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So today we headed out with the intention of going to a march. Specifically, an ACA march which had some link to Danny Heck – our local congresscritter. So we hopped in the insight and drove on up to an area of Tacoma. We had actually decided not to go yesterday, for a variety of reasons, but this morning our conscience won us over – we headed up there.

And… were disappointed by the lack of diversity. I am aware that Tacoma’s way more diverse than a lot of Oly, so we were hoping to see some non-middle-class and non-white faces. And I know that I have little that I can say to criticise others. I have never organized a march in my life, nor have I done overly much political – I keep trying, but work is overwhelmingly busy and I struggle to get everything needed done in any given day.

But seriously, in the middle of Tacoma, in a park which is clearly being used by a non-white local community, and virtually every person in that march that I saw was white and (from the vehicles, clothes and people, and my stereotyping) pretty much middle class. My beloved is right, we need to be reaching out to other communities. Making connections with other groups. The fact that the left has so staggeringly failed to bring our message to groups that would actually benefit enormously from leftish policies is one of the most disappointing things about us.

It’s also one of the things that scares me the most.

Still, having made the trek we debated some other actions that were going on, but my immigrant status means that caution tends to be the better part of any kind of valour, and instead we decided to engage in a day of self-care.

We went around Point Defiance Park, for a bit of a wander. We had lunch at the Antique Sandwich Company which was one of Kathryn’s occasional haunts as a child. Visited the world’s most depressing nursery (more dead plants than alive ones). And then meandered down to the Tacoma Art Museum for an utterly amazing exhibit. The Outwin 2016 exhibit had some incredibly powerful portraits. I’m not usually that interested in portraiture, although I have more space for modern portraiture than classic imagery.

But this was truly exceptional work.

And then, occupying the flipside of culture, we headed to Tinkertopia, which is kind of along the lines of what we’d like to do as a store. Not exactly, but it’s in that region. And I picked up a record player for my office (because that’s what my office needs, obviously). It’s a 1950s Decca P-903 that needs a *lot* of love. The case isn’t too bad, although the handle is missing (sadly). However, turning it on it does make a pretty awful noise (they’d already turned it on, so I was feeling daring).

If anyone has a P-903 service manual that’d be handy, because I suspect things are sad internally. The motor’s certainly running but ooooh that deck needs (at the very least) lubrication.

Still, it’s another thing I won’t have time to tackle for a while, but when I do it should be fun.

’til then…

And now I think it’s time to watch Tank Girl :)

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Concept the first: When you hover over a Senator or Representative’s name (or an MP’s name in England) a little pop-up box appears (like the spelling corrections one) which identifies major companies that have donated to that individual (or PACs that support that individual). Also major individual donors. Also a little percentage of “small donations” vs “large donations” for their last re-election campaign.

Concept the second: Further extension such that if you visit one of their websites a scrolling banner with the branding for every major company that donated to / supports them trundles across the bottom of the page.

Anyone with better coding skills than me want to make it happen?

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So Bokashi first, since I’m aware that this is basically a Bokashi blog now. So the first bin is most of the way through it’s two week fermentation. It’s producing less and less of the vicious orange slurry that you can apparently use to keep drains clear. We have been tipping it down the drain, usually just before doing washing up, because it smells fierce.

The second bin is not doing so well. I suspect this is my fault, I transferred the squishing spatula from the first bin, which I’d made the decision early on not to bother to wash. This, I suspect, was an error. In the new bin with all that space it more or less instantly turned into a giant puffball of mould. I scraped it off, and shoved the mould well down into a layer, but the next time we opened it, it was the same. And since then, each time it’s been worse smelling. The first bin smelled vaguely fermenty, but this smells – like a food waste bin. Today I’ve fished it out and washed it fairly thoroughly, and I suspect that it’ll just be another bokashi job. Chop the veg up, squish it down, wash the masher.

Next week we can take it out of the bin and see what the fermentation process has done. Not sure how we clean it, given that we have no-where outside to wash it… Still, we can face that problem down when we get there.

Despite the challenges, and the amount of time it takes, it’s something I can do.

Which feels important.

Read the rest of this entry ╗ )

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

This is…

Feb. 24th, 2017 04:58 am
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…awful, and exactly what I thought would happen when that repulsive orange molerat started spreading hatred.

Fucking awful things that have happened in Kansas.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Kathryn pointed out the inherent falsehood in the phrase

“I am so entirely done with this”

Which we both often proclaim, just before we go on to deal more with whatever is causing the doneness.

On which note, I’m so entirely done with vile petty bigots persecuting transkids, and transpeople, and anyone who’s not exactly the same as them.

I hope they are haunted every waking moment – and I hope their sleep is entirely nightmares filled with the traumatised and beaten people who commit suicide thanks to their bitter, evil campaigns.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So one of the things I miss from the UK is relatively clear pricing.

It’s frustrating to never actually know how much something will cost – you pick it up off the shelf and then some tax is added. Depending on the item it might have more than one tax on it… which means I never know until I get to the till how much things will cost.

More annoying though is the habit of places (mainly car places) advertising big-ticket items with completely misleading prices. Like, oh, this car is $15900 to buy. Only, it’s only that price if you get it on finance, qualify for every rebate they can come up with, oh, and it’s actually lease to buy which means that it’s $15900 over 5 years – then you get to pay the $11,000 residual value. Which… as far as I’m concerned means its actual price is $26900.

I’m used to car places advertising the lowest possible price which is only available if you get the base-level trim in which the seats have been replaced with milk-crates and you have a few hundred quid of registration fees and delivery fees on top. But deliberately misleading pricing where you say it’s to purchase, but exclude over $10k of cost from the ‘purchase’. This is what I call bullshit*.

* Our insight is not getting looked after properly, because I don’t have time to look after it’s many hand-built quirks (i.e. it’s leaking and I don’t have time to fix the now three places it seems to be leaking from**). Also I *hate* burning petrol. So I’m constantly trying to wheedle a way to actually afford an EV to replace it.

** ETA: Apparently it’s probably leaking from the same place as it’s leaking on the passenger side. Which means another $100 worth of clips and time. I really need another me to fix this.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, out on our land things continue… not exactly apace, but there’s definite progress. Kathryn’s been working with various people – a wetland biologist, builders, etc, to try and move our project forward.

This involves the fun things like getting quotes for groundworks, which after the astonishing amount of water that fell from the sky, first in snow form then in rain form, have taken on a new level of complexity. Our first plan didn’t really include a lot of drainage around the house site, this updated one does – at painfully increased expense. We’ve also moved the house site forward, it’s now closer to the road. Practically, this should save us a little on the cost of the road, but also it’s slightly higher ground that’s not being assaulted by the flow of water from the county culvert.

As part of that, one of the groundworks folks went out to flag the land, but there seems to have been some miscommunication, in so far as the building he flagged was about twice the size of the one we’re intending to build. So we went out yesterday and looked at the land, and tromped around in the rain, and ended up deciding on a slight shift in position of the house. That meant that we also needed to tweak the position of the driveway…


…and we also pondered that, for the sake of costs, we should perhaps move the well closer to the garage…

We’ve also had fun debating where we’re going to put the biogas digester – although given the cost of various other things, I’m tempted to go for the kit rather than the drop-in-thingie. I’d wanted to go with the drop-in-plastic thingie, because time-wise it’d work better, and frankly because we’ve enough to do, but as other costs increase something has to give elsewhere. Although this looks like a cheaper, less longlasting, but perhaps good-enough-for-now option…

We’ve trimmed our building down too – since our current design (and frankly, the situation) calls for us to have a garage straight away (because that’s where we’re putting ‘the machine room’ (laundry, geothermal, hot-water heater) lives). It’s faintly amusing that the garage is almost as large as the house, although anyone who’s known me for any length of time probably won’t be hugely surprised by that.

House interior layout

We finally seem to have come up with something that we’re a bit happier with. There’s this really awkward wall that is required for structural purposes – which we’ve had real trouble with working around. Finally, a momentary flash of cunning meant that we’ve created a sort of den in a space that was otherwise a complete pain in the arse. We’d tried really open-plan, and really not open plan. And this seems to be a moderate compromise which also makes the room more interesting shapes (because square rooms are not really very interesting).

Anyhow, we’ll see how achievable/affordable it works out…

At least I’m feeling a bit excited about it again. While we were out on the land I was reminded just why we like it so much*.

* No matter if our groundworks person says “uh, I wouldn’t have bought this…”

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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I wish to lodge a formal complaint about this past weekend. Not only did I spend it endeavoring not to vomit,  I also still had to prepare a lecture for Monday, and proof an exam, and then to top it off I missed the meeting I wanted to go to because I was still feeling like a delicate little (no vomiting) flower. 

Kathryn was very lovely (and is still being very lovely) which is about the only thing that made it bearable. 

-500 points out of a possible 10.


Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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I realise that many of you are probably unable to sleep, worrying incessantly about how our Bokashi experiment is going. I know that given how peaceful and calm things are, you’ve little else to occupy your minds.

Let me put your mind at ease. It’s still progressing. The first bin is nearly full. It’s pretty astonishing the quantity it will take (you kind of skoosh it down, because it’s meant to be anerobic fermentation, rather than the normal rotting process). Each time we transfer stuff from the minibin to the biggie bin I think it’s going to be full, and each time we can squeeze a little more in. I think the next one’s going to be the sealing up day though.

Then there’s just the two weeks of waiting…before we get to trundle the compost out to our land and dig it in.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Trial Ballon for a coup

*now* I’m scared.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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…you could try White House Inc.

via Teen Vogue.

This is a terrible time – but if this vile human is going to try and destroy us all, the least we can do is make his life difficult.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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You may want to call the startled dugongs currently in the senate. Apparently Trump’s clusterfuck of woman-hatred wasn’t enough.

They’ve introduced Senate Bill 5320 which… [Drum roll please]

– Imposes a parental notification requirement on minors seeking an abortion (with exceptions for medical emergencies)
– Effectively requires a 48-hour waiting period for minors seeking an abortion
– Requires a pregnant minor to petition a court for waiver of the notice requirement
– Requires new, unnecessary abortion reporting requirements
– Makes it a gross demeanor to perform an abortion without providing the required notice

So… you may want to go deal with that. I have called and made my opinion… clear.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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When I used to do fire training… Long, long ago… we used to have “fire hose reels”. These were enormous hosepipes, on reels, that you could – in the event of a fire – grab one end of – run to the fire and try and fight it with the full pressure of mains water.

And they used to say “try and fight the fire, but if it’s too big then make make your escape”. Or words to that effect*.

I keep looking around and wondering if the fire’s too big already.

* Now they give you a little dinky fire extinguisher and say “If it’s a tiny fire and you think you might be able to put it out quickly, then maybe give it a go. But really, you should just leave”**.
** At least they say that in the UK. Here they’re a bit more gung-ho, and there’s still a bit more of a try-to-fight-it attitude.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.


Jan. 19th, 2017 02:41 am
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The upcoming coronation inauguration in the US and the recent speeches in the UK have left me feeling really quite demoralised. The horror I feel at what is happening in the world is sapping my energy.

I keep thinking about performing distracting self-care actions, and failing.

So uh, yeah.

Suggestions are welcome.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So, as I’m sure you’re all dying to know how our Bokashi odyssey is progressing. Given the state of the world, our ability to compost left over veg trimmings and off food is clearly something of vital importance.

So, one of the things with Bokashi is that the veg left overs need to be chopped up. There are devices like this:


Which you can use to chop up the veg – but I* didn’t want to fork out the extra for one of them so at the moment we’re manually chopping up all the veg off-cuts. Normally our recipes have a fair bit of veg in – this about 2/3rd of the off-cuts from one of our larger dishes…


As you might imagine this adds some time to our preparation. However, although the little compost bin – the countertop one we use to hold veg so we have sufficient to “make a layer” does smell sometimes (with the lid off, it’s fine with the lid on – it has a charcoal filter :) ) – the other bin so far is fine. When you take the lid off it smells a bit fermenty, but with the lid on nary a thing. And the fermenty smell isn’t bad. I wouldn’t want the entire house to smell of it, but it’s fine for a few minutes while we chuck the veg in and squidge it down.

These are the Bokashi bins:


We have two, because you seal one up to ferment for two weeks or so, once it’s full. We’ve about 2/3rds filled one of them – in about a week and a half. So it should work okay for us…

Addressing the state of the world issue – I’m feeling more and more pressing need to do every-single-thing we can to reduce our impact. We’ve realised that we can compost the paper towel we use (I have tedious allergies, still, so finding something to do with all those tissues is handy), composting has reduced our ‘landfill’ waste by about half. And I’m continuing my quest to work out a way to substitute our insight for a fully electric vehicle.

We keep trying for some political engagement, but at times it’s insanely overwhelming. On top of which, work still demands nearly all the time that exists. So self care has become of significant importance… so well, yes, that’s where we are.

* This was my idea and it was meant to arrive around Christmas, as a sort of “I’ve got this for both of us” gift – but…it arrived late. To be fair, I ordered it very late.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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That anguished howl you heard earlier?  The one that sounded like 1000 souls dieing? That was me reading the letter from Thurston county.  You may recall that before we bought our land I made countless trips (well, about three or four)to the planning department ask all whether there was wetland on our property. 

They did not think so. They could not be certain, but nothing they had indicated it was… Or so they said. 

Of course now we’ve applied for permission to build on it, suddenly had applied the magic decryption key for the spider secure database which they definitely couldn’t check before. The one that says the neighboring property has wetland, possibly,and that LIDAR reports say there might be wetland. So please can W pay to get it assessed for wetland. 

Oh, and no progress on anything else til that happens. 


So we may have effectively sunk all our money into a barely buildable plot. 

So that was the hotel you heard. 


Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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We’re trying an experiment.  not as it happens a terribly cheap one.  We’re trying out something called Bokashi – it’s an urban,  allegedly non-odorous rapid composting method.  The main problem we faced is that while we have a place we can compost we have to keep the stuff to be composted for long periods.  And during those periods it’d probably start to smell.  Also we’re not deeply keen on the idea of encouraging wildlife onto our land for scraps of food. 

Enter Bokashi. So we have two largish plastic bins and a small holding bin (because you’re meant to put in about 4-5 CM of fresh material at a time. Then you chuck over this activated bran mixture, squish it all down and, when the bin is full,  seal it up for two weeks.

I’ll let you know. Because I’m sure you’re deeply concerned. 

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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Today I have worked.

I have cleaned the house for an hour.

I have not even been outside.

I may have underestimated the amount of work I was giving myself when I changed jobs.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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So this is a maudlin introspective thing, which is what happens with me sometimes. You may want to skip it.Read the rest of this entry ╗ )

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

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I’m not quite sure what I expected from our trip to the UK. There were the obvious things, seeing my mum and her partner; seeing my sister and her family; catching up with as many friends as we could cram in to the trip. That part was definitely a success. We managed to catch up with more friends than I’d commonly see in a year. I notoriously suck at seeing people, so friends often end up going quite a while between visitations – and wonderfully friends made the trek in to London to see us – or offered us somewhere to stay… or made themselves available when we were free.

Then there was the element of visiting places – that we did pretty well on too. We managed to head into Hart’s bakery, we eat at Flour and Ash, we haunted the V&A, we visited the Eden Project, and we hit up tea shops and bookshops (and had a fabulous conversation with the owner of Mr B’s in Bath)… that was all good.

I think the harder thing, the thing that’s more of a what did I expect or hope to achieve thing was…well. There was a definite hope that the trip would prove that we were right to make the move to the US. We long ago stated that we would give our time in the US a minimum of 2 years before we make any kind of judgement about whether it was/is a good plan or a bad plan. I think I really hoped that going back to the UK would make me feel like I’d made “the right decision” when we moved here. Kind of “Oh yes, it’s nice here, but I don’t really miss it that much” kind of thing.

Of course, that is an unrealistic thing to expect.

I do miss the warm embrace of the Britain’s built environment (mainly I mean the buildings but also toilet cubicles without gaps around the doors), and of the UK safety culture (the cheery announcement from the travelator that you’re nearing the end and should prepare to step off, warning signs adorning every surface) and while I enjoy the beauty of the US natural environment, I also still love the UK’s centuries of cultures that have manipulated the landscape.

So I knew that stuff I’d miss. And of course, we didn’t really have contact with the political stuff that encouraged our departure. The privatisation and dismantling of the healthcare system and the welfare state, the demonisation of immigrants… All that is not obvious unless you’re in contact with immigrants, or working in the healthcare system.

We just flitted about the place enjoying the nice things that we like to do. So in that respect it’s hard. But in the end, I think the thing that was most discomforting was every bit of news about Trump, watching the Electoral College fail to do the one thing that it’s there to do. Listening to the appalling things being said, or suggested. Continuing to understand what this means for the US.

And the gradually building realisation that we don’t know what we’ll do if this doesn’t work out. The UK is no longer somewhere we want to be. I don’t want to live in a country were surveilling every citizen is the norm – and neither major party opposes that. But I’m equally aware that I’m a brown queer immigrant in a country that’s just voted in an incredibly right wing vociferously racist president who’s put KKK connected people into positions of power. While my passport might have the Queen stating I should pass without let or hinderance, and I continue to hold the image of her turning up and kicking arse for me, the kinds of people who object to my being in the country and my existence are also the kinds of people who shoot first and ask questions later.

That makes me nervous and it makes me uncomfortable. And it makes me hesitant to put down roots. We’re building a house because, apart from the fact that we both want the experience, we’ve also bought land. It’s land that won’t sell without something being done to it. But what happens after that feels very much up in the air at the moment.

And I hate that. I hate that because we spent the last 8 years going “Oh, we’re going to move” and I thought when we got here that might stop. But no.

Originally published at Mostly lemon based. You can comment here or there.

July 2017

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