In Xanadu did Kublah Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jewelry Shopping

Once upon a time, back when I was still officially vanilla, I was dating a guy named Allen. We had met at church, been going out for some months. I liked him a fair amount and we were spending a good bit of time together. At that time, I was traveling internationally regularly, and I had been doing it for about a year. So I had my routine down, no big deal. I was flying to the same place, same airline and same connections, literally the same flights, so I could pretty much do it on auto pilot. No fuss, no muss. I even kept a bag packed so that I could literally go to the airport on zero notice.

It was late August and I had a trip coming up in about two weeks. The thought crossed my mind that I might like to have a cross, to wear as a pendant on a necklace. I didn't give it much thought. A few days later the thought occurred to me again. I thought it might be nice to have protection. It crossed my mind that was an odd thought and then I forgot about it. I was supposed to leave on a Friday, out of Dulles. I had a busy weekend planned before leaving, lots of socializing, and I was supposed to spend Sunday afternoon with Allen. But when the day came, I called him up and canceled on no notice. I didn't tell him exactly why because I didn't fully understand why, I just said I had too much to do before I left the country. But in point of fact this idea of buying a cross to wear for protection had become urgent. I *had* to go buy a cross Sunday afternoon. Had to. And now I was perplexed, because I grew up extremely Protestant and in My tradition, we do not wear crosses. That's in My mind essentially a Catholic thing to do and I'm emphatically not Catholic. As a kid we were even taught in My little Protestant school the Catholics were going to hell because they worship idols; I was not Catholic. Nobody in my family wore a cross, nobody gave a cross for confirmation or 16th birthday or high school graduations. Nobody I knew wore a cross, I had never considered wearing a cross, I had never wanted to wear a cross. I wasn't even interested in it as purely as a matter of jewelry. I certainly didn't believe it actually conferred any sort of protection, that just didn't fit into My belief system at all. If it was anything, it was pretty jewelry, and even as jewelry it was not interesting to Me. And yet suddenly I felt I had to have one. I did not understand Myself.  I canceled my date, the last date I was going to have with the boyfriend before leaving the country, which probably meant not seeing him for two weeks. I cancelled the date so that I could go to the National Cathedral some distance away. I went to the National Cathedral, which I do not attend, so that I could buy a cross I did not believe in. 

It was important to me that it come from a Church, and the Cathedral was the logical place to get it. No church I belong to sells crosses, and I absolutely did not want to buy it in a jewelry store. It had to be the Cathedral. I schlepped to the Cathedral and I spent a significant amount of time there in the gift shop looking at pretty much every cross they had. 

I knew what I wanted, I wanted the elements of both the cross itself but also a circle, the masculine and feminine in balance and proportion. I may or may not have known that this is called a Celtic cross, but it was important to me to balance the masculine right angle element with the feminine circular element. So I looked at all the crosses and in the end I wound up spending several hundred dollars, more money than I could afford, to buy a gold Celtic cross (fortunately the price of gold was pretty reasonable at that point). I picked it in part because it had been blessed at the Cathedral, and this feeling that I needed protection was getting stronger and stronger.

At the same time, I continued to write the whole thing off as some sort of slightly nutty whim. Maybe all that travel was getting to Me. I told Myself I could take it back if I regretted spending the money.

I put the blessed, compulsively-purchased-for-protection cross on, and I did not take it off, not that day Sunday, nor the next day Monday, nor Monday night.  My plan was to wear it through the upcoming work trip which began on Friday.

And so it was that on Tuesday morning when I found myself in traffic in downtown DC, trapped as I listen to reports of car bombs all around me, of missing airplanes in the sky headed for the numerous monuments I was surrounded by, able to see the smoke of the Pentagon rising in the distance... as I sat in My trapped car hundreds of yard from the White House, watching construction workers run like hell out of buildings, clearly having been told to evacuate... understanding instinctively there must be a plane missing, that it must be headed for Me... comforting Myself with the knowledge that dad says it is really hard to spot the White House when you fly down from the north,  down across the bluff and over the Cathedral... as I comforted Myself with the idea the plane would probably overshoot the White House and hit the easily spotted Washington monument (probably still killing Me) or the easily spotted Capitol … As I sat in the middle of downtown Washington DC next to the White House on 9-11 unable to escape...  I was for the first time in My life wearing a blessed cross.  

And I was oddly calm. 

On the one hand I was completely aware of the danger I was in, yet I wasn't panicked. I was in fact calmer and clearer and more relaxed than if I had been watching this as a movie on television. I calmly persisted and creeping along, I thought back to a class I had once taken, where we did an urban terrorism simulation. I thought about strategic infrastructure targets, multiple waves of attacks, targets of high symbolic value, and knew with utter clarity what I needed to do. I made it to the office, parked the car, went into the office, grabbed my laptop, walked straight back out without speaking to anyone, got straight back in the car, and drove away from downtown with its high symbolic-value targets and its numerous infrastructure targets. 

I foresaw that the federal government would close and that mayhem would ensue when everyone attempted to escape downtown in a big damn hurry, and I knew that if I were a terrorist, that's when I would launch a second wave of attacks, maybe a plane was waiting to take out a people-loaded bridge, a jam-packed subway tunnel. So My goal was to get out of downtown before that wave could rise. 

I drove up Massachusetts Avenue to the north along embassy row, I got to witness hundreds of embassy personnel who had just heard received the emergency return-to-base call. I got to watch them sprinting in business suits with briefcases, hundreds of them, sprinting across streets and medians, through flowerbeds and parks, doing whatever it took to make a beeline back to the safety of their embassy. I just kept going north. 

I knew there was a bridge, and I figured it wasn't important enough for a terrorist to target, it was small it didn't photograph well, I figured that's how I would get back across the river. I had to get home before the flood of people behind Me caught up. Just before crossing the river, I stopped at a small construction site and traded use of their port-a-potty for the news I had that they lacked. I was home within about an hour of leaving my office. I felt badly for telling no one in the office what I knew was going on, but it was a survival situation. I'm not entirely proud of that, and yet I am. But even from this distance I marvel at My calmness being trapped in all that, trying to escape, feeling viscerally the very real dangers - later confirmed - swirling around Me, and yet somehow not being afraid. I didn't realize until a little later, I didn't connect the dots between that knowledge of having been in danger and the odd sense a few days earlier of needing protection, I didn't connect those dots right away. 

It seems to have been a one time thing. It's a beautiful piece of jewelry, and if I'm going to church for something special, I might put it on as part of establishing a spiritual headspace. It is special to Me because of that experience, but it is just jewelry now. Still, I have never before and never since felt a strong sense of needing protection from the wearing of a cross. But if ever there were a time and a place for such a thing, it was on 9-11 as the passengers of Flight 93 caused it to crash in Schwenksville, PA rather than let it to continue to its target, where I was.

I don't know why I feel moved tonight to write this. A kinky homeowner blog with three followers is an improbable place to post the story, but it is the best spot I've got.

I hope it does not mean that I am sensing great danger headed My way on this Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Burned By The Sun

I wrote this post in late August and was so upset, I decided it wise to stick it in a drawer until I could re-visit it with new eyes. I still feel badly about it, bizarrely guilty that I did not attend the event. I had been curious. If I had gone, maybe I would have seen the danger and stopped it. I like to think that anyway. But more likely I would have not realized it should be stopped, and I would then feel even more guilt. As we head into Fusion, I pray nothing like this happens again. At the same time, I know kink is like a Jeep, a great way to get stuck somewhere you couldn't otherwise reach.

Dateline August 25, 2016
I was frankly appalled to learn yesterday of the multiple serious injuries resulting from solar branding play at Fusion 2016. Normally I stay out of anything that has a fragrance of scene politics but I can't be silent about this.

Full disclosure: I have not been personally involved (thank the Lord) so all My info is second hand from the fet threads. But here's what I'm pretty sure of:

-One of the leaders of the Primal Arts group did solar branding.
-Primal Arts does ordeal/ ritual stuff that is not My kink, but a prior serious partner was much taken with their flesh hook suspensions and so I once watched "the ritual" for about 4 hours at a WinterFire. I found it troubling, not the activity per se, but the language being used. It felt very... Ambiguous. Un-responsible. It felt to Me like language one would find in a cult. It was indirect, circular, non-specific. Subject + verb + direct object seemed absent.  It gave Me the creeps. I saw one really crazy-happy lady up there danging from the fleshhooks and I watched one woman who clearly wanted to chicken out go through with it (with the support/ pressure of her peers) and walk around behaving traumatized the rest of the event.
- This PA leader guy decided he wanted to add to his existing body mod skills and learn solar branding. So he self-taught by researching online; didn't take even one class. Didn't call up any of his body mod buddies who would know. Apparently didn't even practice on himself. Then at Fusion he posted an invitation to people who might want to be recipients of his new skills. But he didn't tell them he had no experience, had *literally* never done it before. And the recipients, presumably knowing of his leader reputation in the Primal Arts community, didn't ask the seemingly unnecesary question. One of them requested the brand go entirely around a limb; even though he has apparently taught tattoo classes in which he explained why that is a giant no-no, he did it anyway.
- His solar branding gathering was not an official event of Fusion.
- I remember seeing his posting at Fusion and thought, "Wait, you can kill ants with a magnifying glass. This is a terrible idea."  But there's quite a bit of stuff I think is unsafe at these events. I play SSC, many people play RACK/ RASH. At some point, that's an individual choice, I have had to come to terms with the idea some people make terrible choices and I cannot police the world at these events. I thought no more about it.
- The guy did massive, unspeakable, almost unfathomable damage. Tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills. Hospital stays. Surgeries. One person nearly lost a limb. 

Here's what strikes Me about the situation:

1. Absolute hubris. Period. This is a person who has lost the awareness of the risks they undertake and the ability to perform a realistic risk analysis.  He was drinking his own self-empowerment kool-aid. That's the only explanation I can find for circumscribing a limb when he has taught others not to.
2. Massive consent violations. In highly hazardous play, for which there apparently isn't even a community accepted standard of performance, and esp. when you are a visible community leader with a reputation that disposes people to defer to your judgment... You damned straight better tell each and every person just what a newbie you are at this ultra hazardous activity. Their consent hinged on the belief of his competence; had he disclosed his total inexperience with solar branding they might not have gone through with it.  The definition of battery is an unconsented touching. The recipients' consent hinged on an active misrepresentation of his competence which compromised their consent. In My mind, that is (criminal) battery... if both the act was present AND EITHER criminal intent or extreme recklessness was present (details vary by state law). And OBTW, negligence may very well be here too, although likely the recipients were at least somewhat contributorily negligent as well.  Courts don't like to do things that create a "moral hazard" (i.e., encourage other victims to make similar mistakes), so they probably would want to make it clear (with a finding of contributory negligence) that at the end of the day, if you agree to let someone burn you, it's up to you to make damned sure you have chosen well.

That's the low hanging fruit. 

3. Negligence gets *really* interesting in kink consent violation situations. The standard is always what a reasonable person would foresee and what they would do. What we do in the alt lifestyle community is almost by definition NOT what reasonable people do. I have been lit on fire and loved it. Do reasonable people ever allow themselves to be lit on fire?  Maybe not. So to make the standard work, you have almost have to tailor it down to a *similarly situated* reasonable person... In other words, a reasonable kinkster. But who is that? I think I'm a reasonable kinkster because I play SSC, but not everyone does, lots of people play RACK/RASH. How far down that train of logic a court would go is fascinating to ponder. I wonder if there is a line of cases concerning tattoos or cosmetic surgery gone wrong that provides precedent.

4. The community has a very hard time spotting/ policing bad apples, and hardest time of all may be when the apple has a widely spread reputation as a presenter/ leader and is getting dangerous.  It takes a long time for facts to catch up with and corrode a reputation; huge damage can be done in the process.  The bigger they are, the harder they can fall. We need to find ways to keep ahead of this behavioral curve.

5. The really egregious cases with the leaders (that I know of) involve hubris. It is a documented element of all forms of risk management that when we do something dangerous for a while and nothing bad happens, our perception of the danger drops off. That leads to complacency, with predictable results. So perhaps we should be most skeptical of the most "expert", most well known edge players. They are most likely to feel invincible, most likely to lean on their reputation, and probably pretty likely to keep wanting to add new, edgier skills. And at minimum, selecting your Top based in part on their level of humility and willingness to meaningfully discuss prior fuckups might be a fine way to vet them. It would seem to flag the dangerous ones when little else does.

6. Even if the event were not legally liable, it will be held responsible in the court of public opinion one way or another. People will eventually conclude that where there is smoke there must be fire, and then they will vote with their feet. The nuance that the solar branding was one guy's terrible idea rather than a Fusion sponsored event gets lost in the noise. But it still raises exactly the issues that DO should consider when it agrees to allow an Ion to occur.

7. Camp feels to Me like a tremendously permissive and accepting environment, anything goes. Looking for a Mermaid on a Unicorn? Sure, no problem, right this way. I have actually had that conversation while floating naked in a pool. I love that about camp; it is very freeing for Me as a responsible and vigilant person. But I'm one of the shrinking number of grownups -- in My forties (gasp!!)!!  The money is not being made on those of us who came up through Black Rose, those of us who were taught safe sane and consensual is the bedrock.  I'm a Safety Domme and I spot danger fast, and steer clear. Too often I am right: inflated giant unicorn head mounted on golf cart obstructs view, results in injury -- to the safety guy, no less -- yes, I saw that coming. But other people... Young, inexperienced, a bit discombobulated by the big event? Those people are in considerably more peril, and if they are female or new to bottoming or worse, both? It's more a matter of when than if.

8. It may be that this large scale (1,000 people) permissive environment just cannot coexist with the full range of Primal Arts folks, who are engaging in ultra-hazardous activities for deeply personal reasons that make them willing to accept the risk of life changing personal injury. The Primal folks are not playing SSC. They aren't playing RACK/RASH. They are in an important sense NOT "playing" at all.  DO and Primal Arts used to look to Me like two flavors of basically the same thing but I now see them as operating in parallel universes, on nearly opposite assumptions about responsibility. The DO play instinct is to top the next person, keep pushing the edge because it's FUN to be increasingly outlandish; that flavor of group energy might just be too toxic for Primal activities like permanent body mod.  On their side, the Primal Arts model seems to be agnostic about the Top's responsibility, as a core concept. In that model, everything seems driven by what ordeal the (bottom) person chooses for themselves.  There seems to be a deference to the bottom's wishes that SSC would not countenance.  As an SSC player, if a bottom wants Me to hurt them in the wrong way or a way in which I don't feel competent, I will refuse. My observation is that PA people say "it's your ordeal path" and do what it asked. Sadly, in this case the ordeal they got was not at all what the person signed up for.

9. I feel bad for DO. What happened was the act of a single person who is a leader of Primal Arts which has had a symbotic relationship with DO. Primal provides a very specific subset of offerings and they seem to keep mostly to themselves. Subcontractors are forever causing headaches for their prime, and that is to some extent the case here. DO chooses its presenters but I'm betting DO has been letting Primal pick its own leaders for the ordeal track, with minimal oversight. This is two separate events happening at the same time in the same location; one is not a subset of the other. If anyone was going to spot this bad apple, it was more likely a Primal person than a DO organizer.  At the end of the day, though, whatever goes wrong at a joint event lands heavily on DO's reputation.

10. Dungeon Monitors are not enough. I see dangerous stuff happening all over camp, but what I see in the dungeon is generally quite well considered. We may need more DM type people all over camp, maybe some walkie talkie stations, so that when something unwise/ ill advised is happening, timely communication is easy. There needs to be more emphasis on collective responsibility, a more See Something/ Say Something imperative coupled with the pervasive and fully functioning hardware to allow better communications.

11. We need after-action reporting from DO. Enough things have gone wrong that we need to be connecting dots, looking for patterns, identifying risk factors. These situations follow a pattern and they devolve rapidly into histrionics on fet.  I don't see a collective learning curve happening. What we need is to really understand these events in terms of repeatable patterns, so that the patterns can be interrupted. In serious safety cultures, incident reports are common, lessons learned are formulated, and they are widely distributed. Surely someone with a background in social sciences could identify the critical factors to consider.  The cases I know of involved male top leaders and female bottom not-leaders without a great deal of scene experience; maybe we should start there.

12. At the end of the day though, if you put a thousand people together long enough, often enough, let them have sharp pointy things and alcohol and freedom, well, at some point some shit is going to happen. Truly random fails will occur. Poor judgment will happen even in normally responsible people. It has happened to Me. There will be some percentage of bad actors because any random sample of humanity will have at least a few. Whether these events attract *extra* bad actors because of their inherent lawlessness and the absence of transparency is an interesting but hard to answer question. 

These bone head screwups aren't things that "should not happen", they are things that absolutely will happen in some form, given the circumstances.  So the event organizers have to be ready for it. If that means a $10 surcharge for consent monitoring and process improvements, so be it. By my reading of the DO marketing materials, total DO attendance averages 1000 people per event, maybe 900 are paying. 900 x 4 events/ yr = 3600 registrations x $10 = $36,000. That should be enough to hire a consultant to make recommendations to fix the safety processes and provide at least one paid consent mediator/ counselor/ resource per event the first year. Second year, it should be 2. This isn't a job for an attendee volunteer; this requires professional grade skills.

13. We need to do a better job of explaining to attendees that they are really the only ones in charge of their safety. In an event of 1,000 people there is effectively no one in charge, no recourse in most scenes. The constant crop of newbies (again, I think disproportionately female bottoms) needs to receive the message that only they can protect themselves, and if they have any doubts they need to end the scene. This is deeply un-sexy and not the vibe DO wants chilling the fun, I get it.  But DO won't survive if this doesn't get fixed.

I would suggest that in addition to the legalese liability waiver, there should be a plain language, witty, distilled version, that has an educational function. I would be happy to take a whack at a first draft. And there need to be some giant signs around camp (dining hall ideal since we have plenty of time to look at in there) that outlines a set of no-brainer questions people should ask before a scene. It might start with "Dude, how many times have you done this before?".  Maybe a big Smokey The Bear posting saying "Only You".

At the end of the day, this is a problem of scale. At the scale of a local dungeon, maybe risk management by communal reputation works much of the time. But not at national scale of 1,000 strangers in various states of euphoria. That's a bunch of strangers literally playing with fire together. The hands off approach was never going to work. I just hope DO can figure it out fast enough.

Spring. Growth. Good.

I play with boys, always have. While I take it as an article of faith that everyone is at least a little bi, I'm as het as ya get. It's kind of a shame really, since I'm so open minded, but that's just My wiring. Lord knows I've been hit on from people on both sides of the aisle, but... wiring.

Dominance isn't primarily or even secondarily sexual for Me, it's just how I go through the world. When I first came into the scene, on that original list of things I was pretty sure I'd never be into, topping other women was there. Then I got some experience and realized a flogging is just a flogging. Erotic energy exists independent of Dominance, at least for Me, and it's either there or it isn't. And there are lots of other energies too, either there or not, with each new person.  I now have have three boys in My life: a bottom, a sub, and a slave. This confuses Me not at all. I didn't set out to create that reality; each relationship jelled and eventually I applied the best fitting label I could find. I get somewhat different things out of all three dynamics.

At some point I stopped thinking in term of What Do I Want With Him? And shifted into more of a curiosity: "Ooo, I feel click here, I wonder what might transpire?"  I came to trust the Dominance, take it as a given, and I stopped trying so hard.  Had I thought about it -- I didn't -- I would have realized this approach could open the door to playing with women, but since I'm really straight and they aren't on My radar, I gave it no thought at all.

So it was really the spirit of playfulness and curiosity that set Me down a new side path several years ago. I was in an event hotel lobby about 4am -- My favorite time for hotel lobbies -- hanging with folks I didn't know. I noticed a friendly male Dom and his sweet and pretty, high energy girl. My first impression was of a very high spirited, filly of a race horse.  We chatted, at some point he displayed a little party trick he has where he spoke to her in a foreign language, and a la A Fish Called Wanda, it made her all wiggly-giggly-squirmy. With Dom's permission, I joined in, speaking with him in the same language, and suddenly there was an Energy. Dom was amused, girl was wide eyed and wriggly, and I was entertained. Certainly the most fun I've ever had with a foreign language.

Event ended, time passed. It was probably a full 12 months before I saw them at the next event. Then we might have crossed paths at a party. Another event. It's probably 3 or 4 years now. As the comfort level has slowly grown, we have slowly added some petting. she leans on Me, I stroke her hair or arm a little, and speak to her soothingly in hotel lobbies late at night in a foreign language.  I tell stories about it, about the Sweet Mystery of kink dynamics and creativity, and though I never gave it much thought, they have been telling similar stories, so that people in their circle now, as she described it, "have heard the tales of the lovely lady who pets me and speaks a foreign language to me and how I flail and turn into goo".  So adorable. 

Last year, her Dom gave Me standing consent to speak to her in this fit-inducing language any time, so that broadened our range of interaction further. I'm always very careful when I'm on another Dominant's turf in any way, so this was a big shift for Me, it was in My mind saying that he recognizes there is some sort of freestanding, independent dynamic between her and Me, not just something derivative of His role. This year for the first time, girl c reached out before the event to say she was looking forward to seeing Me and expressing a hope she could sit at My feet.  she also let Me know it had taken a lot of courage to make the overture, and that this is all rather odd and somewhat confusing for her, since she normally is a rope top with other women. Additional adorable!  Yes, please! And in truth, I was Myself looking forward to playing with her verbally again, though I did hope we could play during less sleep-deprived hours. Wish granted. So when I saw My pretty target at the bar this year, I walked up behind her, leaned in, and spoke a few welcoming sentences into her ear, causing her to scream, levitate off a bar stool, flail, laugh-shriek, and generally provide a response gratifying to the heart of every reaction sadist in the universe. Dom R liked it too, and it's become clear he has been encouraging her in My direction.  We had several instances of verbal play in the lobby and hotel bar through the event, and the level of petting and cuddleyness continued to increased. Notably, there's been minimal negotiation until this point. It started Dominant-to-Dominant and at some point there was a handoff that amounted to, I trust you to keep doing this sort of thing.

girl c invited Me to their housewarming and though I nearly missed it, I just couldn't not show. I did want to be there, so there I was. girl c and I talked a bit more, I fish-called-wanda-ed her a bit (hereinafter "wanda" shall be a verb), but it was getting later in the evening by time she was finished wrestling another girl or three whilst several of them were in arm binders (best housewarming ever). We ended up with Me literally leading her by the nose to an oversized chair; I squeezed it between My fingers, but only after resisting the urge to stick a pinky up one nostril and lead her that way. It seemed somewhat the wrong tone for the house party; a bold move but unnecessary. After a few minutes in the chair, My back didn't like leaning down to talk to her on the floor at My feet, so I brought her up. Turns out she fits most comfortably in My lap. And so we were that way for a lovely half hour or so, chatting, cuddling and petting, getting to know each other a bit better, until the time came for her to bound away and Me to drive home, but only after enough enthusiastic bouncy hugs goodbye, one of them topless. I never knew I needed to be hugged by a beautiful bare breasted girl who just stepped out of a museum painting, but having had the experience, I'm quite sure I'm the better for it.

To My surprise, photos were taken of our little sofa session and I'm posting here (with consent of all) the one which does not show girl c's face. I like it for many reasons, not least of all that I'm having a good hair day Myself (yes, we all have our vanity), but mostly because it conveys something of My feelings in the moment. I like how My arms are in an almost perfect circle cuddling her, and how she is in a curl on My lap within the circle. girl c says there's something nurturing about Me that she finds calming and it makes her feel submissive to Me. I find there is something about her that makes Me feel very Earth Mother in an archetypal way. I have this feeling with My boys too sometimes but the gender difference gives it an Oedipal overlay that is just a bit squicky. That's missing with girl c, I just feel strong and feminine and grounded and compassionate. It's hard to think of examples except for the old Parkay TV commercial involving, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."  We don't really do the Divine Feminine in this culture. It feels powerful and dominant but in a benevolent and gentle way. It feels like I'm a sunny, balmy, gentle-breeze Spring day, urging everything on Earth to wake up and grow as I shine down.

Who knows where things go from here? We shall just have to see. If this is it, that's very lovely and if there's more, that's lovely too. We are both a bit out beyond the swim ropes of our customary dynamics, so no hurry. Sometimes the potentialities of not knowing are their own kind of enjoyable.

Salad Days

It was a banner week. Nice visit from the parents and all positive. Worked out some friction in my most important open relationship dynamic, and I'm really proud of us for that talk. Most unexpectedly, my ex finally tied up some loose ends between us that have been dangling for years (dude got married last fall!), things I have been increasingly upset about for a year and had just about given up on. Makes it a whole lot easier to be on good terms. And to cap last week off, there was a new special counsel for the FBI investigation. So life is good.

Three days of wicked summer heat nixed My pretty iris blooms but nothing died or bolted, and the lettuce patch is producing beautifully, not a slug or bug in sight. I'm getting a big salad out of it daily with enough to share. It's a bit of a mystery where those leaves come from while I'm at work but I'm not complaining. 

Last night I finally pulled the trigger on some good cedar raised bed kits, thanks to boy m who has sweetly gifted Me to make something special possible. I flirted with a light fixture but in the end, the garden won, so now I have 16 SF of new space in a proper container instead of the artfully random hodgepodge of baskets I've had thus far. Unplanted things will have a home, there's room for more new plants, and I can decommission some of the baskets to be used in the backyard. With luck, there will be another installment of raised beds within the year. It is a long narrow lot with the new brick retaining wall in front, and the plan is to make a shallow L of beds that runs along the wall on both sides of the gate. Flowers and stuff that can tolerate people reaching over the fence will be along the front wall, and veggies will be on the other legs of the Ls out of reach from the sidewalk. It was hard to pull the trigger but it feels good. Can't wait to go buy a bunch more bags of manure!

Today boy t surprised Me at work with a dozen tulips, which was a complete and fantastic surprise. Bless him, he really does work at serving from a distance. And I just love receiving flowers at the office early in the week. Then tonight I was one of four people on a panel for an alumni group, talking about the industry. It was nice to be reminded I could be part of that community, I forget about it. The constant fund raising requests make Me prone to toss both baby and bathwater, but I must remember that there is value there and really it far exceeds the occasional contribution. As if to drive the point home, there were three people there who are career counselor/ coach types, one of which is actually provided through the institution. I feel the Universe helpfully putting resources under My nose, nudge, nudge. It really did all just start from Me trying to be helpful, so I should keep doing that.

I love this time of year, and am thrilled the forecast calls for another 10 days of springy weather. The tomatoes would like more heat, sure, but I am happy with endless salad days for now.