Friday, June 24, 2016

With A Grain of Salt and Not Enough Sleep

I'm operating on only 4 hours' sleep here today, so blogging may not be the best idea, but I know it needs to be done, and I'm determined to do it.

Why only 4 hours' sleep, you ask?  A variety of factors.

Not least of which was probably that after-dinner cup of coffee at 5:30 p.m. yesterday.  I treated myself to dinner and a movie last night, and it may sound strange, but when you only ever drink coffee in the morning--and in my case, usually 5:30 in the morning, courtesy of my beloved kitty,  Juno--you sort of forget that decaf... exists.

At least, that's what I did.  I had a lovely Starbucks Caramel Macchiatto (grande, no less), and only after I had guzzled it down did I think, oh crap, I should have had decaf.

Oh well.  It enabled me to chat with my BFF until the wee hours, yet another reason why I only had 4 hours of sleep.  But sometimes, these things just need to happen.

Right now, though, the sleep deprivation is making me feel a bit woozy.  I'm an 8-hours-of-sleep kind of person. (10 is even better, in my book.  7 is the minimum.  Anything less, and ... well, here we are.)

I've been powering through the morning and afternoon tackling herb-related tasks, because that's a gentle way of being in the world when you haven't really had enough sleep.

I have more than enough herbs, and I discovered that in addition to drying them, you can make an herbal salt.  So that's what I've been doing, and this is what it looks like.

I used garlic, oregano, rosemary, and sage, and now it just needs to sit and dry for a day or two.   Or, I'll put it in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 10 minutes, to dry it all out more quickly.  Then, I can put it in a jar and store it.

The only caveat that I've seen has been the suggestion to use it sparingly, because it can get very salty very quickly.  I confess, I didn't actually measure out the salt (or the herbs), but I know I used far more herbs than salt, so I think it will be okay. 

But again, I will use it sparingly until I see.  And I will probably add more herbs to it as the summer unfolds.

I'm almost afraid to post this, but so far, so good on the grow-bags for the tomatoes and the towers for the potatoes.  Here's what the tomatoes look like thus far:

They seem to be doing pretty well, and I have a ton of them, all grown from the seeds that I harvested from last year's crop of tomatoes.  At this point, I have about 20 plants.  We'll see how that works out.

I've been in this place before, and there are just no guarantees.

And the potato towers have produced happy potato plants (as have the raised beds).  Whether said happy plants will happily produce potatoes remains to be seen, but at least one of my other, more expert gardener-friends has said that the fact that the plants are flowering is "a great sign."  So... fingers crossed, and here they are:

I actually built two towers (I didn't mean it as a nod to Tolkien, but I suppose it could be), and yes, at this point I never want to see another stencil as long as I live.  Holy cow, was I sick of that process by the time I reached the top level on the second tower.

But it's done.  And now... we wait.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meditations at the Midpoint

So here we are, already about halfway through June.  And I'm way behind on blogging.  Again.

In this case, it's not that I haven't been thinking about blogging--on the contrary, I'd say I've been thinking about it daily.

But the stuff of day-to-day life lately has not been cooperating, in the sense that it's all been very run-of-the-mill, with nothing particularly exciting to report.

Not that I'm complaining. (If I were complaining, I'd have more to blog about.)  I'll take "status quo" any day of the week.

Case in point: I was thinking I'd blog about The Chronology of Water, but after I finished it, I thought... "Nah."

Was it good?  Yes, in many ways.  It certainly wasn't bad, although I kind of found the second half far less interesting than the first half.  To me, there was too much literary name-dropping and a bit too much "I don't play by the rules, and the rest of society can just go suck it if they don't like that."

Because this may just be a personal point of ethics for me, but I do sorta think you deserve to lose your job if you become openly pregnant with your student's love-child during the course of a semester.  (And I'm really not sure how you turn around and just find another job like that! because I'm pretty sure no one would be hiring me.  This reminded me of Mary Karr's memoir, Lit, which I had some issues with, as you may or may not recall.)

In my book, what you're calling "not playing by the rules" could also be construed as "an abuse of power." I'm glad it didn't turn out to be that in Yukanvitch's particular case, but it could have been, and it's that potentiality that troubles me.

So while I appreciate being able to see the relationship and its context from Yuknavitch's standpoint, I also feel like someone has to be viewing it from the standpoint of the other students in the class.

Because if my professor is having my fellow-student's baby, I'm going to feel pretty confident that that person is getting an "A" in the class, regardless of how well the person, you know, writes.  And if I'm getting a "B," but I really feel like my writing is "better," well... you see where this is headed. 

So while Yuknavitch is quite critical of the hypocrisy and implicit prudery of her department chair, I gotta say, I feel the department chair's pain in this instance. 

Because while I too would argue that in many instances "objectivity" is just a ruse, my reaction here would be, "Humor me.  Keep some boundaries in place between your personal life and your professional life, please.  For the sake of the students you don't choose to sleep with."

And the fact that other people besides Yuknavitch (i.e. male professors) have a long history of sleeping with their students while others in authority turn a blind eye, doesn't mean it's right.  I would argue that they should be held accountable as well, not that no one should be held accountable because it's a stupid rule that no one follows.  

All that said, the rule-breaking that Yuknavitch practiced in narrative form and purpose in her memoir was interesting, and at many points her writing is quite beautiful and interesting.  So I was glad I read her memoir, and I would recommend it if you like good writing and an unconventional approach to life, literature, and sexual "norms."

And on that note, it would appear that I have actually blogged about The Chronology of Water, despite my initial claim that I wouldn't.

So the lesson learned here is that the next time I think I'm not going to blog, I should just... blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

And... It's June.

The summer's off to a busy start: I had several goals for Memorial Day weekend, and I'm happy to say, I accomplished them.

I installed two new raised beds, and I transplanted all kinds of veggie goodies.  So the broccoli, cucumbers, and tomatoes have now found their new homes.

As I've mentioned, this year, I'm trying grow bags for the tomatoes.  I have a lot of them, and I wasn't sure where I was going to put them.  But fortune smiled on me in the form of two, crappy, broken-down pallets that were delivered with the rocks for my rock wall.

So now, those pallets are lining the back of my driveway, and their crappiness is completely covered by grow bags with tomato plants in them.  And so far, the plants seem to like it there.  We'll see... I'm a little nervous about what's going to happen when I put the tomato ladders in the bags: fingers crossed they don't tip over.

And the potato plants and their resident towers are growing apace.  I'll post a picture of one when it's finally reached its full height.

Needless to say, I'm becoming quite sick of stenciling.  But the boxes do look nicer that way.

Speaking of boxes, I went back to boxing class on Monday.  (Yes, I know that's not a "real" segue.)  It was mind-alteringly difficult, needless to say, as I fully expected it to be.

But no, I didn't pass out or vomit, so... this is good!  It means I'll be back again next week.

I've also started boxing "southpaw" (aka, lefty).  My teacher broached the idea the last time I took the class a couple of years ago.  Apparently, my left-handed shots are more natural than my right-handed ones, despite the fact that I'm right-handed.

If you're wondering how "handedness" is determined for human beings, so is everyone, as it turns out.  It can be shaped by genetics.  Or by environment.  Or by... whatever.  

My dad was left handed, so it's possible that this had a genetic and environmental influence on me.  Because while I wouldn't say I possess "mixed-handedness" (the preference to do different tasks with different hands), I will at times favor my left hand or find it equally easy (if not easier) to do a task with my left hand than with my right.

I suspect that the fact that I do "bilateral breathing" when I swim (i.e., I turn to both sides to breathe, instead of just to one, dominant side) may have also helped develop the muscles in my left side as well.

Either way, I'm boxing left now, and liking it.  It feels easier for me, in part because I'm "leading" with my dominant side: when you box lefty, you "lead" with the right side, because the power-punches come from the left.  So for me, leading with my right side makes it easier for me to jab and move quickly, needless to say. 

And needless to say, this meant that I had an exhausting but interesting session on Monday and that I'm looking forward to another next week.

Yesterday, I recuperated by reading and knitting.  I'm reading Lidia Yukanvitch's The Chronology of Water (2011) and really liking it, actually.  She has some beautiful sentences and I like what she does with the idea of narrativity--the way that she links it to water and swimming is right up my alley, obviously.

 Yuknavitch claims, "Your life doesn't happen in any kind of order.  Events don't have cause and effect relationships the way you wish they did.  It's all a series of fragments and repetitions and pattern formations.  Language and water have this in common" (4).

On a side note, I wasn't expecting all of the lesbian sex and SM scenes, but I do think they fit with the text's overarching story line, and at this point, I haven't found them "too much."  But I think a lot of people might not be so comfortable with them, and I began to wonder if this is why I didn't hear as much about this memoir as I might have expected.

The story Yuknavitch has to tell isn't an easy one to read,  obviously, but personally, I found it less gratuitously self-indulgent than Strayed's Wild.  I'm about halfway through, so we'll see if my liking for the text keeps up.