blk: (fall)
the leaves fall like snow
wind knocks clumps from the tree's eaves
frozen curls drop

the snow falls like leaves
fluffy powder gently blown
dancing circles down

red orange peeks through white
yellow flurries drift to earth
in colored snow-fall

We had a very rare early snowfall last night, with light, fluffy accumulation on everything, up to a couple inches in places. Usually Pittsburgh doesn't get measurable snow that actually sticks around until actual winter. It was very fun and interesting to bike in this morning and see everything covered in white - while most trees still had many of their fall foliage.
blk: (spring)
There's no question, spring is early and it's definitely here. The clocks flipped forward to give us more evening daylight, and the weather has been hovering around 70s and sunny for the past week, with occasionally thunderstorms rolling through. And it feels GOOD.

The only downside is that with all this awesomeness comes the desire to GET UP AND DO STUFF and there is, of course, never quite enough time to do EVERYTHING that I want to do. But here are some of the things I've been up to:

I am biking to work nearly every day, which isn't much but it's something. I've gotten the commute down so that my biking time is about similar to my optimal bus-riding time, but much more reliable and flexible and less crowded. I made myself awesome helmet bling. I have another entry to write on biking eventually.

Sunday a week ago was nice and sunny and I had plans to go rock climb as well as do a cat feeding for a friend, so I decided to bike there. I'd nearly forgotten how pleasant it is to just ride around, not having a deadline and a preset route and a work destination. I'd also forgotten what it was like to be able to go miles without a big hill to push up. Then I had to come home from Shadyside, but a waffle and ice cream stop on the way home made it worthwhile.

After my biking trip out that day I tossed on some shorts and went out for a run, because the day wasn't over yet and because I could. I've done that a couple other times in the past recent while. I'm delighted that I can go exercise outside and not worry about cold or ice or darkness. Also I have this idea that I could maybe possibly do a triathlon this summer. I haven't done any longer runs this year yet because so far I'm finding it hard to find the time (see requirements: warm, daylight), but I figure I can concentrate on getting my 5k down to a time I can be proud of would be a fine accomplishment (instead of feeling snail-ish).

There's a nice almost-exactly 5k loop around Schenley park that starts and ends near by office. I am hoping to do that one more regularly over the summer.

OMG it's outdoors growing time already. Last year I started seeds indoors about now, but it's nice enough out that I decided to go ahead and risk planting some of my cooler seeds out there, so in the past week I've cleared out a bunch of garden spaces, and yesterday got peas, cilantro and some leafy greens into the ground. I've also been working to clear out the dead brush from the front flower garden and then working to eradicate the hairy bittercress which has started invading sections of said flower garden. I think it might still be possible to keep it from taking over, but it's work.

Daffodils are blooming wildly, other plants are leafing out nicely. Mutant green onion and last year's swiss chard are greening. Asparagus may have survived, as I saw a couple teeny stalks yesterday, but will have to wait and see on the rest. Compost is starting to send up some green things. Need to turn it soon, then wait. Considering the millions of tomato seeds I composted last year, I'm expecting to get a full crop of volunteers. Anybody who wants some, speak up and bring over pots in a few months.

The bedroom remodeling project is progressing at a reasonable pace. There have been a lot of decisions and a lot of spending money, and will be still more to come. Most of the parts are ordered and just need to be put in place and finished. Hopefully not too much longer of sleeping in the basement (and storing my dresser in the living room). Pictures are being taken and there will be a review post eventually.

Of course, while we had the dumpster here and the nice weather outside, [ profile] xuth got it in his head to Do Something about our back porch railing and benches that are splintering and cracking, and tore them out yesterday. Now this means he needs to put something back in their place before we have guests over on Saturday...
blk: (spring)
Spring is almost here. I can feel it underneath my skin like an unbearable itching that doesn't let me stay still. I am antsy and impatient -- anticipating warmth and growth and activity and summer. The equinox and DST shift has passed, for which I am extremely grateful. At least for the next 6 months.

The weather almost agrees with me. The sun is shining, at least. We had almost a week stint recently where the temperatures hovered around the category of "spring," before diving back to around "freezing" this week. I check the weather every day now -- sometimes multiple times a day -- as if scanning the forecast for the days ahead could bring them about faster. I scroll forward a day, three days, a week, to where the temperatures steadily climb higher. There, I am comfortable outside without a hat; there, I can switch to light sweaters instead of heavy sweaters; there, I can go for a run outside and not be uncomfortable. It's in sight.

I've been starting seeds in the past few weeks, helped by a grow light in our basement, which kept cilantro and a sad little tomato plant alive all winter. I have a teeny baby asparagus plant, barely half a mm in diameter, giving me glee, and hopefully more of them to come, that I can plant outside soon, that will again make me wait for another couple years. I sowed leafy greens, inside and outside, with dreams of fresh salad on-demand. Any month now, I can clear the leaves off the garden patches and start tracking the volunteers.

I got roped into joining a marathon relay team this spring, for 9 months after I injured my knee and stopped all my running, and so I am in training. I've gotten back into swimming, running, and still do regular climbing, with a current goal to build up the leg muscle I lost, and then some. The knee is doing great with it so far, which I am pleased about. While getting regular exercise again is great for my mood, it means that on days I don't get out I am all that much more fidgety. It also means I am almost always hurting somewhere. The age, I feel it.

I tackled some spring cleaning last week, starting with all everybody's clothes dressers, and then conquering the jboys' bedrooms. They came away with boxes and bags of Stuff to be trashed, more to be donated, school clothes that fit, and a large batch of new, clean socks. I came away with a list of other things I want to sort through and organize. I have several pairs of barely-worn, good quality hose and tights that I'd love to give to someone about my size, if anybody local wants to come by and sift.

There are many other things going on, with work, with kids, with house, with people, with me. And they all deserve their own post, but right now I have to get up and do something. Anything.
blk: (axial)
Solstice was Monday, but mine began Sunday when I flew down to Tampa. Suddenly, it gets dark after 5pm! I walked around today in the sun and breeze, with a t-shirt. I've had fresh grapefruit for breakfast all this week.

Sadly, I also flew down with a cold, which got magnified on the plane, and knocked me down for a bit, making the last several days a lot heavier than normal. It's been a slower-than-desirable recovery, although pretty much everything is done with now except for clearing the gunk out. Running is a decent expectorant...

But this is the beginning of the sun. The last revolution was a year of a lot of changes for me. I spent a second year in my house, became better friends with some neighbors, and made an good attempt at a garden. I obtained and lost a housemate who provided me with distraction and company when I needed it most. I wrote puzzle parties for my boys, and helped them get another year through school and life. I broke my heart in excruciating ways and managed to rebuild it again.

I did plenty of awesome: I learned to ride a motorcycle, ran further than I ever have before in my life, lost my job, braided at a ren faire, climbed many more rocks, acquired and shared the joy that is bouncy stilting, and started an amazingly wonderful new relationship.

Next year is looking bright to me, so far. I have changes to make and growth to experience, but I also have life, love, and and a lot of hope.

Let the light begin again.
blk: (fall)
This last week saw the passing of the autumnal cross-quarter as well as my LASIK anniversary.

The clocks have been turned back, making darkness come disturbingly early. On the bright side, the lack of a job means I can still get outside and enjoy the diminishing sunlight a lot more than when I was in an office. On the other hand, I can feel myself mentally starting to burrow into my warm cozy home nest for the upcoming winter, and it's slowly getting harder to actually get things done. The idea of doing a lot of busy travel is becoming less appealing (fortunately, I've already acquired all the plane tickets I need for the next couple months), but I've also been enjoy cooking and stockpiling.

My eyes are still working as well as ever, with the exception that I returned from my last Boston trip having acquired a minor upper respiratory tract infection, complete with my apparent tendency towards conjunctivitis as a symptom. So yesterday was a cough, last night and this morning were spent cleaning eye gunk out of my lids. Today was the sore throat and aches, but all minor enough that I could pretty much ignore it. I expect a new set of symptoms tomorrow, and hopefully a quick recovery.

Current project: convince all my local friends to buy bouncy stilts. Because they are AWESOME.

There are lights in my windows now, bringing a bit more cheer to my darkness and a smile to my face. I'm looking forward to the cold of this winter season with a lot less trepidation than I have on ones past.
blk: (fall)
And fall it is now, even though this week has been full of mostly Pittsburgh summer weather. I challenge myself to take time to take stock, give thanks, and find balance.

My joys this summer have been full of the wonders of rediscovering various ways of how to enjoy both myself and other people. I've gardened and cooked. I've run and climbed. I've visited and had visitors. I sadly got no apples this year, but plenty of tomatoes instead. I have the internet in my pocket and I'm not afraid to use it. I've done a lot of awesome things, and I'm not at all done yet.

The boys are back in school, and I'm happy with the schedule that it gives us. I'm working early hours and taking the bus to and from campus, which I'm finding I like a lot. This may mean that even in the dark of winter I'll still be outside for a short amount of daylight. [ profile] mj2q is off on business, so life has been on the all parenting all the time channel lately. I'm rather quietly proud of myself that I've managed over a week so far, with attempting to stay on top of school, soccer, teacher conferences, soccer, homework, and soccer, and still managing to occasionally cook dinner, throw parties, see friends, and not kill anybody.

I'm very aware of the diminishing sunlight from the summer. The days are at a precarious balance now - I still wake up with the morning sun, but it is only dim light these days. The sun goes down about as we are starting to settle in for the evening, but every day cuts off more minutes that should be used playing outside. Every summer I spend these last six months recharging my internal solar powered batteries, and hope that I have stored enough to last me through the next six, when I will wake up in darkness and fight against the cold.

And so as usual, I watch the sunset with a feeling of urgency, of needing to race the days to get in everything I want, see everybody I want to see, and still maintain myself in the way that I need. And as usual in this month, I feel I have not enough time, but I know that as cycles around the sun go, this is just another, and things will slow in time, at which point I will probably ache for them to start moving again.
blk: (jump)
In case you missed it, I'm back home again after a lovely vacation with the fam out in Seattle, in time to miss the summer cross-quarter. Picture updates are in the queue, but for now here's another general update on life.

Summer is AWESOME. Summer in Pittsburgh is mega-awesome. I like the sun, I like the rains, I like that it's mostly stayed cool enough for me at night, even during our recent extra hot days.

My yard and garden both exploded in the week I was gone - the yard in a bad way that will involve some serious weeding and hacking soon, and the garden in a good way that has started my expected ton of tomatoes (which were used, along with my happy basil plant for the first-of-many caprese nights), continued the plethora of chard (which I will gather and freeze soon, but really, if anybody else wants some, PLEASE come take it away!), threatened with a billion flowering heads of fennel (which I am working hard to control this year, considering I am STILL pulling up accidental baby plants from last year), and even given me a healthy and producing okra plant (which I've already tested and confirmed yummy with the good ol' bread-and-fry tradition).

The rest of my life is filled with fantastic plentiful things of which I am happy and grateful. I have friends who hang out and climb with me and eat my food and visit me, neighbors who invite me over and gossip and share their gardens and their kids, family who I always feel welcome with and loved by, delightfully fun and smart geeky people to flirt with, a house that hasn't fallen down, the best cat in the world, activities and stuff to keep me busy and entertained and active, and work where I'm doing things that I'm good at.

The traveling and vacation time isn't over yet. I'm heading out to the Boston area next week for braiding and other shenanigans. Anybody out there who would like to see me and hasn't gotten in touch yet should do so. My parents are coming out to Pittsburgh to help with kid watching for a week before school. Then school starts and my life turns back upside down in a million other ways. Aieee.
blk: (Default)
I had a Hobbit visiting me a few weeks ago, and I took him through Schenley Park one afternoon after work. We went on a route that I've taken many times over the years, most recently during Carnival this spring, that starts from from the top of W Circuit Rd and Schenley Dr, and traverses gently down a stream full of destroyed steps and rocks.

Almost immediately, I noticed differences. For starters, the beginning steps that led down from near the road (then crumbled to overgrown boulders shortly thereafter), well, they were nice, well-formed stairs that came in from both sides, and went further down. Then after that, the stream bed had changed significantly from what I remembered it being, mostly with much more debris scattered around. I kept turning around and exclaiming at a new rockfall, or landscape change. I finally decided that the most likely culprit was the large storm that had blown through a few weeks prior.

Of course, this was all odd to me only because I was familiar with previous views, but when I tried to dig up past pictures I had of the area, they weren't really exact enough to be able to tell the aberrancies. So I went back a few days later, armed with camera and pictures to duplicate, and attempted to capture similar scenes. The lighting wasn't optimal for my camera (or its photographer), but I got some fun comparison shots. If nothing else, I thought it was an interesting view between seasons. Maybe I'll go back in the fall and do another.
blk: (summer)
The great thing about knowing so many awesome people is that I'm simply amazed by the levels of awesomeness that surround me on a regular basis, and it gives me a lot of encouragement to be more awesome, myself.

The occasionally bad thing about knowing so many awesome people is that I frequently find myself comparing me to other people, and coming up short. I'm not nearly as good of a cook, or a gardiner, or a home-repair person, or a computer geek, or a parent, or a musician, or a volleyball player, or a social networker, or a writer, or an activist, or really, anything else as certain of my friends. In fact, for every single thing I do, I can think of someone I know (if only acquaintance-wise) who does it (imo) better.

That is, however, for each single thing. But, self, I say, I do a lot of stuff! Comparing single things is just silly. What do I do? I parent, and I maintain a house, and I have a geeky job, and I keep a garden, and I home-prep maybe 90% of my household's meals, and I do some sports, and I socialize, and I occasionally do other stuff, and I do all of it by myself. The people I envy at the volleyball courts or the climbing wall? Mostly don't have children. Or the people with awesome houses I drool over? Maybe don't have the job I do. Or the socialites eat out more often or the parents don't do the same physical hobbies. And most of them have a partner to share a lot of that with.

When I look at it that way, I can see myself in better persepective. I am, in my own little way, just as awesome as the people around me, but in different ways.

Sometimes I lament (quietly) about the things I don't do and the stuff I don't have, and it's good to remind myself that everything I have and do is what I've chosen. If I really wanted to improve a skillset, or become something better, or accomplish bigger things, I think that the primary things stopping me is, well, me. What it takes for me to get something is really and fully wanting it mindfully, not just "oh, I wish," but "yes, I want this specific realistic thing in my life enough to do all the tremendous amount of hard physical and mental work that is required for it, which includes this, and accept all the downfalls that come with it, which may be these." And then patience.

When I look at things like that, it's almost scary. What do I really want? Exactly how much do I want it? As happy as I am now, what can I do to improve on it?

Yesterday had the most daylight of the year. Perhaps now is a good time to be looking for more of a bigger picture in my life.
blk: (spring)
In rock climbing, two of the basic ways of moving across the wall are termed static and dynamic climbing. Dynamic climbing uses momentum to travel between holds. It can range from bumping one hand a few inches further to launching off the wall in a full-body jump to catch a hold much higher up. Moving dynamically is often used to compensate for lack of strength or technique, but it can be also very usefully used to compensate for lack of reach.

Static climbing requires a stable position before making small, controlled moves to advance up the wall. It generally moves you more slowly and less wildly, and requires consistent, sustained strength instead of a single burst. It is often billed as being the more challenging and advanced technique, of the two, although a well-rounded climber should be able to do both.

a soul in tension )
blk: (spring)
... but I'm not one to ignore when the universe bops me over the head.

I'm a huge planner. I always want to know what's going on, what I'm doing, when I'm doing it. Surprises are usually not good things. I take something stated and go exactly with that, and if it turns out differently, I sometimes have trouble adjusting. Making lists and writing things down helps me stay organized pretty well.

So this morning, on the first full day of spring, I planned to use it efficiently. Before I even got out of bed, I made a very nice todo list of grand things to get done around the house. Then I took my laptop and went downstairs for breakfast, whereupon my laptop crashed, entirely wiping out my unsaved list.

Taking that as a sign, I decided not to re-make the list, but work today on whatever I felt like doing. So I cleaned a bit, finished the rest of my tax prep (it's a lot less painful when I get money back, thanks to my nice new shiny tax-credit of a house), and went to go see Watchmen with [ profile] es5f, where I lucked out with a broken metered spot, a free movie ticket, and an enjoyable movie, then a very tasty lunch and a couple fantastic finds at the local Goodwill. T

hen I came home, enjoyed an adorable cat in my lap while having good conversation with my houseguest, did a little bit of yardwork and gardening (step one of trying to keep bunnies out of my garden: plant onions around the border!), and relaxed while catching up on webcomics. All without looking at a list (although I think i covered a good percentage of what was on this morning's list)

I already know that my reliance on set plans is occasionally something that makes more stress for me than I need, so it's good to make myself practice playing it by ear. Even though I didn't get the pleasure of crossing things off, I relaxed and still had a productive day.

Happy spring!
blk: (axial)
This solstice marks my one year anniversary of my marking the seasons for myself.

In the past few years, and in words recounted in more detail in another post, my personal spiritual ponderings have led me away from god and towards science. But I still like ritual and observance, so in combining religion and science to focus more intently on the things that are important to me, I've started noting the natural seasonal quarters and cross-quarters of the year (not the holidays, but the dates), and letting myself see what they can show me about myself.

This year has been an interesting one. I bought and moved into my very own (awesome) house (AND unpacked the last of my boxes a few weeks ago). I turned 30. I kept a garden and grew some of my own food. I learned how to cook a whole bunch of stuff. I grew.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good start.

I didn't stay up on the longest night - I played hard in the evening and then slept hard and deeply over the night, with trust and comfort in both my companion and the journey of the Earth, and then woke up in the morning to a day that was bright and sunny and full of peace for me. A very good change, considering the anxiety I've had over the past recent while.

It is dark (and cold and windy), but with my tea and blankets and cat and house - soon to be full of family - it feels more cozy than overbearing, at least right now. I'm looking forward to this coming week of holiday and vacation with happy optimism and anticipation for the first time in several years.

I know I still have a lot in my life that needs work. My house, my inbox, my head, and my heart all have chaotic parts that need time to be dusted off and organized every so often, and it's not always fun or easy. But I have only to look back to see how far I have come, and get up hope for continuing the journey. The earth won't wait for me; I've got to keep on moving with it, and keep on watching for the sun.

Greetings of the season to you.
blk: (eyes)
The nice thing about vacations is getting a break from regular life. The not-so-nice part is that nothing on my regular life to-do list gets done in that time.

Last Thursday was both my 5 year anniversary of getting LASIK as well as the day of the autumnal cross-quarter.

light )

dark )
blk: (fall)
[Yeah yeah, I've missed the equinox by several days now. At first my excuse was that I was busy driving back from near DC, and then too tired to do much but unpack the car, but the rest of the week was just sheer laziness.]

Fall begins! We've turned the corner into the winter, darkness will be longer than daylight for almost another 6 months, and it is, according to some calendars, either the beginning or the midpoint of the year.

Autumn, to me, makes me think of tying up loose ends and of finding balances.

Read more... )
blk: (flower)
I missed posting on the autumnal cross-quarter by a couple days, thanks to an increasingly busy schedule, so doing it on the numerically stuttering day instead. Moving into the second half of summer and starting a harvest has meant a lot less relaxation, but still plenty of good things.

good things, busy things, upcoming travel, a request )
blk: (summer)
The beginning of summer marks so many events. The end of the school year and beginning of vacation. The end of spring blossoms and april showers and the beginning of hot weather and hurricane season. It's the season of growth after the planting.

Of course, not all these things have a strictly defined transition, or a static date, or an obvious boundary and state flip. The seasons change little by little, with much of the transition happening subtly or below ground until one day it's undeniable.

see what's become of me )
blk: (Default)
Springtime has come in full force to my little yard, and it is so delightfully fun. My apple trees blossomed and snowed little white petals all over my front lawn, and the bushes by my porch are starting to open up their flowers. Almost all the little seedlings I started a while ago are poking bits of green through the soil.

dressed in ribbons fair )
blk: (spring)
It's time once again for the turning of seasons. The sun will be traveling the middle path, giving us equal amounts of light and dark. And, of course, bringing the season where people go outside, things come alive, and the world wakes up. And in some places, it means sales and spring cleaning.

I'm taking a more theoretical approach to spring cleaning, by looking at a few little internal things I want to spruce up a little. I'm describing them here to help me understand my purpose, and to remind me of the goals I hope to achieve.

a chin in a hand and a thoughtful pose )

Mm, baking soda and vinegar for the brain. I'm getting up way too early for a flight tomorrow, so off to bed for me.
blk: (cygnus)
It is the longest night, and tomorrow begins a new chapter of my life.

The vast majority of my possessions are in bags, ready to be taken on my trip with me, in boxes, ready to be moved into my new house on return, or strewn about in disorderly piles, still needing to be wrapped up and ready for transport. Living amongst such a disarray of waiting and expectation - not only in my house - has not been good for me.

darkness, darkness )


blk: (Default)

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