pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Well, no pies slid from their cookie sheet, flipped entirely over, and landed right side up with no loss of filling; nor did I forget and bake the shell before I put the pumpkin filling in. (The pumpkin pie is vegan, made with silken tofu, and the other pie I make with tofu has a no-bake filling that you just chill; however, the pumpkin filling wants baking in an ordinary way, and half the time I forget and end up double-baking the crust.) The pie dough, however, was a nightmare. I realized belatedly that I'd had similar problems with David's lemon meringue pie on his birthday, and concluded in time to throw out the last 7/8ths of a cup that the current batch of flour was to blame. It's unbelievably dry. I didn't put in so much extra water that the texture of the crusts was affected -- opting for crumbly crust that split and had to be patched and looks as if a batch of mice had crimped it while playing hide-and-seek -- but I put in enough extra water over the permitted 2 teaspoons that the crust tastes distinctly under-salted. I tasted the dough and knew this was an issue, but I didn't begin to know how much extra salt would work, and it was not the stage where salt goes in in any case.

Nobody will starve, however.

I should stop typing and drink my tea and start prepping vegetables. The diabetic regimen suggests, in lieu of weighing All the Things, filling a quarter of one's plate with protein, a quarter with starch, and the rest with vegetables. So I'm going to roast several different kinds and serve them in separate bowls, since there are a number of people with Very Strong Opinions about which vegetables are edible and which are not who will be foregathering for dinner. Many guests don't really care about the vegetables and are happy if they have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and pie. But they will put a few spoonfuls of green or orange on the edge of their plates as long as it isn't the wrong kind of green or orange. And a few actually like vegetables.

I am very grateful for all of you guys here on LJ, and the people who aren't on LJ but comment sometimes anyway. May your Thursday, whether a holiday or just a day, be as bright as November permits.


Edited for words out.
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Note: I've put in hardcover first editions of The Dubious Hills and Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary (one each) and one paperback set of the Secret Country trilogy, in the second edition published by Firebird.

Originally posted by [ profile] jimhines at Fundraiser for Transgender Michigan

I met Rachel Crandall more than twenty years ago, when I first started volunteering at the Listening Ear crisis center in East Lansing, Michigan.

I remember some of the conversations we had as she was coming out, and some of the challenges she talked about. We fell out of touch for a while, as happens sometimes. When we reconnected again years later, I was amazed at the things Rachel had accomplished, including founding the International Transgender Day of Visibility and working with her partner, Susan Crocker, to start what I believe was the first transgender helpline in the country.Transgender Michigan Helpline image

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464.

We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. Therefore, I’ve enlisted some very generous SF/F friends to put together a fundraiser to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work providing support, education, and advocacy.


24 Auctions in 24 Days

Each day at noon (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend), I’ll post an auction from one of the people listed below. It could be for autographed books, a manuscript critique, a Tuckerization (where you get to be a minor character in an upcoming book), or something else altogether. Bidding will take place in the comments, one bid at a time.

The following day at noon, I’ll close the bidding and notify the winner. The winner then donates their bid to Transgender Michigan and sends me the receipt, at which point I’ll send your information to the donor so they can hook you up with your winnings.

Transgender Michigan is a 501(c)(3) Michigan nonprofit corporation, which means your donation is tax deductible.

Note: I will wait until 10 minutes after the last bid to close an auction. That will hopefully reduce the impact of last-second sniping.


Bonus Raffle from DAW Books

That’s right, there’s more! My publisher, DAW Books, has agreed to give away:

6 Tad Williams Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (hardcover first edition, first printing)  plus 1 Advance Review Copy of The Heart of What Was Lost.

6 DAW December Release Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of all DAW December titles: Dreamweaver, Tempest, Alien Nation, and Jerusalem Fire, plus a bonus ARC (dependent on stock).

Have I mentioned before how amazing my publisher is?

How can you win one of these awesome bundles? That’s easy. At any time between now and the end of the fundraiser, simply donate $5 to Transgender Michigan and email me a copy of the receipt at jchines -at-, with the subject line “DAW Raffle Entry.”

Each week, I’ll pick at least one donor to win their choice of either a Tad Williams or a December Release bundle from DAW. (Which means the earlier you enter, the better your chances of winning!)

You can donate more than $5 if you want more than one entry. For example, donating $20 would get you four entries. However, you can only win a maximum of one of each bundle.

This is separate from the individual auctions. Winning an auction does not count as a raffle entry.


Our Donors

Here are the donors for the fundraiser.


Yesterday was the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, memorializing those “who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.” In my mind, that makes today the perfect time to work to make things better.

My thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. Please spread the word about the fundraiser, and about the individual auctions as they go live.

And if you want a hint about tomorrow’s auction? Well…let’s just say the Force will be with you, always.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Several weeks ago, when it was warm and forecast to stay that way for at least another week, my email box filled up with tempting offers from seed and bulb companies. I held out and held out and suddenly succumbed to a batch of white tulips, a batch of red ones, and, apparently, two lily bulbs. The price was very good indeed. As time went by I wondered briefly from time to time where the bulbs were, but the events of November have generally been so horrifying and distracting that I never wondered long enough to recheck my email to track the package after I got a notification that the order had shipped.

It arrived over the weekend. I put it on the coffee table in despair and did my weekend things. This morning I was awakened by the second tree service I got in touch with, letting me know that Cory would be over in a little while. I put on a random assortment of clothing; fortunately I'd taken my medication already, but I hadn't had any tea. Cory was very pleasant and gave me an estimate of slightly over a thousand dollars for the work. I made some sound about this and he assumed I was relieved that it wasn't more. He explained that it wasn't more because the trimming was mostly very straightforward except for the Chinese elm.

Anyway, this was all very daunting and awful, though hardly on a par with other daunting and awful events recently. If all I had to worry about was paying to trim the trees, I'd be much happier. In any case, it was a lovely day, not all that warm, but warmer than it's going to be and quite sunny. I didn't think the ground was frozen yet. It lacked that hard lumpy texture, and bare patches of earth were just muddy. So after the nice tree man left, and after the tea and the acetaminophen for a nagging headache, and after putting in some laundry and despairing of everything (which happens at least once a day at the moment) and getting over it, I collected gardening gloves and a shovel and the bulbs and went outside.

In palmier days I got most of my bulbs from White Flower Farm. White Flower Farm will practically send you the history of planting methods plus the current extremely detailed recommendation, a little separate sheet for each type of bulb. Park Seed (which was apparently subsumed by Jackson and Perkins at some point when I wasn't looking) sent a sheet with basic instructions for each major category of bulb. White Flower Farm also labels its bags. Park Seed/whoever probably does too if they are not heavily discounted and made up into lots to be got rid of before it's too late, but these basically said how many bulbs each bag contained and where they came from (Holland). I think one of them did say it had tulips, and what kind they were, and another indicated that what was in it would have red flowers. The bag of what I think were lily bulbs was quite innocent of any description.

I found some places in the front yard where nothing appeared to be growing, dug some holes one by one, put in three to five tulip bulbs per hole with a fine disregard for how far apart the bulbs were supposed to be, slid the lump of damp soil from the shovel back in place, and stomped things down. Where they were nearby I scuffed fallen maple leaves over the stomped earth. Then I dug an individual hole for each lily bulb and filled it back up and scuffed leaves over them too. It may be that I am only feeding the mice and squirrels. They don't eat lilies, but they are quite capable of digging them up just to say Ewwww.

I guess we'll see. I have no idea what anything will be like come spring.

When I made the order, I thought of the line "busily planning for the resurrection," which I mistakenly associated with Iris Murdoch's husband's essay about looking after her when she had dementia. When I told [ profile] elisem I had ordered bulbs, she quoted the line more accurately and attributed it to E.B. White. A quick search on her phone proved her correct. It's possible that Iris Murdoch's husband referred to that line in his essay, but just as possible that I misfiled the scene in my head.

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.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
No, that's not right.

I just launched my Patreon. Here is the link:

Please spread the word.

*runs off, hides under bed with cats*

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
The pattern of the weather has been remarkably consistent for several weeks now: heat and humidity during the week, often with severe thunderstorm warnings and torrential downpours; then a cool front comes in and Friday and the weekend are much cooler and drier. Sometimes the heat pounces on Monday and sometimes Monday is just a bit less pleasant and then the heat sidles up on Tuesday and the window air conditioner suddenly starts leaking water all over the floor, to the great alarm of Cassie.

So we keep having to go hiking on Friday. Then on Saturday and sometimes Sunday as well there are social events, and I also generally have a date with Eric over the weekend. This means that, since there is no way I am doing any major work in the yard in the kind of heat we've been having, and anyway with all the rain the grass is too wet to mow, I am not getting any yard work done. I think there are no social events this weekend (the last one had a MinnStf meeting, which was very pleasant indeed; and then a smaller party on Sunday evening, which was also lovely), so with luck on Sunday evening I might be able to do very basic maintenance before heading off to Worldcon.

In the meantime, last Friday Raphael and I were not really feeling a strong enthusiasm for going hiking -- or, well, if someone else had done the necessary laundry, made us some sandwiches, and teleported us to a nice spot, we'd have been fine with it, but the preparation did not thrill us. However, Friday was a gorgeous Minnesota summer day of a sort that I often fear is on its way out as the hell of climate change sweeps over us. So Raphael, after consideration, remarked to me that while we have visited the Minnesota part of the Carpenter Nature Center several times, there's a Wisconsin annex that is almost entirely comprised of prairie walks. The Minnesota side is a good mix of woods, wetland, and prairie, but it is too woodsy for the level that the mosquito population has reached this year, with so much rain in a month that is often dry if not actually drought-stricken. So a preponderance of prairie walks seemed like a good idea. The drive was also not terribly long. So I did the laundry, and in the morning I made the sandwiches, and we set out, late, because I usually prep lettuce and tomatoes and make salmon salad the evening before, but we did manage to get out of the house.

There was construction on 94 and a terrific amount of slow-moving traffic until we were well past St. Paul, but eventually we crossed over the St. Croix River into Wisconsin, took Exit 2 for Carmichael, and drove on increasingly smaller roads until a short gravel one led us to a clearing with a house, some small outbuildings, a large flower and vegetable garden, and a gigantic Porta-Potty. We weren't sure it was the right place, but one of the outbuildings had a supply of maps and a notice that Henslow's Sparrow, which nests on the ground, was doing so in the area. A pleasant man introduced himself and asked if we'd been there before, and recommended a particular trail when I said we hadn't. We ungratefully went a different way, on the reasoning that the trail he recommended was higher up than most of the prairie walks and would be nice near sunset.

Since we were in Wisconsin, we were up on a ridge; there was a trail called the Ridgeline Trail with views of a valley with a farm in it and the next ridge over. We went along this until we came to the first prairie, and eventually crossed the road to another one. Each prairie had bluestem and other native and, probably, non-native grasses, intermingled with wild bergamot, gray- and green-headed coneflowers, rudbeckia, daisy fleabane, prairie primrose, a little butterfly weed, hyssop, vervain, a bit of liatris (most of it being visited by monarch butterflies). The paths were mown grass and white clover. The distribution of the flowers and grasses was different in each section of prairie we walked through, though most of the plants were the same. The texture and color variations were different, and the sound of the wind in the grasses. We passed a little grove of aspen seedlings, their leaves rustling. We saw the monarchs, and a butterfly that turned out to be a common buckeye. There were sparrows in the grass and in a clump of trees, but they didn't look like the picture of the Henslow's Sparrow. We saw two birds with white tail feathers flying away fast; they might have been meadowlarks, but we couldn't really identify them. And we saw smallish browny-golden dragonflies, flying fast, tilting like turkey vultures on the wind and flapping more than familiar dragonflies usually do. Raphael thought they might be wandering gliders, and a look at the dragonfly book when we got back to the car confirmed that they were. The wandering glider is the most widely distributed dragonfly in the world, migrates thousands of miles, and has been spotted by ships at sea. But this was the best sighting of them that I'd ever had.

We went back to the car and around one more short prairie loop, reluctantly deciding to leave the rest of the Ridgeline Trail to another time, possibly in the fall when there would not be any mosquitoes. The little prairie we walked around last was different from all the others. Next time I should try to take some pictures.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I forgot to include this in the previous post. When one is diagnosed with diabetes, at least at an HCMC Clinic that uses MyChart, a huge raft of obligations springs up in one's list of Matters that Require your attention, all marked "overdue" even though you had no idea about any of this just the day before. I've been doggedly working my way through them (microalbumin test; dilated eye exam; diabetes education, which is one three-and-a-half-hour class and three two-hour classes; a foot exam with the dread word "monofilament" in it, which makes me think nervously of Sinclair monofilament, though in fact I have looked up the exam and it is no such thing). I was most worried about the eye exam, but put it off because most insurance plans within our reach, even with subsidies, do not cover routine eye care. I hate insurance companies. They should not be allowed within a million miles of anybody's well-being. Anyway, I had the eye exam last week and everything was fine; the diabetes has as yet had no effect on my eyes. They are a little the worse for wear after 63 years, but the ophthamologist said, "Your eyes look very healthy" in a tone of faint surprise.

The classes introduced HCMC's preferred dietary guidelines, which will drive me to distraction if anything does. "Diabetes," said the first instructor, "likes consistency." I hate routine. I hated it in kindergarten, I hated it in high school, I hated it when I had a day job, and I still hate it. Eating at the same times every day, keeping the same bedtime day in and day out, timing snacks, timing exercise, argh. My only comfort is that I have not been at this very long.

Anyway, any thought I had of controlling things by diet and exercise alone has been thoroughly squashed, so I'm taking metformin. After a month of 500 mg, it and my digestive system had come to a cautious truce, at which point, naturally, the medical profession decided to raise the dose. I complained at length both about having to take it twice a day and about the probability of more digestive side effects, so they gave me an extended-release version, which is taken only once a day and has fewer reports of nasty side effects. Not wanting either last Friday's hike or my weekend generally to be messed up, I collected the prescription last Thursday but only took the first larger dose this evening.

I've also spent quite some time down a research rabbit hole about possible ranitidine (Zantac) and metformin interactions, but concluded after squinting through a bunch of scientific papers and finding starkly contradictory statements on various websites for the use of laypeople, that nobody knows much about any of that and I should quit worrying over it. In addition to hating insurance companies, which I feel is quite a rational attitude to maintain, I also, with far less good reason, hate patient information sheets. I have hardly ever read a one of them that didn't send me into a tizzy for days. I don't think they strike the right balance between accuracy about the likelihood of the things they warn about, and specificity about the symptoms one should be on the lookout for. To me they all read like this: THIS REACTION IS VERY RARE BUT IT COULD KILL YOU! EVEN IF IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THE FLU, CALL YOUR DOCTOR! COMMON EVERYDAY MINOR SYMPTOMS COULD MEAN YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!

I think that's enough complaining for one entry.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Ooof. Well, I voted in the Hugos, in the nick of time. I had actually, in the course of trying to keep up with the field, already read almost all of the legitimate nominees. I made an earnest attempt to read the others, and even got right through a number of the shorter ones, just in case there was a hidden gem, or a trick ending to a drearily predictable beginning. Alas, there was not. I didn't vote in a number of categories, including the dramatic presentations, short and long, because I didn't have enough information. I read quite a bit in the Related Work category but was not much enlightened. I'm glad that's over.

I'm still working on setting up the Patreon. I hope it won't be too much longer. There's a myriad of tiny decisions that are surprisingly difficult to make.

The weather has been wild and not altogether predictable; though the overall implications are grim, I love looking at the Scientific Forecaster Discussion on Weather Underground and seeing remarks like "The models have not been notably helpful in determining convection" and similar sentiments. I actually feel for the forecasters quite a bit. In any case, the effect on me so far has been mild compared to tornadoes, dangerous straight-line winds, repeated flooding, the loss of trees, the death of campers in the BWCA, and damage to buildings, cars, and people in both northern and southern Minnesota. Mostly it's meant that scheduling hiking has been difficult. Raphael and I did make it to Hyland Park Reserve two or weeks ago and to William O'Brien State Park last week.

Hland had a resonable number of dragonflies, notably widow skimmers; also swallows feeding their young in snags sticking out of a pond, a young bullfrog making its rubber-band noise where you could actually see it, an osprey and one youngster on the osprey platform, and a space of emergent vegetation cut down almost to the waterline, which I thought at first must be the work of park staff getting rid of unwanted plants, but turned out to be the work of a very assiduous muskrat. The muskrat was closely focussed on its task, so we got the closest view of one that either of us has ever had. It shied once at something we weren't sure about, unless it was alow-flying skimmer; and again when we walked around to its other side. But it soon returned, nibbling away and letting us admire its little blunt face and tucked-in ears and even its long flexible tail. The meadows were full of wildflowers, wild bergamot, coneflowers, butterfly weed, a tiny white flower I can never recall the name of, some leadplant, anise hyssop, and more.

At O'Brien we saw more widow skimmers, a twelve-spotted skimmer or two, an Eastern amberwings or two out over the water, a stray Hallowe'en pennant or so, many blue dashers, and some powdered dancers and meadowhawks. Both the lake and the river were very high, so that the sandy verges we can usually walk upon were under water. We decamped to the prairie sooner than usual; it was abundantly flowery, with wild bergamot in greatest numbers, but also gray- and green-headed coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, purple prairie clover, leadplant, horsemint (a very weird plant indeed), and much more. Goldfinches were calling everywhere; the thistle has begun to go to seed, so it's their nesting time, and their "potato-chip, tato-chip, chip-chip-chip" was everywhere. Once or twice we saw them swoop by, but mostly we just heard them. On the upland prairie trail we stopped by a group of five or six dead trees, one live tree, and a dense growth of bushes. It was full of birds: a cedar waxwing, a nuthatch, two elusive woodpeckery birds that were not flickers but were probably sapsuckers, a brilliant and enormous robin. We heard Eastern wood peewees but never saw one; the same with wrens, except that Raphael was pretty sure of one wren sighting. Swallowtail butterflies were also abundant, including a giant swallowtail that ws very impressive indeed. There were the usual bluebirds and tree swallows on the lower prairie and around the parking lot where the birdhouses are.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
First, thank you with all my heart to everybody who's commented on my previous post about starting a Patreon. I'm working on setting it up now.

Second, as I keep a wary eye on the weather reports, waiting for an Active Advisory or a Special Weather Statement to suddenly pop up, I thought I'd tell a couple of cat stories from last Tuesday, when thunderstorms battered and flooded parts of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.

The weather report mentioned hail, torrential downpours, and wind gusts of up to 80 mph. Raphael and I decided that as the storms approached, we would box up the upstairs cats and put them in the upstairs hallway, with doors shut to make it safe from any broken windows that the storm might cause. If there were any sign of tornadoes, we'd have to rethink this, but we thought it would do to go on with. We painstakingly lowered all the warped cranky ancient storm windows, a ritual usually reserved for some cold autumn day. A little before five, I gave the cats their daily dental treats, which they recognize as Entirely Splendid Food rather than a treatment for tartar. Then Raphael and I stood conferring earnestly in the cat-sitting room for a little while, and then I got out the carriers. Saffron immediately went into one of them, so we shut the door on her. Raphael bent to scoop up Cassie, who is soft and round and winsome-looking, but she is no slouch -- she ran at incredible speed under my bed and refused to come out. We thought the nightstand would protect her from broken glass if necessary; and later she scooted down the hall like a furry fat snake and went under Raphael's bed, which is much sturdier. We put Saffron's carrier in the hall. She emitted one protestation and then went to sleep.

We got a few gusts of wind and some very hard rain and some minor hail, but the power didn't even go out. (I am not complaining.) In time the storm passed. I took Saffron's carrier back to the cat-sitting room and opened the door. She came right out, saw Cassie's carrier standing open, and promptly went into that carrier. After a moment she apparently thought, "Nah. The other one's better," and returned to her own box.

Cassie stayed under the bed. She is extremely fond of her food, but she would not come out for wet food or for additional treats. She did come out for dry food at the end of the day. But the next afternoon right around treat time, Raphael and I happened to be standing in the cat-sitting room talking about something in earnest tones, and Cass went down on her belly and galloped into my office and refused to come out for treats. She made a very careful appearance for wet food later on. We have agreed that we should avoid having earnest conversations in the cat-sitting room around five p.m.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm thinking of starting a Patreon. I know, all the cool kids have done so already, but I am still thinking about it. For good or ill, that is how I roll.

David has supported my writing career since 1981. I have in fact made money from writing, and it came in very handy for any number of things. But after Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary was published in 1998, I didn't sell any more novels. I wrote a synopsis and the first few chapters of a Liavek novel and submitted it to Tor, which rejected it. Then Harry Potter became a sensation, and Sharyn November started the Firebird line at Viking/Penguin and bought up and reissued much of my backlist. She also bought a new novel called Going North. Briefly, I turned the book in late and too long. It was suggested that I expand it into two volumes, which I did; but at that point two-volume fantasy novels were not doing well, so I was asked, and perhaps unwisely agreed, to try and shrink the even-longer revision back down to 100,000 words. This did not go well at all.

Going North was cancelled in 2012, and then took a very long time to be pried loose from the publisher that no longer wanted it. In the meantime, I worked on the Liavek novel and on a number of pieces of short fiction, none of which is as yet finished. I don't work fast, but I have been working. Last year, Patricia Wrede and I put together a collection of our Liavek stories from the original anthologies, added a story Pat had written that never got into any of the anthologies, newly-revised; and also added a brand-new collaborative story about some of the background of our characters and their ancestral connection. This was published by Diversion Books as Points of Departure. Diversion Books did a lovely job on the cover and editing and the entire project was very gratifying. Unsurprisingly, however, it did not really solve our financial problems.

In the meantime, the market for the kind of work David does has been evolving; and we've been limping from crisis to crisis and having a hard time making ends meet. The house has accumulated a lot of deferred maintenance. Once I got the rights to Going North back, I approached various agents with it, but none of them wanted to represent it. I am also, honestly, a bit out of patience with conventional publishing.

In response to this lack of patience, David and I recently started Blaisdell Press and reissued Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary and The Dubious Hills. We are also going to reissue "Owlswater," a Secret Country novella originally published in Jane Yolen's Xanadu series. But reissues aren't enough. We fully plan to publish the new novel. However, it needs to be revised and expanded again from the state I got it into trying to reduce it to the contractually mandated 100,0000 words; and I haven't been able to settle to this properly because I am so worried about money and the state of the house. Also, with timing I will not dignify by describing it, I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is stressful, time-consuming, and, even with insurance, expensive.

I am having a very hard time working. If I could generate some income, it would be much easier for me to concentrate as I need to, and we might be able to begin fixing things that need fixing, as well as continuing to pay our share of the mortgage and our health insurance premiums, buy groceries, and so on.

I know that many people write far more than I do while they too are dealing with chronic illness, day jobs, and other very pressing problems. But I write as fast as I write. What I have is this: these are my stories. Nobody else can tell them.

David continues to look for work and to do it when he gets it. He'll be teaching a course this fall, but that doesn't pay as much as it ought to.

I haven't thought through the levels yet, but among the things I am considering offering are such diverse elements as:

Scenes from the short stories I'm working on. These include one about wish-granting merpeople and one about astronomical werewolves. The latter is a result of having removed entire characters wholesale from Going North. There are several others too inchoate for an easy description.

Chapters from the Liavek novel. This takes place after the events of the last Liavek collection, and is about the theater.

Videos of me reading snippets of the offered passages.

Videos of me answering questions that supporters of the Patreon send in.

Cat pictures, of course. Possibly cat videos, though this depends more than photos do on the actual cooperation of the cats.

Chapters of the original very long and extremely opaque Going North.

Chapters of the even longer and still somewhat opaque two-volume version of Going North.

Posts about the process of revising the latest version of Going North, which will be sometimes subtle, but not actually opaque.

If there's actual interest, vegan and veganizable recipes I have made, with commentary. (I eat a diet that is mostly vegan but does encompass fish and occasionally sheep- or goats-milk cheese, but I have recipes for cheese substitutes, and some fish recipes work nicely with tofu.)

I'd like to say garden photos and essays, but the yard is one of the things that needs fixing. Well, there's certainly a lot of it and it does have a lot of things growing in it, as well as birds and dragonflies and bees and so on. So, I suppose, if there was interest in an ex-garden, or a garden that needs to be rehabilitated, it would be fairly easy to write about what's out there.

I know that some of you don't like dealing with unfinished work, or waiting a long time for something you've had a taste of. I will do the best I can not to be more dilatory than necessary.

What do you guys think? Is there anything else you'd like to see, in addition or instead?

Thanks very much.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
On April 26th I went to the doctor for a regular checkup and lab work. My blood sugar came back elevated to the point where I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This diagnosis triggered a huge number of Get this test, Get that exam, Here have a glucometer, No you don't have to start on metformin right away but you might need it so get ready, Take these four three-hour diabetes education classes, Talk with a diabetes education nurse (she was fabulous), Check your blood sugar first thing in the morning and two hours after beginning to eat your largest meal of the day, Hmmm given those numbers try exercising for 15 minutes an hour after eating dinner. I haven't seen a nutritionist yet but it's on the list.

I am not exactly surprised. Numbers have been creeping up for years despite periodic attempts to expel added sugars from my diet or at least be mindful of where they were and approach them with caution; both my grandfathers were diabetic. However, I am considerably more thrown for a loop than I would have expected.

In 2002 I was diagnosed with hypertension in the ER. Those numbers made everybody's eyes very large and caused them to rush around with heart monitors and ask me a lot of questions. Eventually they ruled out things that would kill me at once and sent me off with a prescription for a beta blocker and instructions to go find a primary care practitioner at the clinic. Nine months later, after trying about twenty drugs in various combinations, my PCP sent me off to a nephrologist to make sure my kidneys weren't turning the wrong kinds of cartwheels. In the regular clinic, my BP numbers made everybody get very quiet and look at me as if I were about to keel over. In the nephrologist's office, the nurse assigned to handle me addressed me as "young lady" (I was 49) and said, "We have patients with much worse numbers than that, and on more medications. We'll fix you up." They did, too; there was nothing wrong with my kidneys and they found a combination of meds that worked.

Similarly, while my blood sugar was sneaking up on the scary invisible line, everybody was very sober. Once it leapt over, suddenly my doctor was very cheery. "Oh, I've got patients with much worse numbers than that, and those are very hard to get down. You can get yours down."

I'm not sure if this is more reassuring or unnerving. Anyway, I've been sulking and dithering and sitting on the news, and I decided that it was time to stop that. Plenty of people live with diabetes. The new regimen and the knowledge that there are more changes to come are making it hard for me to work, but I will try to get over myself.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I've donated one first-edition hardcover copy of each of The Dubious Hills and Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary to the Con or Bust auction. Bidding opens on May 25th. Even if you don't need a copy of either book, there is the usual amazing variety of other things to bid on -- dozens of books, of course, some signed, some not yet released by publishers; and everything else from custom-made chocolates and lovely jewellery, to novel and short-story critiques by people who know what they're doing

Here are the links to my books:

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
On Wednesday, Raphael and I went for our first expedition of the year, to see the ephemerals at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. To see the early ones at their peak we ought to have gone last week, but the weather didn't cooperate.

We got a reasonably expeditious start, especially for the first hike of the year, and even though we had to stop at my clinic so I could pick up my medication. We usually get off the freeway at the Northfield exit and go through town to pick up Highway 246, thus giving me a glimpse of Carleton and the Cannon River. But the GPS suggested staying on the freeway til the next exit, going instead through Dundas, and picking up 246 somewhat further along its length. Dundas is not Northfield, but I had fond -- mostly -- recollections of biking there from Carleton for a huge annual used-book sale. I didn't like biking along the shoulder of the road in the dust, but the books were excellent.

I had said to Raphael as I put on my fleece sweater and picked up my raincoat that I expected to be alternately too warm and not warm enough, and this prophecy was amply fulfilled. It was very sunny and intermittently very windy. Up in the picnic ground it was quite chilly. Down by Hidden Falls the air was almost still and the sun really beat down.

One of the pleasant things about Nerstrand is that there are ephemerals even in the picnic grounds and the campground. Anywhere the grass is not mown are trout lilies and false rue anemone and occasional other native wildflowers. You can see the tiny trout lily leaves spreading out through the mown grass. If Nerstrand ceases to be able to afford to mow its lawns, or civilization falls, the trout lilies will fill up all that mown space now occupied by grass, dandelions, and creeping charlie.

The Park Office was closed, so I sat on the bench they have on their west-facing porch and watched for birds while Raphael filled out the form for an annual park pass. One downy woodpecker and three or four little delicate sparrows with a rufous crown and a black eye line, were scratching around in the leaf litter under the bird feeder. And there was one white-throated sparrow, or what I took for one, though we didn't get a good identification until later. We had a sandwich at a very windy picnic table.

Then we walked through the campground, keeping an eye out for red-headed woodpeckers, but we'd arrived at the height of the afternoon and most birds were silent and absent. We went along the short gravel trail pointing out false rue anemone, purple and yellow violets, swamp buttercup, and the leaves of wild geranium to one another. Then we took the very steep path down to Hidden Falls. Larger patches of false rue anemone, clumps of wild ginger, nodding trillium, a few blossoms of cut-leaf toothwort; and as we got down to the damper areas, dark-green horsetail ferns and, below where a stream went down to join Prairie Creek, some marsh marigold blooming away. Things were intensely green and there were many flowers, but it looked strange to me. I finally realized that, while the false rue anemone was more or less on schedule, it would ordinarily bloom in a much emptier landscape where the understory plants were not leafed out, nor the wild geraniums so far along in their own growth. The trees would usually show just a hint, a mist of green, and you could see quite far into the woods because only the trunks and branches of trees and shrubs impeded your view. The view was much shorter and more cluttered this time. In some years there would hardly even be any violets yet, but they were thick along most of the damper trails that we took. And the spring beauty, while we did find some eventually, was not nearly as widespread as you would expect. We had also missed most of the Dutchman's breeches, though we did find a stalk or two here and there.

We went down the wooden steps to the rocky shore below the waterfall, and sat on a bench in the sun for a while. Clouds of tiny insects were dancing in the sun, coming together in a dense ball like a globular cluster and then bursting apart only to coalesce again. I was just about to point out to Raphael that they were a dragonfly's dinner without the dragonfly, when a green darner darted into their midst and started snapping them up. I made sure I had remembered to tell Raphael that Eric and I had seen darners at Eloise Butler, and Raphael told me there had actually been one in the back yard.

Eventually we got up and went back up the other side of the trail, the steeper side with steps. Last year we got to see the Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily in bloom, but it was done this year. There was plenty of false rue anemone, newly-opening ferns, early meadow rue with its flowers like little fringed lampshades, more violets, a little spring beauty, one or two blooming wild geraniums, fantastical ash buds, and hundreds of trout lily leaves, with here and there a patch of blossom in a shadier or cooler spot. At one point Raphael asked me what pollinated trout lilies; we thought it was bees but weren't sure. A little further along the trail, Raphael saw a bumblebee taking a good long time inside a trout lily flower, so that seemed to be that. We saw a number of bumblebees zipping around in the course of the day.

We climbed the trail and sat down on the bench that the park has kindly put just before the really steep part. The wind was fitful. All the green was fresh as fresh. The sky was almost autumnal in the intensity of its blue -- we thought this might be because the humidity was low, but we didn't know. It was hard to get up and go on up the hill, but we did. We came almost immediately upon a large number of extremely weird plants that we were fairly sure we had looked up before but failed to retain the name of. I think, having poked around online, that they were wood betony.

Once back at the top of the hill, we had a hunt for the yellow lady-slipper orchids we'd seen there just once, and then went back to the picnic ground and had another sandwich and took a different trail that crossed Prairie Creek and then gave us a choice of which way to go. We decided to take the White Oak Trail back downhill to the water, since it was such a dry spring; sometimes it's too wet to take the lower trail by the creek at all. The upper part of the trail was full of trout lilies, violets, and false rue anemone, with the occasional Jack-in-the-Pulpit or trillium. As we came down into lower and damper levels again, the false rue anemone came into its own. Along the creek banks it grew lushly with ferns and reeds and violets and some lovely clumps of blue wood phlox, which I think of as blooming much later. We stood on the bridge admiring the phlox on the other side for a while, and then walked on to the where the Beaver Trail intersects the White Oak, and sat down on yet another bench. The light was starting to mellow out, and everything was still the tenderest green imaginable, starred with flowers and yet-emerging leaves and dancing small insects. Several times we saw the shadow of a butterfly -- or maybe just of a blowing leaf.

At last we began the walk back along the creek to the steep trail with the steps. The flowers were still very lush and intermingled, but there were fewer ferns and grasses or reeds. At some point something in the soil or light changed, and the understory thinned out, and there was a bit of what I'd been missing: mostly bare shrubs arching over patch after patch after patch of false rue anemone. "So many windflowers!" said Raphael, and I looked at them closely. The air seemed quite still, but they were still moving just a little on their flexible stems.

Raphael suggested that we climb the half of the Hidden Falls trail that we had previously come down. The light was much better for seeing small things by then, and that half of the trail isn't quite so steep. The main discovery was a single hepatica blossom still hanging on in its nest of three-lobed leaves. The last third of the trail was a bit of a slog, and we sat on the bench at the top of the hill when we got there. The light was mellower yet. Through the green and gray of the woods a barred owl called, and again, and again, and then after a pause yet again. Eventually we went and sat on the porch of the park office. The tiny sparrows with the rufous caps, downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, white-throated sparrows (we saw the white throat this time), and a single chipmunk, flew down to get seeds or suet, or kicked up the litter on the ground. You could hear the whoosh and ruffle of their wings as the birds came and went, and the scratch and rustle of the chipmunk's feet. There was some squabbling amongst the sparrows, and two nuthatches had a battle over the suet feeder. More distantly, we saw an elusive woodpecker that could have been a flicker or a red-bellied woodpecker; and finally we saw a flash of black and white and red as a red-headed woodpecker appeared briefly and then provided a glimpse, a longer look, another glimpse, always moving around to the other side of the tree or flying across the road to hide in trees with too much foliage. On our walk back to the car, a flash of black and red and white showed amongst the plants by the path. "It's a towhee," breathed Raphael, and it was, kicking up the litter much more violently than the sparrows had.

We had our last sandwich at a now really chilly picnic table, and Raphael got me to take the Sibley out of my backpack, and looked up the sparrows. Like the wood betony, they had been looked up before but we'd forgotten. They were chipping sparrows, and the first elusive woodpecker was indeed a red-bellied one.

We drove home in sunset and twilight. Then we had to come back to earth and do the year's first tick check, but that's just part of going hiking.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Last Saturday Eric and I borrowed Lydy's car, since she had plans that did not require it, and went to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. We'd missed the previous week because Eric was out of town. It was a chilly, cloudy day, but we'd decided not to try to cram the garden into Sunday along with grocery shopping and hearing Sister Tree at the Powderhorn May Day celebration.

The steps down to the front gate were lined with the spotty leaves of Virginia waterleaf, which blooms somewhat later than now. But off a few feet in the woods was a glimmer of rue anemone, all pale pink, with their varying numbers of flower petals and their three-lobed leaves. Just outside the gate, the wild ginger leaves were big and all unfurled. Inside the gate the vivid gold of wood poppies and a patch of false rue anemone, five-petalled white flowers and little clutches of three leaflets, waved in the wind. A patch of white trout lilies was blooming on the upper part of the path that leads down to the shelter. After dithering a moment, we went downhill past the shelter and through the woods to the far side of the garden, overlooking the swamp. Virginia blubells were blooming richly, looking ethereal in the strange overcast light. There were more wood poppies. Elderberry bushes were blooming. All the trillium that had been in bud was blooming. The trout lilies that had been blooming two weeks ago were mostly done. Their gray-green, spotted leaves lay in overlapping layers as if someone had raked them all in one direction; maybe borne down by the ample rains of the last week or so. There were brilliant patches of moss hopefully holding up its fruiting bodies.

The heptatica was done, but white, purple, purple-and-white, and the tiny yellow violets bloomed along the same path. Two weeks ago I told Eric that certain plants were either tall meadow rue or early meadow rue; now I could say that they were definitely the former. We had avoided the marsh last time because it had been so wet, but now we decided to go at least as far as the fine new boardwalk, raised some feet above shallow water and mud scattered with the now-huge green leaves of skunk cabbage, would take us. More Virginia bluebells, the leaves of flag iris, the first pale soft new needles of the tamaracks, and a wide swath of marsh marigold, with smack in its center a sign saying, "Swamp Saxifrage." We discussed, as we went past the end of the new boardwalk, admiring the new red-banded green horsetail ferns, whether the name of the marsh marigold had been changed. I eventually looked up swamp saxifrage, and it's something entirely different that clearly blooms later in the year, since there was no sign of it now. We came around the bend of the path and saw a tom turkey. Around him here and there, tearing up grass and shoots and resolutely ignoring him, were four hen turkeys. We admired their green and bronze, and the general magnificence of the tom. He ruffled up his dark back feathers once or twice, but decided not to actually go to the trouble of spreading his tail.

We went on up the hill, looking at fern fiddleheads, some covered with fine hairs that made them look gray, some growing tidily in the circle of the rust- or cinnamon-colored fronds of last year's greenery, some still reddish with just a hint of green. We came back to the area around the shelter and decided to go left past the huge patch of periwinkle and up the steep hill to the meadow. On our left as we went ferns were coming up all over; on the right were wood poppy and false rue anemone and finally the periwinkle, blooming happily away. We sat down on a bench for a few moments. We had been hearing a pileated woodpecker laughing in the distance, and as we sat it flew over our heads, landed on a tree halfway up the hill, let us see it for a few seconds, and ran around behind the tree trunk. Then it flew on up the hill and disappeared.

We went up the steep hill to the meadow and found that they had burned most of the near side since we were last there. There was not much going on in the meadow yet even where it had not been burned, but we went up the hill past the juniper tree to look for prairie smoke. The wind hit us with a huge gust as we labored up the slope, and almost blew my hat away. We did see a patch of prairie smoke, not yet open; and standing on the hill briefly we turned to admire the grove of paper birches, now in small green leaves, and saw a little redbud in full bloom at their feet. We went under the arch of the wild plum that frames the entrance to the meadow. It was blooming but past the best. We did see another wild plum in full bloom on the other side of the garden, but I can't recall quite where now. It had a lovely scent.

We decided that it was chilly and getting dark, and we had had a fine time, so we went on down through the white pines and out the front gate and so back to the car and dinner at Pho Tau Bay.



Apr. 28th, 2016 02:18 pm
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So there are a lot of ways to talk about narrative and fictional structure generally, a lot of ways of mapping it all: scene and sequel, rising and falling action, hysteron proteron, many more. I used to read about them avidly. Long ago when I was in college and struggling with short stories, one of my English professors suggested that I write a play, because the structure was predetermined and you could just plug elements into the template.

None of this has ever been of the slightest use to me except as an intellectual exercise. Well, that's not quite true. It's very useful for enhancing the experience of reading other people's finished works. It took me years to be even moderately good at using theories of structure for that purpose because my brain does not do that and in fact tends to dig in its heels and specifically refuse to do that, but I did manage it after the fact with other people's work.

I can't write that way, though. It will not happen. Everything just turns to water and runs away. I've stolen plots from ballads and Shakespeare, but even then, they warp and twist, and I write what I can write and then move it around and try to make it approximate the structure I thought I was using. I can more or less do thematic structure or emotional structure, but actual plot structure, the arrangement of the incidents, as Aristotle called it, is still opaque to me. It has to proceed from character, setting, theme, and mood and then get nudged around until, if you stand at the right angle, there is a plotlike arrangement of things that happened.

I know a lot of people who can see structure and write with it initially set up like the skeleton of a new building, but I cannot do it.

I'm not exactly asking for advice, though I wouldn't mind it. You'd have to be prepared for me to say, "Nope, won't work" or a more polite equivalent. But I'm curious about how other people, readers or writers, perceive or create structure in stories.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
When we adopted Saffron, the people who had been fostering her brought her over to our house so she'd know that they thought we were okay. They were telling us about some of her quirks, and I asked if they had any tricks for getting her into the cat carrier. After a blank pause, one of the fosters said, "She usually just goes in." I assumed that this meant that if you picked the cat up and headed her into the carrier, she would feel that her dignity required going in meekly rather than struggling.

The first time we took her to the vet, I got out the carrier and put a fresh discarded T-shirt into it, and Raphael dusted it a bit. Cassie hid as soon as she heard the door squeak; Saffron came sauntering along to see what was up, and walked right into the carrier and lay down. It was much too early to go to the vet, and she eventually got out again, but when it was time to corral her, she was back in the carrier and all I had to do was to shut the door. Every time we've taken her to the vet, she's just gotten into the carrier on her own. She doesn't like the vet and is an uncooperative patient, but the carrier is awesome.

Today Cassie was due for shots, so Raphael got out her carrier and dusted it and put a nice thick sweater in the bottom. Cass tends to hide at first, but eventually get over herself -- after all, the carrier might be for Saffron. I had just gotten home from looking after Toliman when Raphael arrived in a rush from a trip to the post office, checked the time, and in a few minutes scooped up Cassie and took her to the carrier. Saffron appeared from nowhere and walked into the carrier just ahead of Raphael's attempt to put Cassie in. I ran out of my office and tried to dump her out, but she wouldn't go, instead retreating to the back of the carrier. I tried to pull her out on the sweater, but she removed herself from it. Cassie does not like to be picked up or held, does not like the carrier, and does not like the vet, so she was struggling a lot. I finally got Saffron to come out, probably because she didn't like the fuss in her place of rest; and she ran off with a kind of flounce of her shoulders, only to return ten seconds later, talking furiously and demanding treats, which we had decided to postpone til Cass was back from the vet.

She forgave us for being weird, but she certainly had no idea that she was doing anything untoward.

Once we had Cassie where she belonged, we started to laugh, and I suggested that Raphael could either have taken both cats to the vet, or taken Saffron "because this is the one I could catch."

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So some bit of Windows 10, which installed myself on my laptop a while back because I failed to tell it not to emphatically enough, wants to show me different background photos when I first wake the computer up. There's a link in the upper right-hand corner that says "Like what you see?" and you can say either "Not a fan" or "I want more!" I have dutifully been clicking on whichever of those is nearest my preference. This is supposed to be collaborative communication, but it's often felt more like a battle.

I had approved of a number of nature shots with interesting light effects. At some point, I kept being shown photos with similar lighting effects, but either the scene was fantasticated in a way that I didn't like, or the lighting was showing tools or buildings. It took a very long time of repeatedly disavowing such photos before Windows 10 decided that it was tired of this unappreciative nonsense and would just start showing me scenes from national parks.

So it's all worked out, but I did a lot of muttering in the meantime. "No, I told you, I don't really want to see broken-down cars, artfully-arranged garden tools all in sepia, or strangely-distorted castles first thing in the morning." I couldn't help feeling that the software involved was muttering things back at me. "Oh, come on, in essential ways this is just like that forest one you liked. Give me a break!"

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
The new medication seems to be settling down. I did take it separately from the blood pressure medications, but now of course I don't know if it would have settled down anyway or whether I need to continue to eat two small breakfasts half an hour apart. Oh, well.

I went over to [ profile] arkuat's to look after Toliman. He was very purry. He sniffed the air when I opened the window, but didn't want to go out on the porch. The neighbors' dog was barking in a desultory way, so maybe that was why. I unpacked some books, with a lot of underfoot supervision.

I am having terrific difficulty getting the direction and timing of the 9 bus right, so after missing one and having the next one drive right by me as if I were invisible, I just walked up to Lake Street and waited for a 21. It is probably just as well, because the transfer point between the 9 and the 23 is at the same intersection as Mother Earth Gardens. I wouldn't buy plants on the way over to cat-sit because it would be too cumbersome, but on the way home I would have no such defenses. The fact that I haven't cleaned the hairy bellflower and motherwort out of the places that I might plant things is no deterrent.

The stop I use to get the 21 is right across the street from Merlin's Rest. The sidewalk outside the pub was full of Morris dancers, people in kilts, people in fancy dress of other sorts, and a leavening of people in jeans and T-shirts. As I crossed 36th Avenue I saw half the Morris dancers staring at me, or maybe over my shoulder, so when I gained the curb, I looked back. A young man dressed like Prince (purple coat, frothy white shirt, the right hair) was just crossing Lake Street.

While I waited for my bus, one of the men in kilts played three tunes on the bagpipes, and some of the other people danced line dances. The bus was full of congenial people doing Saturday things. But when I got off to transfer to the 18, there was a police van parked just beyond the intersection, a man lying in one of the shrubbery beds belonging to the White Castle, and two police officers. Eventually an ambulance came and they put him into it and took him away. My thoughts of what might have happened were perhaps somewhat biased by many recent events.

The Norway maples are still blooming, but the silver ones have small leaves. I heard house finches singing extempore every time I listened hard.

ETA: I checked Merlin's Rest's website. April 23rd is their ninth anniversary, and that is why they had Morris dancers and bagpipers. It is also, they informed me, St. George's Day.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So I had a doctor's appointment last Wednesday, with a new doctor, who frowned at the computer screen and said, "You've been taking omeprazole since 2013? We don't really recommend it for long-term use. It can lower your calcium levels."

My patient-information sheet says that multiple daily doses, which I am not taking, can do that; but apparently they are getting more cautious because there is more information.

I accordingly stopped taking the omeprazole this morning and took a Zantac pill instead.

Urgh. Two hours of nausea. No actual barfing, but still, urgh. When that abated, I went out somewhat belatedly to take a bus over to [ profile] arkuat's place to look after his cat. As I arrived at the bus stop, I felt so weird that I thought, "I'm going to have to go home again. I can't get on a bus like this." I found myself hanging onto the bench as if I might fall if I let go. Vertigo? Dizziness? No, actually. I could stand up perfectly well on my own. Things were not describing slow repeating arcs across my vision. Everything was fine and stable. Only something felt extremely weird in my head, and my brain kept deciding it was dizziness. "Woogly" is the term that I use for this feeling; it sometimes precedes a migraine. However, I had no other symptoms.

I did get on the bus, and bus and walk to Eric's, and hang out with a very loudly purring elderly orange cat, and walk a bit more and take two buses home again without untoward incident. I had a late lunch and a small dinner without incident. I even made some banana bread later in the evening. The woogliness persisted in a mild form and finally went away about an hour before I had to take my evening dose.

I had suspected that the nausea wasn't just caused by the new drug, but by my having taken it with all of my blood pressure medication, most of which also wants to be taken with food, without increasing the amount of food that I provided. I don't like eating in the morning. I took the evening dose 45 minutes ago on its own, with a substantial snack, and am not having nearly the same kind of problem. So I'll have to have a larger breakfast; or, since that's generally unpleasant, maybe take the Zantac first with some food, and follow up half an hour or so later with all the BP stuff and some more food. This makes for a more cumbersome morning, but there's no relation between the ranitidine and the BP meds, so I don't have to bolt them all at once. It's supposed to be so very healthy to eat a good breakfast, but this isn't the way I'd have chosen to do that. I also suspect that it's healthy enough for the people who like doing it but am dubious about the rest of us.

Has anybody else had this kind of experience with ranitidine? If so, how did it work out in the end?

It does seem to be controlling the acid reflux all right, but I'm not sure that I care for the trade-off if the morning effects persist.

It was a glorious spring day: forsythia and magnolia are on their way out, but flowering plum and cherry are in; tulips are in colorful bud, or blooming in warm places; there are purple and white violets in the grass. The maples are blooming so hard that they look as if they have come out in leaves. Lilac and spirea and honeysuckle really have come out in leaves. Raphael saw a juvenile yellow-bellied sapsucker in the neighbors' yard. So this medication nonsense needs to settle itself.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Eric and I visited the garden briefly last weekend; we were having a discussion of different driving routes for his old and new apartments, and he mentioned that we hadn't taken this bit of 394 in quite some time, but used to use it as a fast way to get to Eloise Butler from my house. "Eloise Butler," I said reflectively, meaning, hey, the garden is open and it's not a horrible day in terms of weather. So we dropped by quickly, postponing our grocery shopping.

It was classic very early spring in the garden. No overall mist of greening leaves, but the occasional fantastical bud, sticky-tight, or half-open, or frothing out its small leaves in unrecognizable shapes. We heard red-bellied woodpeckers saying Quirrrr quirrr quirrr. Here and there the little white candles of bloodroot stood about, wrapped in their gray-green fringed leaves. On the slope where they surprise us every time, clump after clump of sharp-lobed hepatica bloomed in pink and blue and white, bowing and shaking on their thin stems in the spring breeze. Trout lily leaves were up in abundance. The false rue anemone was up here and there, many of its leaves still reddish. Skunk cabbage was red and redolent in the marsh.

The little snow trillium was blooming furiously just up the hill from the swamp boardwalk.

So that was our first visit, and we were very glad to have made it. We went back with forethought yesterday. It was a hot day. I resent hot days in April more than I can say. It should not be hot before the leaves are out. It should not be hot in April at all.

That said, by the time we had left the steep driveway and taken the little gravel trail that leads down the hill to the front gate of the garden, I had become resigned to the weather. Before we were halfway up the drive, Eric pointed out a deer crossing it, in a very leisurely manner. We were able to spot her again, standing in the brush on the righthand side of the drive and looking at us, ears alert. She was mostly able to blend into the thin wavery brush, but the ears gave her away.

We were hearing a lot of red-bellied woodpeckers, and one flew past and gave us a couple of good quick views in between its trips behind whatever tree we were looking at it in. Then we heard a Woody the Woodpecker laugh, and Eric said, "That's not quite big enough to be a pileated -- no, wait, it is a pileated." Sure enough, that crazy hammer-head with its stripes, and the remarkably huge body of the woodpecker showed briefly before this one too, in the manner of all woodpeckers, moved around behind the tree so that we couldn't see it any longer. We were enormously pleased, feeling that anything after this would just be extra-fancy icing.

We decided to go up to the meadow first. We had left it unvisited the last time because not much in terms of flora happens there early in the year; but I'd recalled that there is a little prairie smoke and some pasque flower up there and we thought we would look for them. There were some nice clumps of bloodroot along the trail under the white pines, and then many leaves of Virginia waterleaf, and some thistle and aster rosettes, pushing up through the few remaining fallen stems of last year's prairie. When we came around the bend and saw the first part of the meadow, everything seemed very open and empty; in summer and fall, the plants and grasses are shoulder-high on me, but now nothing more than a few inches high was visible. It looked as if they might have burned the slope of meadow visible from the approach, not recently but maybe last fall sometime: the thick layers of fallen grasses and prairie flowers were missing. We'd seen plum trees blooming in people's yards as we rode the bus to the park, but the little arch of wild plum that leads to the meadow proper was just coming into bud.

We went down the slope and onto the path that goes around the central meadow hill, where we were intercepted by a tall dark-haired young man with a walking staff. He asked if we wanted to see the owlet. Well, yes, we did. He pointed it out to us, but we couldn't see it -- he was much taller than I am, and there was a screen of brush that confused the eye. "I'll walk you down to it," he said, so we followed him down to the lowest part of the meadow, where finally, just the other side of the garden fence, we saw a big cream-colored ball of fluff with an owl's face, clinging very firmly to a short stub of a branch not very far from the ground, blinking from time to time, and looking like any fledgling simultaneously terrified, winsome, and bewildered. We had encountered one of the staff on our way down, and she and the young man were discussing the mother owl, which after quite a lot of work Eric and I managed to see high up in a white pine behind the owlet's tree. "Look for her little white bib and the horns," the young man urged, and they were there, but she was very well camouflaged. So they were great horned owls, which we've hard hooting many times and seen silhouetted against the sky on the other side of the garden. But we had never seen an owlet before, or had a glimpse of an adult that showed the white bib.

After a while we thanked the young man and went on up the next hill, stopping to look down at a little loop path that is packed with ferns during the garden's proper season. The ferns weren't up yet, but there was a good patch of bloodroot down at the bottom of the loop. A cardinal was tuning up from the evergreens, and a few more red-bellied woodpeckers quirred somewhere hidden. We went along the edge of the hill and sat on a bench, marvelling at the view when there were no leaves to block it. The clump of birches at the other end of the meadow had new pale green leaves. The meadow was still brown, but Eric noticed a dragonfly, a migrating green darner; and then another; and then the sun came out from behind the clouds and backlit six or eight darners and the cloud of tiny insects they were hunting.

We finally tore ourselves away and went back to the bottom of the central hill to check for asparagus spears, but it was too early. We went down the steep trail through the woods with its sheets of emerging trout lily leaves, and I saw a single plant of Dutchman's breeches, fine frilly leaves and ridiculous white and pink flowers on their tiny stalk. Further down were more hepatica, a number of clumps of actual rue anemone in pink form for easier identification; and, increasingly as we went downhill, big patches of false rue anemone, in bud and blooming shining white, according to the light they were getting. We decided that we'd see the most flowers if we bypassed the marsh and went along the far side of the woods, so we did that, noting in passing that the marsh marigolds, which had been up last week, now had minute yellow buds. The skunk cabbages had put up bright green leaves and were somewhat less stinky. Eric noticed that the patch of Virginia bluebells on the left side of the path had buds, some still pink and some blue already. The snow trillium was still blooming ferociously, and we started to see first individual trout lily buds and flowers, and then, as we went up the far slope of the woods above the marsh, a patch of yellow trout lily, and another, and another, and then sheets of white ones interrupted by clumps of yellow. I remarked that another name for the yellow trout lily is the dog's-tooth violet.

We passed some people who told us that they had seen four deer and three wild turkeys. We felt smug about our owlet, but when we saw the first wild turkey hen poking around under a fallen tree trunk, we stopped and gaped at her anyway. At some point we sat down on a bench overlooking the marsh, and Eric checked the time and the bus schedule and we realized that we'd have to hurry. We didn't do very well at that, however. There were other hen turkeys; there were flowers and fantastical shrubs budding, the trillium leaves we had seen last week, had their pointy buds well out, and it's a bit of a hilly slog back up towards the Martha Crone Shelter. When we got there, a nice man told us there was a tom turkey displaying, and he was, right on the path that goes past the periwinkle further on; so we watched him for a while. He was missing a tail feather, but still a splendid sight. I've seen a tom turkey displaying his feathers once before, but hadn't really noticed how the rick black feathers of the back get into the act as well, so that he looks as if he is part very upset cat. The hen turkeys stalked stolidly through the dead leaves, poking with their beaks for insects, and at least pretended to ignore him. We got our best view when a woman with a camera made him decide that he should turn back and go into the woods just below the shelter.

We had missed our intended bus by then, but they were about to close the shelter, so we dawdled up the hill and, when one of the staff came to lock up, out the gate and up to the parking lot, where we sat on a bench under the beautiful river birch they have there and watched the quintessential common animals disport themselves in the grass: a robin, a gray squirrel, and an Eastern chipmunk. The disparate birdsong that we'd had as background had changed to chickadees saying, "Cheeseburger," over and over, establishing their nesting territories. Wee went slowly back down the driveway, now lined with robins about twenty feet apart, and found our bus stop, and went home.



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