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"Common Magic" by Bronwen Wallace.

Your best friend falls in love
and her brain turns to water.
You can watch her lips move,
making the customary sounds,
But you can see they’re merely
words, flimsy as bubbles rising
from some golden sea where she
swims sleek and exotic as a mermaid.

It’s always like that.
You stop for lunch in a crowded
restaurant and the waitress floats
toward you. You can tell she doesn’t care
whether you have the baked or french-fried
and you wonder if your voice comes
in bubbles too.

It’s not just women either. Or love
for that matter. The old man
across from you on the bus holds
a young child on his knee; he is singing
to her and his voice is a small boy
turning somersaults in the green
country of his blood.
It’s only when the driver calls his stop
that he emerges into this puzzle
of brick and tiny hedges. Only then
you notice his shaking hands, his need
of the child to guide him home.

All over the city
you move in your own seasons
through the seasons of others: old women,
faces clawed by weather you can’t feel
clack dry tongues at passersby
while adolescents seethe
in their glassy atmospheres of anger.

In parks, the children
are alien life-forms, rooted
in the galaxies they’ve grown through
to get here. Their games weave
the interface and their laughter
tickles that part of your brain where smells
are hidden and the nuzzling textures of things.

It’s a wonder that anything gets done
at all; a mechanic flails
at the muffler of your car
through whatever storm he’s trapped inside
and the mailman stares at numbers
from the haze of a distant summer.

Yet somehow letters arrive and buses
remember their routes. Banks balance.
Mangoes ripen on the supermarket shelves.
Everyone manages. You gulp the thin air
of this planet as if it were the only
one you knew. Even the earth you’re
standing on seems solid enough.
It’s always the chance word, unthinking
gesture that unlocks the face before you.
Reveals the intricate countries
deep within the eyes. The hidden
lives, like sudden miracles,
that breathe there.

A video of part of the poem.


Favorite work video.

I'm saving this here because it's my favorite work video ever. You can see me at 1:30 - I'm wearing the orange hi-vis vest & have my back to the camera.


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How to clean the fish pond.

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Last Sunday, I did my first-ever deep clean of the fish pond. With the help of my amazing friend M*, I cleaned the entire pond, top to bottom. It was more than five hours of hard work for the two of us, & we learned a lot about what worked & what didn't. I want to remember our lessons for the inevitable next time.

Pond so murky
These were our starting conditions.

First -- the algae growing on the pond liner was MUCH easier to scrub off once it dried in the sun for several hours. Therefore, the proper way to schedule this project is to get up early one weekend morning, get the fish out, & drain the pond as much as possible with the submersible pump. Let the liner air-dry & sun-bake for as long as possible - I think a whole day would be smart. The fish did OK in the container - I had four bubblers giving them aeration & I put a heating pad in a plastic trash bag, then slid it under the container to keep the water warm overnight. They could survive two nights that way fairly easily.

I added the fish a little bit later
Low-budget fish hotel.

Second -- Brillo scrubbers worked well, followed by heavy scrubbing sponges (like a Sponge Daddy). A wet/dry vacuum was very helpful for getting the last couple inches of water out of the bottom. Two five-gallon buckets were helpful for slopping out the sludge at the bottom. M* wore rubber gloves, I didn't. She had a pair of throwaway shoes, which was very smart. Dress for sludge. I think I would've liked a dust mask, because scrubbing the dried algae made a lot of green dust.

D M & A cleaning pond & fixing dog fence
It was a itsy-bitsy pond cleaning bee!

Third -- I put about two five-gallon buckets worth of fine gravel on the bottom of the pond (bought it from Santa Fe Sand & Gravel for $3.99). I don't think it will be possible to clean the pond without removing most or all of the gravel. I should buy the gravel before starting the cleaning & rinse it thoroughly to get the fines out of it.

wow I can see the bottom
Final results. VERY satisfying.

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 13.

M1: Since I didn't do any of my prep cooking yesterday, I had to get up & make breakfast from scratch this morning at 05:30. That's not sustainable, so today I *must* do my prep cooking. Anyways, I scrambled three eggs, some leftover smoked pork chop, orange bell pepper, & red onion in ghee. Seasoned with Sunny Paris & topped with half an avocado. I drank a cup of coffee with Paleo creamer at the office.

Pile everything in one bowl.

M2: Ummm, then my day went to Hell because I got assigned a very quick turnaround project in Roswell, NM. No lunch -- I ate an Epic lamb bar & I've been snacking on a nut mix (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, & pecans). This Roswell project may tank my Whole30 for a few days, since I have to drive about 500 miles tomorrow to get down there, & then turn around & drive right back on Wednesday. YAY.

M3: I managed a whole 15 minutes for dinner - complete repeat of last night's dinner & thank God for leftovers. BBQ pork, sauteed Brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted potatoes, tons of pineapple.

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 12.

M1: why am I not waking up hungry? It's so weird. Anyway, I ate another three-egg scramble with two pieces of bacon diced in, orange bell pepper, & onion. I used Penzey's Sunny Paris seasoning & it was delicious. Remember that one. I also had a cup of collagen coffee.

Snack: I ran errands with Jackson & Xander from church - they needed a truck for an IKEA run. I gritted my teeth & watched them eat pizza & cinnamon rolls. I ate an Epic lamb bar & drank a kombucha.

M2: the last of the smoked chicken with BBQ sauce over spinach, & an apple.

M3: Shay smoked a ton of meats today! We had Dave & Mer over for dinner & board games. We played Organ ATTACK! & Exploding Kittens. I ate a smoked pork chop with BBQ sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon & balsamic vinegar, & roasted potatoes. Shay bought a fresh pineapple, which we cut up for dessert & it was PERFECT - so sweet & delicious!

Bake at 400 degF for 35-45 minutes

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 11.

M1: I SHOULD have awakened with a roaring hunger, since I didn't eat a real M3 last night. But strangely, I wasn't hungry. I did my morning errands while drinking a travel mug of Constant Comment tea & ended up having brunch around 11 AM with Steve. We had three-egg scrambles with sauteed onions & bell peppers, 2 slices of bacon each, & collagen coffee. I was still hungry so I ate some blueberries.

Then we went for a short hike with Brad & between the three humans we had FIVE dogs. The trail was named Coyote Song Trail & a lone coyote obliged us with a solo aria as we came back to the parking lot.

M2: leftover roundup. Drumstick of the smoked chicken with the last of the BBQ sauce, served over chopped spinach. Then I spiralized up my last zucchini & topped it with spaghetti sauce. Washed it all down with LaCroix & nearly finished off the blueberries.

I went climbing with Dave & did a 5.8 complete, 5.9 (!!!) with two major stops to rest, 5.9 fail, 5.7 fail. We only had ~50 minutes so it was a quickie. But I did a 5.9!! I collapsed on the mat afterwards.

M3: again, I should've been hungry, but I wasn't. I ate an apple & a Wild Zora bar.

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 10.

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M1: sweet potato casserole, the last spicy tuna cake, & Paleo "creamer" coffee.

M2: the last of the Persian soup, with all the remaining relish, all the pesto, a bunch of smoked chicken, & a fried egg chopped in besides. I don't know if it was a soup at that point or more of a sauce. But it was delicious.

I donated a double unit of platelets yesterday & broke Whole30 rules to eat snacks at the donation center. Then I came home & fell asleep before dinner could happen.

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 9.

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M1: two spicy tuna cakes with fresh lemon juice (YUM), a bowl of leftover Persian soup with onion-raisin relish & parsley-pistachio pesto, collagen coffee.

M2: lunch salad (diced smoked chicken, mixed greens, carrots, yellow bell pepper, Tessamae's avocado ranch dressing), the last serving of the beef stew, apple, toasted butternut squash seeds (hmmm, they really do taste like popcorn!).

M3: Mama's spaghetti sauce over spaghetti squash.


#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 8.

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M1: sweet potato/spinach/bacon/egg casserole & Paleo "creamer" coffee.

M2: lunch salad (diced smoked chicken, mixed greens, carrots, yellow bell pepper, Tessamae's creamy ranch dressing), leftover Persian soup with onion-raisin relish, apple.

Snack1: giant handfuls of trail mix (dried cranberries, roasted almonds, raw walnuts, roasted pepitas, & raw pecans). Easy diagnosis: insufficient protein in M1 & M2 (~0.5 slice of bacon, ~1.5-2 eggs, 5 g of collagen protein, ~0.25 cup of chicken, ~2 cups of bone broth-based soup).

Snack2: Epic lamb bar.

M3: chicken breast with BBQ sauce. No veggies. I wasn't in the mood to cook & I was just trying to eat something before heading to the gym.

Dave & I went climbing & it was a good workout. 5.6, 5.7, 5.7 fail (& twisted my right hip somehow), 5.7 fail, 5.8 complete but not clean. Very satisfying! I notice that I try harder routes when I'm with Dave than when I'm with Brianna - not sure why. Also, I've changed my mental framing on climbing. I've been thinking of each pitch as a swimming lap - as long as you finish, it's good. Coasting in is fine. No! The proper way to think of it is each pitch is a weightlifting set & each move is a rep. So the goal for each route/set is to do as many reps as possible, with good form, until failure. Attempting harder routes makes "achieving failure" more likely --> better workout.

#WholeLent #Whole30 Day 7.

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An unexpected day at home due to snow & really low temperatures. I got my exercise in first thing, shoveling the sidewalks. It was cold enough that Hobbes & Shadeaux watched me from the sofa instead of begging to be out "helping". Lazy curs.

M1: I cooked breakfast for me & Shay - bacon, roasted potatoes with dill seasoning, & over-easy eggs. Coffee with collagen & coconut oil.

M2: Another weird combo. I mixed leftover mashed cauliflower into the beef stew, attempting to cut the acidity of the vinegar in the stew. It didn't work. That stew is awful, but I got through another serving of it. Honestly the rest might be going to the doggos.

I used my day off & my fresh batch of bone broth to make Mel Joulwan's Persian-Spiced Winter Vegetable Soup. I made the soup, the onion-raisin relish, & the parsley-pistachio pesto. OMG YUUUMMMMMM. It was absolutely delicious & perfect for the cold weather.

M3: Two bowls of soup, eaten while curled up on the sofa in front of the fireplace, watching Olympic figure skating. Winter paradise.

Mel's photo is better.

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May 2018


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