Journal 9-9-12-16

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The emus are very tame. They are also incredibly dumb and think they are being sneaky. They found Kevin very interesting.

The pigs in question are Ossabaw Island Hogs, which are a very rare farm breed. My friends are breeding them as part of the ongoing effort to preserve them on farms. They are incredibly funky and weird and awesome pigs.

Domestic boars have what’s called “shield fat” which is a hefty layer of fat over the shoulders that becomes rock hard. It’s literally armor against the tusks of other males. Fox’s boar is named Giles (her two sows are Buffy & Willow–apparently they had a Spike, but the ladies picked Giles) and this was one of his offspring who was just getting old enough to become troublesome. He was starting to develop the shield fat layer, and you could feel the difference. It is very weird to encounter something that looks like it should be squooshy fat and have it be like tough leather. In an adult boar, that layer would be inches thick!

Also, I now know more about how pig rectums fit into a pig than I knew previously. I shall cherish this knowledge.

I shall, at another time, post the tale of the star-crossed lovers, Napoleon the silky rooster and the Turkey Girl. It is an epic and stupid love for the ages.

I have about a thousand photos of chickens to sort through, and I regret nothing.

Journal 8-30-16

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Truly, Hound is a noble beast.

Kevin’s friend Ana is a Thai chef, and she grows her own peppers in pots for the sauce she makes. When she found out that Kevin’s new wife was a gardener, she brought me one dried pepper. I split it open and started the seeds, since you’re supposed to start peppers and tomatoes indoors and planted them out, and they did terribly and I was convinced I’d killed them all.

I don’t mind killing plants for the most part–gardeners slaughter plants right and left, it’s part of the process–but these were special. She’d brought them from Thailand decades ago, and you can’t exactly go out to the nursery and buy a beloved variety given as a gift to an old friend’s wife. So I was sad. I also hadn’t started any other peppers this year, because I didn’t want them to cross-pollinate.

And then Kevin looked in exactly the right spot and there it was. One of the ones I’d planted out and which had turned to a tiny, dying nubbin, and I had given up. But I hadn’t planted anything else in that planter, in case the planter was the problem, and apparently it pulled through and has been quietly growing all this time.

Kevin ate one and turned colors and assured me that yes, it was one of the Thai peppers. If I dry all these, I might get enough seeds to grow them with slightly less panic next year.

Journal 8-27-16

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Other weirdness–they wrote their insult on a print-out of an author website with my bibliography. On both sides of the paper. Because…uh…I guess they needed to fit in Jackalope Wives and a couple of Digger volumes on the back for…maximum…offensiveness…?

For those of a curious bent, the crushing insult delivered with such care was “Your photo broke my computer, ugh!” Alas, they did not include a return address, allowing me to reply with the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” response that I believe is traditional in such cases.

(Really, I’m mostly just impressed they spent stamp money on it. But the postmark was from Portland, OR, and I would certainly expect any hate mail from Portland to be small-batch, artisanal, and presumably free-range and hormone-free as well.)

On the bright side, my turmeric really is kicking butt. I wedged it under the fig. I just hope it overwinters. I’ve read reports of it being too tropical to survive less than 65 degrees, and others of it overwintering outside in 7b, so we’ll find out, I guess.

Ireland Journal, Part 1

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Irish. I am told it is called Irish, not Gaelic, even if the linguists call it Irish Gaelic, because it’s Irish, goddammit.

Noted.

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The song my grandmother used to sing was a terribly mangled version of Did Your Mother Come From Ireland? Grandma liked Bing Crosby. The fact that I have now both kissed the Blarney and visited Killarney would impress her to no end.

Journal 8-9-16

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Hound ate my white chocolate baguette and then had the nerve to act like she was starving. *grumble* But true love is ordering your wife a pizza remotely from across the country because you have the app and presets already installed and she is still moving through the stages of baguette grief.

The travel app problem is that I feel like I forgot so much about Botswana because I couldn’t get it all down! So I’m looking for a kind of…photo-and-journal on the fly app that will let me get everything down in one place, even if I don’t have wi-fi. I’ll put pages like this together later, but I need something just to get stuff down and organize. My memory is dreadfully fallible.

Day One 2 looks like the best app so far, but I’m poking at a few others. We’ll see what’s actually easy to use.

…I am one of those tiny post-apocalyptic survivors huddled in a cave who do not have Instagram.

Journal 8-7-16

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Someday I hope to travel without a week of sickening dread that I will do something egregiously wrong in the process. I figure if I can just do it ENOUGH I will come to accept it as a grand adventure, instead of a labyrinth of half-understood public transit options punctuated by moments of breathtaking scenery.

I want to be a world traveler. I want to be that calm person who just wanders across Europe with a rail pass and a backpack of clothes that can be packed for six weeks without wrinkling. I want to speak familiarly of markets in both Bangkok and Berlin.

I just am not very good at it. Anxiety problems tend to manifest for me as a terrible fear that I am Doing It Wrong and if I don’t know all the unwritten rules, I am sure to be Wrong and I will say something that will mortally offend someone because Americans seem to have a natural talent for that and even though I was given dispensation by my friend Heather to pretend to be Canadian while traveling because I apologize instinctively and can dig a car out of deep snow, thereby qualifying for at least honorary protective status, there are so many, many unwritten rules.

The only solution seems to be to keep trying as often as my budget will allow. And to go with people who know all the rules already, or who have that mystical gift of making friends with total strangers, which I envy but do not at all possess.