Are you registered to vote? Are you sure?

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Originally posted by nagasvoice at Are you registered to vote? Are you sure?
gakked in its entirety, with thanks,from twisted chick's entry of the same name.

In the commonwealth/state of Virginia, you can check here to see if you are registered to vote.

Why is this important? Virginia is booting about 40,000 people off the registration list for dubious, illegal reasons.

And a stupid federal judge has allowed it.

Lest you think this only happens in Virginia, no. Being female in Texas can deny you the vote -- or, rather, being female and having your ID not reflect your currently used name, such as if you have just been married or divorced.

Know someone in Virginia or Texas?

Pass these links on.

Sometimes I miss my LH flist.

Lestrade's enjoying this
No one's keeping me away, but at least some of the fannish conversation seems to live on tumblr. Which is fine and pretty and all, but it was easier for me to track conversations here. Oh, well. It's not like I've tried bringing the conversation back, so I probably shouldn't bitch. I guess autumn's the nostalgia season.

Movement, family, stuff

autumn tree by the water at dusk
Yes, long time no journal, blah, blah, tumblr-cakes.

Life of late has involved a quick trip to Vermont (nice vacation spot, but I was mostly there for BFF time, and it did not disappoint), gardening, Leifur, hanging out with the Media Grrls Collective, and thinking about moving back to Michigan.

Vermont: I had a lovely time. I'd definitely recommend it for vacations involving lakes, mountains, jazz, nifty small cities, and dairy products.

Gardening: I've corralled most of my rampaging salvia, so my back garden looks mostly lush rather than abandoned. I went heavy on the hardy geraniums this time around, and they aren't looking as good as I'd hoped. My hardy begonias, on the other hand, are doing splendidly. Curves and roundabouts.

Leifur: He is not loving the neighbor cats who moved in a couple of months ago. They get to roam freely. He does not. They want to play rough. He does not. I like them well enough, but the big orange one needs to stop trying to jump on Leifur, 'cause he's just not that into it. They roam freely near two busy roads, so, sadly, Darwin will probably resolve the issue.

The MGC: awesome as always. I'm looking forward to the SHIELD tv show starting, so we have some weekly appointment tv to watch together.

Moving: Thoughts of moving have lasted through a winter spent regularly comparing weather conditions in northern lower MI and NC. I have a job alert set at the Traverse City community college. I have a search set up in Zillow for pre-war houses in TC. I've been checking out reviews of various neighborhoods, internet providers, and CSAs. None of which obligates me to move in any way, and that's probably just as well.

The thing is, I don't know a soul thereabouts. My remaining family would be in state, but four hours away. (I have no desire to live in southeastern MI, their area). I grew up three hours across the top of the mitt, and while a few of my parents' friends are hanging on, almost everyone I knew in my age group left before I did, back in the 80s.

But when I went up there a year ago, it felt like home. I'm trying to sort of check in with myself, to see if it's some odd, lingering mourning for my parents. Moving up there won't bring them back, much less in the younger, healthier, active form they had when we were residents. But the sky is bigger, with the horizon spreading out almost as far as when I was flying in the Skyhawk. The accents sound right. The water tastes right. The lakes aren't fucking ORANGE. The job market is . . . better than it was. The state government is being run by right wing assholes, but then you have to go a mile or two further down that road of crazy to even come close to the current crop of NC right wing assholes. And the difference between a 4 hour trip to see family and a 14 hour trip to see them is non-trivial. But everyone I know and like who isn't a relative lives elsewhere, mostly in NC. NC spring and autumn are delightful. And I really like my current job.

Oh well. Until I have an alternate job offer or become independently wealthy, it's not something on which I have to reach a conclusion.

Still, lakes man. Blue ones.

My hardy begonia lived up to it's name!

dandelion summer
We've had a few weeks of spring here in NC, and my garden is doing pretty well. A lot of things planted in years past came back, a few things I put in earlier this year have come up, and I found just enough empty space within which to make plans for New Things (OK, some of that space I'm creating with judicious culling). One unexpected recurrence—or, rather, three of them—were some hardy begonias I planted last fall. After I put them in they sulked for a couple of months and then disappeared. I pretty much wrote them off. But there they are, pushing gorgeous, red-veined leaves up from the mulch. Yay!

On the down side, my daffodils threw out a ton of leaves and never bloomed. Last year they bloomed a little, but it was pretty sad. I'm throwing in the towel on them and handing them over to my landlady, who is doing some planting of her own over the next few weeks. They'll probably be much happier in a place with more sun. I'll put a handful of hellebores and hardy cyclamen in their place for early spring interest (the cyclamen blooms in the fall, but its leaves are still quite lovely in February and March, when not much else is green yet).

In sort of neutral news, the fall-blooming yellow salvia is taking over the area where the black and blue salvia use to reign supreme. I'm fairly ok with that. I've moved a ton of the black and blue to my front planters, and, honestly, it's supposed to be an annual in these parts. Getting 4+ years of regrowth is far more than I'd expected.

My front deck pots are partly planted. Since the landlord took down a tree that blocked some morning light there, I'm giving herbs another go. So far I've planted thyme, dill, marjoram, chamomile, nasturtiums, borage, lavender, cat-mint, calendula, and tarragon. The camomile, nasturtiums, borage, and chamomile were all seeds, and they all came up. The chocolate mint and sage from previous years came back. Oddly enough, the chive seeds I planted did nothing. I thought you couldn't kill chives with a hammer, but I guess they need to establish themselves first. Eh, seeds are cheap.

I also planted cup and sauce vine seeds, but after weeks of nothing happening, I've decided to find a nice, tall salvia and put that in their planned place instead. I'm also planning on putting lemon verbena in between the calendulas (they're in window-box style planters), but it's not available at the nursery yet. And eventually the big pots of pansies will succumb to the heat, and I'll have to find something to put in their place. We'll see how the current herbs do. Maybe I'll try sorrel or one of the more interesting mints or thyme varieties. A neighbor has his annual basil plantation started, so I don't really need to plant that. And another neighbor has a nice rosemary planter going.



Lestrade's enjoying this
As the header might suggest to the very perceptive, I'm giving seeds a shot this year. Part of it is that there are some things that just haven't shown up at the nursery yet. Another part is that they're just so darn cheap. There are about 30 would-be plants that I'm trying: borage, calendula, chamomile, nasturtiums, and cup-and-saucer vine, in varying amounts. I paid less than $15 for them all, with plenty of seeds left over to share with a neighbor. If even the cup-and-saucer vine and borage come up I'll be doing better than if I'd bought them in pots (if I could even find cup-and-saucer vine in a pot, which I've never seen around here). And where ever things don't come up I can just buy the seedlings and fill in, the way I usually do.

Spring's starting relatively late around here. I had frost on my car this morning, which isn't common in central NC in late March. So I've been itching to get some things in the ground, and they just aren't available yet. This has actually been a good thing in some ways. For example, I had been planning on buying some more toad lillies. But the ones I planted in years past came up along with several offspring this year, which I was able to just transplant to the desired location. Yay happy perennials! And I changed my front porch plans, leading to a bunch of previously potted leadwort filling in bare spots in the side garden. On the whole, the wait (and rethinking my side-bed plans) has probably saved me about $70 in plants. (Perennials can be pricey. But you don't have to buy them over and over, once you figure out what grows where, unlike annuals.) I still plan to buy some specific hardy geraniums, if the Orion cultivar ever shows up at my nursery. And I'm sure there will be one or two other things I fall in green-love with. But the overall cost will be way lower than originally planned. Yay! I can put the money into wine and comic books instead.


I made a thing!

Lestrade's enjoying this
Last night I ate at a local Turkish restaurant (Talulla's, for the localistas), and they serve this red pepper dip with their bread. It's delish! And I thought, "I should learn to make this at home." Half an hour of googling later, and all I could find were mayo and cream cheese based things that looked nothing like what I had at the restaurant. So I decided to wing it. I bought some roasted red peppers at the local co-op, tossed them in the food processor with half a teaspoon of crushed garlic, and set them blending as I drizzled olive oil into it. When the consistency seemed right I stopped blending and dipped a bit of bread into it. Perfect! The red pepper spread, some left-over red lentil patties (also on my "learn to make it" list), bread, and wine made a lovely dinner.


Lestrade's enjoying this
I'm working from home today, and I have homemade manicotti baking in the oven for lunch. What is it about tomatoes, garlic, and cheese that combine so wonderfully?
frost blossom
I have a couple of autumn ferns that loooooooove my garden. They grew tall, and bushy, and about three times as big as I expected when I planted them in front of the hydrangea. I'm pretty sure I saw them grab for a neighbor's ankle while giggling.

So today I dug them up and relocated them toward the back of the garden. Ferns don't always do well with transplanting, but a winter move, when they're fairly dormant, tends to work better than other times. I'm hoping they'll continue their vibrant fernness back where they can frame other, smaller plantings, rather than smothering them.

I also dug up a fair bit of terra cotta edging. Back when I was filling in the garden piecemeal, I used these scallop edged brick things to hold in the top soil. They've long since been lost under mulch and compost. I should probably dig up the remaining ones, as they aren't doing the plant roots any favors.

There were tons of earthworms, which is always nice to see. Whether or not the garden ends up an aesthetic masterpiece, at least I'm building up some healthy soil.


The Garden Matures

frost blossom
Or, maybe the gardener does. From what I've read, perennial gardens go through stages. There's the initial setting up, planting things, getting all the perennials established and whatnot. It takes about three years for most perennials to get the curtains hung and Great Aunt Irma's side table exactly where they want it, and then they start showing themselves to as good an advantage as you're likely to see. (2/3s of my garden has reached this point, allegedly.)

Then you have a year or two of good production. A couple of things poop out, or a new pest does battle with the leaves of your favorite brunneria, but on the whole the things that survived the first couple of years have made their peace with the site and your gardening style and will happily do their thing.

After that you have to start dividing things, keeping more aggressive plants from overrunning the ones that were just standing there, I swear to Gaia, what's up with that black and blue salvia anyway? It's just—allegedly—maintenance mode. Maybe a few things die of old age, maybe there's a shift in the surrounding set up (a tree falls down, and suddenly your shade garden needs some coppertone), maybe the gardener has no sense of repose and starts anew with a great new idea for the garden (but then, why would that gardener be planting perennials?). You replace a few things here and there, cut back a few others, water, fertilize, mulch, and enjoy your lot.

I've never reached that point in gardening.

Part of it is that I've rented ever since college, and this is the first full-on garden plot I've had.

Part of it is that, while I've had this garden plot for 4–5 years now the first few years were an exercise in figuring out what the heck would grow in it.

Part of it was my stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge that a north-facing garden—with a staircase to the east, buildings on the north and south, and trees on the west—will never, ever grow full-sun flowers. For the record, I'm over that now. *weeps softly*

However, this year I think I've got a handle on things. I've just ordered a bunch of hardy geraniums, which do beautifully in my garden. I'm making plans for other plants, all of which are already doing well in my garden—I'm just figuring out where to put more of them. I'm going to be proactive in staking back the black and blue salvia so it doesn't try to eat the entire center of the bed. I'm moving the ferns out from under the hydrangea. They're lovely, but totally misplaced. I'm making my peace with hostas and lenten roses. I'm buying more and different types of brunneria. I'm putting in more columbine. I'm setting out anti-deer measures (in the hopes of saving this year's crop of anemones) every week, no matter how expensive the stuff is.

No more killing plants because I think they should grow there. I'm planting a ton of beautiful things that I know will grow there.

And it's going to be flippin' gorgeous!

And if that doesn't work I'll just plant the whole damn thing with mint and be done with it.


Another hummingbird sighting!

frost blossom
Upon suggestion from a local bird organization, I put my hummingbird feeder back up last week. The level has been dropping, but given that I work dawn to dusk I hadn't seen anything around it. However, since I'm working from home today, I had a lovely view of a wee, russet hummer sipping from the feeder this morning. I'm pretty sure it's a Rufous Hummingbird. Yay! They're usually west of us, but there've been sightings in NC before. I know some people say one should take feeders down in the fall to encourage the hummingbirds to migrate, but it's February. If this guy hasn't headed to Florida by now, he ain't going. I might as well give him something to nosh on.