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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.

About Time

You know that thing where you are pregnant, but it’s early in the pregnancy, and you don’t want to tell anyone, because you don’t know yet if its viable. But you kind of are certain it is, and you are bursting to tell, bursting to share, bursting to start on this new, exciting phase of your life? I’m not pregnant, but it’s that thing.

The sweetest words:

Hello,

I have sent the Affidavit of Divorce Pay-off to xxxx xxxx. I need to confirm that you are ok with the $xx.xx doc prep fee for the Release of Lien and the $xx.xx recording fee. Once this document is signed and recorded, the lien will no longer cloud your title and you will not have to worry about providing documentation later to other companies if you choose to refinance again or sell.

Thank you,

…and that’s all I want to say, for now. Because I’m still not 100% sure it’s viable.

It’s going to be an interesting spring.

My chickens laid 4 eggs this week, and I’m all aflutter with love for those ladies. I honestly and sincerely thanked them while I gathered up the pretty blue eggs. They just clucked, but that’s ok.

My mind is all over spring. All I can think of lately is when can I start when can I start when can I start planting and growing things. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Now.

In my 45th year, I will buy my house, fix it up a bit, and plant a garden. Because what’s been stopping me from doing those things all of these years, anyway?

Oh. And I’ll be sending my eldest child off to college.

Oh yeah. That’s what’s been stopping me. And not without good reason. I had other gardens to tend to. Other beings to nurture.

I told Kate “I have had a recurring theme in my dreams where I discover a hidden room in a house I’ve lived in for a long time.”

…I feel as though I’ve discovered that room in my waking life.

Go Slow

**

Took a sick day today, as I spent most of the work day yesterday feeling poorly & wanted to give myself time to recover. Feeling better, but still tired – in that in between sick and well in which I feel guilty for not being at work but also feeling thankful that I have sick time that allows me to recover fully before returning, as so many don’t.

So I got some rest. Planted violets and jasmine in already-upturned dirt. Tended to the plants and the chickens and the cats and the dog. Sat still. Felt the air without needing to shroud myself in blankets to stave off the chills.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a small renovation plan for my house. I have lots of feelings about this, and transience, and I might have already expressed these thoughts, but my memory is poor and anyway I’m still processing, so I might repeat myself.

I have a lot of feelings about “settling” in Texas. I feel that the reason I ended up and ultimately stayed here was due more to a number of bad decisions. Therefore, I have always resisted calling myself a Texan. If people ask me where I’m from, I still say Chicago – even though I’ve lived in Texas more than half my life.

And this house – the setting of so many truly heartbreaking moments, and at the same time a symbol of my own determination to provide stability for my children when everything else in my life was falling apart. And I have had to fight for this house at times. Our struggles have been fewer than many, but greater than some. And it seems, for now at least, I’ve “won.” And I’m getting to reward myself by lining my next with little feathers to ensure I stay warm through the winter and cool through the summer.

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I was expressing concern about my ability to do a good job with some of the DIY projects I have planned, like tiling my floor. I was thinking about hiring someone to do the work for me – and I still might. I’m still deciding. My friend responded “Anyone can do good work on anything if they just go slow.”

So…what am I rushing for? Shouldn’t I let the joy of learning something new and doing a good job be one of the benefits of this project?

I mean, for crying out loud, I kept one entire whole human being alive into adulthood so far. It took 18 years to do that, but I think I can probably apply the patience and skill it took to do that to a perfectly acceptable tile job. One slab at a time.

**I just realized I’m totally guilty of the dreaded VERTICAL VIDEO SYNDROME.

Out Of Touch

This week’s Menu

Thoughts on the verge of a schedule change

It’s been an introspective weekend. I have two more weeks of my early morning start time at work before my schedule becomes vaguely more reasonable for me. I will no longer be starting and ending work before/after dark. Though I suppose that would have changed regardless of my schedule change due to the steadily lengthening days, it was a strange quarter. I let go of a lot of things. Re-evaluated a lot of things. Stepped away from scheduling and cluttering to clarify direction and begin to draw a map.

Now I have a map in hand. It’s fairly well-detailed. I have the direction defined and the vehicle. I also have the fuel. I just need…I’m just waiting on the green light. Busying myself with the things I CAN do while I wait wait wait for the word on all I WANT to do.

So…I wait. And scheme.

Regarding the clarification of direction, I started a couple of projects last year that didn’t go exactly as I had planned. The Zine and the Zine Library both seem to be floundering. Wanting my attention. For different reasons.

The zine…that is The Chicago Issue of Oyster Lexicon (Issue 2) that is about a year overdue (I laughed as I typed that, because, srsly, it wouldn’t be a zine if the intro didn’t start with “Sorry this issue is so late.”) – I’m good with that. This is an important issue. The process of inventing a process is all part of the process. I have several components and they will all come together when they are ready to come together. It could very well be that the D issue moves much more quickly. Truth be told, I’m thinking about the full 26-letter alphabet and I’m not sure if I’ll get to “Z” if I don’t start getting some issues out faster. But that kind of pressure isn’t why I’m doing the zine. And I’m not really doing it for anyone but me. And if I need to take a year to write about Chicago this time. As opposed to the other times I’ve written about Chicago. If I want to briefly summarize those years in cut-up form, or in fragments. Unrelated and disrupted shards of broken time. Then so be it. I’m sure this isn’t the last time I will try to piece those years together, and frankly I don’t think I have the insight to do them justice…though it’s funny I once thought I did have the insight to do so – must have been 20-25 years or so ago. Four years out from the events that unfolded, and I felt I had sufficiently processed them to write about them. Who knows? Maybe I was. Maybe I’m de-evolving emotionally.

Today I sat down to write with the Zine and Chicago in mind and I brainstormed a soundtrack. I had thought about the mix for the Chicago issue several times before…should I just do Chicago music? Should I do music I listened to when I lived in Chicago? Some of the bands I listened to then aren’t really even available to listen to now. What I did was thought of all of the songs I most likely would have put on a mix tape during that era of my life. My mix tapes were always pretty mish-mashy, disrespectful of genre or continuity choosing to showcase my favorite tunes rather than carefully integrating or forming themes. Mostly there was a lot of randomness involved, but I did have my favorites. The playlist reflects those favorites. I’m trying to resist continuing to add to it as more spring to mind. Most of those came to me in a rush.

So, that’s the state of the zine.

The Zine Library, on the other hand, keeps receding from my consciousness. Mostly because I lack the space now, with the giant dog crate in the way. And so many other things going on. I’m still interested in getting it going, but it requires more energy than I have right now. It’s there. It’s on my list. I’ll get to it. And I recently saw something somewhere about someone creating an online zine database, I think…so maybe I’m waiting for someone to invent that so I can just use it.

Morbidly, there’s a part of me that is waiting for Buddha the Grouch to move out so I can use his room as the zine library, but I think the garage might also do nicely. But all of that is still contingent on that aforementioned green light that I’m impatiently waiting for. So, I guess the zine library is in that same holding pattern.

Things that ARE moving forward are garden growth – I have cauliflower and broccoli and spinach and collards and lots of lettuces. I’m still waiting and hoping for brussels sprouts – I have several plants, but no sprouts as yet…I have heard the leaves are yummy and I might start nibbling on those. And I’m trying to restrain myself from getting berry bushes to plant against a fence that I’m hoping to redo, but…I’m going to hold off until after the fence is redone. But I might very well plant a pomegranate. And more Artichokes. All of the artichokes are healthy. I have dialed back my plans to have several new beds in the spring, but I do think I might try to grow some starts from seed under grow lights in the garage…if I get the green light. If not, I might get some plastic sheeting for the shelves I have and see if I can make a modified cold frame.

In the midst of all of this, I bought the last textbook for Buddha The Grouch…the last rounds of tuition for homeschool co-op, science team…improv. Lots of “lasts” this year with him. It’s sad. I will miss that guy as an every day person in my life. I’m excited to see what he does. How he grows. Who he becomes. And I still have some work to do on the other one.

So that’s me these days. Counting time and trying not to count time. Trying not to spend money I don’t have even though it’s money I might need to spend when I have it. Planning without becoming too attached to the plan in case another contingency plan is needed. Watching plants and children grow. Like usual.

Hopefully this time next week I will have more news and more action in the direction of enaction…

FullSizeRender

Lately I’ve been obsessed with music. I’m checking out CDs from the library, listening to podcasts about music and keeping track of things I want to listen to. Expanding my collection back from before my time forward through until the present. Admittedly, my musical interests have been pretty sparse these past…oh…20 years or so.

Having just rearranged my music collection, I am now slowly adding selective music to my playlists on Google Music and iTunes – depending on the device. Sprinkling in new things with old because a spoonful of nostalgia makes the modern alternative rock and roll band go down?

Speaking of nostalgia, I’m tempted to say I’m having a rough time with the zine, but the reality is I’m just doing the zine at my very special pace. The last issue seemed to come together really quickly. This issue is taking its time. And why shouldn’t it? Those years I lived in Chicago were among the most formative years of my life. I’m not even sure if I have the wisdom yet to parse together why I should have and did/didn’t learn from them. I know the main character of the story, as its told through my perspective. But how to describe me accurately and honestly? I was not perfect, but the thing is, I think I tried really hard to BE perfect. I wanted so badly to avoid the mistakes of my role models that I think I might have missed out on some fun things that I could have done. And, yet…*spoiler alert*…I’m boringly satisfied with my life. It’s difficult to write a story when you know the ending is sort of a cliche. “Young, suburban punk grows up and becomes a mom.” or “Dreamy writer chick grows up and becomes semi-jaded” or – most frightening of all – “Maybe teenage me was right all along.”

I’m just not sure what angle to take. But I guess I’ll figure it out. And, anyway – I’m in no hurry to finish the alphabet. I can sit at “C” for a good long while and not feel pressed.

If I think about it – about me at that time…what I am is somewhat removed from my surroundings. I wasn’t in a band, but I knew people who were. I didn’t get addicted to or OD on heroin, but I was close with people who did. I didn’t commit suicide. I survived. And I’m ok.

Mostly I just spent my time writing a lot of letters, anyway. Writing letters and laying out zines.

I’m having an existential crisis over the letter “c.”

In other news…Lulu news…things were a little rough last week with all of the rain and the overtime and the general cooped-uppedness. But I managed to get out to the dog park twice in the last two days. Today, we met a couple of energetic puppies that wore Lulu out. At one point, Lulu was playing with a dog on the edge of a cliff, and I felt like I was watching one of those westerns where everybody ends up in a gun battle on the top of a moving train. It’s like The Tao of Bird all over again. TOB used to like to run up to the edges of things – fast enough to where I didn’t know if he would maybe not be able to stop himself and perhaps might plunge over the edge.

So the other dog owners and I kept coaxing the dogs down off of the cliff to play, but they kept ending up back there until finally it seemed like Lulu was exhausted. She was actually doing that “Enough with you!” kind of grouchy bark at the other dogs that I’m familiar with other dogs giving to her when she’s overly-energetic and not reading cues to tone it down. Tone it down. Town it (the FUCK) down.

So we moved on, thankfully still intact. And walked a ways further before coming across rabbit dog. Rabbit dog was the perfect chase companion – darting in between trees like a rabbit to Lulu’s greyhound tendencies. The little dog was about an eighth of Lulu’s size, and still she kept up, mostly, and weaved through the underbrush with a thunderous grace.

It was nice, and it was exhausting, and she’s pretty much spent the rest of the day sleeping.

And, now that I type that…I think I’d like to spend the rest of the night sleeping…

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