culture

This is my scoby:

It is gelatinous and turns sweet tea into kombucha. I read an article about kombucha and the author named their scoby Toby, so my scoby is Toby II.

I got a scoby from ebay, as well as these cool flip top bottles.

flavors are:
peach,
peach & ginger,
strawberry mint,
mango passionfruit & ginger,
tazo chai concentrate & ginger,
peach & strawberry mint

I tried the tazo chai concentrate tonight. It turned out well. And fizzy! Not super fizzy, but fizzy enough. I am happy with how this project is going.

Kombucha is not the only culture in the house. I’m using instructions from https://www.youbrewkombucha.com/.

Rose has a sourdough that often becomes fun pancake adventures. E.T. is baking bread. He has gone through, no lie, a hundred pounds of flour during this pandemic.

In addition to that, the yard is yielding strawberries. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get one. Late one-night E.T. witnessed a baby possum gorging itself. I don’t mind sharing the bounty.

We also have an outdoor compost pile in addition to the worms. The bin was an old one from my mom that I drug back from Kansas. She wasn’t using it because it was broken. I fixed it with zip ties!

Another hippie thing I have is this rain barrel. It is very good at catching rain.

So the end of this story is: I’m a hippie. It’s going great. I have a lot of culture.

What’s in a name? Hellmaggot

Okay, I’ll explain it. First, a visual aid: a picture of myself and my paternal grandmother.

Grandma Margaret & Little Lena
“See how pale she is and her hair was almost white, doesn’t that remind you of a maggot?” my mothers words in reference to this picture “here she is in her larval stage”

I have a joke about my first name: it is spelled Helena, but I take the He off because smash the patriarchy. Also, Helena is for Hell.

When I was little I didn’t want to be called any cute nicknames. I only accepted awesome nicknames, like monster and maggot. I have my grandmother’s name Margaret as my middle name. Margaret is for Maggot.

That’s why my blog is HellMaggot.

Some Days Having a House is Really Hard

Today I had 2 of my ACs serviced, one had stopped working and one was being weird. I got a quote to replace the third one, which had got a temporary repair on Monday, but the furnace is older than me, it needs replacing. The other AC I replaced back in 2017 and it is the only one behaving. After that, sewage started bubbling up in my basement. My champion handyman came quick and roto rooter’d it.

Now, now things are quiet. The house is cold. The toilets can flush.

Next, the sewer lateral needs to be scoped, as likely some section of it has collapsed and that will need to be fixed.

I am overwhelmed. And yet. And yet. I feel lucky. I feel lucky I bought too much house. It feels like almost enough house for being stuck in for a pandemic. I feel grateful for the people who help me maintain the ecosystem of this house. To the handyman and the hvac fella, my father who watches the porch, my husband who is making me dinner right at this moment, my friend who is trapped here with us who makes amazing coffee and brought me a glass of water explaining that without AC hydration is non-optional. Her and ET alternate making dinner and I have maybe never had such varied delicious homemade meals.

Thinking of the house as an ecosystem makes it much much easier to engage with.

I have big plans.
I have small plans.
I like having plans.
I have plans interrupted.

I want to get the garage roof replaced. I want it to have a green roof. I think I might be able to get a grant to help pay for replacing the garage roof with a green roof. I want a set of steps I can use to go up there. I want a hammock up there, a hammock with mosquito netting. May a rig for a yoga swing? Those seem cool.

I have little plans. I am getting a rain barrel later this month. I want to put it at the downspout from the roof. I need to fix the gutter on the balcony.

I want to paint my front steps (as they are new, but ugly).

I need to get my neighbor’s trees trimmed so they’ll stop kissing my house in storms.

One day I need to have more tuckpointing done.

I ought to learn how to repair plaster, and fix some of the water damage that has been addressed by the new roof.

I need to fix my taxes. Something is wrong with almost every year going back to 2015. I need to file the 2019 taxes, I have an appointment. I’m supposed to get a tax credit for my solar panels.

My solar panels are running!
My bills are lower.
I need to look at those bills. Another time.

I have too much to do. I am overwhelmed.
But I also know.
I can do it all.
I don’t have to do it all.
The house tells me what can’t wait anymore.

I’m busy at work. Overwhelmed. I’m in a pandemic trying to work from home. I found a project I can do.
I am loving this project. http://umsldigitalhumanities.org/openaccess/
You can look at student activity logs, and see what they’re all up to. You can also see that I am meeting with multiple students every day overseeing a massive effort to discover and showcase faculty works, identifying what of it is open access.

It’s a good project.

I got a new project yesterday. Make a library guide: “focused on the 2020 protests across the United States and the social issues surrounding them. It focuses on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the relationship between police and people of color, and understanding the death of George Floyd in the context of institutionalized racism.”

I’m happy with how the guide is turning out. I’m working on it with two coworkers. I have great coworkers.

I think it is time for me to look into getting a new mortgage. Since getting the place I got a new roof, with solar panels too. I think the appraisal price would go up, and maybe the interest could go down. I need funds to replace the sewer lateral, the garage roof, maybe pay other debts? Probably not the student loans, I hope I can stop paying for my education one day, but for now at least another 2,533 days until those are gone and another 9,469 or so until the mortgage is paid off, if I don’t get a new one. I am going to have an involuntary pay reduction at work for the next year. It is a weird time and a hard time for planning. I’m overwhelmed. I am not under-prepared.

I am able to work on things that align with my values. I’m able to support a household I love. I am overwhelmed, but I am not alone.

Next, I’m going to go play a silly VR game or pet a cat or look at my strawberry plants. I am not going to look at refinancing and repairs and taxes tonight, because too much has happened today, but I did spew it all out on my blog, and that’s pretty good. Writing this all out was good.

Scythe

Sometimes the internet points me in strange directions.

Now I want a scythe to mow the lawn.

I’m hesitant to get it because impaling yourself during a pandemic seems very avoidable by not getting a scyth.

I am content to want and not have. I can mow the lawn easily (but not well) with a weed whacker.

May day!

I had a good busy feeling May day.

Saw ducks in the park

ET creature and I went to the park.

Husband creature in mask

We didn’t try to go swimming. My friend Rhea have us masks. I bought groceries from the restaurant supply place that does curbside delivery. My friend Joseph stopped by and sat in the yard and we chatted from the porch. My mom’s handy man came over and didn’t mow all my newly planted strawberry plants. We had Thai takeout for our weekly exciting food night. I like weekly takeout. I want to support all the wonderful restaurants near me.

In job news, I got furloughed. So I won’t be paid for a week this month or next. I took a vacation day for today and I totally did work. I can’t do that when I’m furloughed. That is going to be hard for me. My job doesn’t consume my identity, I don’t need it, but damn do I enjoy it. I miss my physical library, but there is much I can do for the institutional repository from home. I have taken on a number of practicum students. Much will get done, much will be taught and learned. I’m excited about it. Being furloughed feels extremely inconvenient on a number of fronts.

Most everyone I know are having a hard time of it. I’m worried about a number of my friends, especially the folks with depression. It feels like gravity has been turned up, and they’re the folks who tend to be carrying the most.

I had a busy and beautiful day. I’m tired. This is my almost 3am post. Time to return to head to bed! Good night internet.

game on

I played Ticket to Ride (the app of the boardgame) on Monday with my friend Joseph. The game has a basically unusable chat feature and while I enjoyed the game it highlighted what I was missing (hanging out with my friend) more than it scratched my itch to game. It did reignite my desire to game.

Last night, I played Die Crew on weird unwieldy software mostly in German (http://brettspielwelt.de/Community/Download/) remotely with friends in both Madison Wisconsin and New York City. We paired the software with Google Hangouts for voice and face viewing. The game is a cooperative trick taking card game with a space theme. I like it! And I look forward to playing it more.

Today I played two player Tsuro, which is a wildly different game at two player. With more players (it plays up to 8 beautifully) and it is light but feels much more like chance than strategy. Two player gives room for deeper strategy. I played this with card board bits face to face with my husband creature and it was wonderful.

This evening we began playing a legacy game which we bought back in 2018 after Joseph described it with such glowing praise that I bought it before the conversation was finished.

Pandemic Legacy

How did the first game go? Well we (ET, Rose and I) messed up and didn’t actually play the first legacy game, we just played normal pandemic. We won! Winning was wonderful. I look forward to playing more.

Is it in bad taste to play pandemic during a pandemic?

Holy gnomes

These appeared on my porch. I think they are local, but they may be invasive?

I don’t know what to do if they are a breeding pair? I’m worried about exponential gnomes.

But mostly I feel loved and seen and understood. And deeply deeply curious as to the origin story.

Mystery gnomes!