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Moon Garden: 6/20/2015

Moon Garden: 6/20/2015

I’m a very lazy gardener. Those who know where I live can attest to the fact that I strive to keep my levels of maintenance as low as possible. Right now, the “lawn” is about knee high, with random tree sprouts starting. Two of my outside-the-yard gardens are fully overgrown (There are a couple of carrots growing in one of them, and they take so freaking long to grow that I might just turn that garden into the carrot patch when it’s carrot planting season again because – no joke – I’m pretty sure I planted those carrots like a YEAR ago, and they aren’t even close to being done.)

Weird Cucumber

Weird Cucumber

And, really, it’s only the 6 months or so that I consider myself qualified to use the term “gardener.” Before, I was just a lazy homeowner. And, whatever. Other things had priority. Now my goal is to find the perfect balance of slack and exertion – with a garden that is a balance of trash and treasure. I can only focus on so much at once. And, as I keep reminding myself…it’s a process. It’s a journey.

Panther the Partridge Cochin

Panther the Partridge Cochin

Those are important things to remember as I approach the last remaining months of sharing a home with Buddha the Grouch. And as I resume life with the Tao of Bird without BTG’s presence…and, you know, ME. And my life. Moving forward into what I will become. As always. I find myself grieving a little. Looking through pictures. Buddha The Grouch scoffs at my sentimentality. I remind him that he has always said he’s never coming back. He smiles sheepishly. I call him “The Stephen Colbert” of children, for a reason. Always in character, but somehow always him.

And time is so fleeting for Tao of Bird, as well. The adolescent attitude pervades our interactions. It’s difficult for me to not wonder if things would be different if he wasn’t in school. I struggle to remember a time that I was less sure of Buddha the Grouch. I know there was one. Like childbirth, I suppose you forget that pain. It gives me an edge. But I also remember it well enough to know I don’t have to worry quite as much as I feel like I need to.

Sunflower

Sunflower

The bigger chickens are approaching integration day. I’m still not sure what I will do with the littles. Perhaps I will move the mini coop into the larger pen and let everyone have their own space for a bit. I trust the girls will take care of each other. That’s only a few weeks out, max. The grow SO FAST. It’s kind of amazing. Skunk even CLUCKED the other day. It was like she had an adolescent voice crack, and then went back to chirping.

Pea Blossom

Pea Blossom

I learned some things about my family this week that I probably didn’t want to know, but was oddly relieved to hear spoken out loud. And realized two things.

  1. I really, truly was the goody two-shoes of my family.
  2. I probably need to make an appointment with my therapist.
Moonflower? I think? Now that I'm looking at this, it doesn't look like a moonflower...

Moonflower? I think? Now that I’m looking at this, it doesn’t look like a moonflower…

I got an estimate for the tree work and an estimate for the fence work. Both are A LOT more than I thought they would be, but I also feel that now is the time to spare no expense on those things. So I am quietly and as serenely as possible watching the loan money dwindle, and watching beautiful gardens, birds, butterflies, and bright colors springing up in its wake. I am lining my nest with feathers.

Moon Garden: 6/25/2015

Moon Garden: 6/25/2015

I went on a non-date with a nice man to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how nice the man might be, I’m just not in the mood to share my time with anyone on a consistent basis. I’m too completely enjoying doing whatever the fuck I want whenever the fuck I want to do it.

<3 <3 <3

Moon Garden: 6/11/2015

Moon Garden: 6/11/2015

It’s difficult not to talk about current events this week. I am so blessed to have sanctuary. I am so angry that is a blessing and not an assumed thing that all people have access to. It feels insincere to talk about anything else, so I’m going to post links to articles about recent events written by people who are far better writers than me.

In solidarity. <3

I don't know what this is, but it looks sexy!

Pink Volunteer…Name that flower?

But at some point, my son is going to have to understand, and I will have to explain these things to him, again and again and again. There’s a five year old, right now, who just had to play dead to survive on the instructions of her grandmother. Who is explaining this to her? How is she going to make sense of this.

http://fusion.net/story/152991/the-9-heartbreaks-of-the-charleston-shooting/

Hello, Sunflower!

Hello, Sunflower!

All of these examples are not signs of individual mental illness. From South Africa to the United States, symbols celebrating segregation, assassinations of black community leaders, mass violence and the desecration of sacred spaces for black people are the historical tools of black suppression. It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that this massacre occurred in a state that flies the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of white supremacy, at its state house. These symbols and tactics remain in our national conscience, passing on from generation to generation, like a sinister genetic code in America’s DNA.

As long as society refuses to confront this legacy of the ugly sin of racism today, we cannot depend on tomorrow’s generations to come to our rescue.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/06/18/charleston-racism-and-the-myth-of-tolerant-millennials/

Wildflowers at Walnut Creek Park

Wildflowers at Walnut Creek Park

In 1968, in my hometown of Orangeburg, SC, just down the road from Charleston, 3 black men were killed and at least 28 injured when state troopers gunned them down at a protest. A local leader I quoted in a book I wrote about the Orangeburg Massacre noted, “blacks in America have lived with terrorism…for centuries.”

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/19/blacks_in_america_have_lived_with_terrorism_for_centuries_monstrous_historty_at_the_heart_of_the_charleston_massacre/

The chicks! (l-r: Lion, Skunk, Bear, Panther, Chef Vordevask, and in the upper right corner, being her usual loner self, Plovatro a.k.a. Hawk)

The chicks! (l-r: Lion, Skunk, Bear, Panther, Chef Vordevask, and in the upper right corner, being her usual loner self, Plovatro a.k.a. Hawk)

I’m not saying that it is up to White Saviors to rescue black people. The #Blacklivesmatter movement has produced a number of powerful leaders — and not just famous ones like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. In Baltimore, where I now live, I watched as cousins and neighbors of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who was killed by police, grew into leaders of an organic neighborhood movement, which is still struggling to improve the community. But it is up to white people to rescue white people from our own worst selves, from the distorted monsters we have allowed ourselves to become. It is time to stop making excuses. We have to stop hiding from the truth of race — that this country, and the state of South Carolina in particular, were created on the idea of white supremacy. We’ll never overcome that history unless we acknowledge it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/06/19/only-white-people-can-save-themselves-from-racism-and-white-supremacism/

We’ve successfully created a world so topsy-turvy that seeking medical help for depression or anxiety is apparently stronger evidence of violent tendencies than going out and purchasing a weapon whose only purpose is committing acts of violence. We’ve got a narrative going where doing the former is something we’re OK with stigmatizing but not the latter. God bless America.

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/18/its_not_about_mental_illness_the_big_lie_that_always_follows_mass_shootings_by_white_males/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Toilet Garden

Take down the flag. Take it down now.

Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/take-down-the-confederate-flag-now/396290/?utm_source=SFFB

Moon Garden: 6/19/15

Moon Garden: 6/19/15

White America: No more of your nonsense. This massacre occurred because of your maintenance of White supremacy and all of your hands are bloody.

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2015/06/white-fragility-silence-and-supremacy-why-all-of-your-hands-are-bloody/

Moon Garden - 6/3/2015

Moon Garden – 6/3/2015

I keep having to remind myself that I’m learning. I’m new. And this is all a big experiment…inside of a larger experiment. Because summer is coming – and nothing can break my resolve for gardening like summer. And all that rain caused some things to grow, but other things…not so much. I lost pretty much a whole bed of squash. There are a few hangers on. My tomato garden never really got started because it was really too late to plant anything by the time the beds were built. The chickens have taken the sweet potato bed, and I need to find a new way to keep them out. And the melon/pumpkin patch is looking pretty yellow. AND – I fear the soil isn’t deep enough in the moon garden and the grass looks…not so healthy

Artichoke

Artichoke

I’m learning. I’m new at this. I will perservere.

The squash is dead! But those peas look pretty good.

The squash is dead! But those peas look pretty good.

Because the toilet garden is doing awesome! Beautiful flower action there. Basil is sprouting up in the front bed. The artichokes still look good, especially since I mulched and fertilized them. The plants around the border of the moon garden are also looking great.

Cucum

Cucum

I got some help clearing trash in the back yard to be hauled to the dump. It felt so good to get rid of all of that trash. It was literally a truck bed full of crap. And I still have all of my scrap lumber and wire that I’m going to need to figure out how to organize. But yes. A truck bed full. I feel so much lighter.

Lavender

Lavender

I’ve been bartering, too. I had some spare eggs, so I traded with a neighbor for some blackberries, and for pickles and other tasty garden treats (including CORN ON THE COB. Which I ate TONIGHT and it was DELICIOUS!)

The chicks are starting to get used to life outdoors. The first night I left them out all night, I made Buddha The Grouch (who has been staying up all night lately) check on them during the night. He said each time he checked on them he ended up waking them up. And they were fine. I barely got any sleep from worrying about them (and frankly, I’m still a little worried about them) but they were/are fine.

The Whole Flock

The Whole Flock

The night before last – their second night outside all night – I let them out of the pen to scratch. It was pretty late and almost dark when I was finally able to let them out. The sun was lazily drifting off to sleep, and I didn’t realize it was getting dark until, one by one the chicks flew up on to my shoulder and the top of my head to roost. Five out of the six, because the tiniest, Panther, can’t fly yet. It was hilarious and wonderful.

Class of 2019

Class of 2019

All my life I’ve dreamed of having pet birds, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to putting one in a cage. Now I have eight birds. Eight. And I think six of them think I’m their mommy. The other two are just some bad ass mother cluckers. I try not to mess with them too much. I’m hoping they will teach the chicks some street smarts once everyone is integrated.

Toilet Garden

Toilet Garden

This week – in addition to the yard cleanup – a nice handyman fixed my back door for me, so it doesn’t squeak when you open it anymore. And he installed my fancy new programmable door lock. So – there’s that task down. I STILL need to call a tree person/people and get those trees cut down. Right now, though…I’m almost feeling like I’d like to wait for summer to end so I don’t have to deal with the wilt that will no doubt occur in their absence. If I wasn’t so damn anxious to get a new fence as quickly as possible, I would just wait.

Looking pretty yellow! We'll see if I can bring them back.

Looking pretty yellow! We’ll see if I can bring them back.

The house is a mess while Buddha the Grouch cleans out his room in preparation for college, and all of my energy is spent on the chicks. And the human plague of locusts that is my children make short work of groceries.

Moon Garden - 6/10/2015

Moon Garden – 6/10/2015

I’m tired and in no mood to work. All I dream about all day is digging in the garden. Three more days until my weekend.

This Tornado Loves You

Moon Garden – 5/22/2015

Now, where did I leave off? There was lots and lots of rain. So much rain. And mud. Pretty much all of the squash bit it, and the tomato bed is pretty sparse…but everything else seems to be growing well. I’m waiting to see how things start to fill out before my next planting.

Marigold

I’m a little stalled out on the remodel. I’m finding myself thinking of more things I want to do outside, but I’m needing to rein in the budget a bit, so I have to figure out where I can cut corners to get what I want done. Right now, I have a clear idea of the remainder of the priority outside work, and the next project is the laundry room. Now that it’s not constantly raining, I think I can come up with a timeline for that room that doesn’t interfere with too much. There will be a period of time in there between washer and dryer sets that will require careful planning. Waiting for the Tao of Bird to go to his dad’s for his summer break would probably prove to be the best bet. There are a couple of handyman type jobs that need to get done in that room, though. And lots of cleanup. Cleanup is “free” if I’m doing it, so I guess that’s how I will kill the time – continuing to work on the yard with what I have, and cleaning up.

Dogloo Chicken Tractor (pre-frame)

And I’m still trying to figure out the color scheme. I’m thinking about artichoke colors – Green, magenta, puple. But which color where? I imagine I’ll need to mosey over to the paint store at some point and look at swatches. Also, I’m considering linoleum in that room. It’s such a high-traffic area with lots of muddy feet running through. I don’t want to have to deal with grout, and I need it to be durable. So…still considering.

Blondies: Chef Vordivask (cinnamon queen) & Lion (Buff Orpington)

Also still considering storage for that room. I have a nice set of cabinets above the washer and dryer, and the room is pretty cozy. But…I’m considering. I need to re-zone my house and figure out what will go where before I figure out what I need to add. And since that will be the common area, I don’t think I’ll be storing anything of any personal value to me…so…perhaps just artwork. I have plenty of that!

(almost) all of the girls

The chicks are all getting bigger. Now that it’s stopped raining, we’ve developed a routine. In total, there are 6 chicks. 3 are clumped around the 4-5 week mark, and the other three are 1-4 weeks. In the morning, I bring the older chicks – the “bigs” – outside to the outdoor pen. The “littles” stay inside with me until it warms up in the afternoon, and then they go out.

The toilet garden

By the end of the day – around 8ish PM – they are all ready to come inside, so I put them in their bin and bring them in the house. I don’t use the heat lamp anymore, even though there’s a little little in there – the rest of the birds keep her warm. They all seem pretty happy with this arrangement. I imagine the littles will start joining the bigs more and more as it warms up and they get older. And then the bigs will join the hens and the littles will follow shortly. And that will be my flock. :) They are such delightful little ladies. I’m really fortunate to find myself in a position to raise up a small flock of chickens. I’m looking forward to sharing yummy eggs with everyone I know. And I’m just so happy my girls will be free to roam, even if they do sometimes cause garden chaos. It will be a fun challenge to learn to mitigate chick rabble rousing. And I fully intend to get a pirate flag for their “chicken coup.”

Prom King

This weekend, I’m hoping to do some full-on cleanup of the yard. There’s a ton of trash back there and scrap wood and other useful tools. I want to assess what scrap I have so I can see about slapping together a fence for the moon garden. I feel pretty sure I have all of the ingredients to make that happen, it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.

Meet the new girl! (Note adorable fuzzy legs)

Framing the chicken tractor is another story. I might actually go and buy honest to goodness wood for that project. It’ll still be much cheaper than it would have been to buy one.

Artichoke Flower

The Tao of Bird has only 2 more days left of middle school (we hope) and Buddha the Grouch is about to fly the coop. I’m leaning back in my chair. Relaxed. Looking forward to what comes next, but enjoying what is happening now.

Moon Garden – 6/2/2015

Moon Garden 5/13/15

My thoughts are a bit scattered right now. It’s been a challenging week. But a good one, in many respects. Even the challenging parts.

Whenever I sit down to write something, I feel overwhelmed by all that is going on internally and externally and, since it seems probably I can’t convey it ALL…I opt to convey nothing. Or struggle to edit.

This week has been about me being a mother hen. About watching living creatures grow up so quickly under watchful and protective gaze. About nurturing and letting go.

Obviously, I’m not just talking about the baby chicks. Though it is interesting that I’m basically watching an accelerated version of all of the developmental phases from infant to adult unfold before my eyes…it’s only going slightly slower than that of the two children I have raised – one almost ready to fly the coop, and the other starting to spread his wings a bit for the first time. And, ok…I’ll quit with the chicken metaphors.

(It’s here where I should admit that I was lying in bed thinking “I should really get new curtains.” as I discerned the distinct outlines of several chickens in the water stains on the current shades. Also, when I go out I notice human behavior that reminds me of chickens.)

Fox and Crow

The kids have been bringing up the terms “success” and “failure” a lot lately. Mostly to express their opinion about their future vs. the future of their sibling. It’s strange and disconcerting that it gets brought up so much, though. I don’t remember thinking about success or failure as a measurable goal at that age. Maybe not even now. In my mind, success is a relative term. Beyond basic survival, which, really – in a civil society everyone should be able to achieve (though I know that is not the case) you are successful until you fail, and then you have to find something else to succeed at. If you are a person who at least has the means to survive, it seems like success should be define as how much access you have to the things that give you joy. Given this, I don’t see how you can even measure success comparatively with other people.

Squash

I made choices in my young adulthood that were about bringing me as much joy as possible in any given situation. Sometimes I had more control of the situations than other times. I didn’t always have long-term goals…sometimes I didn’t even have short-term goals. I had a lot of stuff to figure out. I managed to figure SOME of it out before I had kids. The rest, I’ve just sort of been winging all these years.

Pardon the pun.

Skunk,

And, you know what? I turned out ok, even though some might think some of the choices I made were regrettable. Hell, *I* think some of the choices I’ve made have been regrettable. Thankfully, most of those have been reversible and the consequences impermanent.

Externally, it’s been somewhat of a lazy weekend. I did a lot of sitting out and listening and looking. There are so many birds. So many birds. I can hear them in the yard. I brought the babies out and they seemed so tiny in the big back yard. They flocked at my feet and scratched in the dirt for bugs. It’s difficult to feel regret about any part of a life that has led to being mother hen to 5 baby chicks on a spring afternoon when it’s finally stopped raining for the first time in weeks, and everything in the garden is growing so well, without any supervision at all.

Moon Garden – 5/19/2015

 

Lately I feel like I’m on my own perpetual garden tour. So many of my friends have such lovely spaces, and now that I’m hyper-aware of outdoor spaces, I really appreciate how each person presents their personality in that space. Those who care to, anyway. Because for a long time I really didn’t care about my yard at all… I didn’t lack personality, I just lacked time to express it in that way.

I feel so fortunate that I have that time now. I felt like I was really missing out when my friends were all doing amazing things with gardens and chickens and all of the urban homesteadiness. I would occasionally attempt to put a garden together, and would inevitably run out of time to maintain it. Or not prioritize the time. And the kids would pull up the things I planted right after I planted them and it became one of those things that was just another thing to be stressed out about.

So, I let everything grow over. Over and over. The yard was frequently full of chest-high weeds. I tell the story quite often about one Sunday in May, near the end of my relationship with my ex, I came out to the backyard to find him angrily attempting to ward off the weeds with a push mower. He turned to me with a snarl and said, “Happy Fucking Mother’s Day.”

And then there were the years where, not being able to afford a lawnmower, I instead attempted to tame the weeds by weed whacking the yard in parts – alternating weekends, and cursing the rain. (For the record – I still weed whack, rather than mowing. Mowing makes things too uniform. I prefer to selectively edit.

Last year, when T&S were here helping with the garden, they unearthed and tended to two of my 3 gardening accidental successes. There was the sage plant I grew from seedling that time a bunch of mom friends and I rented a tiller and took turns tilling up a patch of soon-to-be-neglected vegetables that never yielded fruit. But damnit did I ever look badass tilling the soil with the Tao of Bird in the Kelty strapped to my back. The rosemary developed from one of those tiny novelty Christmas Trees that I somehow managed to not kill before I shoved it into the ground and continued to abstain from planticide until the plant was too big for me to harm. However, whatever magic S&T applied to those two plants caused them to flourish and create a great anchor/focal point for the middle of the yard.

The toilet was just a throwaway that I couldn’t bear to trash because it’s a giant porcelain planter, basically. Seems a waste to send it to the dump when it is so easy to repurpose and such an essential component of a garden.

This season, after season upon season of seeding and reseeding with a number of random flowers, it looks like some things are springing up, and a couple of things have returned. The butterfly weed, for instance, that never bloomed last year, is somehow magically growing again this year. Perhaps just a seed from a mix that coincidentally landed in almost the exact spot I carefully planted a seedling last year that seemed to wither away? Who knows. But it’s there, and I’m pretty sure it’s butterfly weed. And I am seriously ridiculously excited to see everything change and bloom.

Over the weekend this weekend, I planted some tomato plants and companions in various places. I forced the boys to build me another bed outside of the fence for Mother’s Day, and made a pumpkin/melon patch out of it, with a wire fence around it to keep out the cat, who loves to lay in new beds and skritch scratch the seeds everywhere so what was planted in the northeast corner of the bed somehow ends up growing somewhere on the ground by the front porch. My plan is to keep the fence up until things are reasonably established, then prepare one of the other two remaining beds and fence it to start – and just rotate through those beds as things grow and more space is needed. I’m not averse to building another bed out there, either. I think there’s enough sunshine through that oak tree to allow something to grow and enough shade to offer protection from the afternoon sun.

The grass started coming up in the moon garden, and lots of other shoots.

Beans plants are climbing so fast I can practically watch them grow.

And the squash and cucumbers are flowering like crazy.

Some refugees from Lulu’s mass destruction have sprung up in various places.

I had a great Mother’s Day. Pretty understated. I just basically bossed the kids around all day and they had to do what I told them to do for once, and then I took us all out for dinner. Also, I took each of them clothes shopping, which was super fun.

I’m feeling twinges of nostalgia with every “last time” with Buddha the Grouch. He’s done with classes at ACC, so I no longer have to pick him up at night. Of course, the fact that he’s done with all of his classes means he’s home all of the time, so there’s that. I’ve been enjoying his peculiar personality as much as I can. When he’s being particularly buddha the grouch-ish, I just kind of laugh and soak it in. I’m gonna miss that fart.

The baby chickens I just got today won’t even be laying eggs by the time he leaves.

It seems appropriate that I should come to engage in these gardening/chicken-raising activities at this time in my life – In a way that makes me weirdly appreciate the fact that my life couldn’t accommodate it earlier, no matter how much I wanted it to. I feel keenly aware of the cycles of life & am blessed to have the opportunity to nurture those cycles in so many forms.

It’s late…I have no “song of the day…or week…or whatever increment of time I’m able to cleverly categorize via a lyrical reference as post title. So, I’m just going to listen to music while I write and see if something comes to me to provide cohesiveness to the last week.

It’s been busy.

When we ended last week, I had filled I think 3 of the beds, and was optimistically assuming Lulu wouldn’t destroy things.

So I went about continuing to fill beds and continuing to negotiate the space with the dog.

Wednesday or Thursday, I sat out in the back yard for a good long time with the dog. It was dark and I couldn’t see her really well, but I assumed she was just doing her Lulu things.

The next morning, I sat out in my spot under the tree. Had some breakfast & read a bit.

Pepper bed with Lulu deterrent.

I got up to water the plants. Soaked the toilet bed, and walked over to the newly-planted cucumber bed…and…discovered Lulu had COMPLETELY destroyed it. dug all the way to the bottom of that soft, fresh, EXPENSIVE soil – tearing up seedlings and churning down seeds.

Cucumber bed

I looked at the other bed, and it was the same.

The next day, I was looking for my watering can and laughed about where I found it. Dropped right where I discovered the horrible scene of my murdered garden.

But, you know necessity is the mother of invention or something like that. And thanks to suggestions for friends – I came up with a solution that continues to work as I’ve slowly rebuilt and replanted.

Feed me, Seymour!

And I’ll skip the part where I rant about the dog and her irritating perpetual puppyness. I am aware that she is a dog and she does dog things. It’s my job to ensure she has a clear understanding of the rules. And, quite honestly, after the initial anger wore off, I spent pretty much the entire week repeating a mantra of appreciation for her many good qualities. Particularly that, unlike some other dogs I’ve owned and lived with, she doesn’t spend her entire existence attempting to find ways to run away from me. I can leave the gate open, and the most she will do is peek out and look at me for reassurance. I like that. I like that I can let her off leash off the park and she always always always comes back to me when I call her. So our little setback with the beds was no big. It’s like parenting. I’m trying to find the way to do this with the least possible amount of work in the long run. So, I discovered framing or fencing the beds is what I will need to do for now. Perhaps eventually she will learn to not get in them, and I’ll be able to forgo the fences. For now, it’s an easy enough fix and appears to be working well functionally and aesthetically.

So – I’m almost done with the yard. I still need to get the trees removed and the fence rebuilt, but that’s not going to be work that I do, and those industries are apparently very busy this time of year and I don’t mind waiting. Like I said above, even my chintzy fence accomplishes its goal of keeping the dog in, and that’s about all I need for it to do now. I think I might build another bed or two in my side yard with whatever cinder blocks and soil is left over. There’s some fixer-upper stuff I need to get done to the siding on parts of the house…And there’s a lot of cleanup work to do. Also, I need to actually build a semi-serviceable fence around the moon garden because there’s no way I’m going to be able to keep the dog out of there while the grass grows. Once all of that is done, I’m moving on to the laundry room remodel…painting, organizing, tiling, and replacing my old clunker washer and dryer with something a little more efficient.

I’m so very thankful that the weather held until I was able to get all of the work done, the majority of the soil moved, and most of the plants in. Pretty much as I was transplanting the last seedling, it began to rain in earnest for the first time since I started shifting soil. I have the remainder of the soil tarped & I’m hoping it doesn’t flood out.

artichoke

It would be super easy to go on and on with the gardening/landscaping. I’m learning. I’m learning a whole lot. It seems like I’m learning it quickly, but the reality is I’ve been listening to people talk about growing things for a long time. I’ve been dormant and gathering knowledge. And over the past year, I spent a lot of time just sitting in the back yard. And still I observe, because there’s a lot more to do. Incrementally.

Some sort of poppy thing?

Much to Lulu’s delight, we finally got a chance to visit the park again. A lot of things are blooming that weren’t blooming before. It’s been two weeks, I think, since this madness began. It was nice to explore another space.

Thistle

And I visited with some friends. Lately I am fascinated by everyone’s space – particularly their outdoor space. I’m a little obsessed. So I got to see the yard of C – the friend who gifted me my two lovely hens. Chickens and bunnies and dogs and plants.

Today, as I was walking the dog out to the car so we could go to the park, an old hippie-looking guy said “hey.” and I said “hey” back. I didn’t recognize the guy at first. All those old hippie guys look the same to me. But he said “I think I yelled at you one time about a year ago.” and I immediately remembered the incident. I was watering my tomato plants using the sprinkler as a handheld waterer and he started screaming at me about water restrictions which I thought was pretty fucking funny considering I have never in the entire time I’ve lived here watered my lawn or really did any sort of yard work.

Not wanting to rehash that conflict, I played it cool. I was like “Hmmm…I’m not sure I remembered.” He pressed “Yeah…well, I’m really sorry. I was injured and in a lot of physical pain at the time, and I think I acted like a jerk, but I can’t remember why.”

“Water restrictions,” I said. “You were angry that I was watering my tomato plants.”

He seemed dubious. For a second, I thought he was going to say “Well, never mind, then! I’m glad I yelled at you, you evil water-waster.” Instead, he shook his head.

“That doesn’t ring a bell,” he said. “Anyway. I’m sorry. I’ve been meaning to apologize for awhile now.”

“It’s ok,” I said. Feeling generous, I threw in an empathy statement. “I can get pretty cranky myself about certain things sometimes, too.”

He laughed. Said “I’m turning into a cranky old man!” Reiterated his apology. Walked on.

Shaunee and ESP eat together in perfect harmony…

I guess I’ll end there. <3

Love Will Save You

It’s been a really busy week. A lot got done. A lot. I’m exhausted, but in a very, very good way. I just took a much-needed shower. A luxurious one. I’m clinging to those last few moments before bedtime on the eve of a week of overtime after a short vacation.

I’m looking back through pictures now…The week started with this:

I didn’t take a proper “before” shot – but you will note the overgrown winter garden behind the toilet garden.

and ended with this…

The moon garden in its infancy…

With a lot of this in between…

The Tillerator!

I actually also did a lot of thinking, and I wrote a bunch of notes in my journal…but I left it in the garage and I am too too tired to go out there and get it. So I’ll just let pictures speak for this week, and leave the revelations to next time.

The moonflower sprouts in the toilet garden went from this:

To this:

And the beds have evolved, as well…

The sandbox in the middle is just to keep the dog from digging up the cardboard.

And more than a few “NOT FOR LULU!” moments:

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to build a fence around this bed before I lay the grass seed in the center. She really really thinks these low beds are literally Lulu beds.

It’ll be a bit easier for her once I’ve cleaned up the yard. Right now, she doesn’t have a clear path in the open areas, so she takes shortcuts through the gardens. I want there to be a natural path that slowly develops that allows her to do that without destroying everything. I imagine there will be plenty destroyed in the process.

At this point, I just don’t want her to dig up the shrub starts I put around the big bed. I also would prefer she stop eating the sunflowers. Considering the poor pup donated all of her park time to being out in the yard with me for a week, she’s a lot less stir-crazy than I would anticipate.

Still, it’s definitely a challenge. Having a dog and a garden is something that has prevented me from having gardens before. I’m pretty sure the raised beds that are two bricks high are good enough deterrent…but eventually I’m going to want to build out from those. I will just have to strategically plant/fence until things are too big for her to destroy.

I guess that’s about it for this week. I’m kind of psyched for next week! It will be a challenge to keep progressing while I’m working, and I might take a day or two off from the garden just because…but now that I have things in the ground – the will continue to grow whether I do anything or not. I’m looking forward to being able to benignly neglect the garden so I can start working on the laundry room…

Week two. And I’ve had so many thoughts this week, I actually started composing a blog post in my head like the olden days of blogging, but there’s just too much to organize linearly. Therefore, I am going to sit here and spill and whatever comes out, well, there you have it.

My weeks of late are defined by my weekends. But since last I wrote, I spent a lot of time out in the garden, stacking blocks into various configurations. I’ve probably hauled about 200 cinder blocks from outside the gate to somewhere inside the fence, and stacked them lovingly on top of precarious other blocks.

To level or not to level? I wasn’t sure what to do with the cinder block beds. The one bed Cole helped me level is the only one I’m not satisfied with – but that might be because it’s 3 blocks high and still a bit uneven. I’ll work on it. I’ll figure it out.

The other beds mostly settle. They don’t really need leveling. As I stack, I’m amazed by how much dog poop I MISS when I’m out there scooping poop. Hopefully these better-defined spaces will encourage/discourage poopingness where appropriate. If I can establish an area for Lulu to go, that would make it super easy for me. At this point, she does seem to naturally avoid the beds and the people-sitting areas…but after that, it’s anyone’s guess.

(So, this is what happens when you ignore a blog post that wants to be written all day – you end up talking about where the dog is going to poop in the new yard layout.)

I like the way the concrete beds juxtaposed with the overgrown garden looks like my yard is ancient ruins with wild abandoned crops of kale and broccoli going to seed in the midst of it all.

I continue to remind myself to go slow and think in increments. If I try too hard to do everything that I want to do all at once, I will end up burning out. This is supposed to be fun, and I’m enjoying it. Even the hauling of blocks feels like good exercise and I’m thankful that my body is capable of it. The best way to ensure that my body continues to be capable of it is to continue working on it. Just like the only way I will know if I’m capable of maintaining gardens is to continue working on them.

So far, I’d say I’ve caught the bug. I am waking up every morning, wanting to look at it again. To size things up. To measure progress.

This weekend, Dani came by and started working on the chicken coop we have been talking about for some time. I helped – if by help you mean very occasionally handing things to her and watching her brain devise and spontaneously adapt amazingly creative design ideas. She incorporated waste from all around my yard in the design and bent it all to her will. I’m really excited about what the finished project will look like.

More importantly, I feel inspired to continue to explore building things…in slow, tentative ways. I was too busy hauling blocks to really petition Dani to show me how to use the power tools like I had planned, but I was impressed with the reciprocal saw she had, and feel like it will be a good place for me to start using more tools. I have so many little trees to clear and much of the branches and twigs from around the yard can be cut down and laid in the beds before the dirt arrives.

But the day for me started before Dani arrived, and I was contemplating lawns.

I don’t mow my lawn. I have a lawnmower. It’s even a nifty battery-operated one. I even replaced the battery that was accidentally left plugged in forever and therefore no longer holds a charge. But I can’t bring myself to mow. I love my long, waving seed stalks. I’d much rather hack at my lawn with a weed whacker than shear it to obscene uniformity.

Now, I understand neighbors being concerned about weeds. And there’s definitely some weeding that I am behind on…but I gotta say, I kind of like an unkempt yard. Bit by bit I might train it to be unkempt in a more aesthetically pleasing way, but it might not ever meet the standards of some of my neighbors.

It’s funny, because the yard is the most outward-facing part of your home. It is what puts your personality on display to the neighborhood and passersby. Up until now, I haven’t really been intentional about what I’m communicating to people through my yard. I don’t know if that, in itself, communicates something…but in the future, I hope to communicate more clearly and intentionally. Even if what I’m communicating is a big mess. hahaha.

At any rate, I asked Dani what she thought of lawns and of “good” weeds and “bad” weeds. I was telling her that I feel like I have been gathering information about my yard this whole year. I have learned which weeds I want to discourage, and I recognize leaf shapes that I don’t recognize – meaning, I know those are likely things that are either newly planted or newly accidentally seeded. Either way – I’m giving unknowns the benefit of the doubt until I get to know them.

In other words – I’m learning by doing. Because I don’t care how many books about plants I read – I’m still not going to know what that little lettucey-looking thing is until it becomes what it’s going to become right in front of my freaking eyes.

It was a good day. I got a lot done. But I was pretty exhausting going into chicken coop building day 2. Someone once told me “The best thing about being an introvert is you are never disappointed when people cancel.” – So when Dani had to postpone day two, I got right into the groove of Lainieland. I spent much much much of the morning laying out in my chair under the oak tree, listening to a cacophony of birdsong descend, then lift, then descend again, and the mild breeze through darkening leaves.

I got myself a table for one.

I ordered what is probably going to be literally TONS of dirt.

And I put further thought into my special little garden.

Because all of the talk about lawns made me think “There really is SOMETHING about a well-kept lawn that is appealing.” The idea of having space where I can roll in, without worrying that I’m going to roll right into a pile of something. The idea of not having rocks. The idea of being in touch with the earth fully without getting coated with dust or dirt. So, lawns aren’t EVIL…they are just overabundant.

What if, within the wild unkemptness of my yard – smack in the middle, in that spot that is traumatically significant to me…what if I create an oasis of buffalo grass – which is my favorite luxurious sitting/laying groundcover – fenced in, so no dog can enter, with a vintage gated arbor that I will search for until I find something that’s absolutely perfect, and until then will block the entrance with whatever I can find.

And since this bed will be in the middle of the yard where the sun is turned up to 11 for a significant portion of daylight hours – what if I surround my oasis with night blooming flowers and silvery grasses…and pretty lights. My tiny yard. My little night-time oasis. Big enough for one – maybe two – to lay in and watch the stars.

So, now while I’m totally TOTALLY psyched for next week when I get my soil and can finally start planting vegetables…I’m extra SUPER psyched to clear the space for my moon garden. I will likely have to wait until after winter to seed the buffalo grass, but if it comes to that, I might just consider buying sod. It’s a small area, and…I CAN’T WAIT TO ROLL AROUND IN MY BUFFALO GRASS NIGHT TIME GARDEN.

Sorry about that outburst. Hahaha.

So, I spent much of today regrouping. Thinking and planning – if not on paper, then in my head.

And listening to birds.

Declare Independence

This is the first of what I hope to be weekly posts. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but I think I need to set aside the time weekly to process and plan, so I might as well do that here. In this space.

Today I signed the papers that both bind me further to the bank, yet release me from any debt or obligation owed to my ex-husband. Though we have one child yet to finish raising together, the other child will be going off to school and has not required much coordination between us anyway. Today, I signed the papers on a refinance that allowed me to finally buy him out, and claim this house as my own. I can stop pretending he will one day agree that he doesn’t actually deserve to be paid anything for the home he left in a shambles after forcing me to cohabitate with him for years after he exited the relationship – years he was unemployed and only wandering out from his room periodically to monitor my parenting, and caring for the children while I worked…as well as oh-so-generously “allowing” me to leave the house by myself at a set time every week. And I can reclaim this worn-out old house that I have recently fallen in love with for the first time. Because those memories don’t live here anymore. They visit every once in awhile. Like today, when I read an issue of “Blackout” zine in which the author recounted an abusive relationship and the emotional fallout she articulated was gutwrenchingly familiar.

But I don’t want to write about the past. It’s important to acknowledge that, yes. It’s a monumental day. For not only am I finally able to pay him off, I am also able to take a little money out to rejuvenate the house and to prepare it for it’s transition.

I ordered the cinder blocks first. Like, as soon as I had definitive word that we were closing, I ordered the cinder blocks. LOTS and LOTS of cinder blocks. I knew I wanted five beds, so I calculated and recalculated and oh my freaking god that’s a lot of cinder blocks. Cinder blocks and a ladder and a bag of sand.

And I spent my whole weekend constructing beds like I was playing with giant legos. I stacked one bed, then another…then stopped.

Right now, the yard is overgrown and lush. I have a lot of winter plants that are going to seed, and I intend to harvest the seeds, so I don’t want to disturb the beds right now. Also, I really just kind of like having jungle yard. I hope to always have a somewhat loosely-tamed wild yard. So, today I stopped and sat down on my mom-throne in my spot under the oak tree…and surveyed. And imagined. And decided to, instead of making the beds in the middle of the yard like they are now, build them on the perimeter-ish – a few feet in from fence line, garage, and walkway – in a u-shape. This would leave the very sunniest part of the middle of the yard open for other things.

Because, while I really like the practicality of the cinder blocks – they do look a little industrial. I know they will age and stain, but with the blocks in a u-shape, I can slope dirt down from the tops of the beds and plant flowers or herbs or…really anything. Covering the majority of the cinder and creating more space.

Also – it leaves more space for the dog to run.

Also – I have this grand idea of creating a seating area in the middle of the yard shaped like or with all of the colors of an artichoke – various shades of green along the border and pinks and purples and yellows in the center.

I also have this idea that I’m going to use appliances. I already have the toilet garden (which will likely become the two-toilet garden when I replace the other toilet. I’d love to use a bathtub or sink somehow as a water feature.

But those ideas are all for phase 2. Phase 1 is the cinder block border garden. Mulch around the edges and lawn in the center. Still working on getting the trees cut down and the fence replaced.

I’ve decided I want the laundry line to be visible from the fence, because yay clotheslines! But I might end up putting up a barrier that hides some of it. Ultimately – long term goal is to build a big porch on the back of the house and make a sliding door entry into the master bedroom, which will eventually be converted into a studio apartment (with said lovely porch.) But that, again, is phase 2…or 3…or actually 4 or 5.

So I am focused. Every day this weekend I woke up early and sore from the previous day’s work. It feels good. It feels real. It feels like declaring independence.

Now my work week begins. I’m not going to hold myself to these early wake-up times, but I am hoping to haul at least some blocks every day to continue to build beds. I want them all built by next Monday, when D will be coming over to magically convert a bunch of pallets and odds and ends into a chicken palace. At that point, I’ll be able to get more ladies and my goal of supplying all of my neighbors with fresh eggs on the regular can be achieved. As it is, I’m definitely not buying eggs in the grocery store for myself anymore. Or lettuce. I’m hoping to say that about a lot more vegetables this summer.

So, next weekend is that…and soil, as I’m ordering a truckload. I’m going to lay all of the twigs and mulchy leaves that are all over my yard in those beds first – mixed with a fair amount of compost and chicken poop – and pile fresh soil and more scraps over all of it. And then I can plant. I’ll be getting a later start than I had hoped, but I still have plenty of growing I can do and so many other things to maintain.

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