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Spring in January?

I’ve experienced my first gardening anxiety of the year, and it’s only January! I only had a tiny outburst, despite being mighty uncomfortable for a straight 3 hours. I really hoped this year would be different. That may still be in the cards. I’m hoping to avoid the craziness I feel when I become overwhelmed and mystified by my yard.

I’ve already done quite a bit in the yard without suffering too much stress. I’ve pruned my 3 apple trees. I do worry that I might have overdone it, but I’m content to wait and see before I pass judgement. I more aggressively pruned two huckleberry bushes. They’ve been in my care for over a dozen years and this is the first time I’ve taken the loppers to them. I’m pretty confident I haven’t hurt them as I read common treatment for them is to cut them clear to the ground!

The other thing I’ve done in my yard, to good success, is use a harmless herbicide. It is truly non-harming to the environment and I am well pleased with the results. I bought an extra tea kettle for $5.00 at the Good Will and I heat one while I take the other one out to pour boiling water on the small hairy bittercress weeds that are emerging right now. It’s a lot of back and forthing that piles on the steps for my activity tracker!

Of course it’s not completely harmless. In an area where water conservation is a concern, this would be less than ideal. And then of course, I am using energy to heat the water. But I don’t stress about this much at all.

So what happened today? There is this amazing compost made here in town (Sea Coast Compost, look for it!) and I decided to get some. Yes, that was the source. Racing thoughts that are primarily questions. Do I know just what to do with this stuff? Would I be able to find the place? Had I already made an ass out of myself with the guy? Was I stupid questing after compost in January? Was I just going to waste it all and have more garden failures?

I also had an argument with my guy because He thought we should get twice the amount of the already inflated amount I was fixing to get. I had thought two five gallon buckets would suffice, but Johnny thought we should use a garbage can we collect recycling with AND our house garbage can. I didn’t want to use our smelly house garbage can! I didn’t even think I would use all of a garbage can’s worth to good effect. I insisted we only use the one garbage can and this created a stupid amount of friction.

Now it’s the next day and our recycle can is still full of compost. I need to make a trip to town and when I come back, I’ll need to begin using the compost. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Why is my life so complicated?

This is breakfast.

Ever since I found out I had diverticulosis from a terrible attack of diverticulitis I have attempted to change my diet to add more fiber. One of the ways I chose was to have a “fiber shake” for breakfast.

The glass jar contains a mixture of ground flax seeds (which lose their potency after they’ve been ground so you only want to do a bit at a time) and psyllium husk. Grinding the flax seeds is a snap using a coffee grinder, but keeping the coffee grinder “clean” is a source of some stress.

There is only one place in town that sells the Triple Zero yogurt drink and it’s clear on the far side of town in a store I’m not used to shopping in, so I only go in there and pick up yogurt drink and get the heck out of there. (It has to be the Triple Zero yogurt because there is zero added sugar as well as having a tiny bit of fiber!)

Preparing the yogurt drink is a story in and of itself. First I open the cap and pour a tiny bit out into the blender, then I get a funnel and add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a packet of probiotics, whereupon I replace the cap and shake vigorously.

If I forget, and add the cinnamon and probiotics directly to the blender they won’t blend in completely. They stick to the sides and create a gooey glob that is difficult to remove. In the early hours of the day this seems like a disaster of universal proportions. So now after I pour the small amount into the blender I move the blender far out of reach, so I won’t make that dreaded mistake.

The probiotic is a curious addition. it’s pretty expensive so I tried living without it for a month and paid the price in digestive distress. But this could be a case of “correlation is not causation”. But my PCP said it can’t hurt me, so I added it back in. (It does have the potential of hurting my wallet however.)

Hiding in the picture above are the images of two banana halves. Most days I usually use a single banana half, but the day this picture was taken Johnny decided that he would like 2/3 of a banana. Since I was left with 1/3, I decided that would not be adequate so I cut another banana in half and used 3/4 of a fruit made up of two bananas.

Yes now that you’ve carefully examined the picture you’ve noticed that these look like yucky black-skinned bananas but these smooshy bananas are ideal for using in a smoothie.

The last ingredient not pictured is 4 cubes of ice. Getting the right number of cubes out of the automatic ice maker is another source of complication…

So the process is:

Step 1) Far too early in the morning, get all of the ingredients out of the refrigerator and perform the dance with the probiotic drink.

Step 2) Smoosh up the mushy banana after which, deconstruct the peel so that it will better break down in the compost heap.
Step 3) Wash hands then add the ice cubes.

Step 4) Sprinkle a tablespoon of the flax seed blend on to the ice cubes and blend, using a pulse motion at first before blending continually for 60 seconds.

Step 5) find a sanitary place to set aside tablespoon for consumption of Barlean’s Omega Swirl fish oil (which has bestowed benefits upon me worthy of a separate blog post)

The end result is a quite tasty morning smoothie but I have to wonder why is my life so complicated? (Insert tongue in cheek.)

Weedy Poultice

Shayla told me about plantain poultices, and I learned about the herb “heals all” from the Coos Bay Garden Club. Today I combined the two and made a crazy chin poultice. A very challenging part of the body to accomplish this feat with. I had visions of going into production with an herbal hemorrhoid treatment. Turns out I don’t recommend this at all. But being the weekend I will go ahead and leave the poultice on my chin.

I’ve been plagued with an occasional contact dermatitis on my chin for several years now. I’ve learned to keep my chin free of any foreign substance as much as possible. I rarely eat apples now because the juice can drip onto my chin and cause a problem. I keep a tube of hydrocortisone around 4 when I get a flare up. But on Wednesday I got a terrible rash right smack dab in the center of my chin. I had to go to the store to find a mortar and pestle which in my small town is no small feat, but totally worth it to not have to chew the stuff up myself!  It wasn’t till the weekend when I felt I had the time to get into this project.



I heard a tale yesterday about how a woman from Washington State brought home plastic bags from Oregon because she was having difficulties at home being deprived of plastic bags. That sounded ridiculous to me. I throw away so much packaging, most of the time there is a fresh plastic bag on the top layer of the kitchen garbage. But this time I did utilize this purple plastic bag to collect the weeds going into my poultice: pulmonary vulgaris or “heals all” and a variety of plantain, both of which grow plentifully on my property.

It’s easy to find an example of the plantain but the pulmonara has dried out quite a bit this August so I had to range a little far to collect that.

I didn’t want range too far because I’m a little embarrassed about the poultice I’m wearing, as well as the general state of disrepair I find myself in today.

I really hope I will be able to post a picture of my amazingly healed dermatitis. I almost forgot to post a before picture.

Take a look again at my collection.

I wonder what kind of disaster I avoided by picking this herb or weed out of my collection. But the other stuff sounds like it would make a great healing poultice.

Apparently you don’t want the roots.

It seemed at first I had too much.

I feel someone could really take out their aggressions using a mortar and pestle.

First I chopped then I ground.

it was a messy proposition but finally I think I got a usable product.

so much that I had to figure a way to store it.

But the results aren’t attractive. The chin is a very difficult part of the body to give a poultice to.

I had to invent a way to make a poultice, being my first time.

I am trying a new way of blogging. Hopefully I will have some future results to wrap everything up. So far this is what I’ve got. I’m going to publish now but I’ll update later with a picture of my wound this evening. Hopefully it will show a miraculous healing. I’m only publishing now because WordPress is telling me there’s a problem uploading my media and I want to see how bad the problem really is.

I need a new poultice but I got to quickly eat dinner before I put a new one on. So far this is how the wound is doing.

Changing the sheets

I changed the sheets on two beds today, thinking of Mom. I helped her make her own bed several times toward the end of her life. It’s a big job for me and I knew Mom’s bed was especially problematic to make because the mattress was down inside the frame enough, if you wanted to tuck, which my Mom always did, you were forced to really lift up the edges of that very heavy mattress.

I’m glad I had those moments with Mom now. It really brings her presence close to me every time I make a bed now! And while the task is never fun, there is a certain pleasure it now brings to me.

My Mom would never just passively let me make the bed. She always took part. If Johnny’s around, he always helps me too….or it’s me helping him… We don’t tuck our sheets, though. Johnny prefers it that way. I don’t think my Mom would disapprove. She was more a “to each their own” sort of philosopher.

I was fortunate enough to have my Mom’s approval for most of my life. That’s worth more than gold and I do miss having that in my life now. It comes down to what I believe. I can know that she would approve of me, and I can believe that she still does, somehow. But the further past the event of her passing, the more I cave in from the absence of that real, tangible love and approval my Mom gave to me during her life.

But it’d be a poor way to honor that gift by falling apart after it is no longer readily accessible. And I have to feel sorry for those that don’t have the approval of their Mother. Since time began, I’m sure there have been such and it’s only more prevalent now that our population is so large.

So I have an advantage and it would be foolish not to play that for all it’s worth and in so doing, I will honor my Mom’s life. No pressure. Maybe all it means is that I’m blessed to be able to find pleasure in simple things, like making the bed.






There’s winners and there’s losers, they ain’t no big deal, cause a simple man pays his bills with pills and thrills that kill.


The way things seem to always work out

I dropped my FOT off at the lab on 10:00 Friday. Went to the brewery with a coworker for lunch, since we got off very early. (I have the bestest boss in da world!) I came home and had a nap and at 4:55 p.m. I had a message from my Dr.’s office to please call. I did, but it was too late.

I did pretty good about not letting it bother me too much over the weekend, though I did distract myself by playing A LOT of Candy Crush. (I could have that disorder about playing video games at the expense of your real life…)

First thing Monday, I called and learned that my test results were negative for blood in my stool. Yay! Have I played any less Candy Crush? I did mention I think I may have a disorder….


I dropped my fecal occult test off at the lab at 10:10 a.m. and they left a voicemail on my home phone asking me to call them; time stamped 1:38 p.m.. I called at 4:55 and the switchboard woman told me they’d turned their phones off, but she said they returned calls at the end of the day, so she thought they’d call me with anything urgent. Maybe they just wanted to tell me “Uhhhh, you dropped off a bunch of shit today, and we don’t appreciate it.” Maybe I did the test wrong. Or maybe they’re really on top of things and they did the test and the result was, “Shit!”

I guess I have till Monday to find out for sure. Joy.

I’ve got to run back into town and pick up some food for George’s day here. Some bread and sandwich meat. Some kind of beverage. I really lack imagination in the culinary department lately, but there’s a 9 mile detour in effect started at 8:00 p.m., so I need to get over a few things fast.


House “Cleaning”

Yeah, I “cleaned” the house today. At work, they clean using those wipes and the jet Swiffer. I already had that Swiffer, so I got me some wipes too. It didn’t seem like I was really cleaning anything, but I couldn’t remember how to clean any other way. I’ve been skating by for a long time, either doing the bare minimum or not even that.

It seems like we teach ourselves how to clean by the products we buy. I saw an add on TV for the next product I will try. I wonder how real any of it is. We watched Tom Cruise play Barry Seals in “American Made” and his character acts or doesn’t act in much the same way I feel I move through my life.

I’m pretty sure that was blood in my stool. My bowel habits have changed. I might not have much longer to move through this life. Is that why my trusted solutions are no longer working? Is that why everything has fallen flat, and unreal? I’m going to see about getting a fecol occult blood test tomorrow. The shit will hit the fan soon.

My Mom was able to leave me enough money to pay off my house. A house I feel is worth very little. But there is a nice paved driveway to the home site. In 2007 when we were looking for land here, a lot was described as a tear down, meaning a nice piece of property with some shitty mobile home on it. I think that’s what the kids will try to unload after we’re gone.

I’m going to write in my will that Johnny gets to stay here as long as he wants to. I need to leave it to Shayla if he’s living. If somehow I out live him, then the proceeds need to be split up between the kinds. The shop is what will sell this place. The house is a tear down, but it is livable. We are comfortable here. I piddle around with the landscaping, but it’s crazy, really. If someone wants a real house here, I wonder what they will do with the landscaping.

I’m working toward selection of natives that will crowd out the unruly natives. A fools errand. That’s what my headstone should read.


I can’t decide how I should handle having left a baby shower early after I’d brought in a half wrapped present in an Amazon shipping box. I felt totally out of place and realized I didn’t have to be there, so I left. I was getting too hot in my sweater and the place was getting too loud for my tastes.I thought of giving excuses tomorrow. Saying I suddenly felt ill seems the safest, but a large part of me wants to say, There was no beer and Ty was pinching me. When he started hurling spitballs at me, I was out of there.” But in point of fact, I left because I felt like a loser. but leaving didn’t solve that. I had a beer when I got home, due to the tension it caused. I did feel my time would be better spent out in my garden, but my impulse is to send my blueberries down the hill. I pruned them with abandon. I moved the iris haphazardly. I got rid of the crocosmia mess, and now, I don’t have a clear idea what to do. I think I’m going to work on removing the vinca minor, but it’s just now blooming. What am I going to do with all of it? I think I will chuck it between the stairs and the cliff wall. I’m thinking of transplanting a few things there. There are a lot of mature ferns I’m going to move out of my flower beds. I think I need to move the rose out somewhere. It’s not good where it’s at. There are far too many Pulmonarias, but I’m all about trying to establish them in difficult areas. I want to post all this somewhere, but I don’t think I know any of my passwords to get into any of the blogs I have started and abandoned. I spent a bunch of time tripping out on Luigi Speranza’s facebook page. He is a dues-paying member of the Coos Bay Garden Club, apparently. So I got into my blog, but I’m not sure how. If I post now, do I really want to go into how I have seen such ugliness in myself lately, I can feel it starting to pull at me. I think of going out to dinner last night. I have a bit of an amusing story to tell about it. Johnny was haranguing the waiter because there was an entry of vegetarian something or other with a scampi sauce. I don’t know what he wanted the waiter to do about it. He went to verify there was no meat in the sauce with the chef, but that didn’t make Johnny satisfied. I think he must have wanted the waiter to come back with a sharpie and either black out the word vegetarian, or the word scampi. The waiter stayed bright and chipper, and I think he liked me personally because I looked him in the eye and saw him as a real person who did not need to be bothered by the likes of some hair-splitting asshole, really. Yes, I felt my guy was being an asshole, but my Mom sided with Johnny, saying the waiter did not seem to understand the issue. I think he understood perfectly, but what was he supposed to do beyond what he did? Contact the corporate office and demand they reprint all menus immediately?

I got Grammarly because my typing is shit lately. I’m suspicious of it being some sort of data grab which is apparently what runs the world nowadays. I realize I’m not in the blog I thought I was. this is the one I had decided to promote my audiobook business with, but I’ve given up on that avenue.  Will I give up on the gardening, as well? that is a big part of my overwhelm. If I give up gardening, what will become of this place??? The brambles will shortly take over.  Johnny would probably cut back the brush around the blacktop so we could get back and forth with our cars.

This has wasted enough time. I’m putting it out there in the universe, knowing that no one will care at all. If there is ever any response to this, it will be from a bot or a spammer. I don’t fucking care.

Fresh Horror

I’ve been reluctant to work on my latest audiobook, because the sound quality is so much worse. I had to replace my mic, and I was really happy with it, because it seemed to reduce my mouth noise, but it did record with less gain, and once amplified for industry standards all manner of shite floated to the top of the bowl. This is an example of a peculiar and particularly upsetting distortion. Somehow, a fart inserted itself into my word. You’ll hear it in context, then separated, twice, then hear it in context again. It goes by fast, but this is the sort of shite that when piled on top of other flavors of shite appearing in my sound files, makes me regret spending so much time to record this, spending money to get it mastered, then spending hour upon hour cleaning up this crap. I think I need to go pull some weeds out in the garden…

The fix, I’ve found is to find the fart noise, which is shown selected in the pic and hit mute. Yes, mute, right there in the middle of a word. Seems counter intuitive, but it works a charm. I’m a little worried now though, that I may be going crazy with the mute.

I’m using it  a lot because the new mic recorded so noisy, my engineer was forced to use a noise gate, which leaves distortion in the places where the sound is softer than the noise, but, seems to me, if I just get rid of that soft sound, it’s not missed. I could be wrong though.

It could be none of it matters because the whole thing sounds like shite anyhow…

Gain Staging Woes

Don’t have my new mic all dialed in yet. I’m wondering if I’ve been baffled by bullshit. I was referred to these two articles to explain the importance of setting your recording levels correctly. It just doesn’t make sense to me. The idea is, if you set your recording levels low, you won’t record too much of your environment, translating to noise floor. Noise floor is super important when recording audiobooks, because the majority of listeners are using headphones where what’s in the silences is much more apparent than say, recording a vocal track that will be going into a mix.

But I’m not sure these issue apply so much when doing spoken word. Of course, we don’t want to clip, but I would have to work pretty hard to clip something. When I set up the mic and made some first recordings, I was dismayed by what I heard in the noise floor. I mentioned it to Justin when he called to see how everything was working for me. He suggested I try recording without the pre, so I did. It was really soft, so I cranked the gain to the roof, and was able to record something that peaked at about -12db. I couldn’t hear that noisy silence, but I knew I still had to boost the sound levels.

So I took the file and normalized it to -3db, then limited it to -6db. I imagine some sound engineer will get his panties in a twist over that particular move, only because I lack confidence. I think my logic is sound, though. Normalizing makes your loudest sounds only so loud (or you can work it the other way and make the loudest sounds softer) As it does this, it adjusts all the surrounding sounds an equal amount. Seems to me it’s just a way to control your amplification, but again, what do I know? Limiting takes any sound that is above your set level, in my case -6, and smashes that bit down to fit.

One thing you need to understand about sound is we are dealing with negative numbers, so -3 is louder than -6. So when I limit to six, it takes all my sound from -5.9 to the -3 peaks I normalized to, and adjusts their levels to fall into that -6 range. I like the results of doing things this way, since when I get expressive, I get louder and so my levels end up pretty uneven. I don’t know what the pros do, but I think Jared gets better results than I do, so I send my things for him to master. At least my big things. But for auditions and tests, it’s all me, and this is how I do it.

So I got into another discussion with Justin who cautioned me against having that gain cranked all the way up. He thought I should use the cloudlifter and not record so hot. He’s the one who referred me to the video and article, and I applaud him for taking the effort to educate me, but I believe my ears more than anything. So I recorded the way he suggested, and mastered it the same way as described above, and guess what? I don’t hear a difference! I’m not getting anywhere near clipping, either way I do it, and when I amplify the sounds to get the levels where they need to be, it seems like there is the same kind of amplification to the silences as there is to the sound.

It was suggested to me that recording with less gain, I wouldn’t pick up the low frequencies in the first place, so they wouldn’t be there when I amplified, but I don’t hear that happening. So I’m wondering, do I really need that cloudlifter? I could save myself $200 sending it and the extra xlr back, and I’m tempted. I know Justin will never tell me to do that because that is money out of his pocket, but I am just not following the reasoning here.

What do you think? Have a listen to my samples below. Put your headphones on and wait for the second sample. There is more mouth noise on the sample with the cloudlifter, but I think that’s because there way more mouth noise at that moment. I wasn’t planning on making these recordings public, so the read sucks, but I am really scratching my head on this one. I’d really like your input.

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