Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boring week

Updated @ Dark Meadow

We return you now to your regularly scheduled blog trolling.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Just the usual brain spew

I think I really have to figure out a way to make this freelancing thing work.

When the dotcom gave me their rate list, first thing I tried to do is negotiate. No sale; it's a carved in stone sheet that probably won't change until the next incentive adjustment, and those occur once every 2 years if we're lucky. I wasn't sure how we could live on that, as their rates are below-market-unfair-abysmally-low and a couple of other adjectives I'll refrain from using here...and truth be told, it's only now that I'm working my bored-silly-at-times tail off that I'm seeing that it might be possible. We still need to get medical insurance, and there's little-to-no savings right now; but we're also not spending nearly as much as we did when we lived in the city. We've indulged in the local pizza a couple of times, and grabbed novelties for ourselves once or twice, but we're mainly eating at home and making do, and it shows. Feels rather fantastic too, being frugal, and seeing just how much money we've wasted over the years (well, that part sucks). That shit comes home when you're facing new brakes on the car and want to start saving for land hunting.

So today, being Sunday, I allowed myself a bit of a lie-in. Woke up around 9:30, made coffee, puttered, and watched the L&O repeats that were a weekend ritual for me in Jax. Practically the first time I've watched the weekend repeats since we moved; I'm usually working or attending to visitors or something. Dicked around on Farmville, read a little. When the shows went off and it became apparent that there's wasn't enough on the tube to hold my interest and justify leaving it on (and we're talking while there's an NCIS marathon on USA, folks!), I turned it off, threw on real clothes, and got moving on household tasks, clearing away dishes, folding laundry.

Realized I was really awake and feeling good. Went outside to assess the weather and our front area. Was hoping to get to mulching this weekend, but it might wait. I'm learning patience. I desperately want to start seeds, but I'm recognizing that it may have to happen outdoors, because we plain don't have the room inside to do it, even with rearranging furniture and boxes. I have ideas for making that work before real Spring (which I won't babble about here, because it's fodder for the article I'm writing). But I need to get past the threat of snow every week or so, and that's fine. I was thinking of 2 harvests for summer, but we'll play it by ear. Spring is all about grandiose ideas for the gardener, and my delusions of aptitude extend well beyond my knitting.

Since there's not much to be done yet, still, on the gardening, I came back inside to the 2nd bedroom, and determined that I did need to examine the possibility of moving furniture. I'm not a chess player, unfortunately, so this proved more difficult than it had to be.....measured the bed to determine how much space it needed, but didn't factor in the room it would need while it was being moved. Imagined my dad's head flying off its axis while I worked...he probably would've been an awesome chess player, now that I think on it, because his brain always measured things out further than right in front of him. I inherited the "oh, wait, that won't work, huh?" from Mom.

Now the bedroom's more cluttered than before, and I need to go thru boxes and do another purge, but I love where the bed is. So it's all good.

But what struck me, is that after all that, rather than continue relaxing, I wanted to see where the queues were at, for my work. Sure enough, there's a couple of ecomms and plenty of regular sites. And I'm thinking I'll work for an hour or two, and then tackle the boxes, because I'm finding the weeks easier to tolerate when I get a jump on the sites.

Which circles back to my original thought, that of wanting to continue down this freelancing road, because the freedom it allows me in the planning and execution of my days, and the fact that I don't have to deal with office politics or social contracts.....that's seriously sweet. I may have to get back to office work eventually, and I'll certainly take any opportunities that will afford me to increase our incomes and keep me in the biz (example being the hopeful SEO work I have coming up in a few weeks), but in the meantime, being able to interrupt my work to do laundry and think about my writing is pretty priceless.

Image from here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hippos and hand grenades

Yea, actually I got nothin'...just wanted to push that last post down.

8PM...still workin' snoring....

Real post on Friday.

Image from here.

Friday edit: Lazy, busy author around here...fresh links and quickie post @ Dark Meadow. Happy weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mental meanderings or work avoidance

Still no focus to speak of. Last week was amazing! Nailed my quotas on Saturday with such a feeling of satisfaction! This week, my brain's elsewhere and it needs to get its arse back to the laptop.

The good news is if I maintain said quotas, I think we can afford insurance AND still eat occasionally. The bad news of course, being that there's no decent work prospects yet beyond freelancing. I'm not worried yet, but talk to me in another 2 after my first quarterly tax payment...

I asked my landlord about putting raised beds in the mulched area in front of my place. Received no response yet. I'm taking that to mean, "play it safe and container garden." Not a bad thing, just limits my seed selection...but given how easy it is to get carried away, especially on your first real gardening season, that can really only be a positive. May not be harvesting squash this year, but you can bet I'm trying my hand at climbers like beans and peas.

No reason for these...just bored...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Random grumpings

Never been a fan of Valentine's Day, but it's really hard to argue with a holiday that our capitalist society has managed to shape around the consumption of chocolate. The Hubs went out early and managed to find 2-for-1 Whitman's Samplers at the drugstore, and you just don't turn that shit down.

Next year, it's be organic and free trade chocolate though. Or one of those $7 chocolate bars from French Broad :)

I'm re-educating myself lately on the asshatrickery that is the food industry, and the knowledge is so eye-opening. I get the newsletters from the Organic Consumers Association, and I send the emails telling Washington or Big Food that they're douchebags, and I try to shop more carefully. But you have to look deeper. I didn't know that Alexia Foods was owned by ConAgra. Their sweet potato bites are a nice go-to option when you want fries, but hate the thought of Ore-I-vebeensprayedtowithinaninchofmylife-DA. But I'm not contributing any more to a company that panders to the organic community with those products while also pouring millions into the campaign against GMO labeling.

I was cooking and prepping some Tyson breasts the other day (a hand-me-down from the MIL's deep freeze - believe me, I don't buy Tyson since watching Food Inc.), and couldn't help wondering if the chickens in question died from slit throats in the killing cones, or from 2 broken legs because they couldn't support the weight of those ridiculous breasts, that have been bred to get that big to feed the American public in a cost-efficient manner. Can't quite say no, thank you when the MIL brings them up on her visits, but maybe they need to go to one of the many food banks in the area next time. Because I'm finding I'm really over being so dependent on, and catering to, an industry that could be killing us.

There are those that say, yea, but if you boycott every food that has ethically pissed you off, that'll 86 most of the aisles of the supermarket.

Guess what? That's not a bad thing. The walls of the supermarket are where the real food is. And I want to eventually provide for my own family anyway.

I was already reading the OCA stuff and thinking about this today, when I got word that we just lost another family member to cancer. And as I think about it, the sadness that I'm feeling is awash in anger. We have to do better. This person didn't have genetics on her side; her mother passed from cancer at a horribly young age...but I also have to wonder how much of the standard American diet is to blame. How much Big Pharma hurts rather than helps, inoculating us against bugs we may not even get and making bugs worse inadvertently (I'm one of those "life finds a way" people, who thinks that all this antibacterial lotion we're using is just going to make the bacteria bigger and stronger eventually).

I'm not anti-vaccinations...I totally dig that we have the science to all but eliminate diphtheria, polio, and some of the other big baddies. But the system's so broken. I don't appreciate being told that insurance won't cover the shingles vaccine in anyone under the age of 65, because statistically it's worse when older folks get it. I already had it, which means my body's more inclined to have it again, it'll get worse every time, and the vaccine could decrease the intermittent nerve pain I have now from the first time I caught it. Yet I would have to slog through a pile of paperwork and pay through the nose to get the vaccine. Doesn't make sense...but also moot while we're still insurance shopping.

I have that interview tomorrow for a retail sales spot at a local farm. I want it so badly....I'll study for it tonight, so that hopefully I'm coherent with my interviewer tomorrow, because my enthusiasm could make me a babbling imbecile. We're talking a 40-minute commute, $9 an hour, 2 days a week, and the chance to sell good local food and get manure on my shoes. I'd be in frickin' heaven!

Send some good vibes, y'all!

Image snitched from here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Yesterday, Monday, was hard, then easy. I didn't sleep well the night before, and my butt dragged til like noon. Once I threw real clothes on and the coffee kicked in though, I was a machine, editing sites, creating new work goals for myself, working hard. If the opportunities aren't going to come quickly enough, then I'm just going to have to make more money at what I'm doing now, and that means more hours on the laptop.

So naturally, the mominlaw wants to come up this weekend and bring the niece. She's 6. And given the way she's being raised, suffers from a healthy dose of attachment disorder and ADHD. Beautiful kid, but not the most low-maintenance individual you'll meet.

I don't mind at all that we finally have a place where people actually want to come visit, and where it's feasible. My only request is that we be given a chance to miss them first. It's been every 3 weeks since we got here, and it's finally going to interfere with my work. I was able to make do, closed up in the bedroom, when Mom J. was here last time, but with the squirt too? Ain't gonna happen. I'm checking the hours at the local libraries and making myself scarce. She may be retired, but I've gotta put bread on the table.

In spite of that latest wrinkle in my peace, I still find myself stopping a sec, listening to the quiet of the apartment or going for a wander outside, and recognizing how truly happy I am here. If I make my quota of sites today, I'm taking off a bit early to jaunt downtown, where a local bakery is throwing an anniversary/Mardi Gras shindig. Even if it doesn't lead to acquaintances, it's a chance to get outta the house and say, "hi, I'm Melanie, we just moved here," to people. There's worries in the back of my mind, about getting insurance and a new pain doc for Les, about making ends meet, but I don't regret for a moment finally having the strength to say "this move is going to happen." I'm incredibly happy.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


The air smelled of pine and cedar. The path was mulched heavily, so that there was a nice padding under my feet, which I was grateful for, or my knees were, given the short, but sharp inclines and declines. This was the path at Main Street Nature Park, a bit of wilderness literally carved out of the woods behind the shops along Main Street in downtown Weaverville. My breath came loudly as I neared the tops of each climb, and I was reminded of the last leg of the Avon walk, so many years ago now...we had maybe 2 miles to go, and the road became this LONG hill. Alexa cheered me on, I took it slowly...and even with my lack of preparation, there was no way, short of collapse, that I wouldn't have finished that sucker. 15 miles that day. Now I'm happy with 2 and building my way to 3 miles. One day at a time.

The Main Street park was a good leg/knee workout, but it only felt like about 1 mile, so I hopped back in the car and went to Lake Louise. It was busier there...they have a really nice playground, so everybody was out with their 2.3 kids. I tried not to ache inside, just walked and checked my breathing, nodding occasionally to fellow walkers. I noticed the nest almost before I noticed that it was in a birch tree, and then I was flooded with a nostalgic something, because how long has it been since I've seen the pretty, peeling bark of a white birch?

It was a good walk, oddly made me appreciate the flat of the soccer field more (pansy Floridian!). But I was grateful for the time in the woods's a bit of an introspective day. I was editing a site earlier, for an outfit that mainly sells heat packs made of rice, those things you throw in the microwave to relieve aches and pains. Last Christmas, my Lilsisinlaw handmade one of those suckers for her dad, Dad J, who was in quite a bit of pain by then as the cancer ravaged his body. I could picture her, working it on her sewing machine, hand-stitching it closed, praying over it to infuse it with healing energy (she's gone witch too, about 2 years now). I remember her pleasure as she took pictures with her new camera, in the hospital room as he unwrapped his gifts. We lost him exactly a month later. I don't grieve nearly the same with Dad J. After losing my dad, there was a been-there, done-that feel to my sadness. But it knocked me today, and his spirit is close by, in my heart.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

How the hell is it Thursday?

More Reems Creek shots...also, Dark Meadow has new posts.

I actually thought it was Wednesday as I typed that subject line, but then I remembered I watched The Americans last night and was like, "oh shit, where's the week going?"

First 3 days of this week, there were barely any sites in the queue. They finally let the editors slack off yesterday and it built up enough where today's been steady, but damn...I need more work soon.

There's not much going on here other than work, the occasional errands, and no potential employers calling me back. That nibble I got late last week could be a steady gig, but it won't happen for a couple of weeks (it's a start-up disguised as a 4-year-old business). I've almost given up on Soomo, because the lady does not answer emails at. all. Bet if I send her an invoice for the work I did for her in November, I'll get an answer ;)

And I applied for my dream job: PT retail worker at a farm store. Throwing some serious prayers toward that one, because even though it's almost too far out of town to justify the commute against what they'll be paying me, the experience I'd get ... makes me want to jump up and down like a kid!

I'm getting a little obsessed. Starting to check out seed catalogs and plan the garden. I know I'm a pinch late on this, but I blame the move. Wrote my landlord to see what's allowed with regards to planting out front. Could've blown off that step probably, given they never come around, but would rather know it's allowed, than assume and be told to remove a couple hundred pounds of topsoil later. Subscribed to Grit (I already get Mother Earth News). Finally allowing myself free time in the evenings and it's being spent reading and knitting. So damn sweet to have yarn back in my life :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Yea, what I meant was.....

Let's file that last post under "Who the f*** do you think you're kidding?"

Dark Meadow Farm did move to Wordpress, and it will have a much more specific purpose, revolving around the topics of sustainable living, organics, gardening, clean and kind food, the city of Asheville, and a touch of Buddhism. I placed the link up at top right for your reading pleasure.

But I can't just drop this one writes in journals anymore, and I need somewhere to bleed onto a keyboard occasionally. I'll be rearranging this one a bit, to assuage my boredom.

So expect to still catch the occasional whine here. The occasional completely random post or rant about FWPs like Spotify playlists that put you to sleep, which you have no business whining about because you built them yourself...or my continued vehement hatred for the TV show Fairly Oddparents.....

I'll still chat about my successes and failures here, and let y'all know about what's going on in Asheville. I'm thinking of volunteering at some festivals this year. I'm creating a book proposal, so this should be a character building year of rejection! There's a family reunion up here in June (my mom's clan) that should be interesting. I come from a rather huge family and introducing Les to some of them for the first time will be a hoot!

Hope you stick around!

Monday, February 04, 2013

We're Moving!

And my loyal 6½ readers scratch their heads and think, "wait a minute...didn't they just move?"

Not that kind of moving...BLOG moving! After about a year of internal (and occasional external) whining about how boring Blogger was getting for layouts and templates, I've found an equally boring template over at Wordpress (that I expect will change 3 times in as many days this week). I also realized it behooves me to figure out how to friggin' work Wordpress (which is NOT as user-friendly as it claims to be), because I'm hopefully going to be copywriting blog articles at one of my future part-time gigs. So I decided to shell out the $18 to buy a .com domain.


Why Dark Meadow and not Ember Madrone? Because I'm hoping to change my format too. I've used this sucker as a diary for years and years, and it's been a good, little therapy source. But it doesn't necessarily make people rush back to read it. I want to teach people granola stuff, and write about living sustainably. I hope to have giveaways. I'll be adhering much more closely to an informative plan, and the adage "if you don't have anything exciting to say, STFU."

I will also be writing still about our quest for our own farm, and in the interim, about the steps I take to teach myself what I want to know to succeed at that endeavor. We may still be stuck in apartment hell, but there will be planting this year, herbs and vegetables. There will be a harvest. There will be hopefully more kitties and maybe a puppy (and I've never owned a dog, so that's a whole other learning experience). We will repair our credit and build our savings, a dollar at a time, with the hope of being able to land shop in about 2 years' time.

See, normal people just throw down the new link and say "see ya!" It's gonna be interesting, measuring my words more carefully. Never has an editor needed her own services so badly :)

I hope you'll join me over at Wordpress!

Friday, February 01, 2013


I stepped outside this morning and carefully skated around the driveway with the camera. The air was bitingly chill, and my wet hair turned crunchy as I snapped away. I was grateful for my stronger legs and my lug-soled boots, because the driveway was icing over rather than melting, but it also reminded me how much work I still have to do (getting into shape), because if I did take a tumble (with my knees), I would be in a world of hurt.
My everything aches today anyway, because I did get outside yesterday! Websites dried up around 2PM, so I put on a sweatshirt, old sneaks, grabbed my gardening tools, and got my hiney out there. I crawled all over the front patch, clipping saplings and overgrowth. So glad I did, because it helped me really assess how planting might go in that area, and what areas I'll give up on and just mulch. I was hoping to clear out ALL saplings, but a couple of them were large enough where I didn't have the heart or the tools to clip 'em. I took pictures of the area, to catalog where the sun hits mid-afternoon, but I'm thinking it's gonna be a whole different story once that main tree buds and blooms. I may end up doing a bunch more container gardening than I originally thought, simply because the raised bed areas that I have laid out in my head won't get enough sun. Glad I'm checking this stuff out now.
Also transplanted the aloe FINALLY! Good thing too, because if the soil was any indication, that sucker was not long for this world...had a rotten smell when I took it out and broke it down. I ended up tossing 2/3rds of the plant and all the soil. But I did get a bunch of babies into new soil, which now sits in the light of the 2nd bedroom windows, and will hopefully rally.
Roads still look icy, but the snow's melting, so my car has icicles on the bumpers. Don't see the novelty of my new climate wearing off anytime soon. Hard to mind being homebound, when you have a full pantry and such a beautiful area to live in.
Have a great weekend, y'all!