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1. Called Vicky Saturday evening and talked about various things for a hour or two.

2. Changed linens.

3. Bought Susan's birthday present. I started by going to the Farmer's Market down at Steamboat Landing, but they didn't have anything that really jumped out at me. So I drove up the west shore of the lake to American Winery and bought her three types of specialty fudge. I am mostly neutral on Americana's wines -- a few each year are pretty good, most are okay, a few are emphatically not to my taste -- but I have never yet disliked any of their fudge varieties, so. I got her Maple Bacon Chocolate, Amaretto Chocolate Swirl, and Dark Chocolate Covered Cherry. :)

more items under the cut )

21. Susan's birthday celebration! We met at the G family house around 7pm, where Cat and I admired Susan's kitten (Abbie, a gray tabby with white socks and a bit of tan around her ankles) and Susan opened our gifts.

Then we went to Yuki Hana, a local sushi place, for dinner. We got three items to share: unagi don, orange dragon rolls, and ume-shiso rolls; before the main course, Susan and I each had miso soup and Cat had the complimentary salad that came with the unagi don. We declined desert, but received a plate with three watermelon slices apparently just because, which was unexpected but tasty. I had to preemptively take a Benadryl because of raw avocado and cucumber, but it was totally worth it. :)

After dinner, we returned to the G family house and chatted for a while before Susan suggested we try some of the fudge I'd gotten her. Rev. and Mrs. G were invited to join in, and the general consensus was that fudge is good. (This is not a terribly controversial conclusion, I feel. *wry*) We enlisted Rev. G to take pictures of the three of us before Cat had to bail (since she needed to get some sleep before driving to Pennsic on Monday), and I am very glad we were able to get together like that. :D

22. Finished the beta draft of "Intervention" (my WIP Big Bang fic) and sent it to beta. \o/

23. Drove back to Ithaca. I should mention at this point that on both the drive down and the drive up, I was listening to a lecture series on tape: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, by Prof. Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane, which is part of the Great Courses series. There are 36 lectures in total, two per CD, and I have gotten through 17 of them. (I started on lecture 3, since Mom and I listened to some of them on a previous car trip and while I couldn't remember exactly where we left off, I knew it was past the first CD.)

I don't know why I never tried listening to nonfiction audiobooks or audio lectures on car trips before. (I specify nonfiction because I find fiction audiobooks intensely distracting; the voices never quite match what's in my head, and also the pacing tends to be indefinably wrong.) But listening to lectures while driving uses one problem to solve another in the most beautiful way. First, the lectures help me stay alert and focused on the road in a way that I otherwise find difficult -- caffeine is not infallible, and music gets samey after a while -- because I have to be paying attention to what the lecturer is saying, and relating it to previous lectures and my own general understanding of world history. Second, driving is a visual/kinesthetic task that eats up enough of my concentration that I actually CAN pay attention to the audio input, which is something I otherwise find nearly impossible and have had to resort to sewing projects or coloring books in order to listen to occasional podcasts that I decided were important enough to make the effort.

Anyway, I think I can get at least one more round trip to NJ and back out of this lecture series -- and then probably down to NJ again -- but after that I need to look into my local library's audio offerings, because I didn't get drifty even once on this trip, and I promise you it's not because I'd gotten any more sleep than usual. *wry*


And that is that, and I really have to remember to make these posts more often because covering ten days at once is ridiculous.
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1. Last-minute apartment cleanup before my parents' visit, i.e., I cleared and organized the piles of stuff that had collected on my coffee table, living room table, and kitchen counters over the past few months, and temporarily stashed some other stuff in my bedroom to free up my armchair for people to sit on. Also I dusted a few shelves, because reasons.

2. Collected trash from wastebaskets and took the combined bag to the trashcan outdoors. I think one more bag and the can will be ready for curbside pickup -- so, maybe early June?

3. Paid my monthly internet bill.

4. Welcomed my parents and Dottie! ♥

more items under the cut )

14. Peeled the moldy layers off my sprouting onion and sprayed the thing with diluted anti-fungal solution. Hopefully this will help more than it hurts. (It did not seem to cause any harm to my pepper seedlings when I sprayed their little peat cylinders back in March, since they'd acquired fungal spores while they sat in storage for a year.)

15. Dumped the resulting gunk and some other compost into the communal bin.

16. Baked brownies for church coffee hour tomorrow morning.

And I think that's about it! It was a very full two days. :)
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1. Failed to get a haircut on Saturday morning, because my barber was out of town on vacation. *sigh* I will try again this week.

2. Walked to Agway on Sunday morning in search of trellises for my squash, but did not find any of the type I wanted. Ah well. Perhaps I can train them up the posts of my porch railing?

3. Returned a library book I'd been meaning to return for over a month now.

4. Caught a mouse under a bathroom plunger.

...Uh, okay, context. context )

And that is how I know my work-related dead mouse karma is still going strong. *sigh*

5. Bought four plastic storage tubs for planting squash.

6. Changed linens.

7. Acquired a new back screen door and door frame, yay! (Thank you, Landlord Dude. Thanks are also due to Landlady, who came by and did a whole bunch of yardwork.)

8. Took kitchen compost to the communal bin in the back yard.

9. Photographed my vegetables.

10. Repotted Damocles, one of my big hanging spider plants.

11. Made my weekly Facebook update post.

12. Got some writing done over the weekend and Monday, even if it wasn't always the writing I intended to do, nor was it as many words as I'd hoped for.
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1. Went to bed early on Wednesday, in an attempt to shake the not-quite-cold that I still haven't been able to get rid of.

2. Was still semi-sniffly when I woke up Thursday morning, and reluctantly rescheduled my blood donation appointment YET AGAIN, argh.

3. Rescued a spider from my shower and let it go in my front room. I am happy to coexist with house spiders, provided they stay OUT of my bedroom and bathroom, and never touch me unexpectedly. Startling me in the shower is not good for their life expectancy.

4. Wrote a bit more of my Enchanted Forest prompt ficlet, and also figured out (I think) a way to better tie the opening into the later action, so there's some groundwork for what the unexpected ambassadors have come to discuss. I have not yet attempted to implement that, because I continue to be constantly tired and kind of brain-fried. *sigh*

5. Wrote and mailed my birthday thank-you notes, which involved finally getting rid of the last of some tiny butterfly stickers I acquired over a decade ago (I have no memory of either why or how) and almost getting rid of some free bee-and-flower stickers I got from... probably the Nature Conservancy, in one of their periodic 'donate to us again!' mailings. (I get mailings of that nature from several charities, since I used to give money yearly to, uh, the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Nature Conservancy, Planned Parenthood, and the International Eye Foundation. I also get mailings from the US Methodists' charitable arm, since I donated to them once some years ago as Susan's Christmas gift, but they didn't have a 'donation in the name of' option so now UMCOR thinks I'm their good target instead of her. *deeper sigh*)

6. Took kitchen compost to backyard bin.

7. And, of course, the reason I'm so tired all the time is that I am working stupid hours at my two jobs. This week will end up being ~53 hours all told, and then I will probably be working both Sunday the 26th and Sunday the 5th so starting from Monday the 20th that's like... three weeks in a row with no days off, yikes. (Well, I may ask for Saturday the 4th off at the rental company, but that would be so I could chaperone a youth group thing at church so I wouldn't exactly call it a day of rest.)


The money is worth it. I think.
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One month exactly (...okay, minus two hours) after my last dead mouse, I had another one. This one was in the cupboard under my kitchen sink.

Coincidentally, I had just reset that trap this afternoon, since I'd accidentally set it off while getting a rag and some steel wool out from the cupboard in order to do some serious cleaning of my stove. The piece of Snickers bar fell apart as it fell off, so when I reset the trap I only used about half of what had previously been there. I think smaller candy pieces make more effective bait, honestly.

cut for description of animal death )


I am so tired of mice.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
About twenty minutes ago I heard a funny clattery noise from the direction of my kitchen, and got up to see what had fallen over.

Not any of the dishes in the drying rack. Nothing on any of the counters. Not my poor pepper pots on the back porch.

And then I remembered that I do keep two mousetraps perpetually armed and baited (I use chunks of Snickers bars, because they don't rot) and they do sound a bit like falling dishes when they snap.

The one in the kitchen cupboard was untouched. The one under the bathroom sink, on the other hand... Bingo.

if animal injury and death bother you, stop reading here )

Tomorrow I'll buy a Snickers bar and bait two more traps.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
Quick post to say several things!

1. I retrieved Dottie from NJ and will be taking care of her until next Wednesday, the 28th. Yay dog! She's on a different diet yet again, but at least this one is slightly simpler than some of the previous variations. However, I now have to give her her twice-daily medicine tablet as a separate thing, daubed in peanut butter, since she won't eat them if they're mixed into her breakfast and dinner (and then may not eat the meals either, because ewww, contamination).

2. On my drive back to Ithaca, there was a dead bear on the side of I-380. A BEAR. I have seen roadkill opossums, raccoons, and deer -- to say nothing of innumerable squirrels and birds -- but never a freaking black bear. It may have been a juvenile; it looked a bit scrawny for a full-grown bear.

3. While walking Dottie last night, I spotted a toad hopping between her feet (she missed it completely; her eyesight and hearing have gone fuzzy in her old age) and briefly picked it up to say hello. Then I let it go, of course, because I'm not a monster.

4. My laptop completely died last night. :( Not only is the battery nonfunctional, the power cord is no longer working so I can't even just plug it in and use it as a de facto desktop. I am looking into repair/replacement options, but this is a little tricky because of my work schedule (Tues and Weds 9am-7pm, plus the hours immediately before and after that for dog care) so I may not even be able to take it in to a repair shop until Thursday. *headdesk*

5. Because of the computer woes, I will probably not be online much for the next week. This means I will be even slower about commenting and/or responding to comments than usual, because I only get an hour of free internet at the public library (and that only on non-work days) and it's really hard to type anything long and coherent on my phone. (I am typing this at the rental office, but I'm not supposed to use our internet for personal stuff, so I will be signing out of Dreamwidth as soon as I'm done.)

6. While in NJ, I dropped by Susan's place of work (a pottery) for an hour and a half, and got to shape two pinch-pots as part of a monthly gimmick they're doing for October: a 1000 bowl sale for charity. Susan will pick and apply the glazes, obviously, since I am now back in Ithaca. I may be down in NJ again over the sale weekend (for yet another dogsitting pickup), in which case I might try to buy one of my bowls if they haven't sold yet. :)
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I have a dog until August 10th, while my parents are in Europe. They are starting in Prague, taking a river cruise on the Elbe, and ending at the Meteoritical Society's annual conference, which is in Berlin this year. (In late September, they will go back to Prague because Dad is presenting a paper at a completely different conference. They had already made the cruise reservations when he learned about that conference and decided to submit an abstract, which is why the logistics make no sense.)

Dottie is going to turn 14 this fall, and her age has definitely started to catch up with her. When I had her this spring, she was already on some anti-arthritis medication, and now she's also been switched to a new diet because she's showing early signs of kidney problems. (Drinking a lot of water, basically, which is extra weird because she's never drunk much; we used to slip her water by turning her meals into soup.) She's walking very slowly and often doesn't want to go outside at all... which is, of course, a problem because of all the water she's now drinking. :(

I did some online research and talked to some people at my church about which local vets they use, and Mom and I jointly decided which one to use in case of emergencies. Hopefully it will not come to that, but it's good to have a plan in place.

This afternoon, Dottie and I sat out on my back porch for a while because when I tried to walk her, she just flopped down on a sunny patch of grass a block from my apartment and refused to move. I had to carry her back home, after which I figured if she wanted to lie in the sun, we could at least do it where I could read a book. *wry* I also brushed her because she's been shedding like crazy, and I could probably do so again tomorrow and remove just as much hair. Hopefully that's a side-effect of the heat and not a sign of a more serious health issue.

This time Dad remembered to add a squishy pillow as part of her paraphernalia, so she has a comfortable resting place near my computer desk. On previous visits, Dottie made do with my one and only couch cushion, which is stiff and overstuffed and also just a little too small for her to easily curl up on. She is snoozing on her pillow beside me now, and I have to say, my apartment feels about ten times friendlier with her in it than when I'm on my own. :)
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twelve pepper seedlings in terracotta pots and plastic windowboxes
twelve peppers, Monday, 4 July 2016

wilted pepper seedling in terracotta pot
the smallest pepper, probably dying

pepper leaf with blight spot
that funny leaf patch, now more obviously not-quite-right

slightly deformed pepper leaf
another leaf with issues

Last week I mentioned that one pepper was clearly smaller and growing more slowly than its fellows. Well, it just got worse and worse through the week, and then -- adding insult to injury -- got uprooted by a squirrel early Monday morning.

(Let me tell you about these squirrels. So there's an evil mulberry tree bang up against the post of my back porch, right? Which means a good half of its branches are growing right toward the house. I clip the ones I can reach, but I'm short and so is my stepladder, and I only have hand-clippers rather than a proper extendable tree-hook thingy, so my area of control is limited. There are several branches that grow right up against my upstairs neighbors' windows.

And two days ago, some enterprising squirrels investigated one of those windows, discovered its screen had a hole, wriggled through, and were gleefully tearing up the kitchen when my neighbors got home. Upstairs Neighbor E complained to Landlord Dude -- as she damn well should! -- but who knows when he'll get around to doing anything. I wish to god he'd just admit he can't handle all the necessary repairs himself and hire contractors, but apparently pigs will fly before that day comes. *headdesk*)

But back to the peppers. When I righted the poor seedling and packed dirt back around it, I noticed its stem had a funny weak/brown section perhaps a quarter centimeter long, suggesting that it's doing poorly because the roots and leaves are barely able to send energy and/or nutrients to each other. I have no idea how to fix that, or if it even IS fixable, so I'm just going to water that pepper along with the others and expect it to die. :(

There continue to be some minor leaf irregularities. I have not sprayed insecticide, so I think this may be a reaction to the (obviously completely ineffective) anti-squirrel spray. Yet another reason Bonide Repels-All sucks!

[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]


ETA: [tumblr.com profile] madamehardy informs me: The symptoms you describe – a browning stem, withering leaves, and stunted growth – sound exactly like fusarium wilt, a.k.a. "damping off". It's a fungus that hits anything in the nightshade family (potato, tomato, eggplant, pepper) and is viciously destructive of basil. I've given up trying to start basil from seeds. You can, of course, use fungicide.

For tomatoes, your best bet is to look for varieties that are labeled as fusarium resistant. Tomatoes will generally be labeled something like VFN or VFNT in the variety name: that means they're resistant to the fungi verticillium, fusarium, nematodes, tobacco mosaic virus: it's a long list. Alas, there's nothing similar for peppers because no resistant varieties have been discovered

Tl;dr: Damping off sucks. It's not really under your control; you just throw away the plant (NOT in the compost) and move on.
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Today in unpleasant developments: ants in my kitchen :(

I put out ant traps, but they're like two years old and also got extensively nibbled by mice last fall, so I think I'd better buy a couple new packs on my next grocery run.


Some days I really hate having to be the responsible adult in my own life.


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Elizabeth Culmer

August 2017

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