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You are your environment

SF has felt like a tech monoculture for the past 10 years. It’s one of the big reasons we were originally planning to be in / around NYC instead.

I’m sure there’s more to it, but it’s kinda hard to find in the current situation, especially in our neighborhood. The worst thing is the possibility of slipping in to it personally, becoming one-dimensional.

Been on my mind since a lot of the indoor things I usually love doing (reading and cooking are two of the biggies) aren’t ticking the boxes at the moment. It might not be the city, it’s probably more related to the move or the pandemic. Maybe I need to check out Oakland? I guess time will tell, I’ll try harder in the meantime. You are your environment.

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Landed in SF

The sun setting over San Francisco in June

So.

After a lot of planning and quite a few delays, we’re now in the US. We’d considered NYC for a long while for a whole host of reasons, but we ended up in SF. Our first week has been overwhelmingly sunny so I’m thankful for that. It’s nice to be “home”, but it will be a while before it feels like it.

It was a weird journey. Very overwhelming, but in a way that makes your mind go blank and surrender rather than spin out. The trip itself was eerie, so empty. Wearing a mask for 32 hours wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Silver lining: a face mask makes the air on a plane feel much less dry.

I might go in to it a bit more at some point, but that’s enough for now. Slowly adjusting to feeling like an immigrant in my home state after 10 years in the UK.

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packing, selling, dissolving

Drawing of a dracaena

We’ve been slowly packing up for the past month, preparing to move thousands of miles away. It was exciting up until about two weeks ago. We knew it would be sad to leave the people we love, pack away our books, sell so many of our things. But we were looking forward to a big change.

Now it feels untethering. Reality feels very thin at the moment, and the process of moving amplifies that feeling. Home should be a grounding place, but it’s shifting under our feet. We’ve disassembled our workspaces, we’ve given away the chairs and sold the monitors. The umbrella plant that I got at the flower market when I first moved here, the dracaena I brought back from the dead, the lovely coffee table we’ve had since we first started living together. They’ll all be gone by tomorrow.

Drawing of a mid-century coffee table

I really don’t mind the downscaling. They’re just objects, and all of them are going to great homes. And we’re still going to move even if it gets delayed by current events, so it doesn’t make sense to hoard things for the sake of a few more weeks. But the *timing*. Things are dissolving and will be fluid for quite some time. I could really do with some solidity.

The worst part is that we may not get to say goodbye. We were planning to celebrate with the people we love. There’s an outside chance we’ll still be able to, but we don’t want to put friends in an uncomfortable or dangerous position.

What will happen will happen. And we’re pretty fortunate. It’s just sad, that’s all.

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Tasks for a Sunday mood

Tasks* for a Sunday mood, restlessness, feeling like I need to Get Something Done. When I feel like that, I default to doing more work or work-adjacent hobbies on a laptop / tablet / phone. I need to stop that, I spend enough of my waking hours in the digital aether.

Prep some food

Maybe the most helpful thing for the week ahead, Wednesday-night-me will be thankful for Sunday-me’s foresight. Boil some eggs, roast vegetables, wash the veg you bought last week, bake cookies, parboil potatoes, make a bean salad, cook a big batch of chickpeas, collect some wild rocket or blackberries.

Fix / alter some clothes

Needle-felt holes in sweaters, dye the shirt you like but feel iffy about the colour, shorten trousers w/ thread or nifty iron-on hem tape, embroider over stains.

Sort through old / unused stuff

Donate or give away books that aren’t worth keeping, recycle tights w/ holes or trousers that can no longer feasibly be repaired (and get a discount while doing it!), cut up threadbare t-shirts for rags, sort through makeup and donate gently- and unused (unexpired) items to a local women’s shelter (UK, USA).

Give your plants some love

Dust off the leaves, do some repotting, pick the dried-up stipules off the pothos. Propogate the sage that grows in the park.

Cleaning / tidying

Do the weird, rarely-done cleaning tasks. Hoover the places behind bookshelves, clean your laptop, wipe off the tops of the kitchen cabinets, tidy up the chaos beneath the sinks, get the cobwebs out of the corners, take down the coats / bags that have accumulated on the hooks behind the doors and put them away properly.

Other stuff

Go for a swim. Finally finish those drawings.

 

* These are chores, really. But we need a better word than “chore” for these sorts of things, that word’s got baggage.

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a talking point

We live in a flat in a terraced house, I think it was converted to flats some time in the 80s or 90s. It’s a standard sort of place with a low wall that separates the front “garden” (all flagstones) from the pavement. People stop and sit on the wall to chat all the time. No idea why, and no idea who they are. Maybe it’s perfectly butt height? Or the perfect width? Or it’s well positioned under a big, fluffy tree? Who knows. It’s kind of nice.

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cold water didn’t hurt my ears (~1992–2000)

light blue stucco
navy blue shutters
kitchen window like a fishbowl, or a porthole
one floor, mostly

mom splitting her knee open on the brick stairs up to the front door

pots & pans band

dad’s lime green motorcycle, briefly

agapanthus & jade plants
bougainvillea
the scariest palm tree

garage always full, but never the car

where did mom keep her drawing board?

huge glass sliding door at the back
games through the wicker rocking chair
cinder blocks and chain link

ice plant covering the hill to the creek behind the house

sliding closet doors, the paint would stick

neighbors with the scary Halloween ghost
Zeke & Aileen, and the toys they made for us

white painted brick surrounding the fireplace that we rarely used

– – –

blue stucco and blue shutters again,
but this time with white wrought iron
two floors now
wisteria taking over at the back

parents’ brass bed frame, with ceramic decorations on the spindles

mom and her study, wooden artboard and captain’s chair
endless stacks of continuous form paper
tins of colored pencils, meticulously organized by hue
AOL and computer games

the oven that went baroom

Sega Genesis behind the couch
Brett was way better

possom in the wood pile under the lemon and lime trees

the water main broke, water gushing down the street
jumping over the water to get to school

Mr. and Mrs. Redlitz next door
the not-so-nice lady on the other side
Teddy & Dmitri

games barefoot on the berm
until I stepped on a bee, and dog poo
Cassiopeia, Pleiades, Big & Little Dippers

Pleiades was mine, my little tornado

people jumped off that cliff sometimes, but we didn’t hear much about it; probably on purpose

falling about 5 feet on to my back on the rocks after trying to climb the cliff instead of using the path
I was lucky, it was one of the first times I really felt lucky
it could have been so much further
the grass at the top felt incredible

there’s an edible plant that grows on the cliffs and tastes sour, dewy and pink
and mustard, and fennel

owls, sometimes; gulls, always

still dream about walking down the storm drain, through the rocks and down to the bay
not sure it’s possible

we were always told to keep well back from the cliff edge, it could be soft even when it’s been dry
it was usually dry

the road leading to a friend’s house near the school fell in to the sea not long before we moved away
the rollercoaster road near the best tidepools was always changing
we didn’t go there often

countless tadpoles in the storm drain
one day we weren’t allowed to play in the storm drain
it didn’t seem like anything had changed in the little tadpole pools

never once saw the green flash

running my fingers through the sand just after the wave recedes, feeling millions of sandcrabs

mile swims around the buoys
mile runs in blistering, soft sand
Neil, a first crush
his real name is Donald
he was the only faster swimmer

a ray in the shallow water, briefly, before I can show anyone
a vivid purple jellyfish
dolphins in the bay, rarely

don’t dive in head first, always wade out and check the levels first
how to brace someone’s neck if you’re waiting for first aid
don’t touch a seal, it’s probably sick
don’t step on kelp bulbs barefoot, there might be something sharp inside
don’t step on the black “rocks”, they’re chunks of hot tar

cold water didn’t hurt my ears


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Research involving NAS, backups, storage, etc.

Aside: Thumbs up to Katie Floyd’s Policies info. Super clear.

Edit: See well-timed Guardian article “Ask Jack: Should I buy a NAS drive to back up my laptop?”

Edit 15 March 2019: Katie Floyd seems to have taken her site offline, and her post about NAS usage isn’t archived in the Wayback Machine. 🙁

Published

Grandma Piper’s Sugar Cookies

The best & easy
Bake @ 375°F (190°C) 8 min

Cream:

  • 1 c (226 g) butter
  • 1 c (200 g) granulated sugar

Beat in:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ t vanilla

Add:

  • ½ t baking powder
  • 1 c (120 g) wheat flour
  • 1 ½ c (188 g) white flour

Use 3 trays. Make a fat rope. Pinch off pieces on to trays. Flatten each 3x by dipping ⅓c measure into sugar in ½c measure. Cool cookies on newspaper.


The recipe above was written by hand in to a community cookbook she gave me in 2001. It retains her original wording and formatting, though I have added gram and Celsius conversions.

We miss you so much.