection.

Never buy a house that's not on town sewer. Just don't.

I thought I remembered vaguely where the cap was, and there's a patch of lawn that's depressed, with bumpy and scraggly lawn around it, about where I thought the cap might be. Dug there. Nope. Dug more holes around there. Still nope. I kept hitting something very very hard, with a clang, with the shovel, and getting all excited thinking I had found it, but in every case it turned out to be a large rock. Fucking glacier droppings everywhere. I dug many many holes. Found nothing but frustration.

Then I thought-- let's look at where the main outflow pipe is in the basement, and where it exits the foundation. The tank should be somewhere on a straight line from that, right? So the main outflow pipe should point in the right direction. It's hard to tell exactly, because the pipe goes off in a bit of an angle, but it seemed to be pointing to much closer to the driveway than I remembered. That's weird.

Started digging holes near the driveway, but decided I needed to stop wasting time on stupidity. I should study the Title V paperwork from 2004. There's a map, it should help. The problem is that since this was done, the location of the back edge of the house has moved: We tore down the laundry room, and replaced it with the mudroom and an extension to the dining room. Hopefully the Title V map has enough information to figure this out-- like, the entire shape of the back of the house, showing the back wall of the living room, so I can measure from there. I still have to dig up the Title V paperwork and look at it before I know how dire the situation is.

This boondoggle left me in a very cranky mood. I went back to my mom's, and failed to deal well with not remembering the WiFi password, and not having a clean shirt, and there not being any food that I really wanted there, and the lack of decaf coffee, and my mother being gone on her grocery store run for so long that I started to worry about her, and my kid getting into the candy leftover from the gingerbread house kit.

house fix-up expenses

Apr. 17th, 2019 04:48 am
chhotii: (bills)
[personal profile] chhotii
Met with a realtor and showed him the house. There's a bunch of work that he thinks should be done before putting the house on the market. Work on the house would be an investment that would more than pay for itself. The lawn is the least of my problems.

Things I can do myself:
* Tidying up the landscaping
* Some plastering and painting (probably not all the painting due to time constraints)
* Decluttering
* Cleaning

Things I would have to throw money at that the realtor brought up:
* Investigate and fix leaks from upstairs plumbing that have caused water stains on downstairs ceiling
* Investigate mold patch on basement wall
* Dehumidifier for basement
* Power washing exterior
* Clean out gutters on both house and garage
* Replace those "temporary" lolly columns that have been holding up the house for at least 15 years
* Maybe replace bay window pane in in-law?
* Painting and plastering that I don't have time to do
* Continue to have the landscaping company mow the lawn (when it needs it)
* Have an inspection done (which may trigger more expenditures)

Other things, not brought up by the realtor, but on my mind:
* Septic tank needs pumping
* Might need a Bagster or similar to declutter
* A tree at the corner looks mostly dead, and may need to be removed
* Lots of mulch

I may be forgetting things.

This sounds like MONEY. After I sell the house I will have money; right now I have no money. I do have a good credit rating, so the realtor suggested, get a home equity loan. Hopefully the home equity loan process is less of a pain in the ass than a mortgage?

here, have some Reiki

Apr. 16th, 2019 08:57 pm
julian: Picture of the sign for Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
I've got a women's spirituality place nearby. I had two, at one point, but the one in Attleboro closed due to rent problems, which is sad because it was more neo-pagany, and this one (in Easton itself) is more Angels And Mediumship And Stuff, which I'm less of a fan of. This is the very purple Women of Wisdom, which I keep calling Women of Wonder because of the 70s-era feminist SFF anthology series. (Actually, there's a store in Abington, too, come to think. They're more Wiccan-y, and among other things, they sell animal skulls.)

Women of Wisdom, however much I may eye the Angel stuff warily, does teach Reiki levels I & II (I hope to eventually take the Reiki L1 class, anyway), and also has a bi-monthly (that is, twice a month) Reiki Healing Circle, which I translate as Reiki Circle Of Energy and occasionally go to. Well, more accurately, went to once a couple months ago and then kept having things happen on Tuesday nights.

So I went tonight. There were a pantsload more circle members than practitioners there, but it worked anyway. What they do is they stick people in a circle of chairs, introduce the general idea of Reiki, and put on a (longish) meditation tape. (The group leader lady said, basically, "Things will come up, emotionally or otherwise. Just go with it.") This one focused on chakra visualization and a white ball of light going to hang out with your various chakra points; as we meditated, the practitioners went around and did Reiki on us.

(I'm not a particular fan of the chakra worldview, and feel many uses of it are appropriationist, so I try not to deliberately go to things involving them outside of a Hindi and/or Yoga context, but will certainly meditate to it if presented with a guided meditation tape using the framework.)

Being as I am me, I sometimes don't visualize too well, but gestures help with it when that happens, plus which when I get into a circle/location/sacred space where there is energy going on (which there certainly was here), I quite often will open my hands to the energy. So, since the lady *said* "just go with it," I was doing a bunch of hand and arm movements along with the "visualize the white light merging with the X light of X chakra point" background voice.

Apparently, this flummoxed one of the practitioners (the only guy practitioner), who, he said afterwards, stood behind me and tried to work within my movements, but completely failed to. (I knew he was there, but felt no energy off him at all; I do think this was in part because he's got some back and knee problems and was in pain today, but also just I wasn't acting like he was expecting me to. One of the practitioners talking with him and me afterwards said, "You should have just put your hand on her head," which I do think would have probably stopped my movements, at least; not sure how his energy would have done with mine, even so, but it would have, at least, helped him. I'm assuming he's not very experienced even though he's all white haired.)

He muttered something to one of the women about having failed with someone (presumably me, but I was in meditation-space and wasn't fully listening), and could she try; soon after, she came over, put her hand above my head, which I could feel quite well, and lo and behold, there was energy a-plenty. She and I did some extremely effective Reiki together; her hands were quite warm and I could feel her even when she wasn't touching me, and she was effectively directive without using words, which was a relief given the guy previously, and she worked the energy well, and I had some blockages I wasn't even aware of, and ommm, and so yeah, that was nice.

(I don't believe half of that paragraph, incidentally. Energy isn't tangible, says my skeptic brain, and Reiki has no measureable, scientific benefits. A lot of things don't, though, and I've long ago basically figured, I don't have to believe in it to be able to work with it and/or within it, and meditation and a kindly person being kind to me are good things in and of themselves, even if nothing else happened. But I mean, I don't believe in ghosts either, or predictive Tarot, or all kinds of things. But that doesn't mean I'll reject community warmth.)

After things broke up (they get everyone up, have them hold hands and do three Oms and a couple dance steps, at the end, to get people more back into their bodies), the guy and one of the women practitioners asked me what I'd been doing, and I explained, and the woman said it was very Tai Chi-esque, and I really *do* want to learn Tai Chi sometime...

Anyway. So, just for the record, if you don't want people to move around, don't tell them to "just go with it." And I'm sorry I messed with my practitioner's head. But I enjoyed the evening anyway.
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[personal profile] breakinglight11
Well, I've done it. As you may have seen on Facebook, yesterday I completed the first draft of the novel I've been working on, converting the story from my "Adonis" screenplay into a full-length prose form.

He's very proud of me

Artist's dramatization of actual scene from novel


I got very close last week, and completing it had started to obsess me. I had managed to get it down to one remaining scene, so yesterday I locked myself in my room and didn't let myself leave until I had it finished. My goal was one continuous story, not necessarily a good one, but a technically "complete" one, that flowed from beginning to middle to end. It came out to just barely under 43,000 words, in thirteen chapters plus a prologue. Not a very long novel— probably will ultimately need to be longer —but I think it's the longest continuous thing I've ever written.

Word count is a weird metric of length to me, as a dramatist. Drama never has a fraction of the word count prose does, and doesn't correspond to runtime nearly as much. In screenwriting, there's a rough one to one ratio of page count to minutes it takes to play out. Plays don't have standard formatting; you kind of have to work it out for yourself. But the sheer volume of words required for a full-length novel was pretty staggering to me. By contrast, all five Mrs. Hawking plays together total about 63,000 words— much smaller on average given the amount of work they represent.

Writing the book was very much not easy for me. As I've been complaining, I find prose to be incredibly difficult. Describing what happens in a way that doesn't feel overwrought, excessive, and awkward is much harder to me than designing the action (like one does for any sort of story) then expressing it in dialogue and a few stage directions to be built upon by performers. My first drafts tend to be wordy at the best of times, but I often felt unable to convey what was going on in a manner that didn't seem overexplained, or execessively formal. I tried not to worry about that too much at this stage, as too much attempt to edit as you go gets in the way of completing a first draft, but as a result the prose goes off the rails in a lot of places.

This is all to say I am very much not happy with the book right now. It's not representing the story the way I want, and the level of the writing is not up to the standard I want to put forward. It's the worst example to date of the problem I feel like I struggle with most frequently in my writing, that I did really great work building the story, but the words I used to express it are bad and wrong.

I can do pretty solid dialogue at this point, as drama has honed my ability for it through practice. But for someone as thoroughly verbal as I am, I find word use to be ABSOLUTELY THE MOST DIFFICULT PART of writing. Coming up with the ideas, what happens, the mechanical functionality of how the tools of narrative work? I'm awesome at that. Picking the right words that are pretty and expressive enough for narration? That's a brutal struggle.

I know this is part of the process. Drafting has allowed me to make good work time and again, and I know myself well enough to know that I'm better off having a finished first draft that I can iterate on than trying to edit everything until it's perfect before moving on. I never fucking finish anything if I try to work the second way. So history suggests that even just getting to this point is a HUGE step forward in ultimately making a good piece.

Right now, though, all I want to do is pick at it. I am keenly aware of its shortcomings in its current state, and I have a hard time leaving a project alone if I know it still needs work. But I have to get some distance from it, or I'll never be able to effectively think of new ways to convey my ideas where it's needed. So what I have resolved to do is not even LOOK at it again for at least two weeks. I put the first allowable date to return to it on my calendar. Hopefully in that time I'll forget what I was trying to do and be able to evaluate what I did do.

What has worked well for me in the past in writing plays and screenplays is to puke out a first draft, take some time away from it, then attempt a second draft on my own before I show it to anyone. I am definitely going to need outside feedback on this, and I've even got a few very generous people in mind. But I'd be embarrassed to show it to anyone in its current form, so I absolutely want to see if I can improve the quality of the prose before I do that. "The writing is bloated and awkward," is not feedback I'm looking for, 'CAUSE I ALREADY KNOW IT IS.

But I do need help to see if I've really used the novel form to its fullest. The overall story is one Bernie and I labored over when we were writing the screenplay and I'm very proud of that part of it. But it is very lean and focused, in the manner that stories for the screen must be, and it probably requires more expansion and fleshing out to really take advantage of the novel form. And I'm not a hundred percent sure I paced it in the manner a novel should be— the screen must move fast, and it may still feel too rushed. Still, I feel far and away the biggest problem is the quality of the prose.

It's also got sex scenes, which I feel... some type of way about. I really do feel like, given the subject matter, they need to be in there. But they're certainly not my forte, as they don't require a lot of specifics in drama. In this case, my trouble is compounded by two issues. The first I wrote about back in 2014 and unfortunately not much has changed— I'm a big child about sex scenes and feel embarrassed, like somebody's going to judge or laugh at me for how I conceive of them. I worry about this even when I choreograph intimacy on stage, that somebody will find something I designed to seem sexy to be weird, silly, or even creepy. The second issue is that the setting of this piece in particular in an alternate-world ancient matriarchy, with entirely different power dynamics between the genders. Any sex scene I write in that world is going to have to meaningfully incorporate that difference in dynamics— but it's still got to take into account my audience's frame of reference comes from being socialized in patriarchy. I mused on this issue in 2015— I need my story's interactions to feel like they're from the different world, while STILL communicating in a way my audience can understand if I want them to get the right impression. THAT'S HARD.

I am trying to keep sight of the fact that it's an accomplishment that I finished. It was a lot of work, it was hard for me, and I finished. That's a big deal. I have always had a hard time celebrating accomplishments like that if I'm still not feeling good about the product's quality. But, one step at a time. I made something new, from an idea that is important to me, in a form I've never worked in before. And I am that much closer to making it something special.

That's something.

not quite a cliche

Apr. 16th, 2019 12:01 pm
julian: Picture of the sign for Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
Startlingly, I found out about the Notre Dame fire on Dreamwidth. That never happens anymore!

When the Iraq National Library (and Museum) burned in 2003, my reaction was all intellectual, and there've been others since that are similar. "Oh no, it is a tragedy that Thing X is gone." I don't feel *bad* that my reaction to Notre Dame burning was purely emotional, and fiercely so, but I did want to observe that it's true.

Having learned from 9/11 coverage, I did not let myself get glued to the TV/internet/news sources, but I did let myself occasionally look for pictures, later in the day. Altar. And some ravens above the actual fire.

I have been to it, but when I was 13, and as I recall things I liked Chartres better, in part because of the requisite Notre Dame crowds. (Though now that I'm looking at the stained glass windows, I am having memory spurts, so apparently I'm minimizing my own emotional connection, which would be just typical of me.) In any case, I will look forward to its being rebuilt, since about $600,000,000 has already been pledged by various people, and visit again in 30 years or so, when I will perhaps be more civilized. It will not be the same, but then, nothing is.

If one is having charitable urges brought on by things burning, Notre Dame will likely be covered, but there's three black churches in Louisiana that could probably use some help. (Unlike Notre Dame, which was probably an accident, the Louisiana churches are victims of arson.)

In addition, the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a major Muslim site, had a (minor) fire, yesterday. (As with a number of religious things in Jerusalem it is a) holy, b) gorgeous, and c) debated about in territory claims.) This is a previously-extant fund for its restoration, but nonetheless, can't hurt.

In other news, Yo Yo Ma plays cello to make a point at the US/Mexico border.
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[personal profile] ceo
Maybe I should do this more often. Anyway. Went to NEFFA and it was OK. (Points to anyone who gets that reference.) Was surprised by how few people I knew compared to previous years. But the dancing was fun and the music was too. Brought the geetar and they didn't throw me out, so that's something. As I expected, trying to play by ear in the hallway jam sessions was completely hopeless. I tried to cue off another guitarist and couldn't figure out the chords he was playing, then realized he was probably in DADGAD tuning (which is very common in Celtic music, as opposed to the standard EADGBE tuning I was in) and wasn't going to be any help. Goal for next year: learn to play by ear. There were several scheduled jam sessions of various sorts, however, some of which provided sheet music with chords, and at those I made a decent accounting of myself, might even have contributed to the overall musicality here and there. The one focused on traditional French and Breton tunes was really interesting, though the chord changes were a little fast for my novice skills. But, I was sitting next to four pipers and a hurdy-gurdy player, so I could have been playing The Star Spangled Banner backwards in 7/8 time and nobody would have noticed.

Backing up a little: I've been working from home for the past year, and among other things that enabled me to finally start taking guitar lessons instead of trying to learn on my own, which wasn't getting anywhere. That company collapsed in late March, and I'm starting a new job next week, but it won't be working from home so finding time to take lessons and practice is going to become more of a challenge. (And then there's also the challenge of how we're going to get Benjamin home from school on days Anne is working, but that might become a different post.)

Took the commuter rail there and back on Saturday, since [personal profile] gosling was going to need the car. On the way home, I got to the Mansfield station somewhat early, and was watching the train's headlight coming from waaaaaay down the long straightaway... then realized it wasn't stopping... then realized it was an Acela just before it went ripping by at a hundred and fifty, two feet from me, nearly knocking me over with its wake.

Contra dancing has definitely evolved since I first got into it. Old-fashioned asymmetrical contra dances where the "1" couples (facing "down" the set, away from the caller) do most of the dancing are basically unheard-of now, and figures that are strongly asymmetrical, such as Contra Corners, are now routinely called in alternate directions on each round. And of course dancing the opposite role is now completely normative, even if most dances at NEFFA are still called as "Ladies/Gents" as opposed to, say, "Ravens/Larks". And, the figure I learned as G*psy has been renamed to Right Shoulder Round for obvious reasons.

NEFFA continues to impress me with how multigenerational it is. There were tons of teenagers and young adults, and I watched a kid who couldn't have been over 5 completely ripping it up on his fiddle.

oh yes rain

Apr. 14th, 2019 07:00 am
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[personal profile] chhotii
My life is now ruled by anxiety over how regularly H2O lands on the lawn of a house I don't live in. It will continue to be such, until either the grass seeds sprout, or I give up on the current application of grass seed. Sprout, little seeds, sprout! Why must it take so long for seed to sprout?

I was mislead on the subject of watering the lawn after overseeding by an offhand comment in a This Old House segment on You Tube on the subject of dethatching. The "expert" explained all about dethatching, then said to the homeowner "Now that you have dethatched, it's a perfect time to spread some seed... Now if it doesn't rain for two days, water your new seed." I thought, great! I can make sure the lawn gets wet every 2 to 3 days. Especially when Vic has school vacation, and our schedule is pretty flexible. But everything I've read since then on lawn care insists on watering new seed at least daily, if not 2 to 3 times per day. Opinions on just how often vary, but, thinking it over, it makes sense that how long it takes for the seed to dry out will vary a lot depending on all the factors-- the temperature, how sunny the weather is, how shaded the ground is, the slope and drainage, the contact between the seed and the ground, how much it rains if it does rain, the type of seed and whether it's treated.

Argh. Things I could've done better and might regret:
1) Should've gotten seed that's treated with a coating to retain moisture.
2) Should've worked the seed into the ground a bit with the rake.

Of course, this would've driven up the cost in both money and time per square foot. If there are areas of the lawn that are still not green enough 4 to 6 weeks from now, I will go after specifically those spots with the treated seed and the rake. Hopefully that will be just selected trouble spots and not the entire lawn again. Trying this again, with the whole lawn, when the weather is warmer (and thus evaporating water off faster) and there isn't school vacation... let it not come to that.

Happily, it did rain there the night after we spread seed. My informant from the Suburbs of Despair described things as "quite soggy" and didn't think I would have to water again any time soon. But, yesterday was quite warm and sunny, and no more rain was forecast for about the next 36 hours, and I was reading these things that said to water the grass seed every few hours. So I wanted to go there and water yesterday evening, just in case. Vic, however, had a headache and did not want to go anywhere. I could not decide what to do-- try to twist Vic's arm about going? Leave Vic, and drive all the way out there by myself, in miserable traffic, just to water ground that was probably already wet?

I called my mother to discuss my quandary and indecision. Mom has experience with suburban living and lawn frustrations, and was concerned about the grass seed if it wasn't watered at the end of such a sunny day, but sympathetic about Vic's headache. Much to my surprise, Mom volunteered to water the grass. At first I was aghast. Making my elderly mother do my yardwork! I felt really bad about this idea. Mom, however, was insistent. Apparently she has been making progress in physical therapy and was sure she felt up to it. OK, so it has been almost a year since the surgery, and doesn't want to be treated like an invalid any more, and I do want to encourage her to get exercise. It's just a mental adjustment, after a year of using the handicapped parking whenever we go anywhere in Mom's car, and Mom saying that she's too disabled to take the train into Boston, and her grumping about the fact that there's no elevator in my new condo, to contemplate her going out into the yard and dragging the hose all around.

Mom had a great time watering, though. She got to meet Sarah and the little kid, and evaluate the exterior of the house for curb appeal and give me a lot of advice on that front. So, that worked out. Apparently the lawn did in fact need watering in areas with full sun.

This evening I must go to the house and water again. It's forecast to probably rain again tonight, but not certain enough and not early enough. Monday's forecast is for rain, yay! Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm not seeing rain in the forecast. Vic has a dentist appointment on Tuesday, and a therapy appointment on Wednesday. But, between these appointments, I think we can go spend the night at my mom's, and be fairly local to the house and I can do a bunch of watering.

Then, the forecast is currently showing rain on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! Wow! W00t! It will be fantastic if it actually works out that way. Very usefully-timed rain, indeed.
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