Six on Saturday: Reds

Last week, purples predominated. Now for red!

1. Barberry. We saw one of these last week. My garden has a total of four barberry bushes. Most of the largest one died last winter, so I have cut it back severely, and still have one large branch with a few red berries to cut up and put out with the yard waste pickup (for communal composting/mulching, as appropriate; I don’t have enough space for my own compost heap).

       

2. Pansies, overlapping with the barberry in one of the pictures above.

3. Unknown: miniature Japanese maple? Plus some snapdragons.

4. Roses, just coming into bud.

5. Clematis. More red-violet than red.

6. Coleus? From a pre-planted bowl I bought.

Six on Saturday is hosted here: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Sources of inspiration

Grumbles and procrastination clearing; forecast offers a chance of further improvement.

A lot of my grumpiness has to do with facing a very old R&R. I want to be done with it. I wish my past self had just done it right away. But when the reviews came in, my past self was struggling with the MMP, and then the series editors put both feet down about the Huge Honking Translation, and what with one thing and another, including my promotion application last year, years have passed. Not without efforts toward the R&R, but now this is one of the contributing factors: I have layers of notes and outlines to review as I try to figure out what the plan was, and the mass of material is daunting.

Since I finally spent an hour re-reading these, I’m feeling more like tackling the thing and getting it over with.

I’m also looking over my shoulder, suspecting that making the effort will (by Sod’s Law) bring down the Translation Editors or some other type of interference with the work.

Yesterday when I was procrastinating/looking for inspiration, I found a couple of helpful posts. One is from a gardener. The advice sounds a lot like any planning process, but it’s useful to see that people in other areas have the same problems and solutions. Here’s what Jen in Frome says at https://doingtheplan.com/2017/04/21/planning-and-doing-the-plan/

  1. Do Stuff. Take small steps frequently to get more good things thriving . . . . Lots of little things done each day adds up to a lot done over the month.
  2. Review. Note down what was done and when, and keep observing and thinking about what’s working out and what’s what’s not.
  3. Plan. Check what’s done so far against what’s hoped for in future, and set out a few next steps to get a bit closer to your goal.

Another is Kameron Hurley on working through fear and writing fatigue, here: https://www.kameronhurley.com/lets-talk-creativity-fear-losing-magic/ Hurley says, “Much of the time I feel I’m spending “writing” is actually time I spend feeling guilty because I can’t write, or because I feel that what I’m writing is utter shit. That’s not “writing” time. It’s my time with The Fear. So much of my writing time has been taken up talking with The Fear that I couldn’t figure out why shit wasn’t getting done. It certainly felt, emotionally, like I was working REALLY HARD. But arguing with your fear isn’t working. Feeling bad for not working isn’t working. Being angry about not working isn’t working.”

Yes, and no. Arguing, feeling bad, and being angry are certainly a lot of emotional labor. Doing them doesn’t necessarily “work,” as in, make it possible to get back to work. But it doesn’t help to pretend The Fear isn’t happening, either. I wound up negotiating with mine. I put on the music I usually use for grading, spread print-outs all over my desk (so I had to see them), and set a timer for ten minutes. That was all I needed to get into the task. When the timer went off, I was annoyed and immediately re-set it for 25 minutes, and made a lot of progress in that time. I needed the short time to start, though, because 25 seemed like way too much time for demon-fighting.

Am I embarrassed about having this sort of work problem, still, again, at my stage of career? Hell yeah. I also hope that admitting to it, publicly if pseudonymously, may help some other people who might be having the same problem. You can get past it. Sometimes you can go years without The Fear. But it’s also a thing that comes back with the right triggers, the right combination of factors, the wrong encounter with someone who pushes certain buttons. The only way I’ve ever found to deal with it is Virginia Valian’s: make the task smaller. As small as you need to. Ten minutes. Five. And be kind to yourself, because the piece of work is not really the problem. It’s all the emotions that have got tangled up with that piece of work. They might be big things that need therapy, or they might be ghosts of something you cleared up long ago, or they might just be bad habits.

If it’s not a good day, if The Fear is happening to you, if you’re procrastinating, give it five minutes, write down what you did in that time, and come back to the thing tomorrow. That’s all. Five minutes, and a note about what you did in the time.

Mustn’t grumble. Mustn’t . . . oh, hell, why not?

Definitely in the category of First-World problems, I do realize.

All my e-mail programs are now doing two-factor authentication, which I hate. I don’t even have a smartphone, but I still get annoyed when the dumb phone buzzes. I do not want to be messing with the frigging phone when I’m trying to work on my desktop computer.

I shut down my computer over the weekend, including shutting 18 tabs in Firefox (I don’t know, it just happens) and when I hit “restore previous session” I got six back. One-third is not very good restoration, Firefox! I remembered a few that I wanted to have back, such as the drill for principle parts of ancient Greek verbs, and located a few more through my browsing history, which I am very lazy about clearing out. But I’d had some of them hanging around for long enough that I’m not really sure what was there, just that I wanted to be able to click over to look at them for inspiration sometimes.

Inspiration. I not haz. Motivation neither. I slept badly because I woke up both hot and with my wonky hip hurting (and though I know it’s muscular, in the middle of the night I always start wondering if I need a hip replacement already and how that might have happened), and I have a headache because of allergies and not sleeping well, so I’m late to start on anything this morning. And that just strengthens the “why haven’t I done this already it must be because I suck” buzzy-bugge voices.

I will just sit with the grumpiness for awhile. I have jasmine tea, two snoozing cats in my study, and a leafy green view. Eventually those may take effect! I’m not sure I even have the attention span to keep up a good head of Grumble all day long.

Six on Saturday

This is a meme some of the garden-bloggers do weekly. I’ve never got round to it before, but yesterday I took some pictures so that I could participate. I hope they’re not too blurry. “Six on Saturday” is hosted here: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/six-on-saturday-01-06-2019/

First, the honeysuckle arch, as you come from the garage toward the house. Here we have a patch of iris, starting to fade a little, and three hostas (I don’t know the cultivars of anything; I inherited this garden from the former owners). I like the barberry next to the variegated green and white shrub, which was recommended by the garden designer I consulted at the beginning of the Battle of the Bellflower. She had no idea what we were up against. The clematis at the side of the house. A classic.  I was very pleased to discover this purple columbine under the pine tree out front. There are several pale pink columbines that have self-seeded, but I prefer darker colors, and these go very well with the other purples of this garden. Lamb’s ears and chives; there are also some pinks in the background. There’s a Sterling Silver rose in the middle of the lamb’s ears, but it’s still coming back from the winter and it will be awhile until it blooms. 

Well, it IS the best medicine

I feel so much more relaxed since I listened to a few seconds of several different “guided meditations” that I found on you-tube when I searched for “meditation for sleep.”

Not because they put me into a peaceful, trance-like state, but because they made me laugh. Probably you had to be there (and maybe there is something deeply wrong with me, or at least deeply unfit for the world of guided meditation). So much is about the effect of voices, and I’m sure each individual will respond very differently. IME Brits are tart, not syrupy, so when I hear a syrupy voice with a British accent, I’m already primed to find this very strange, and when he says “Tonight we’ll do a guided meditation to help you sleep,” my response is “No, we won’t.” (Speaking of oppositional, N&M!) The sl-o-o-ow speech on the ones I started trying to listen to makes me think “Duuuuuude, are you on ‘luuuuuuudes? And wouldn’t it be more effective to take something than to fall about laughing while listening to guided meditations?”

I think I’ll stick to rain noise to help me sleep. But hey! Like I said, I’m a lot more relaxed for the laugh, so I can’t say I got nothing out of it! Maybe I should spend some time before bed on the Comedy Channel. Only my sense of humor is so skewed that might not help.

Happiness vs. familiarity

Familiarity breeds, as they say.

But seriously, that feeling of recognition and comfort is not necessarily a good thing. I had to head to the Internet Archive to get this post (via a link from someone’s half-decade-old blog post):

https://web.archive.org/web/20160712082102/http://thephilosophersmail.com/relationships/how-we-end-up-marrying-the-wrong-people/

but I’m glad I read it, not because I married the wrong person but because of all the things we worked through on the way to being the right people for each other, and another reason that will appear below. I’m going to quote the third reason why “we end up marrying the wrong people”:

“Three: We aren’t used to being happy

“We believe we seek happiness in love, but it’s not quite as simple. What at times it seems we actually seek is familiarity – which may well complicate any plans we might have for happiness.

“We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood. It was as children that we first came to know and understand what love meant. But unfortunately, the lessons we picked up may not have been straightforward. The love we knew as children may have come entwined with other, less pleasant dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, in short: suffering.

“As adults, we may then reject certain healthy candidates whom we encounter, not because they are wrong, but precisely because they are too well-balanced (too mature, too understanding, too reliable), and this rightness feels unfamiliar and alien, almost oppressive. We head instead to candidates whom our unconscious is drawn to, not because they will please us, but because they will frustrate us in familiar ways.

“We marry the wrong people because the right ones feel wrong – undeserved; because we have no experience of health, because we don’t ultimately associate being loved with feeling satisfied.”

This familiarity is also a significant reason why we live in a house we want to sell. When I walked into it, it felt like home. Not too much so; if it had been more recognizably just like the house I grew up in, I would have run right back out. But enough like that original house to feel familiar and sort of right. I conveniently forgot what very conflicted feelings I have around the whole concept of home in general and about houses of that vintage and style in particular. It took time living here to realize how very heimlich, in a bad way (that is, frustrating in familiar ways), this house actually is. For me. It would be a wonderful house for someone else, with different baggage (or no baggage!). It’s true that I have found it rather therapeutic to correct this house’s problems and to re-make it in the image of a functional relationship rather than the heavily dysfunctional one my parents had. But it would have been a lot cheaper to resume talk therapy!

Next time, I’m going to look for what my adult self actually wants, and not listen to feelings about familiar.

The Very Local News; or, How I Spent a Summery Saturday Morning

  • I woke up at 7:00, Glendower at my feet, thinking that I needed to go outside as soon as possible. A few minutes’ thought allowed me to recall that I needed to release the feral cat who was recovering in the garage (TN done yesterday, R today).
  • After feeding the indoor cats, I woke Sir John for the ceremonial Release of Cat, since it was his concern for this cat that led to the TNR operation. Feral cat, a ringer for Glendower, has been hanging out for a month or two. I thought he might be a neighbor’s pet, but inquiries led nowhere, and his behavior at the vet certainly indicated feral status. We put some food in his usual hang-out corner of the garden, and hoped he’d have a bite before dashing off, but as soon as I got the trap open he leapt the fence and was gone.
  • Sir John went back to bed, where he remains (he seems to be on Hawaii time lately).
  • I read three essays in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe.
  • The urge to go out kept nagging me until I remembered that I had planned to go to the Farmers’ Market. I walked, taking the long way so as to go by the ATM, admiring other people’s gardens (and noting a few that have that vile beast, creeping bellflower, invading their lawns), and greeting dog-walkers, joggers, and religious proselytizers.
  • I bought two pounds of rhubarb, two potted herbs, and two heirloom tomatoes (I think a Cherokee Purple and a Lucky Cross).
  • At home, the first course of lunch was two half-tomatoes sliced with salt and pepper.
  • I drank mint-ginger iced tea with a splash of lime seltzer. A couple of weeks ago, I found ginger-lemon seltzer at TJ’s, but I like this homemade blend better.
  • Dessert was a brownie from this recipe. These are lethal! Their impact is probably more intense because, my 8×13″ pan being packed away, I baked them in an 8×8″ pan for 50 minutes. They separated: the bottom layer is lighter, gooey, rather caramel-like, then comes a thick fudgy layer, and on top there’s a thin crunchy crust. I think I might capitalize on this tendency by baking them over a pie crust next time.
  • After lunch I made rhubarb compote. Two pounds rhubarb chopped into roughly 3/4 inch pieces, one cup sugar, half-teaspoon salt, hefty dash cinnamon, and a knob of ginger peeled and cut into three thick slices. Put it all into a pot on very low heat until eventually it boils and the rhubarb gets as soft as you like it. Fish out the ginger slices. Put them in a glass and pour more seltzer over them.

Memoria

Memoria, in Latin, is feminine. It declines as follows:

Singular nominative (subject case): memoria                    plural: memoriae

Singular genitive (possessive): memoriae                           plural: memoriarum

Singular dative (indirect object): memoriae                       plural: memoriis

Singular accusative (direct object): memoriam                  plural: memorias

Singular ablative (object of prepositions such as with, by, from): memoriā          plural: memoriis

Thus, in the well-known phrase in memoriam, you need an a, not a u. There is no such word as *memorius in Latin. If you can’t get your genders and cases right, stick to plain English: in memory of, or just in memory if you aren’t going to add a person’s name, is clear and elegant.

In memoriAm.

Diary of an academic lady trying to sell her house (1)

Since Undine said she’d enjoy it . . .

In March, order tickets for all-day event in Our Quaint Village. In April, Real Estate Agent decides to take advantage of traffic to Our Quaint Village for all-day event and schedule Open House for that day. Raise eyebrows but Sir John decides we can Make It Work, so agree, and make Plans accordingly.

In May, Plans come unraveled due to being poorly following misguided polite acceptance of dish containing onions while at luncheon with a friend (friend seems sceptical re low-FODMAP diet, in general; mem. consider whether this means one must affirm Courage of Convictions before eating with this friend, or if one should rather avoid any occasion involving food and plan Healthy Walks or similar instead). Am not in condition to prepare house before the day of the Event and Open House; husband, being Vampire, is neither up early On The Day nor did he prep the night before (probably due to consideration of poorly self trying to sleep, as is very Considerate vampire).

Thus find ourselves and House finally ready two hours after Event starts, and one hour before Open House. Query: shut up cats early? Go check in for Event, then return at once to incarcerate cats? After quarter-hour discussion, decide to trap cats, since now have only one half hour before we would have to do so anyway. Venture forth to check in and begin our Day Out. Long Lines ensue. After two portions of Event, once again we have not enough time to begin another, nor is it quite time to return home to release cats. Telephone Agent. Return home, consult briefly with Agent (eight groups visited Open House, more than ever before; question is whether they are Looky-Lous or truly Interested), send Sir John out for the breakfast he did not have time for earlier, restore litter boxes and release cats. Thunderstorm begins.

Sir John returns home, decides he is not up for any more Event. Having spent whackload on tickets, I return to Event. Thanks to storm, lines now much shorter. Determinedly complete my Day Out. Drive home, exhausted and damp, and put feet up to watch last stage of Tour of California. Sir John says if ever have similar conflict in future, refuse to schedule Open House. Own view: if ever eat something I ought not two days before Open House, cancel same.

Stevie Smith, 1937

From a letter to Naomi Mitchison:

“I think at the present moment you are in a state of mind that hungers for the disaster it fears. If there are these forces of evil you see you are siding with them in allowing your thought to panic. Your mind is your own province—the only thing that is. Yes, this brings up another point. There is a sort of hubris in this unreal worrying. For if you have achieved peace in your own mind when the worse happens (if it does) you will have reserves of strength to meet it. And if you have not achieved peace in your own mind how can you expect the world to do any better. You are the world and so am I. And at the moment the world is a great deal too articulate! (You will agree!!) and worries too much and so on.”

Quoted in Mitchison’s memoir, You May Well Ask (London: Gollancz, 1979). p. 155.