pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Hello hello! I have a huge backlog of things I want to write about, from my last hike of the season with Raphael to camping with Eric and doing early voting and going to see Ten Thousand Things' production of Pericles to my adventures with David in recovering my camera from a rental-car company's lost-and-found office in the twilight zone.

But right now I'm hoping some people local to me can recommend a tree service. Things have been neglected around here for too long. We need trees trimmed back from the house and from the power lines; there are bunch of volunteer trees that are a bit large for me to remove, though I could do it if I had to; and there's a big Chinese elm back by the garage that needs some attention.

An extremely nice man came out from Rainbow and opined that, while they would be happy to do the work, most of it did not require the services of trained arborists, and if you asked trained arborists to cut down a bunch of little trees and haul them away, it would take a lot of time and would cost us a bundle of money. He named a number that made me blanch and suggested getting some other bids. So I am thinking of saving the Chinese elm for Rainbow at some later date, and getting some competent people who aren't quite so exalted in their expertise for the rest of the work.

Recommend away, I beg of you! If you are comfortable with saying how much various services charged to do your work, and what the work was, that would be excellent.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Hi, you guys. I'm sorry that I haven't posted in so long. There's no particular excuse other than general harriedness.

The weather has been of the sort that makes mowing the lawn difficult to schedule. It will rain a lot and be very hot and sticky; then there will be a nice day when the grass gradually dries out, but then either it will rain again, or there will be another nice day and Raphael and I will go hiking; and then it will rain some more. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that I don't really want to mow the lawn at all. It's not that the task is so very onerous in itself, but I find lawns boring and am much more interested in seeing what comes up and blooms if I leave them alone. Sadly, the city of Minneapolis, while willing to permit prairie meadows, is not on board with simply neglecting one's lawn, however experimental the spirit in which it is done. And it's true that one would need to scythe down or burn volunteer trees, and that it is useful to be able to make one's way from the house to the garage with trash or recycling, and even to sit in the yard to watch for bats or chimney swifts or swallowtail butterflies.

Today is not great for dragonflies because it's too cloudy, so we did not go hiking; and I decided I'd actually mow the front lawn. I had taken the lawn mower around from the back and was eying the fallen branch of the neighbors' pea-bush hedge with disfavor when I noticed a bright eye in the grass. A little stripey bird stared at me, bits of gray fluff protruding from its stripes and vibrating with its breathing. It did not gape for food or make any sound at all, and no parent bird clicked or chirped or shrieked at me. I got the pruning shears and did some haphazard reduction of the volunteer trees in the side gardens and the back yard. When I was tired of that, I went back around. The bird was still there. I came into the house and grumpily told Raphael, who suggested looking up what one was recommended to do. I was pretty sure we both knew, but I looked it up. Sure enough, fledglings of most species spend two to five days on the ground being taught important life experiences by their parents. One is strongly advised by the Audubon Society and other similar organizations to leave the babies alone and let them get on with life.

It's very sad, but I cannot mow the front lawn. Raphael said that the city (which, in addition to its lack of enthusiasm for unplanned spontaneous meadows, also dislikes grass and weeds higher than eight inches in one's yard -- there is simply no pleasing some people) would surely understand this situation. I said I looked forward to explaining it to them.

Both appearance and statistics suggest that the baby bird is a house sparrow, but I am not going to mess with it even so. It can't help being part of an imported rapacious species, any more than I can.

In other news, David and I are working on re-issuing my 1998 novel Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary as an ebook and a POD. I'm about three-quarters of the way through reading the OCR and checking it against the previously published version. I remember writing it well enough, but it's been long enough that I keep reacting to it as if someone else had written it. This means that sometimes I enjoy it so much that I stay up late to keep reading, and other times I address the author in exasperated terms.

It is an odd sideways book in some ways. I still feel that my actual point was overstated and obvious, but this has not been the experience of most readers. I don't plan to rewrite anything, though. The people who love the book do love it a lot, and I have plenty of new stuff to write. But JG&R probably didn't even reach all of the small audience it should have, because it was published right around the time that the mass-market distribution system broke down, so that it had no mass-market paperback edition and people were not yet resigned to trade paperbacks. So I hope to at least remedy that.

We hope to reissue "Owlswater" and The Dubious Hills as well.

Pamela

P.S. Parental chipping and high fledgling eeeeeings are now coming from the front yard. I'm glad someone is on the job.

ETA: I saw the parent. It might be a chipping sparrow, or maybe an American tree sparrow, only I didn't see a chest spot. I didn't want to stare too long, since the bird was busy and not best pleased with my arrival.
pameladean: (Default)
David went around the yard a week or two ago and took some splendid photos. You can look at them here.

I had a lovely time at Wiscon and managed not to bring any horrible viruses home with me. Raphael and I went to Murphy Hanrahan Regional Park earlier this week and saw clouds of dragonflies, mostly dot-tailed whitefaces with a leavening of frosted whitefaces, common whitetails, and at least one twelve-spotted and one four-spotted skimmer. Over the weekend Eric and I went to Eloise Butler, where we saw dozens of four-spotted skimmers and a goodly number of whitetails; not to mention two large and extremely oblivious wild turkeys browsing under the birdfeeders. We also went to Lebanon Hills Regional Park, where we were too late for dragonflies but delighted to see fireflies twinkling and flashing in the vegetation next to the fire road.

Also, I had a writing date with Pat WINOLJ, made copious notes, and wrote 500 or so new words on the Liavek novel. The style of the novel as written so far pleases me a lot, but it's rather mannered, and getting back into it will be interesting.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
David went around the yard a week or two ago and took some splendid photos. You can look at them here.

I had a lovely time at Wiscon and managed not to bring any horrible viruses home with me. Raphael and I went to Murphy Hanrahan Regional Park earlier this week and saw clouds of dragonflies, mostly dot-tailed whitefaces with a leavening of frosted whitefaces, common whitetails, and at least one twelve-spotted and one four-spotted skimmer. Over the weekend Eric and I went to Eloise Butler, where we saw dozens of four-spotted skimmers and a goodly number of whitetails; not to mention two large and extremely oblivious wild turkeys browsing under the birdfeeders. We also went to Lebanon Hills Regional Park, where we were too late for dragonflies but delighted to see fireflies twinkling and flashing in the vegetation next to the fire road.

Also, I had a writing date with Pat WINOLJ, made copious notes, and wrote 500 or so new words on the Liavek novel. The style of the novel as written so far pleases me a lot, but it's rather mannered, and getting back into it will be interesting.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
The snowdrops came up all of a piece, leaves and drooping white flowers, three or four days ago. The purple snow crocuses are blooming in the front flower bed. The peony on the south side of the house is showing red shoots, as is the evil but beguiling Japanese knotweed. The bleeding-heart in the front flower bed has put up red-and-green shoots, already frilled with proto-leaves, right out of its mulch. The blue-and-yellow thug irises are putting up leaves, as is the burgundy one that hasn't bloomed much in recent years. I should feed that one.

The dames' rocket and the motherwort have greened up. The daylilies are four to eight inches high, depending on where they are. The bare earth of the south side yard is filling up with tiny violet leaves, a bit of periwinkle, and the aforementioned Japanese knotweed. The grass is greening up. There are small leaves on both mock-orange bushes, and on the neighbors' peabush hedge. I really ought to rake the leaves off the remaining plants, but I have a deep conviction that we are going to pay for this weather with sub-zero temperatures and a raging blizzard, pretty much ANY TIME NOW. So I walk around in bemusement instead.

Ari and I saw a morning-cloak butterfly a few days ago, sunning itself on the back of a lawn chair. I've also seen various small flies and beetles, but no queen bumblebees yet, and no green darners.

Juncoes are still here, and there are so many I think they may be either passing through or preparing to leave. We have a pair of cardinals, which is always cheering. The chickadees and house sparrows and house finches are singing in their various ways, and crows are rattling.

In a rash frenzy, I ordered a bunch of plants from the Lake Country School just down the street. They used to send out six-year-olds with forms to go door to door, and you never knew exactly what you would get when you went to pick up your plants. But now everything is online. I confidently expect that the edited manuscript of my book, with a short deadline for return, will land on me on the weekend I am supposed to pick up the plants.

The mint hasn't come back yet, which concerns me. If it doesn't, I had better buy three plants of it and put them in different locations. This is a good recipe for disaster, but maybe the mint can fight back the Japanese knotweed.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
The snowdrops came up all of a piece, leaves and drooping white flowers, three or four days ago. The purple snow crocuses are blooming in the front flower bed. The peony on the south side of the house is showing red shoots, as is the evil but beguiling Japanese knotweed. The bleeding-heart in the front flower bed has put up red-and-green shoots, already frilled with proto-leaves, right out of its mulch. The blue-and-yellow thug irises are putting up leaves, as is the burgundy one that hasn't bloomed much in recent years. I should feed that one.

The dames' rocket and the motherwort have greened up. The daylilies are four to eight inches high, depending on where they are. The bare earth of the south side yard is filling up with tiny violet leaves, a bit of periwinkle, and the aforementioned Japanese knotweed. The grass is greening up. There are small leaves on both mock-orange bushes, and on the neighbors' peabush hedge. I really ought to rake the leaves off the remaining plants, but I have a deep conviction that we are going to pay for this weather with sub-zero temperatures and a raging blizzard, pretty much ANY TIME NOW. So I walk around in bemusement instead.

Ari and I saw a morning-cloak butterfly a few days ago, sunning itself on the back of a lawn chair. I've also seen various small flies and beetles, but no queen bumblebees yet, and no green darners.

Juncoes are still here, and there are so many I think they may be either passing through or preparing to leave. We have a pair of cardinals, which is always cheering. The chickadees and house sparrows and house finches are singing in their various ways, and crows are rattling.

In a rash frenzy, I ordered a bunch of plants from the Lake Country School just down the street. They used to send out six-year-olds with forms to go door to door, and you never knew exactly what you would get when you went to pick up your plants. But now everything is online. I confidently expect that the edited manuscript of my book, with a short deadline for return, will land on me on the weekend I am supposed to pick up the plants.

The mint hasn't come back yet, which concerns me. If it doesn't, I had better buy three plants of it and put them in different locations. This is a good recipe for disaster, but maybe the mint can fight back the Japanese knotweed.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
I don't know why I'm so thoroughly out of the habit of posting. One of the things I like about reading my friends-list is the combination of homely everyday detail and really chewy intellectual posts. I am not very good at making the latter -- I start them, revise them, get bogged down in some detail of nuance or research, and eventually lose them somewhere. But I can do daily life.

The juncoes are here. I was concerned for a week or two that the Norway maples would not get a chance to turn yellow, instead dropping their leaves madly while still green; but they have managed, and if I walk to the end of my block and look back, there is the proper tunnel of gold, leaves drifting down onto the black asphalt of the street. They are not mallorns, and there is certainly no asphalt in Lothlorien, but the effect seems Tolkienesque in any case.

It was a peculiar summer in many ways. As I mentioned at the time, I cracked or bruised a rib at the end of April, and just when that was healing up nicely I got the Wiscon Death Cold and coughed for five or six weeks. While I put in basil, mint, thyme, and two tomato plants much earlier than I had managed in 2010, only the herbs thrived. I forgot about the thyme and have not used it for anything. David and Lydy kept the mint well pruned by harvesting it for their drinks, and it is probably going to take over the world next year. Eric and I were going to make spring rolls using the fresh mint and basil, but we never did. The basil is unhappy with the frost or near-freezes we've been having at night, but the mint and thyme are still looking fresh and happy. I should put some thyme in the soup this evening. We had a pot of rosemary on the front porch, too, and I did make good use of that; but I failed to bring it inside the first night temperatures threatened to go below freezing, and it gave up and died.

Raphael and I did fairly well with hiking, under the circumstances -- my rib injury and the horrible virus from Wiscon weren't the half of it. June was cold and rainy; then Minnesota Republicans forced the shut-down of the government because they have an insane desire to control women and oppress poor people, so the state parks closed on July 1. Raphael and I were up on the North Shore at the time, at Temperance River State Park. The park, I think like most of the parks thereabouts, is divided by Highway 61. We started with the lake side. When we went out to the lake, there were no notices. When we came back, all over were simple printed pages saying that the park was closed. We went across the highway and up the river anyway. We were there because somebody in the 1990's had seen boreal snaketails in the powerline clearance. They did not appear, but the river and its rocky surrounds were spectacular. The powerline clearance runs over a tilted slab of basalt, broken up by water, scattered with patches of thin sand shading to soil in which hawkweed and other wildflowers grow, with here and there a juniper or an aspen sapling. A young deer with just the velvet stubs of antlers wandered out of the woods beyond the clearance and set about grazing. He knew we were there, but he did not give us any wide-eyed paranoid looks, did not freeze and think about running. He looked us in the eye, swaggered, and ignored us. His dignity was upset, however, by the fact that his antlers obviously itched. He had to stop from time to time and scratch them with a hind leg, which was both impressive and hilarious.

We had planned to stop at Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock on our way back south, on the grounds that the parks would still be in perfectly good order even though officially close. However, both parks include rest areas that had been blocked off with barricades, so we had to give up, cursing the Republicans in the legislature. Even if they had behaved like reasonable beings, the closure of St. Croix State Park would have distorted our hiking year. We did have several excellent visits to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Eric was working night shift until July, and then a classic mid-continental heat wave moved in, so we didn't do any hiking until much later in the year. We made one road trip to look at fall color, staying in LaCrosse but spending much of our time at Great River Bluffs State Park. We did also visit Perrot, avoiding any bluffs this year but hiking along the Riverview trail, where we saw an egret sitting atop a muskrat lodge; and also along the Black Walnut Trail, which was more hilly than we expected but full of goodness, including the biggest black walnut tree either of us had ever seen.

Writing has been frankly terrible. I don't even want to try to come up with the number of words I've written. I certainly don't need even the fingers of one hand to do so. I'm feeling a little cheerier since I did a reading of the new second chapter of the Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Novel at Conjecture -- many thanks to Laura Krentz for asking me. It was useful to see that the new structure actually worked rather than being a heap of disassembled incidents bunged together with semi-colons. I'm looking at my present projects with somewhat more equanimity, at least.

Aristophanes, although bony, seems to be thriving. A failed attempt to remove a mat from his belly us to the emergency vet late on the day before I was to go to Wisconsin with Eric. They were very nice to us, calling the wound a grooming injury, as if he had done it himself; I guess some cats do damage themselves yanking out mats. The vet tech who brought him back to us also exclaimed, "You guys, he's in such good shape for his age! You must take very good care of him!" He had to have ten days' worth of antibiotics, which Raphael heroically put down his throat; and he had to wear a blue cone, which he bore with great insouciance, much to my surprise. He did have epic grooming sessions when it was taken off though. He seems fine now. When I take him out for walks, he mostly patrols his yard, sniffing carefully, and then goes back in. But a few days ago he tore across the front yard to the maple on the boulevard, ran six or seven feet up its trunk, dropped down, tore through the side yard to the back and all the way to the garage, tore back to his favorite mulberry and ran up that, and then tore to the back door and pawed at it to be let in. I must have been a very funny sight, lumbering after him fast enough that the leash was never taut but quietly enough that he wouldn't take fright at the MONSTER FOLLOWING HIM.

I'm rereading the Aubrey/Maturin books, finding all much better than I remember. This is especially gratifying for the volumes after The Thirteen-Gun Salute, though I still expect to be very annoyed with O'Brien for one or two things nearer the end.

I am reading all of you, but I tend to forget that I actually can comment now, Opera's update having apparently fixed my problem with LJ. I'll try to provide more blather soon.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
Well, that's a rather grim subject line, but on its own it feels like what I'm doing with the book. After a long hiatus and a lot of hair-tearing, I opened up one of the files and revised Chapter 2 to have more tension in it. I have not yet attempted to gaze into the abyss that is the fallen middle of the narrative, but I hope to do that tomorrow.

In other news, Raphael and I have been thwarted two weeks in a row in our plans to go to Itasca, because the weather has been impossible. We will try again after Fourth Street. In the jungle of the yard and garden, the dame's rocket is almost done, the spiderwort and daisy fleabane and Shasta daisies are blooming, the rudbeckia is thinking things over, and the phlox is growing very tall but not budding yet. The volunteer milkweed is in bud, as are the true and the day- lilies. The peonies were slain quickly by heat followed by rain, but there were certainly a lot of them while they did bloom.

The snow peas are blooming, and the sugar snap peas are thinking about it. The snow peas are supposed to be bush peas and to need no support, but they are climbing the dame's rocket at the edge of the raised bed just the same. I have lots of lettuce. The spinach bolted while I was at Wiscon (see aforementioned heat), but remaining leaves are not bitter. My mother and I are going to Mother Earth Gardens tomorrow to get some tomato plants.

Pamela

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