blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I could go on and on and on about the differences between Colorado living and Indiana living. The landscape, the diversity, the climate, the opportunities...

But I'm going to tell you about the deer.

Indiana has white-tailed deer. Colorado has mule deer. I could go on about differences in their mass and height, but the real difference is in attitude.

White-tailed deer are anxiety ridden things, truly.

If they're browsing at the side of the road and a car comes by, they panic and bolt. They often bolt in front of the car.

If they're browsing in a large field and see or hear something disturbing, they panic and bolt. They often bolt toward a road. Where cars are.

And if they're just moving from one field to another, they leap onto roads. When cars are passing.

If the deer is calmly crossing the road, and a car comes close, the deer will sometimes stand in place, or stutter-step back and forth before bounding off. But—and here's the crazy part—that deer will often trot out of the car's path... then change its mind and dash the opposite direction just in time to get hit by the car whose driver thought the deer was (reasonably) going to stay ten feet away.

I lived just outside the edge of town. I saw this a great deal.

Once upon a time, my late husband was driving on 465, the major highway that encircles Indianapolis. He didn't hit a deer. The deer hit him. Slammed right into the side of the car, buckling the rear door and shattering the window.

White-tailed deer are skittish and unpredictable.

Mule deer, on the other hand, don't give a fuck.

Mule deer browse on the side of the road. And when I say "side of the road," I mean they're right there. Two feet from the pavement. They really
don't care about the traffic. They might look up now and then, but it's passing curiosity and nothing more.

If they cross the road, they usually do it as a mosey, and they'll make eye contact as they do it. "Go ahead, hit me," the even stare says. "Just wait until you see what I can do to your car."

(I should mention mule deer look a damn sight more solid than white-tailed deer, too.)

And before they cross the road, I swear they look both ways.

I've come upon mule deer while driving, and they don't spook like white-tailed deer do. They just give me The Look, and keep on with their mosey.

My oddest mule deer moment came when I was driving home from Tai Chi, on a well-used road with development on one side and open hills on the other. I rolled up to a stop sign, and glanced both directions before moving forward.

And caught my breath.

Out the passenger window of my little Hyundai sedan, I could just see the chest and chin of a huge mule deer. I had to lean over to see his antlers. He was massive. And he was just standing there, close enough I could have touched his muzzle were I in the passenger seat (and dared to roll down the window), waiting for me to get the hell out of his way. Sure enough, as I rolled forward, he strolled across the road behind me as if he had all the time in the world. And he looked at my tail lights as if thinking, "Yeah, you better move along, bitch."

But the most unsettling mule deer moment came last fall, when I'd run away to a local campground for a couple nights. My little Tanner-pup spotted a collection of mule deer, ran to the end of her lead, and barked like crazy. The mule deer looked up from their browsing and advanced on usEven Tanner decided it was best to shut up and back down.

White-tailed deer were annoying and dangerous.

Mule deer... I don't want to mess with them at all.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
My drive to town, for which I took a two-mile detour to look at pretty green land:

Pictures! )

And on the way home after dinner, the sunset.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
For all the others in the region got hammered, our little pocket of earth was passed over by everything save a couple major wind gusts and buckets of rain.

But it certainly looked pretty once it had passed.

Photos behind the cut... )




The clouds were moving so quickly, the sky changed moment to moment. Now it's clear and breezy, and getting a little chilly beneath a lovely moon.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
In truth, it was working outside. But with temps in the upper 70s--almost unheard of for Indiana in late July--the work felt like play in some ways.

Dev and I moved fifteen bags of mulch around various planting beds, and put new mulch down in an area that had never been mulched before. It's a mostly-shady area that's difficult to mow, so we'll be filling it next spring with plants that will be happy in mostly-shade.

We uprooted two "volunteer" trees of unknown species, and replanted them on the side of the deck I'd like to have screened for privacy. Each tree is only about six feet tall, and I don't know if we salvaged enough of the roots for them to survive transplant. But they were free trees, and they couldn't have kept growing where they were, so we'll just hope for the best.

While Dev mowed the lawn, I trimmed all hedges and bushes around the house and little deck, then hacked up the trimmed stuff for compost. Lastly, I picked okra and summer squash, decided the carrots should come up in the next week, and gave my tomatoes a pep talk that I hope will encourage production. The winter squash and melon vines needed a little guidance--they will soon, by design, take over all parts of the garden no longer producing other food--and I'm hopeful their many blossoms will result in plentiful harvest. Before calling the quits, we tidied the back deck and front porch.

All the while, the dogs sniffed the mulch and romped around the lawn and bumped into us and peed on anything we moved and played Grizzly Bears with each other and rolled in the grass and jumped over obstacles and and and...

And now I have the sore hands and tired muscles that come from good and hard work, Dev is curled up with his laptop, and the dogs are passed out on the floor. Part of me wants to sit here and relax all night. The rest of me wants to go out for a drink. :)

This Dawn

Jun. 28th, 2013 06:35 am
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Good morning!

June Sunrise

That’s the view from my back door, just before the sun slipped above the horizon.

I’m not a morning person. I’ve been saying so since my teenage years, when theater and parties and exciting books kept me busy until midnight and beyond. My night owl ways were reinforced by parenthood, when I couldn’t possibly get up earlier than my “up with the sun” son but could manage to write in the dark hours after he’d gone to bed.

But over the last two years, I have somehow transitioned into a morning person. Waking between five and six has become common, and sleeping past seven is the rarity. Evidence of this change can be seen in the numerous sunrise photos I’ve taken since last spring. As someone who usually saw the sun come up only if I’d stayed up all night, the novelty of awakening to rosy-gold light hasn’t yet waned.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

In books, film, and general media, some aspects of country living are presented as “true” when those aspects are really “true when viewed through the experience of city dwellers.”  This does make me sigh, particularly when plot points turn on those aspects.

I was born and raised in Southern California, but lived in a more rural community during high school.  Then, after many more years of city living in two different states, I moved to rural Indiana.  The nearest streetlights of town (population 1,000) were over five miles away.  The nearest true city (population around 10,000) was ten miles away.  I lived in a very small house that was nearing 100 years old, but had been wired for electricity only two years before I moved in, on a riverside farm of about 130 acres that I shared with the landowners.  My closest neighbors were Amish.

I was far enough from town that now, living three miles from the city outskirts, I hardly consider myself living in the country.

Moving from city to country prompts folks to choose one of two paths–adapt to the experience, or adapt the experience itself.  The first step of the latter involves the instillation of outdoor lighting systems to banish the night.

I can’t tell you often I hear country nights, or nights before artificial lighting, described as pitch black.  As someone who used to walk around on 130 acres at night, I can assure you night walks are not akin to a blindfolded stroll.  Nights are not terrifyingly dark by default.  Darkness depends, of course, on available moonlight, but also atmospheric conditions and vegetation.  On a clear night, less than a half-moon provided light enough for comfort.  A full moon’s brightness made hikes up and down the ravines safely possible.

But the moment you look at anything brighter than the moonlight–in fact, in you look directly at a bright moon–everything else will look pitch black.  The rods in your eyes use certain pigments to see in low light, and those pigments break down in bright light to prevent the light from overloading sight.  It can take over half an hour for those pigments to build back up.  So if you’re turning a flashlight on and off, looking at a campfire, going in and out of the house, or–as in the case of reporters–spending most of the time staring into good lighting–the night will indeed look pitch black all the time.

Patience reveals another aspect.

Nighttime sound in the country can also be described very poorly by those who live with constant background sounds.  Such sounds become so pervasive, they cease to be noticed.  Air circulation fans and traffic are two common sources.  That noise covers smaller sounds of footsteps, conversations, breezes through leaves, and the passage of small animals.  You won’t hear the murmuring of a casual conversation taking place on a porch a quarter mile away.

In the country, sources of ambient noise might be moving water and/or wind.  That’s about it.  Being still reveals low sounds of small nocturnal creatures–their movements, their calls, their feeding.  The yip of a coyote carries a long, long distance, as does the whoo of an owl.  From my front porch on the farm, I could hear the clopping of hooves for long minutes before the buggy came into sight.  (Amish neighbors, remember? :)   From my back porch at my current home, I can hear most cars on a back country road when they’re still two miles away.  When I see a character be caught off-guard by the sudden appearance of a vehicle on a country road, I know the writer hasn’t spent much time outside his city limits.

All that quiet stillness will make one very aware of how much noise a clothed human body makes when it moves.  While it’s true feet cause noise on the ground, the sound of moving fabric can give away one’s position as well.  These days, humans would make easy prey for any stalking animal.

There are times that I deeply miss living on the farm.  Even the days, the ones filled with hard work in the July heat, were wonderful.  An interlude.  The in-between.  The time I needed to leave behind an old self and find the new.  But it’s the night–usually in spring and fall, usually when the moon is near full–that I miss most of all.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The advantage of working mostly from home--and having days and days off from the parts that don't fall under the mostly--is that there is no downside to being shut in because of the blizzard.

Dev was told not to come into work today, so we're just home with the dogs--dogs who spent an hour chasing each other and rolling in the snow, then half an hour being dried off with warm towels.  They are now snoring in canine bliss.

I've shoveled the driveway once.  Dev will do the second round.  It's much better to shovel easy twice than it is to shovel once hard.

Here's the front porch.  That rocking chair usually looks much more inviting, and the windchime above it doesn't usually look like a handful of nunchaku.


And here are my poor little flamingoes, that look like they're huddling together against the wind.  The snow has nearly consumed their little legs.


Lastly, hidden beneath a snow-covered evergreen, is my little garden goblin.

blairmacg: (Default)

Look: I know I ought to be revising the first chapters of both CHANT and SAND, but I'm taking a little diversion.

Amazon is, to some, the harbinger of the apocalypse. To others, the company is a great resource that yet makes folks uncomfortable with its expansions. What I see, though, is an objective lesson in lemonade production. This isn't about whether Amazon is wonderful or evil; it's about their ability to choose what comes next.

Some months back, I listened to a local talk radio broadcast featuring Indiana business owners. The topic was Amazon, and the business owners' push to require that company to pay state sales tax. That would, according to those men, "level the playing field" and permit local businesses to survive. It would be fair, they argued, because local businesses simply couldn't compete against a company that didn't have to pay state sales taxes.

Read more... )
 As a self-employed person, the lesson is pretty clear. Success won't happen when I demand my customers conform to what benefits me most. I succeed when I find what most benefits me within what my customers what.
blairmacg: (Default)
Dear Indiana,

I really, really appreciate all you've done this winter.  Almost sixty degrees at the beginning of January?  Awesome.  No hint of snow in the forecast until sometime last next week?  Double awesome.

But frankly, I'm a little suspicious.  We both know it won't last.  You're simply trying to put forth your best behavior because I started talking about leaving you.

Well, know that I'm here with you for at least the next four years--until Dev finishes school, becomes an adult, and heads off to college/work/seeing the world.  Then all bets are off, Hoosier State.  I doubt I'll be able to make a complete move.  (After all, the average California house can be eight to ten times more expensive than one of yours.)  But you and I are not going to be exclusive anymore.  I need to start seeing other states.  And countries.

Especially in January and February.  And July and August.

You never should have let me go back to Central California, y'know.


blairmacg: (Default)

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