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Three days ago we were re-staining the shed, and a small marmalade cat emerged from underneath it. She looked like one of those half-grown kittens that have set out to find their fortunes; you know the ones. She was not shy at all; came right over to be petted, so Kip took his gloves off and sat down with her to make her acquaintance.
I was worried she would get into the stain, which was oil based, and try to lick it off and get sick. Kip said “I can fix that” and opened a can of salmon. Which did indeed fix the problem, but.
She took to hanging around our place. Day before yesterday morning we broke down and bought her a collar, to which I taped a note saying “Is this your cat? Please call me” and my phone number. We also bought some cat food. And in the evening a flea collar because she seemed to be scratching a lot and there were little tiny bugs deep in her fur. She has obviously been with people before because she was very blase about the collar / flea collar, and also is not scared of us at all, and likes to be scritched and petted.
Yesterday we started calling her O’Keefe because of the whole paint thing, and when we painted the garage door (latex paint this time) we thought we kept an eye on her but not a good enough one, because yesterday night we had to hold her and use Kip’s beard trimmer to remove the white paint along one side of her tail. She is very tame and gentle and though she didn’t like the trimmer, she didn’t scratch me even once.
She obviously wanted to come inside, but my brother is VERY allergic and stays with us for a couple of weeks every summer so it Could Not Be.
No calls claiming her, so today we took her to C.A.R.E.—the animal shelter off Hwy 92. She was very unhappy at first in the car, and sank her claws into Kip while climbing to his shoulder and even bit his ear but didn’t draw blood. She calmed down after a few minutes and calmed down more when we stopped for a few minutes in the parking lot and told her what a good cat she was. We told them we will call back in a month and if nobody has adopted her she can be our outside cat. She is incredibly cute but we wanted her to have the best chance of being somebody’s pampered indoor cat we could give her, so we thought she should go to the shelter while still a kitten.
It turns out they think she is 10 months old (!) so I guess small and cute is just her thing. They also think she might be pregnant (!!) though maybe it is just worms and they’re giving her some worm medicine and vaccinating her. I am going to call back in a couple of days and find out how she is settling in.
It is silly but I miss her even though she was only around a couple of days.
In other news, the patio roof is now up. Basically I called the guy who had put our new roof on a few years ago, and he was booked up months in advance but could recommend Andy Belz, who usually does gutters but was willing to take this on and was available in a couple of weeks. It cost us more than we expected but he came when he said he would and did the job when he said he would and I’m quite happy with him. Very UNhappy with Brian Church, who broke the old roof and said he would repair it and then didn’t, but that’s not Andy’s fault, and now I think about it, do I really want someone who is as careless as Mr Church working on my property?
The shed we bought a couple summers ago needed to be re-stained so I scrubbed it and pressure washed it (the neighbors kindly loaned me their pressure washer) and after a suitable period drying (and another period of waiting for a long enough spell of dry weather) Kip and I put new stain on it. The wood was very thirsty and drank a lot of stain but I think we did a pretty thorough job of it and hopefully it won’t have to be done again for a while.
All four of the iron columns have been completely stripped and have received 2 layers of primer. I still need to paint them. The paint was also flaking on the garage doors I built when we moved in, so Kip and I scraped and sanded them and I rinsed them off thoroughly and let them dry and we’ve given them two coats of latex paint and they look much better.
Dad and Jake will probably be here in a week. So much to do; so little time!
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Well, the contractor may or may not be coming today to put the new roof up. Last Saturday he said he would if the weather was good enough during the week that he wasn’t behind. I texted him at 1 pm yesterday to ask if he was coming... and again at 7 and again at 8:30 and finally called him about 9 and got shunted to voice mail. So we’ll see. His own fault if he comes and I’m not ready, I guess.

Furtherdoins )

The mandolin is going really well, by the way. Amid all the other things this week I found time to practice the major chords and the transitions between them and work out the corresponding minor chords and I have learned three songs with them and also learned the new tune I got from him, King of the Fairies. I’m very impressed with myself and hope to impress Mark too. I HAVE EATEN THIS LESSON I HAVE DRUNK THE LAST DROP GIVE ME MOAR!
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Today was the day our new porch roof was supposed to be set up.

I had actually intended to dismantle the old one yesterday, but that didn't work out. I spent All Day working on it, and managed to take out four pieces, which means it would have taken me another five days to finish. Fortunately Brian, the contractor who is putting the roof up, said he and his helper could take it down much faster than that and that I shouldn't put in any more time on it.

This was both true, and a good thing as far as it went, because he was supposed to arrive at ten but was held up by a stubborn plumbing problem until six pm--at which point he and his helper showed up and pulled the whole thing down, took it apart and took it away by nine.

This is actually second best; I'd love to have the new roof up but just having the old broken one gone should make several things easier.

In the morning I had laid everything out looking at how it was going to work, got worried because I didn't have a piece to splice the beam (they could ship me 26 foot fascia for some reason but not a 26 foot beam to match; go figure.) I called the salesman and it turns out that beam is spliced over one of the middle posts, using the post-to-beam bracket to hold the parts in place and then trimming both ends as necessary to fit inside the side fascias. So whew, panic resolved.

I drew out how the splice should go (on my iPad because I'm just that kind of nerd) and saved it to Dropbox as a pdf and picked it up on my computer and printed it out (with my nice new COLOR printer) and stuck in at that point in the ten (!) pages of instructions. Then I went outside and laid it out on the lawn with the actual beam parts and posts so Brian and Scotty could actually see it, because I wanted to be sure that part was understood.

What worries me a little more is that the kit was apparently plotted with a 1 foot overhang (with the roof going 1 foot past the support beam) and I didn't catch this at the time. So the kit says max 2 foot overhang, which probably seemed like plenty of margin. But the overhang of my old roof started out at about 2 foot 4 inches, and because the old beam was attached to the sides of the old posts instead of above them like the design I have, the new overhang will be more like 2 foot 6 inches. Now it's in a fairly sheltered spot between two houses and under some trees, and probably the wind load won't be as high there, and we don't get much snow but still that makes me a little nervous.

But I don't see what I can do about it; the supports can't go any closer to the edge of the deck; they're already a bit on the close side, and if I move them off the deck I have to pour four concrete footings for them which doesn't strike me as trivial.

At any rate I have a day or two to think about it; Brian can't come back to put the roof up until next Saturday. Let's hope for good weather this next 8 days or so!

Aside from that I spent the whole day waiting for Brian and Scotty to show up and not wanting to leave the house because I didn't want to be gone when they got here. When I ran out of setup things I could do on my own I did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom and practiced the mandolin.

Oh--I have a mandolin teacher again! This time I made sure he could actually play the mandolin before I started. I had my first lesson on Wednesday and it was really fun. I played a few of the things I do so he could get a feel for where my skills were, and did a couple of my original pieces with mandolin countermelody so he could see what I did, and talked about how I wanted to be able to do licks and fills spontaneously and he said that old time tunes were a great resource because I could use pieces of them where they fit the song's chords and timing and I already knew how to play those tunes so I didn't have to plot them out beforehand.

He taught me three floating chords--chords played with all 3 lowest pitched strings fingered, so that you can change keys simply by moving to a new position on the fretboard. Fingering all the strings also allows you to control how long they ring, so you can get the percussive effect used in mandolin chop (playing briefly sounding chords on the off beat--chords as rhythm kind of thing). You don't play the top string or actively damp it with a finger or the edge of your hand. He taught me G, C and D and I made him stop so I could scribble them out on paper because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to remember them if I didn't. He said he'd been meaning to work out the minor chords but hadn't gotten around to it.

Since he wasn't going to be available this Wednesday I told him I also wanted to learn King of the Fairies which he'd played at some point to demonstrate something. It's a pretty tune and I hadn't heard it before or at least didn't recognize it. So he gave me a CD of a whistle player playing it. I figure that gives me about two weeks of work before I see him again. Me being me I started on both.

I found a song (Roll On Columbia) that uses G, C, and D but it also uses Em, and I remembered he'd said he wanted to work those out (the other two would be Am and Bm), so I did. I noticed that the floating chords he showed me all left out the fifth. In other words, the G chord notes were G and B (no D), the D chord notes were D and F# (no A) and the C chord notes were C and E (no G). So I made the minor chords the same way.

It has been a LONG time since I tried to learn that many new chords and I've never done chords so far up the neck before. It's challenging. But I am determined, and also kind of inspired.

And King of the Fairies is pretty, but complicated. I used Reaper to slow the song down to 50% so I could hear the notes better. Some of what the whistle player is doing are things I just can't do, playing quarter tones (tones in between a half step) as ornamentation and such, and also the A part doesn't stay the same on the repeat, and the B part doesn't repeat but goes straight into a C part. But it's pretty and I'm gradually picking it up.

And on top of everything else, Yonder and Back has two concerts next week; a children's one on Tuesday and one for grownups on Thursday, both of them at the library. We're picking up a lot of new material for the kid's concert and the three dearest to my heart are "Wade In The Water" "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and one I just wrote called "Juneteenth."

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the arrival in Texas of the news that slavery was officially ended and all enslaved people were now free and granted equal rights in law. It's mostly celebrated by the African American community but I think it's a great holiday that we all should celebrate; the end of slavery is worthy of celebration. Juneteenth is, as it happens, on the 19th of June, (though it's often celebrated on the nearest Saturday), and Tuesday is the 19th of June. I thought the kids should know about it, or if there are kids there who already know, it would be good to acknowledge it, so I wrote a song; I'll include the words here.

lyrics and melody by Cat Faber

   C                              F               C
In eighteen-sixty-five, June nineteenth it did arrive
      Am            F              Dm                G
That Texas was the final state to learn that it was free,
       C             Em            F             C
When Emancipation’s reach finally hit the Texas beach,
       C                   G7             C
And rejoicing spread from sea to shining sea.

    C                              F
   From that year to this, on the day we call Juneteenth
       C             F           G
   We celebrate the end of slavery.
               F                           C              G
   When we’ve sundered every chain, every bar that may remain,
            C      F     C     G       C
   We will finally be a nation of the free!

  C                           F                C
Emancipation’s roar came two war-torn years before
        Am           F               Dm               G
But it didn’t cover Texas where the slavers held the reins.
           C             Em           F        C
Though by daring one in nine left captivity behind,
         C               G              C
Still a quarter million Texans were in chains.

         C                           F             C
General Granger and his men came to Galveston and then
        Am            F               Dm               G
Came a joyful morning after that the slaves rejoicing saw
        C              Em            F                  C
General Order Number Three was “all slaves are now set free,
     C             G                 C
And granted equal rights before the law!”

         C                           F                 C
That was only right and fair, and we all of us should share
        Am               F        Dm                 G
In the joys of life and liberty across the nation’s span 
           C                Em               F            C
But though everyone should know we’ve still got a ways to go,
     C                 G               C
That day was when the journey first began.

Porch Roof

May. 29th, 2018 01:46 pm
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So back around October or November I hired a small company to pressure wash my roof. I have a metal roof which I'm quite happy with, but it was starting to get some lichen or something on it where the maple tree drips on it regularly.

When they came we walked around the house and talked about what I wanted and I pointed out that the roof over the back porch was made of thin aluminum and wouldn't hold anybody's weight and said I didn't want them going on it, and if that meant that they couldn't pressure wash it, that was fine and to skip that part.

They got started and I went inside and about ten minutes later there was this terrible thump and I rushed outside again, to find the guy in charge lying on the patio and kind of grunting the way people do when the wind has been knocked out of them; he had overbalanced at the edge of the main roof and fallen onto the patio roof, which, as expected, had given way under him. Cue much consternation and running around and calling of 911 and then saying no ambulance when he was able to talk enough to say he didn't want one. His companion wanted to mess with my patio roof but I said just drive your boss to the emergency room; we'll sort this out later.

He came around a couple of days later and we talked about it. The patio roof is easily 30 years old or so and may be original to the house; it's made of thin aluminum panels that have a lip on each edge so they sort of snap together. He'd completely busted one panel and bent two more up to the point where there was just no way they could be straightened out to fit together. Fixing it would require replacing about a quarter of it.

Now it was, as I said, about 30 years old or maybe 50, and starting to leak a bit at the seams anyway. So I had been toying with the idea of replacing it. I proposed that I'd get the parts and he would put it together as his part of fixing the roof, because it just didn't seem right to make him pay for the whole thing.

He agreed to give me a break on the labor, and I spent several months dithering, while buckets sat on the patio trying to catch most of the rainwater before it destroyed the brickwork edge of the patio or built up in puddles that would seep down and damage the foundation. The original roof had these fiberglass panels that fit between the aluminum panels and let a little light through so the porch wasn't as dark as it otherwise would have been, and while it's still possible to get the aluminum panels or something very like them, the fiberglass ones don't seem to be made anymore.

Eventually I resigned myself to a darker porch, took all the measurements, checked around and ordered the parts. Then we had the Dance of Delivery Failure, in which the company involved tried repeatedly to get me to accept delivery from an eighteen wheeler that absolutely positively could not make it into my neighborhood. Seriously. There's a notorious corner on the way in where they've lost 3 stop signs since I moved here and the telephone pole on the other side looks like it can't take another hit. I kept warning them off; the driver kept promising that next week it would come out on the short truck and the next week I'd have another call from the driver asking how to get an eighteen wheeler into my neighborhood. I had to call the salesman. Twice. But finally I got my parts, on a short truck. It took a month, but they came.

In the meantime I have been emptying buckets and mopping the water off the back porch every time it rained. But it seems like it has rained EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK recently and I finally got so desperate (after mopping the back porch for the third time in A SINGLE DAY that I went to Walmart and bought a tarp. I drove a couple of screws into the fascia board to tie it to and got it stretched across the part where the leak is, under the roof (because of course if I put it over the roof the water would pool in the part of the tarp that wasn't supported by the hole.)

It has rained most of the day today, but gently, and so far the tarp is working, except that I can't get the water to fall quite off the edge of the porch, so it's all directed into the biggest bucket which is propped so that if it overflows it will overflow into the flowerbed.

I should have done this ages ago. Well, at least it means less mopping while I wait for the roof fixers to have an opening in their schedule.
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I took the weedeater out for its second run today, and it performed reasonably well. I ran it on the lowest setting for about 20 minutes and cleared out a path along the back fence, running the battery down about 2/3 in the process. Since this is the kind of battery that takes no hurt from being repeatedly recharged from a partial charge, and *can* be damaged by being run down to empty, I took this as a hint to go put it on the charger.

There is something about using the weedeater that tires my arms out a great deal. It isn't that heavy; pushing the lawnmower should be much harder. But when I finished I felt like I could hardly lift my arms and my hands were trembling so hard I had to kind of rest them against my face to take my earplugs out. Maybe it's the angle I hold it at. I have lengthened the shaft as long as it will go, but I still have to kind of reach out forward with it.

Anyway, I also walked 2 miles to retrieve my car from the shop this morning, did a load of laundry in the afternoon and did some work on a song I'm calling Long Time Gone. It's got weird chord combinations that I think Peter Alway would like. :-)

I also skyped with my cousin Maaike in the afternoon and she told me about wortelburgers.

Now, wortel means carrot in Dutch. It also means root. Apparently carrots are sort of the ur-root in the Dutch psyche or something. In this case these are sort of hamburger substitutes made of the following ingredients:

something Maaike described as "nuts" which I originally thought were hazelnuts. A certain amount of poking around on the internet has led me to believe that they were probably chickpeas. Right shape, wrong family.
(Chickpeas, oddly enough, are called kikkererwten. Kikkers are frogs. Erwten are peas. So what we call chickpeas, they call frogpeas. I guess it makes just as much sense.)
breadcrumbs or bits of torn up bread.

I had carrots and an egg, and bread around the house, and grated cheese and chickpeas are things I use regularly so I went to the store for the missing ingredients and gave it a try.

I was totally guessing on the proportions because Maaike is a teenager and not all that interested in cooking, so I used 4 ounces of carrots, grated in the food processor, 2 ounces of (cooked--in this case canned) chickpeas, chopped in the food processor, one slice of bread torn to pieces, one large handful grated cheese and 1 egg to start with. This mix seemed a bit dry so I upped it to two eggs, but that was a bit sloppy; maybe I should have had the courage of my convictions and stuck to one egg.

I divided the ingredients into four parts, rolled each into a ball and mashed it flat to a burger (the sloppiest part of this process because I just reached in with my bare hands) and set the 4 burgers in a fry pan with some olive oil.

I had just set up my Apple Watch with a 90 second timer as one of the complications on one of my watch faces. I'm going to need a 90 second timer when I am timekeeper at the next League of Women Voters forum (the invitation letters for which ate half of yesterday and taught me new, *mostly* positive things about my printer) and I thought it would be nice to be able to run it from my watch instead of having to use my iPhone for it. This cooking gig proved a great way to test it. About 3 minutes on each side with the heat set on 5 browned the tops and bottoms of the carrot burgers nicely.

I finished with a quick splash of water and set the lid on to let it steam, then removed it from the heat and let it cool to eating temperature in the pan.

The results: perfectly adequate but a bit boring. Some onion wouldn't go amiss, I think, and perhaps a little garlic, and some sesame oil. I will try the recipe again sometime and keep the two burgers I didn't eat for dinner for breakfast.
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We have a chain link fence. I am not fond of this fence, but it was there when we moved in and we haven't gone to the effort to remove it. However it's hard to mow the grass at the base of the fence, and when you don't mow regularly things come in and volunteer, and sometimes the volunteers get feisty and start tearing up the fence.

Now I don't particularly like that fence, but I like broken falling down fences even less, so while standing around wondering if I could mow another quarter of the yard or if the grass was too wet, I decided to get out the clippers and a little seat, because I can only bend over so long, and start chopping stuff out of the fence.

I now have this enormous (well okay, only about 3 feet high and 8 feet long) mound of stuff I have chopped out of the fence sitting by the curb for disposal. Two wild grape vines (they don't have grapes, but oh boy do they have little curly bits that grip like iron) and something I've been calling the hedge-thing that took me four days to get out. I have it mostly out now but there are still some roots I'm going to pare back with extreme prejudice because the hedge thing had some shoots that grew pretty fat and bent part of the fence.

I have ordered a cordless electric weed eater, because the gas one was so touchy and got so little use that whenever you wanted to use it it had water in the gas and needed servicing again and so we never used it. I have my hopes that the electric one will not present that problem. I got a cordless one because I'd seriously need a 100 foot extension cord if I didn't. We will see how this works out.

I can see all kinds of things I should do to this yard. Get some dirt to fill in holes people have dug for one reason or another. Get downspout extenders to replace the ones that blew away. Fix the damn patio roof--I now have a delivery date on the parts at least, and finally spoke to someone at the company to explain that an 18-wheeler CANNOT get into my neighborhood; please stop calling me about that; we have a corner where we've lost 3 stop signs since I moved in and the telephone pole on the other side is looking like it can't take another hit so let's not no one will be happy if we do.

So tomorrow the roof parts should come and one of Kip's colleagues is going to help me unload them from the truck since Kip can't be here.

That's what's up with me today.
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Life is being very strange right now.

I had a wonderful time at RainbowCon. RainbowCon is a small convention at Steve and Colleen and Naomi’s house that is kind of a cross between a House filk at a very large house and a convention. This is wonderful in that attendance tops out at about 25 people and I could really meet and interact with just about everyone at the convention. I actually learned ten names over the weekend (some of the people there were people I already knew, so I think only 2-3 people got away without me learning their name.). Now whether I will actually remember those names is a question, but I did actually know them for those couple of days.

I flew in on Tuesday since the time wasn’t a problem for me, and that meant I could spend several days with my hosts and Gwen Knighton Raftery before the con actually began. This is one of the great pleasures of being a guest at RainbowCon, because Gwen and I actually got to know each other a little, and got to know our hosts.

The whole thing was kind of complicated by my mother-in-law having a sudden stroke-like-event at the hospital where she’d gone to have some broken bones pinned after a fall that sounded serious, but not life threatening g. My husband and I talked it over and we agreed that I should stay at the con while he flew out to where his mom was in the hospital. So on the one had I was genuinely having a wonderful time and doing my best to see to it that the other attendees had a wonderful time, and on the other hand I was genuinely concerned for my in-laws.

The whole thing was further complicated by one of the children of my hosts having had a medical emergency a couple of weeks previous and still requiring regular care in Seattle. The con itself was on Whidbey Island, which I had thought of as just outside Seattle, but which was actually about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the airport with a ferry ride in the middle. The con went off beautifully, but M’s absence was rather deeply felt, and I dedicated one of the songs in my concert to them. And then the next day, M could come for a while, so I got to sing the song for them in person.

I learned a new sort of game, called the Game of Wings and Scales, in which the participants cooperate (or don’t; there are prescribed ways to contest things) to build a dragon, describing the various parts of the dragon and what happened to make them as they are or what historical events they affected, and attempt to weave the whole thing round into a story. It was quite fun. Our second dragon was shaping up to be quite special, with very large wings on which tiny octopodes were developing a civilization and with scales that through a magical accident had developed rudimentary minds that in communication with each other became a hide-mind that was telepathic and could prophesy the future. The octopodes were attempting to communicate with the hide mind when we had to stop because we ran out of time.

We had a number of workshops; I taught a couple, one on how to construct a tune when the Muse has stood you up and one on constructing lyrics, and Sunnie taught one on jamming, and one on Zentangle drawing which I was sorry I had to miss. Gwen taught one on singing harmony with Lady We’re Singing, a hymn that she wrote, and the sound of everyone’s voices filling the room seemed to lift us up and carry us along. Gwen’s concert was a thing of beauty and included several songs that people asked to learn later, and mine went rather better than my previous concerts—all that jamming and rehearsing with Yonder and Back has been upping my game, I think. I had also learned a new tune just two weeks previous, called Josephine’s Waltz, which I did with Sunnie (see above about upping my game), and Gwen sang harmony on one of my songs.

One of the last events was a teaching and request circle; Naomi and I both wanted Gwen to do Wishing Well and I recorded it, and I did I Will Remember so that Naomi could record that, and I asked Gwen for Last Run, her ShadowRun song (I need to find out what ShadowRun even *is* but I liked the song very much) and for Into The West which she does a beautiful version of. I also asked Naomi and Steve for Home Is Wherever and its companion song Windward, and for Bigger On The Inside.

RainbowCon had a rented camping trailer in the driveway to serve as extra room given the number of guests; it worked quite well I thought and provided a semi private space to withdraw to when introvert time was needed. Sunday night, after most everyone had left and Gwen and I and Steve and Colleen and Naomi and Glen had talked and sung ourselves out, I said goodnight and walked out to the trailer and saw that the stars were out. Given how close we were to Seattle the skies were quite dark and I could see a lot more stars than I was used to, if not the Milky Way, quite. I lay on my back on a log in the yard and pointed out constellations to J, who is quite a good kid, and at twelve, bursting with cool new things he wants to tell about, but also interested in learning more. We found the Big Dipper and the North Star and Casseopia. I didn’t see Orion but the curve of the hill and the rise of the forest may have hidden him, and also there was only one log, and craning my neck for long periods is no longer a happy thing for me.

Mimmoths (Girl Genius vermin that are basically miniature mammoths) had infested my luggage, which often happens, and J had been kindly helping to wrangle them but even so one got away and ordered a mimmoth from Naomi’s computer. Dab also expressed an interest in staying behind and J was willing to accept custody so Dab is now living with J and the new mimmoth which apparently says its name is Max is living with Glen and Naomi.

Then I came home. It is just me at the moment, because my husband is helping his dad and siblings look after his mom, while running his (fortunately online) May class remotely. For a while we thought he might be coming back any couple of days now, but a week ago he said he’d be at least two weeks, so Lauren helped me retrieve his car from the airport, and I went to his physician’s office to arrange to have his prescriptions sent to a pharmacy near the hospital my mother-in-law is in.

The past few days have been lawn mowing, which he normally handles, and general yard work, since there’s nothing like waiting for the grass to dry so I can mow another part of the lawn to make me look around and say “I should take that proto-hedge out of the fence while that is still a possible thing.”

There is a big hole in the porch roof where the roof washing guy fell through it and I have ordered parts to put together a new porch roof and after much miscommunications and frustration they are FINALLY coming on Monday. At which point I’ll have to find someone to put it together, but each trial in its own time.
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Okay this is like, a small annoyance in the greater scheme of things.

But I’m so bent out of shape about my recent printer cartridge adventures that I just bought a whole new printer that doesn’t have them.

Printer cartridges are Very Expensive for a tiny bit of plastic and ink. Like, half the cost of the printer expensive, and I know perfectly well most of that is gouging the customer because you can buy much cheaper ones from third party sellers. However the printer makers have now set up the printer to detect 3rd party cartridges and refuse to work. And sometimes, when you give up and buy Very Expensive cartridges from the printer maker like they wanted, the printer still doesn’t work because the sabotage is permanent for that last little fuck you to the customer.

I had this problem with two printers now. And I am giving up. Two days ago I bought a printer that has tanks that you fill from bottles of ink. (Canon Pixma 3200 for those who are interested; It had slightly better ratings from Consumer Reports and also the brand had a slightly better reliability rating than Epson, also my previous printer was an Epson so I’m not very happy with them right now.) I have put a reminder in my phone to print a page once a week (actually maybe I’d better do this twice a week) so the ink can’t dry out in the spray nozzles, which can be a problem with this type of printer. I’m encouraged to see that the printer came with insertable doohickeys that seem to be the spray nozzles, so they are probably replaceable, but still.

The only down side is I can’t get this printer to work wirelessly at the moment. To be fair I had the problem with the previous printer too. I suspect the issue is that the printer has to know which local WiFi network to choose and also WiFi requires a password. I guess I will call tech support on Monday and see if I can figure that out.

I don’t like setting up new things, but it will be worth it if I never have to spend SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS on another fracking ink cartridge again.
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Yesterday, the League of Women Voters held its Candidates Forum for the upcoming primary elections.

I helped write and print out the invitation letters (weeks ago now) and was also the time keeper last night. Because of the number of people and the need to (ahem) encourage some people to collect their thoughts and get straight to the point, we have a time limit (usually 1-2 minutes) for opening and closing statements. I was the person tracking and signaling that.

We collect written questions from the audience so that we can review them and eliminate any that are personal attacks, and written questions from our members are evaluated by other members before inclusion. The moderator then reads the rest of them and the candidates respond.

I included 2 questions, both for the candidates for sheriff. The first was just saying that I’d heard he didn’t allow Muslim literature in the jail and 1) was that true and 2) if so, did he intend to continue this policy of promoting one religion over another if re-elected.

The incumbent sheriff just said that it wasn’t true, and that he believed in freedom of religion, which he then muddied up a bit by claiming that all religions worship the same god (I think that’s what he meant) but it was better than I’d feared anyway.

Toward the end of the session we ran short of questions and the moderator asked if we had any more. That’s when I thought of the one I should have thought of first. It was this:

Logically, being a policeman would be a dream job for someone who wanted to harm minorities.
What steps do you take, or would you take if elected, to screen out people like this?”

I actually had to push myself a little to write the question out, because it made me nervous to bring this up in an (as far as I could tell) all white gathering. I don’t want to make a big deal of that, because I didn’t have to push myself all that hard; this wasn’t bravery it was just me noticing a tinge of social discomfort.

But what does it say that asking such a logical and obvious question causes social discomfort. If we allow politeness to be an enemy of fairness, what is politeness really?

Anyway, the result disturbed me: to start with, there was an indignant and dismissive sounding rustle from the audience that made me really uncomfortable. I am guessing it’s a good thing that question came from someone with white privilege.

Then, both the incumbent and the other candidate basically denied indignantly that anybody like this worked in the department and didn’t address the actual question at all.

I made the opportunity after the end of the session to speak personally with both candidates and explain that what I had been asking was “what steps do you take to screen out white supremacists in applicants?” (I mean watching for white supremacy in members is important too, but I wanted to start with the low hanging fruit.)

It turns out that the non-incumbent candidate could explain some common sense steps that were taken, including investigating applicants’ social media and disqualifying any that were posting racist (I assume it would have to be fairly obviously racist, but it’s something) jokes or memes, and conducting background checks and interviews with people who have known the applicant for a long time. I found this...somewhat reassuring.

The incumbent candidate basically talked about how he interviews everyone personally, holds them to a high standard, and has sometimes suspended someone for mistreating prisonners on the grounds that in addition to their guard duties, they are there to be role models for how to behave. I found this... less reassuring.

I’m glad I talked to them, and disappointed in myself that it only occurred to me to bring this up as an afterthought and that I didn’t phrase the question better, because those answers should have been stated where everyone could hear them. I should have written these questions up ahead of time.

Next time I’ll do that.

Call it practice.
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I have been doing more music stuff this past week.

I hadn’t written much that was new that was also suitable for the Thursday night Jam. I flipped through the old songbook last Friday though, and found a bunch of stuff I wrote 15 or 20 years ago that would work okay. I wrote a mandolin harmony for July (a song I wrote while courting Kip) and learned it over the past week.

I also ended up writing an Easter song the day before the Jam, for my mandolin student (whose mom then cancelled, but that’s okay I’ll know it better next week to teach it to him.)

Easter Question
Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber

Cold and warm and cold again, the growing light will bring
A time of hope and wonder when the flowers bloom in spring
Easter’s coming soon, and in its coming it foretells 
A mystery for ages. Here’s the thing:

   Does the Easter bunny lay the eggs she hides?
   It’s a complicated question to examine from all sides.
   Trying to consider it, I think I’m making strides.
   Does the Easter bunny lay the eggs she hides?

Patterned for concealment in the flowers where she dwells
Bright and cheerful colors on the gaily patterned shells
Easter eggs are mysteries, and though they are the best,
If anybody knows, then no one tells:

The questions seem to multiply and will not let me rest
Will they hatch out peeps or bunnies if I leave them in the nest?
Can jelly beans be planted, for more jelly beans next spring?
And can I really save some for the test? 

People actually listened to the Easter song and I got a couple of laughs out of it, so good. And July went over Very Well. I actually managed to learn it in a week to the point where I was mostly solid enough to give proper attention to interpretation. I got to the end and there was this little sigh before people started clapping. I think that’s the best response I’ve drawn at the Jam since I started there.

I just realized July is not online, so here it is:

Lyrics and melody by Cat Faber 1995

When living’s year wears down to chill December
And all my warmth is born of stores laid by
Huddled blanket-wrapped I will remember
And warm myself at sunnygold July

   This is where my spirit’s riches lie
   The deep heart shaking splendor of July

It was in July my heart did waken
The wildflowers blossomed gaily where they grew
Cottonwoods by summer winds were soaked
The rose I thought was barren bloomed anew

Fruit of golden summer’s many blisses
Fireworks like laughter freely spilled
In crimson dusk the shiver of your kisses
Like summer cherries, gathered and distilled

Though the dregs of life may lose their flavor
Yet memory of memory ensues
A cordial for the heart to sip and savor
And makes July the headiest of brews.

I need to run go do other things.
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Last week I became the Democratic Precinct Captain for the 10th District, which basically means I'll be kind of in charge of calling known Democrats in my area to ask them to help get out the vote and stuff. I have ambitions of knocking on doors to find more Democrats; we'll see what comes of that. My first task was to get people to come help phone bank to get out the vote for Gaile Jordan; Laura organized a phone bank for that Monday night. My friend Vonda happened to be on the list and turned out, and so did Arlene Peck, but I can't take credit for that because Arlene is much more active in the party than I am and would have come whether I'd called or not.

Our phone bank on Monday made more than 100 phone calls for Gaile, which we were pretty proud of, though alas our efforts weren't enough to turn the tide and Gaile lost. We knew it was a long shot going in, but I'm kind of disappointed that we only moved the needle by 6%. Hopefully it was a chance for Democrats to get more organized and gain more experience in that district. I know some of the info was awfully stale; when we went to knock doors in that district the 2 weekends before we had doors on our lists that hadn't EXISTED for at least 20 years. So I guess every little bit helps and the lists will now be cleaner than before.

This weekend I will be canvassing in NC-13, a swing district in North Carolina that is about 4 1/2 hours drive from here. As part of Swing Left I've been canvassing there once a month for about a year. It has mostly been just Charles and me from this area but quite a lively and growing group has sprung up there, and last month we had about half again as many people canvassing as in previous months so I think it is starting to take hold.

Music wise my band has been tapped for an upcoming funeral but we don't yet know precisely when it will be. There's this guy named Phil who comes to our Tuesday morning practices at the library, and his wife has Alzheimers and he wanted us to learn a song she wrote a long time ago, so we figured it out and worked out parts to play with it. She has been pretty frail the whole time we've known him but one day she was was well enough once to come to the library and we played it for her then and she seemed to really like it. She's on her deathbed now and we will be playing it for her funeral. We also worked up a couple of other funeral songs that we've been playing now and then for months.

My band has also been putting on a jam night on Thursday nights at a local coffee house, the Creek Cafe. We set out a sign up sheet and people sign up for a turn; the band plays 3 songs together to start with and then people take turns doing 2 songs each and people in the audience play along if they can / feel like it. This has been great practice for me for improvising and has also pushed me to learn to play closed scales (scales where you never use an open string) because they are movable and can adapt to the crazy keys that guitarists capo 1 to achieve.

The band does a lot fewer of my songs than you might think because...I'm not sure why. Most of them were written for 1 person and it's kind of hard to come up with ways for the others to contribute. When I've written parts for the fiddle player or flute player they mostly don't bother to learn them and I end up playing them on the mandolin myself. That kind of thing.

Anyway I've been signing up for a solo turn fairly often but I've been doing the same handful of songs over and over and I am concerned that people will get bored so today I went through the old Echo's Children songbook and picked out a few songs that I'm going to practice up and do at the Jam. July was in there but it was in an uncomfortable key so I worked out what key I wanted to do it in and typed it out with the new chords and was just running through it to make sure I hadn't made any errors in transposing and Kip and I got all nostalgic, because it's about when Kip and I had just started courting. I think it will be something many of the people at the Jam can relate to. And I'm going to work on Bin There Dun That, and we'll see if that is too weird for them or not.
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Trump Year 2 February 21

On Valentine’s Day I called both Senators and my Representative to keep the pressure on about reinstating DACA and a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.

Last weekend I joined the Swing Left trip to NC-13 to canvass in likely Democratic neighborhoods. I saw a little of how hard hit these neighborhoods have been by economic downturn and “recovery” that has lifted the rich (and white) and left them behind. It seemed like every other house was vacant and many of those boarded up. I heard stories of family members shot, and police who did not care. I met people who felt their votes did not count and who quite reasonably brought up Hillary’s “loss” despite winning the popular vote as evidence the system was rigged.

And some of them were just so happy to talk to someone who cared. I listened, I wrote down their concerns, and I talked to them about the importance of the House of Representatives in blocking the Trump agenda, the fact that the Electoral College would play no role here, and the fact that they were in a swing district and had a real chance to get rid of their gun-store-owning far-right Representative and get someone who would care more about them.

My parents tried not to be racist, but I was raised in a nearly-all-white suburb and absorbed society’s messages about black people, so I was nervous at first in this majority black neighborhood. Walking up to lanky young black men in bright clothes and sagging pants and blingy necklaces ... it wasn’t very hard, but it felt almost as if I were pushing through a force field erected by my own mind.

But I’m so glad I did. The force field was just in my mind. We talked a couple of young men who had given up into promising to vote and to take their mother to vote. Several people said we could contact them about volunteering. So many people were just happy to meet another Democrat; I think a lot of them didn’t realize how many of us there are. We registered a couple of people to vote.

Toward the end of the day I was noticing that same feeling I got when canvassing for Doug Jones, that inner warmth when the person who came to the door was black. Yes, we got a few who were like “I don’t think about politics; I have no opinion; no I have no concerns about the neighborhood” but everyone was nice and some were quite friendly and welcoming.

You know how some elections are so important that you wish you could vote twice? Canvassing is a legal and ethical way you can do that.

Monday I called my Representative in the State Legislature to oppose a bill to cut Medicare by instituting a work requirement. Since a lot of people on Medicare can’t work, and many of them have small children, this is basically another “Fuck you poor people you and your kids can die in a ditch” maneuver that the Republicans typically engage in. I was much more polite on the phone of course, but we can all see the pattern.

Tuesday I drove in to Knoxville to go to an Indivisible meeting, because Charles had been invited to talk to them about phone banking and canvassing, and he was nervous. He’s quite comfortable one-on-one but speaking to groups is fairly far outside his comfort zone. Resisting means moving outside your comfort zone but I thought a friend in the crowd would help. There were sixty people there. Hopefully the resistance (even if not our particular group) gets a few more phone bankers and canvassers out of this. We also heard that Indivisible has decided to allocate resources to Tennessee to open an actual office in the state, which is kind of cool.

I don’t particularly like this work. I like small groups of people I know well, and talking to strangers is tiring and being in large groups of strangers is particularly tiring. But there is a reassurance that comes with knowing you are not alone and you are doing something about the problem. This is freaking necessary, and I am privileged to not have to work for a living, which gives me more time and energy to do the thing. So I’m doing the thing and I don’t hate it as much as I expected to. In Trumpland that is the best that we can hope for.
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I’ve been trying to do something to resist the Trump administration every few days.

I have taken to knitting RESIST headbands / hatbands since the nice thing about hatbands is you can put them on a warm hat in the winter and a sunhat in the summer. I knit the bands out of this pretty dark green shiny bamboo-based yarn and then use duplicate stitch to put the lettering on in white.

This morning I took one to the listening tour that Joshua Williams, one of the Democratic candidates for Jimmy Duncan’s House seat, was having this morning. One of the organizers had commissioned a RESIST / PERSIST hatband (which was technically challenging since RESIST takes up 24 columns and PERSIST takes 29 columns, which meant I had to knit the full band with an odd number of stitches to be able to get the centers of the lettering exactly opposite each other.).

I turned the band over to its new owner, we fitted it on his hat and it fitted okay (and looked great if I do say so myself), I collected my money, used part of it to buy a large hot chocolate with whipped cream, and stayed to hear Joshua and listen to the dozen or so people who had turned out to meet him.

I like Joshua just fine and I think he’d make a good representative but I’ve also been impressed with the other Democratic candidate, Rachel Hoyos, and I’d like to hear some more from her before I make up my mind.

When that was over, I hurried back home, collected my purse and a water bottle, put on a rain jacket, and set off for Knoxville. I stopped at Loopville, where I used most of the rest of the hatband money to buy another ball of the shiny green yarn and a small skein of dark wool yarn for fixing my Ireland sweater (which has a tiny moth hole I am pretty sure I can fix with duplicate stitch) and some stitch markers which I think will solve my problem of not having enough good stitch markers (my old ones are mostly some plastic cheapies that are too big and change my gauge and also have a flat side that makes them really hard to pick up when I drop them on the floor). The new ones are steel so I can pick them up with the magnetic clasp on my watch if necessary and they are painted in bright colors so they will be easier to spot when they fall. There are 60 of them (!) so I shouldn’t run out anytime soon, and they come in a fairly heavy round cardboard box that should hold up to use as long as I keep it dry and don’t outright crush it.

I cast on stitches for another hatband while sitting on the yarn store couch (I want a band for my summer hat and one for my winter hat so I don’t have to keep swapping them out) and then it was time to set out for the true act of resistance for the day, so I got back in the car and drove to Bolanger Park, where I joined seven or so other members of Swing Left Knoxville to canvass one of the State Legislature districts that we think is flippable.

It was raining. Fortunately Charles brought his camper van and extended the awning on the sidewalk side so we had a dry spot to stand while discussing tactics and plotting our courses. A couple of people bowed out because of the rain, but I had come 45 minutes drive for this, so I was in. I partnered with Jenny, who is new, having come to her first (phone bank) event last Monday, and who was also determined to Do Something today, and we canvassed for about an hour, until we were thoroughly wet and my hand was stained blue from the effect of the rain on our inkjet printed handouts. (I carried them upside down between houses so the clipboard would protect them from the rain, but of course the wet clipboard made my hand wet and entropy took its course eventually.). We knocked on 15 doors I think, and got 5 or 6 pledges to vote and 2 people agreed to help with phone banking so we called it a win and went back to the van.

I think we were the last ones back. Charles was talking about going out for hot soup, which sounded great but I was cold and wet and went home instead, with the heater going full blast most of the way back. I changed out of my wet jeans (what was I thinking wearing jeans in the rain and also the synthetic long underwear top was great but I should have worn an extra layer and also I need to re-waterproof my raincoat before I go out again) and ate the maple/bacon/croissant thingies that Kip made for dinner and now I am mostly warm except my feet.

I hope you all had a good Saturday too.
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I’ve done two or three major resist-y things since last post: First, I participated in the Knoxville voter canvass that Swing Left Knoxville will be doing on a regular basis to try and flip one of the State Legislature seats blue. I gave up a bit early but so did everybody else; it was like 25 degrees F and snowing, which is very cold for this area.

And second (and possibly third), I drove out to North Carolina and did a couple of things. I carried the Swing Left banner in the Winston-Salem Women’s March, which turned out to be the reason the Swing Left banner was present at all, since pretty much everyone in the local group was either marching with some other bunch with whom they had closer ties—usually already carrying a sign that they had made—or was sick or had work obligations that kept them away.

I had to hunt around to find people to help me because you need at least three people to carry this thing, but eventually fell in with a group of enthusiastic young people who thought Swing Left was a good cause and agreed to help. The talks before were good, and largely given by women of color, from a group of young local poets to a woman who (given the things she had participated in) must have been nearly 100 years old. There was a big emphasis on voting and registering to vote and there was a table present where people could register or update their registration.

Sunday of that weekend I participated in Swing Left’s voter canvass, this time in an area near a historically black college. My team of two knocked on about 30 doors and got 6 pledges to vote and registered 3 people and left a 4th form with someone who was too busy to register at the time. We were working at two different locations this time and got two new canvassers at each, so I’m hopeful that the effort is building up steam.

If you would like to join Swing Left, you can find a local branch here at

In other news I have been spending too much time sitting around poking the internet and it is making me depressed. I’m thinking I need to limit my internet time. I spent yesterday evening knitting another RESIST headband / hatband instead of watching the State of the Union, because the president’s word is worthless so it doesn’t matter what he says. This time I knit a lot of the headband in 2 x 2 rib with stockinette sections at the front and back for the writing. I was hoping this would make it less likely to curl up in unbecoming ways, and that seems to be working. I’m a couple of rows away from casting off and starting on the duplicate stitch.

In the process it occurred to me to look up how old knitting is, and thus ended up poking around on nailbinding (or Nålbinding) sites, looking at the things people can make with it. Knitting is more efficient but nailbinding is pretty cool looking; if I were still in the SCA I would be seriously interested.
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And one of the things I hope to do differently this year is spend a bit more time on Dreamwidth and a bit less time on Facebook.

So really quick thumbnail update: My Accountability Posts mostly ended up on Facebook. I went back and counted and I did 135 separate acts of resistance last year. They ranged from easy things like donating to the ACLU and the Democrats to calling my Senators and Congressman and also my state legislators, and things like joining Swing Left to canvas several times in NC-13 (the Congressional House District near Greensboro) and driving to Georgia to get out the vote for Ossof, to Virginia to GOTV for Northam and Wendy Gooditis there, and to Alabama to GOTV for Doug Jones.

This year I will be canvassing in NC-13, hopefully about once a month leading up to the election, and also canvassing locally in a state legislature district in Knoxville.

The library music group has morphed into an actual band and even played a couple of (unpaid) gigs here and there. We also sponsor a weekly Jam Night at the local coffeehouse, called The Creek, and last Thursday marked one year since we started doing that. Jamming and playing with the band continues to improve my mandolin playing skills. I learned to play a closed scale so I can play along with reckless, unstable guitarists who like to play in C sharp or G sharp. So far so good.

I’m working on relearning Fisherman’s Hornpipe. One of my band mates wants to do a version that’s fairly different from the one I learned way back when.

To be fair, I’ve forgotten most of the version I learned so it’s not much more trouble learning this version. And it does have some nice variations. But keeping track of the order the variations come in is a bit of a challenge.

I got an Apple Watch this summer and an iPhone X for Christmas. I like both of them quite a lot.

Dad and I were translating books into Dutch. We have finished Wee Free Men and A Hatful of Sky. We were working on The Wind In The Willows (which is harder than you would expect given that it is ostensibly a kids’ book.). However Dad’s skype quit working one day in October or so. I managed to fix it while I was visiting him for Christmas so we have resumed work. He also gave me a couple of books in Dutch (just fiction books: The Golden Compass and a collection of short stories called Iedereen Was Er which means “Everyone Was There.” But it’s a chance to keep up my skills.)

So that’s what’s up with me. I hope everyone else has been doing well.
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The song I just put up was actually written the day after Heather Heyer died but I guess I never quite got around to hitting post, so there it is now.

In other news I've been having trouble with sitting around poking the internet all day. If there is some kind of urgent thing I must do I can still get up and make it happen but in the absence of some urgent thing I've been losing whole days just feeling bad and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook.

So today I made a point of going canoeing. Lauren was interested in coming along so we made an afternoon of it and went to Panther Creek State Park. It had been something like a year since the last time I went canoeing. Moxie is in my woodshop because I repaired a little nick in her keel and now need to revarnish her and see above about poking the internet instead. So we took Constance and Patience. Patience isn't tame so I paddled Patience and ended up getting dumped. We went up Panther creek and there was this one spot I was trying to duck a low tree branch and my paddle got tangled in the tree and I couldn't duck the way I needed to and over we went.

I had put on my canoeing pants but was wearing a cotton t-shirt because dumb. Fortunately it wasn't quite cold enough that I had to turn back, but the rest of the trip was rather damp. We just took it easy and paddled around sometimes and did a lot of sitting on the water looking at the scenery.

My arms are very tired now. But I'm glad we did it.
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I wrote a new song. I am having some trouble getting audio into my computer properly and feeling disorganized and scattered enough here in Trumpland that I haven't dug into the manual and solved the problem. So as a stopgap I put up a YouTube video of me singing it.

Heather Heyer.
Lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber @2017

Heather Heyer met her fate
In this crucial hour
Standing up to Nazi hate
May she rest in Power!
Rest in power, not in peace
While old hatreds find new lease--
Let our efforts never cease
May she rest in Power!

Those who loved her grieve this night
Gone their joy and flower
Doing what she thought was right
May she rest in Power.

Find new courage in the fight
Sweet amid the sour
Gay and straight and black and white
May she rest in Power!

Life's our joy and love's our will
Let the racist cower!
This good work continues still
May she rest in Power.
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So a couple of days ago I was walking around campus catching Pokémon in the dark again. I don't walk around after dark all that much these days (just how my schedule works out; I'm one of the lucky few who has never been afraid of walking around at night) but when I do, Pokémon are usually involved in some way.
And I was down in the cafeteria / student activity center / campus security office corner where there are 4 Pokestops pretty close together when I heard what sounded like a scream. I stopped and looked up from my phone. Nothing. There were several Pokémon handy so I sidled in that direction while catching Pokémon. Presently I heard another shriek and what sounded like a slap.
Now I was concerned. It's hard for me to tell, from any distance, the difference between people shrieking because they are playing around and people who are actually in trouble. But this sounded like it might be trouble. So I walked in that direction.
There's a few small 2 story apartment buildings in the area and a little white house and a few other buildings, and I walked quietly down the cross street, listening. I heard another shriek from the house and saw a silhouette of someone near the blinds, whose shadow moved across the window and away as they moved quickly into the room.
I had time to think a lot of things. It might be a domestic violence incident. It might be students just playing around. Knocking on the door would be embarrassing. But what if someone was being beaten in there and I walked away and left them to it? Maybe I should call the police. But police bring guns, and guns can go wrong very quickly; if they're people of color, or speak a foreign language, that might not be safe for them, and what if I called the police on some kids who were just playing around and they ended up shooting someone?
It takes longer to lay it out here than it did to flip through it mentally, but I decided the only ethical course was to knock on the door myself. As an older white woman I have a bit more social license to be a meddler than I did when I was younger, so I'm unlikely to be physically attacked, and I'm not going to shoot anyone because I have no gun, so that just seemed safest all around. And if it looked like someone in there needed the police I could always call once I knew that.
I walked up to the door nerving myself up. The door had a window in it, also with blinds. I knocked on the door, beside the window.
A half-naked young white man (I could only see his chest; that is all I can speak to) lifted the blinds to see who was knocking, got an instant appalled look, and darted away, leaving the blinds swinging. A young white woman (clothed) seized the swinging blind and lifted it to look. I smiled at her in an embarrassed way and lifted both hands palm up in a "well, what could I do?" shrug, that had a bit of "explain this to me please" in it, I think, because she opened the door just enough to slip out and stand in front of it, screening what sounded like some hasty rummaging inside.
I said "I'm sorry, I thought I heard a scream. Is everyone alright in there?" I could hear voices inside, but couldn't make out the words, though the tone sounded more surprised and embarrassed than anything else.
The young woman said "Oh it's fine; a moth got in and my friend is scared to death of bugs" or something like that. She looked a bit embarrassed, but not frightened or angry. At this point the young man, now in a tee shirt, came back into my line of view, looking embarrassed but not like he was coming down from some angry fit.
I said "Okay, that's fine, as long as nobody is getting hurt." Several assurances everything was fine, and no sound of someone crying or being restrained, no sign of blood or bruises on the visible two so I apologized and walked away.
I guess part of watching is going to be being more of a meddlesome busybody with her nose in everyone's business but I can't think of any other way to help keep people safe in Trumpland. People don't generally die of embarrassment and I suppose I won't either.


Jul. 19th, 2017 09:36 pm
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So this is a thing I did a couple of nights ago. Call it practice. Practice just being there. Practice being the Middle Aged White Woman policemen want to look reasonable in front of. It was surprisingly difficult for something that isn't difficult at all.

Here's how it happened; I went out for a walk around dusk, because I hadn't gotten any exercise that day, and I tromped around campus for a while playing Pokémon Go and about the fourth time the app crashed on me I decided I'd had enough exercise and started walking home. By now it was full dark, maybe 10 pm or 10:15.

I was tromping down the street full tilt in my usual "take no prisoners" pace, when I noticed a couple of police cars by the back dock of the Post Office, with their flashing blue lights on. As I came by I saw a white car pulled over in the glare of their headlights being searched by a policeman while a pair of young people sat stiffly on the nose of the police car with another policeman talking to them.

I would ordinarily have passed by, politely pretending not to notice these stressed people. But these are not ordinary times and I've been hearing things, and I started weighing things over in my head. The girl was white, very blond--the boy was wearing a red watch cap and I couldn't see enough of him to be sure of his color. A couple of my friends had mentioned the Power Of The Middle-Aged White Woman to keep cops from getting violent. Should I stay?

Could the police men even see me in the dark? I was wearing a white shirt; surely they could. Wait, now the boy turned his head and I could see he was white too. Maybe they didn't need me. Probably they didn't. I should go.

But I could feel the urge to turn around and leave, especially when the policemen kept glancing my way. Like a social repulsor field. And I thought: maybe I should stay just for the practice. Practice Being There. So I stayed.

The policemen glanced at me again. I reminded myself I had every right to be there, and to watch policemen doing interesting things on public property. I stayed. One of the policemen drove away. Mosquitoes came and expressed their pleasure that I had been so accommodating as to wear shorts. I asked myself what Judi would do. I stayed. A new policeman drove up and talked to the kids a while.

Then he walked over to me saying "May I help you?" Jimminy Christmas he was actually taller than me which doesn't happen very often.

I smiled and said "No thanks, I'm just watching."

He said "that's fine, you have every right to watch." (Ha. White Woman Privilege at work.) "I just wondered if you knew these juveniles."

I smiled and shook my head and said "Sorry, no."

He walked back over to the kids. My feet got tired and I leaned against a nearby stone wall. More talking. I wondered if there might be ticks in the lawn the stone wall was retaining. I hoped not. Presently he led the girl over to his police car. I moved a bit so I could see that he wasn't hurting her. She got in the back of his car. He drove her away. I sat back down on the stone wall.

After a while the boy was allowed to go sit in the driver's seat of his car. He smoked a cigarette. I stayed. And a while after that the remaining policeman got in his car, pulled out and drove away, and the boy did likewise and I went home.

I stayed for roughly an hour and came home with tired feet and new mosquito bites, and had Kip check me for ticks before I went to bed. (No ticks, whew; ticks really give me the creeps.) It was not an easy thing to resist the social repulsion field and all the voices in my own head telling me everything was fine and I didn't have to be there and I was probably embarrassing those kids or the policemen or both, and for nothing. But it was a lot easier for me than it would have been for someone who didn't have my advantages. And hopefully next time it will be easier still.

Because there will be a next time. I'm practicing.
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I have been picking out "window treatments" which is what they call it when you want to have nice sets of matching blinds professionally installed. We are getting Venetian blinds for some of the windows and, I think they call it a cellular shade (think a shade quilted in horizontal stripes stuffed with air instead of with batting so that it can be drawn up neatly to the top of the window, like a Venetian blind, except it folds up thinner) for the patio doors and kitchen window.

And I'm contemplating splurging and getting plantation shutters for two of the bedrooms that have smaller windows. I love the ease of opening and closing plantation shutters. (Think shutters on the inside face of the window that fold to the sides of the window when you want an unobstructed view and that also contain louvers that you can open to let light in without letting people see you, or close to keep light out.)

Since it seems wise to compare bids I have arranged for three separate companies to come and give us estimates. One came Friday and one came yesterday. I have one more coming Wednesday and then Kip and I will talk it over and pick one.

In the meantime Kip and I did some work on the garden, planting flowers, mostly, and I hired Paul, the handyman who tore down our old metal shed last year to come get rid of a--I'm going to call it a compost bin, though I honestly have no idea what it was originally intended for--that had been gradually falling apart on our property since we bought it. It was piled high with dead branches and had a couple of trees growing gamely up through the mess. Paul tore it down and hauled it away in a morning.

I did some cleaning up in the wood shop, yesterday I also vacuumed the rumpus room, which meant I spent about 40 minutes figuring out what I had done to the vacuum cleaner while trying to vacuum the rumpus room the day before. I had carelessly vacuumed up a piece of rag (got too close to the laundry basket I guess) and it had lodged somewhere in the vacuum's innards. I unplugged the poor thing, laid it out on the floor (next time I will clean off the table and put it there; working over things lying on the floor is hard on my back) and began methodically removing all the bits that were designed to be removed. Fortunately that vacuum is well designed, and when I eventually tracked the clog down to the hose that runs from the whirling brushes up to the dirt cup, it was possible to completely remove the hose from the vacuum. With the aid of a broom handle and some forceps I managed to force the rag out of the hose. Then I finished the vacuuming, though I will doubtless vacuum again when I have gotten more of the junk moved out.

Speaking of which, I spent much of today decluttering the rumpus room. Since the rumpus room is where my instruments and sheet music books and such reside, and also where I've been translating A Hatful of Sky into Dutch for the past year (!) and skyping with Dad, I had built up quite a bit of paper on pretty much every flat or near flat surface. I went through a lot of that and chucked most of it in the recycling. I cleaned off the flat surface in front of the bay window--which is one of the windows that will be getting blinds soon so I had better leave it fairly clear for a while. I taped up two pictures, and set a couple more aside to get frames. I cleaned off an end table, wiped off and rolled up our D&D wet-erase map mats, sorted through some of my books and made "give to library" and "take to used bookstore" piles. And at that point my back gave a warning twinge.

I am a connoisseur of warning twinges. This was a convincing warning twinge. I laid on my stomach for twenty minutes and then went and took a meloxicam and have given myself strict orders to stop cleaning up for the day.
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