Live From the Almanac

Before you think, oh not boring weather talk again, I have to tell you, TN weather is anything but boring.

Yesterday, after a hard pounding deluge all day, temps went from 40s to almost 60 at one point overnight, down to 30s and 20s by this morning.  Last night the winds picked up so high that it was howling louder than the coyotes, across our porch and under our front door.  It sounded like a horror movie.  It’s a wonder trees aren’t down in our yard.  Arctic air is moving in behind a departing cold front, isn’t that pleasant-sounding?  There are black ice warnings out after the heavy rain.

So of course we’re thinking, isn’t it supposed to be a little warmer down here?  Didn’t we move down here to escape the cold?  Well, as always, weather is relative.  It’s positively balmy here, compared to the whole north, which  appears to be buried under snow and ice.

For example, Fairborn, Ohio, where we came from, is under a snow emergency, with power outages; the temp this morning was 5°!  And headed for a big high of 12°  and low of–wait for it–minus 12°!!  I believe some records are being broken.  Whereas here, it will be around 16° tonight.  So that does put things into some perspective.  Though still not very comforting.

But being the prepared oldsters that we are, we had already procured last minute supplies yesterday, and hunkered down.  Don’t tell anyone, we actually patronized the competition, Home Depot!  E worked on some finishing details to the bookshelves, pictured below.  Happily, my two seed orders arrived [cue patriotic band music], as did E’s kitchen light fixtures, so our respective work is cut out for us.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a diehard follower, I have to hand it to you!  Hey, it could be worse–I could be ranting about that idiot-in-chief, so extreme weather commentary should provide an amusing diversion.

Apex Predators in the ‘Hood

The three of us were watching Netflix yesterday evening, when we heard an eerie howling outside the front door.  I figured it was the usual catfest, only louder.  We all looked out, and saw Misu bunched up on the porch railing, eyes wild, yowling at a large pack of coyotes right there in our front yard, who were howling and yipping back!

Apparently this is a thing here.  We have our very own pack of wild coyotes!  Eventually they ran off into neighboring yards to terrorize dogs.

Some folks would be horrified, but I think it’s a good sign to have natural predators in the area.  I just hope the locals don’t use them for target practice, as they are wont to do.

Misu ran inside and immediately jumped up on the back of the settee and nervously peered out through the blinds, something she’s never done before.  She was visibly spooked.  But she had held her ground bravely, and I have no doubt she’d be a match for those bad doggies.

Now I know where the big bones I throw outside end up.

I don’t have any good coyote photos, so here’s one of Misu on the alert.




Wiley Coyotes

This made my day.  Actually it was my son who sighted them out the office window, while in a meeting.  A pack of coyotes wandered through the tree line across the field, bothered all the dogs in the neighborhood, and wandered back.

A flock (murder) of crows had gotten all agitated up in a big tree.  Misu was acting nervous and jumpy.  I had been too engrossed in my seed tray project on the porch to notice the coyotes, but then I saw them!  They were definitely coyotes, lean and mangy looking. I’m so excited that wild predators feel at home nearby.  It’s a good sign.  You can’t really make it out, but there’s one of them in the field photo, looking back at me.

Misu retreated to her carrier bed and kept a wary eye out, while I was setting up the seed trays (actually egg cartons filled with a mix of seed starter and potting mix).  Now I’m ready to start the seeds when they arrive.

Under Construction

Here is the impressive bookshelf E made from scratch, drying after she stained it.  The whole house stinks, but it will be worth it.  Soon I’ll be able to shelve all my books that have been in boxes or stacks, with room for more.

Misu is staying safe in the office as usual.

It’s a cold, rainy day, which calls for my homemade (also from scratch) chili.

My next project will be to make seed starting trays in preparation for my seeds in transit.  More on that later.



The beauty of habits vs. goals is, they are just guidelines for incorporating into your daily life as able, not a guilt scale hanging over your head.  If I manage even a few of them, I’ve improved my life however minutely, and made it a little easier to continue the next day.

Today I read more about native gardening and wild birds, listened to part of one album, helped E get some lumber which she’s now building into a large bookshelf for the office as I write this, and braved the cold to take these photos of spring bulbs (daffodils and crocuses) coming up.  And…realized this thing growing all year in my neglected greens garden is probably a radicchio!  Who knew?!  I’ve never grown one before!  think it’s stunning.  Oy, the things that excite me.  Here are pics to prove it.

(Also Misu sleeping through loud banging of bookshelves being assembled.)



Habit-forming in Low Doses

Progress Report

Today I:

*Ordered my first wave of heirloom seeds for 2019 from Seed Savers and Annies, for starting indoors soon.  Spring is Coming.

*Read a little more about gardening with natives.  Native plants, that is.

*Continued reorganizing the office, i.e., moved a few more items from the Giant Jenga closet to a drawer.

*Listened to some old school music from my vast collection of (shut up) antique cds.  Donovan, to be precise.  “Through all levels you’ve been changing/ Elevator in the brain hotel/Broken down but just as well…”

*Made this drink with vodka.  Na zdorovie.  It’s part of my mental health routine, as is the cat demonstrating how to properly lounge.

If you don’t think too hard about it, this method works, in very low doses.


Pieces of You

Those of us who are no stranger to clinical depression recognize symptoms like loss of interest in all the things that used to give your life meaning and depth.  You’re too busy just surviving and trying to find a reason to keep moving forward to indulge in “non-essentials” like reading, writing, music, connecting to people, enjoying nature, or just taking time to think and recover your essential self.  I’ve been there for quite a while.

It’s funny how one minor circumstance can flip a switch and remind you of all those pieces of you gathering dust and diminishing.  I guess it was something so mundane as finally having a place to display my old keepsakes that had been languishing in storage for years.  Maybe it was a symbol for something deeper.  Next thing I knew, I was cleaning out and organizing my desk and office furniture, filing all my papers, and then it hit me–music.  I haven’t listened to my music for years.  Just like reading, it has sadly fallen by the wayside.  I used to create whole worlds of imagination around me in my mind, but not for a long time now.  I’ve been existing.

I’ve been thinking about habits vs. goals a lot lately.  Long-term goals (“dreams”) can fall flat because we’re human, and circumstances change drastically.  Whereas small, manageable daily habits can gradually rebuild your quality of life in the present.  You have to start very small and realistically, giving each step at least a month to become habitual, then gradually build onto that foundation.  You have to be very patient with yourself, because new healthy habits take time replacing self-destructive ones.  But it’s never too late to start somewhere.  You don’t have to resign yourself to what’s past.

Anyway, I’m not back by any means, but I feel a little different, as if some good part of me hasn’t been lost forever, but can still be retrieved.  I have a very modest, unambitious shortlist of habits I’d like to work back into each day, if only for a moment or two.  They are not resolutions, which are just unrealistic goals you can never reach and don’t really make you happy.  They are simply healthy interests that got misplaced along the way. You gotta start somewhere.  That’s all for now.


Out of the Closet

We bought this inexpensive used wooden shelf unit at an antiques store yesterday.  E cleaned and fixed it up, and next thing you know, all my old knickknackery finally came out of the closet after years of following me around in boxes.  Many moves later, I’ve downsized my sentimental clutter to manageable proportions.  It’s like a concentrated cross-section of the  stages of my life.

You can tell a lot about a person by the weird, humble objects they save and treasure.  Some of this stuff goes back to childhood, some to early motherhood, and on through the decades, what little I was able to salvage from the rollercoaster of life.  You can’t take it with you, so better to lighten up and appreciate the few precious keepsakes that made the cut.  They are of value only in their meaning and significance to me.  Many are little ephemerals my son made or gave me when he was little, the ones that weren’t lost in the divorce and fire.  I treasure those the most.

And some are just everyday objects like rocks, shells, marbles, the odd toy, things that I love.  I don’t require much to keep me amused.

I even dug out my Propagatrix sign from my propagation greenhouse headquarters.  I guess I’m official now.


It’s freezing out, my son is far away in another state, so what to do?  Roast a turkey and fixin’s, and devour my new TN native plant books (courtesy of ), of course.

I’m happy to say all the greens and most of the herbs for this meal are fresh from the garden, even in January.  Hopefully most of our veggies this coming year will be, too, as well as being mostly heirloom, using no chems.  I’m not going into animal husbandry (wifery?), but we don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, and take advantage of the cheaper ones.

So I can start to afford used books again, and learn more about sustainable environmental practices.  It’s too late to change the world, but I can improve our small parcel of it.  It’s one of the few ways I have to do something worthwhile and leave things better than I found them.

Wild Temp Swings

And…back to frigid (lest we get too complacent).

Today I’m hunkered down in front of my native plants books and sites, learning plants I thought were harmless ornamentals (commonly sold by nurseries) are actually noxious exotic invasives, that harm or even destroy natural habitats.  At least I know what not to plant.  Make Tennessee Native Again!

Here is a sunset (when it was still balmy), Misu perched strategically right under the bird feeders, and E’s latest challah.