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Morning Glories, 7/19/2015

Morning Glories, 7/19/2015

Today I was looking around the garden. Some things are wilting – nothing terribly INTERESTING was happening. I’m between projects – trying to slowly clean up the yard. As of today I’m 23rd in line for my new fence. I still need to order the flooring for the laundry room – it likely won’t get to me until September. I’m losing interest and steam in doing the interim things, though I know they need to get done. Because it’s hot…and because I’m a little burned out. As I’m taking pictures, I’m thinking – I need a change of scenery. Not permanently, but…a vacation.

Moon Garden - 7/19/2015

So I guess it’s good that I have a vacation coming up. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to keep my head down and keep getting shit done.

And I guess keep trying new angles with these photos because, to be honest – it feels like I’m taking pictures of the same thing over and over again…& although that’s kind of the point – to show progress.

Toilet Garden

Toilet Garden

Slow and Steady.

Limber Hawk the Chicken

Limber Hawk the Chicken

Sometimes too slow and too steady.

Toilet Garden

Toilet Garden

In the meantime, in my inner world, I am also observing slow and steady. Intentionally slow and steady. I’m about to welcome the Tao of Bird home again. I’m sure he will resume his surly teenager bit and will vaguely grunt hello, if he even acknowledges me when he returns. I’m kind of bracing myself for that. Neither of my kids is particularly affectionate. The Tao of Bird has had his phases. I’m looking forward to seeing where he is now.

Sweet Card from the Vet.

Sweet Card from the Vet.

Not looking forward to telling him about Lion…but maybe he’ll be in apathetic teen mode and won’t care. Or will pretend to not care, only to have it dredged up when he’s in his mid-30’s and in therapy.

Chef Vordivask with the Mexican Honeysuckle

Chef Vordivask with the Mexican Honeysuckle

The chickens seemed to have a case of the pox recently. I was most concerned about Bear, as she had a big old warty looking pock right on her nostril. I read up on it and it sounded like it wasn’t something that would be fruitful to worry about. Mostly it’s the secondary infections you need to worry about, so the advice is to keep the birds as healthy as possible, and they’ll be able to ward that shit off. It looks like the outward physical evidence of the illness has passed, and everyone still seems really healthy, though a bit overheated.

And…this happened. I was late to the march, but was glad to witness it. What can you say? What can I say? If I type the words SANDRA BLAND in capital letters today…tomorrow I will just have to type SAMUEL DUBOSE. I’m proud to stand with people in honor of the murdered, but I’d rather there be no more murders. No more abuses of authority.

Phones Up!

Phones Up! #blacklivesmatter #sandystillspeaks

I have such a difficult time writing about this stuff. It feels like it’s already been said. A million times over…by people who are far better at saying things than me. I have no idea how I used to write several political blog posts a day. Now I just want to link to a slew or articles and signal boost. So, I’ll do that…

Of Lions and Men: Mourning Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/opinion/of-lions-and-men-mourning-samuel-dubose-and-cecil-the-lion.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

#alllionsmatter Twitter hashtag search: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23AllLionsMatter&src=tyah

VIDEO: Body Cam Contradicts Official Story in Police Shooting of Samuel DuBose

http://theantimedia.org/body-cam-contradicts-official-story-in-police-shooting-of-samuel-dubose/

A Lawyer Gave Us the Blunt Truth About Sandra Bland’s Arrest

http://www.attn.com/stories/2498/sandra-bland-arrest-lawful

Fancy New Journals from Shinola

Fancy New Journals from Shinola

I want those journals pictured above – one lined, one unlined – to be sacred. I want to write amazing things in them – even if I have to quote other people. I don’t want there to be a single complaint about the dog, or the children, or…really anything unless it’s written in verse or prose. I want to see beautiful things and transcribe them in language fully worthy of the honor of transcription.

Gardens 7/31/2015

Gardens 7/31/2015

There are so. many. distractions in my life. I need to be patient with myself. I need to redirect my creative energy into things that aren’t as easy to distract from. short paragraphs, quick sketches, and gardening. Still. But soon, one child will be gone and the other in school all day, and I will have full days off with no other human in the house. I can’t say I’m looking FORWARD to it exactly, as I’m going to miss those boogers…but then again, I’m looking forward to it, because I’m me. I’m a hermit. And I fear my inability to ever be really alone in my house is making me more of a hermit somehow.

Skunk the Chicken looking like a badass.

Skunk the Chicken looking like a badass.

I also need to remind myself that the reason I’ve been such a homebody is because I have been working on the yard. On the garden. On the chickens. And just working. And vacation won’t be the end of that, but it will provide a good respite from it.

Moon Garden - 7/27/2015

Moon Garden – 7/27/2015

I have two days left to book the most expensive part of my trip. I’m not sure why I’m procrastinating, but I’m totally procrastinating.

Morning Glories and Laundry Line

Morning Glories and Laundry Line

Other than the 2 Sundays of my vacation, tomorrow is the last Sunday I will have off in awhile. I’m losing my weekend off day in this new schedule coming up. I have mixed feelings about it, but it’s fun to change things up, and it’s only for 3 months. I traded shifts with someone so I could work closing, so I’ll have mornings free to take care of things that it gets too hot to take care of by noon.

Lulu Head and Bottle Border

Lulu Head and Bottle Border – 7/21/2015

Garden report: I think I lost two of the four artichokes that bloomed earlier. I don’t think I cut them back quickly enough. The other two are doing great. Strange that the two that didn’t seem to come back were both globes and the hardy ones were the purple artichokes. I’ll probably freshen up those beds with some real soil and mulch and a border of some sort. I want to add asparagus and probably echinacea and maybe some sort of fern.

Same-ish view - 7/21/2014

Same-ish view – 7/21/2014

The tomato plants both kicked, but I left one in the dirt because it was sprouting a sucker and I just want to see what happens with it. I put some pumpkin and “red, warty thing” (The Tao of Bird picked that one out because it sounds and looks like an STD.) in the bed with the lone tomato from springtime…sprinkled in some oregano and other things. I don’t have my notes with me, but damn do freaking pumpkins and gourds grow fast. It’s amazing how quickly they are springing up.

Can you find the two perfect hen-shaped dustbaths?

Can you find the two perfect hen-shaped dustbaths?

There are 3 remaining squash plants, and I’m not sure what, if anything, I can do to keep them alive. I might have to write the bed they are in off as a vegetable bed in summer. It’s just too much sun too much of the time. Even a shade cloth doesn’t appear to provide relief. It’s just. too. hot. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I might throw some carrots in there. maybe start my winter greens…

I love those morning glories. hahaha.

I love those morning glories. hahaha.

Something was shearing the leaves off of all of my pepper plants, so I planted more and dusted the bed with diatomaceous earth. We’ll see how that goes. The basil in that bed is finally growing. That bed has just enough shade that I really think the peppers still have plenty of chance to bear fruit even if I continue to plant them…if I can figure out what’s tearing them up and put an end to that shit!

The cukes have pretty much had it. I put some tomato plants in that bed. More greens, plz!

Future Toilet Garden overlooking Future Moon Garden - 7/30/2014

Future Toilet Garden overlooking Future Moon Garden – 7/30/2014

And the sweet potatoes are kicking ass. Hard to believe I ordered those slips through the mail and they arrived wrapped in newspaper and plastic. I threw some tomatoes in the bed with them & we’ll see how that goes. I’m hoping that bed is shaded enough for those fucking prima donna tomatoes, but some of them are already wilting. UGH. WHY DO I KEEP TRYING TO PLANT TOMATOES WHEN I AM CLEARLY NOT CUT OUT FOR IT.

This is my "before" shot to encourage myself to clean this area this weekend.

This is my “before” shot to encourage myself to clean this area this weekend.

I put some sweet basil in the front bed along with the Thai basil that’s already there…and I feel like I’m running out of beds to plant things in! I need to spend some time on the three beds outside the fence – mulching around them and adding more soil for fall gardens.

After Shot - West side of garage

After Shot – West side of garage

I kind of almost want them to leave the fence pickets with me when they tear down my fence. Sure they are old and rickety and very very weathered, but I feel like I can still turn them into great garden beds! I’m just not sure where I would store them while waiting to transmogrify them into squares.

Hawk the Chicken

Hawk the Chicken

<3 <3 <3

Moon Garden: 7/13/2015

Moon Garden: 7/13/2015

It was a difficult week last week. Lion the Chicken became very sick and listless – like, very suddenly. I noticed it right before bedtime, and just thought perhaps she was tired and overheated, so I made sure they had plenty of water – even giving her a little by hand to be sure she was still drinking. She sipped from my hands, and then helped herself to a bit of water and then…just stood there. But when I put her in the coop, I was encouraged by the fact that the other chicks cuddled her close and didn’t shun her.

Dust Bathing

Wood Ash Bathing

When she wasn’t better in the morning, I was a little worried. I separated her from the rest of the flock and put her in the dogloo tractor. I put some nutritious snacks in with her, as well as some starter feed and ice water. She seemed to perk up a bit mid-day, so I kept my eye on her…but tried to remain optimistic.

Lulu and the herd of Danes

Lulu and the herd of Danes

Late afternoon, it really started to seem like she was doing much worse. When I picked her up to examine her, I noticed that her crop was enlarged and squishy, so I called around to a number of different vets until I found one who was willing (actually, they even seemed eager) to squeeze me in as an emergency patient. By then she was very dehydrated, and all of the blood had drained from her comb. The vet didn’t know what it was that caused the blockage, but liquid was accumulating in her crop and she was not able to pass it – or anything else – through.

The vet and all of the staff there were so sweet. They made a little plaster footprint for me. They gave me “as much time as needed” to hold my rapidly deteriorating bird. They very gently and sensitively put sweet Lion to sleep while I rubbed her pretty buff feathers.

Almond Verbena Over Lion's Grave

Almond Verbena Over Lion’s Grave

Guys – I have to admit, the first few years of my life as a parent – and I think even stretching before that. Like not out of any sort of blame, but just due to living conditions, I feel like I stopped being able to afford the energy to give a fuck about pets. I had them. I took good, basic care of them…but I did not revere them. So, it’s interesting to be at a point in my life that I’m still mourning the death of a 2-month old chick a week after the fact. But, there you have it.

The remaining and the remains.

The remaining and the remains.

A lot of things are coming together right now. A confluence of energies. I’m in line for my new fence…which likely means it will take 6-8 weeks. I don’t even care. I’m just so happy to be in line. And now I know about how much time I have to clean up the fenceline – so it’s no rush, but it’s also not too too far off that I can procrastinate much longer.

Morning Glory and Milkweed

Morning Glory and Milkweed

Lately, I spend a lot of time sitting out in my yard, thinking about all of the little clean up projects that need to happen out there. I kind of need to start actually DOING those projects in earnest, but I’m slowly taking care of some of them.

Toilet Garden - Bottle Border

Toilet Garden – Bottle Border

I’m about a quarter of the way done with the bottle border, for instance – and I might actually do more bottle borders – maybe just bits of border here and there as a general guideline. And I’ve mulched from the patio to the big oak. And I whacked weeds. But there’s a lot more work, and I know it will be awesome when I get it done…but, still…I’m lingering. hahaha.

Lulu and the Gate

Lulu and the Gate

The umpteenth iteration of that gate that’s been concocted in my life with this stupid fucking fence is currently in the process of falling apart. Just having a gate that closes and latches properly will be a very nice thing. And I figure having a bullpanel fence, rather than privacy, will encourage me to be creative with natural walls and such. It will be interesting to evolve the design of the yard to provide for privacy while also sharing my gardening journey with the neighborhood. Because I know I’m not the only person who admires a good garden…particularly the barely-contained bursting with chaos ones that I’m hoping I can nurture.

Moon Flower

Moon Flower

Currently blooming: Lots and lots of these babies, and morning glories.

This is my

This is my “before” shot to encourage myself to clean this area this weekend.

P.S. I’m not sure this is going to happen this weekend – but possibly during the week. I have this new thing that I do when I feel unmotivated to do something because it feels too too huge to possibly accomplish. I focus on 45 things. So I either toss or put away 45 things. Once I’ve committed to doing that, it doesn’t feel so huge. When I get 45 done, I might take a break and do 45 more. Until I’m all 45’ed out.

Mulched Path

Mulched Path

I’m already dreaming of things to put on the clothesline side of the border here – to shield the clothesline and arc over to shield the seating area by the big oak. Perhaps things I can grow in pots. Perhaps trees – like small citrus trees…or even a pomegranate…or fig…or artichokes. Or a combination…I haven’t fully decided, but the shape of it is coming to me.

Morning Glories

Morning Glories

I totally forgive this monster plant for killing all of the other plants in its path to complete domination over the north end of the moon garden. A) It puts on a beautiful show every morning and B) it’s sheltering a volunteer tomato plant that must have sprung from last year’s pitiful attempts and tomato gardens. The tomatoes I planted have already succumbed to heat (and, let’s face it, my neglect) but that little scrapper is loving life in the shade of my morning glories.

I’m not counting on it to ever produce any fruit, though. Because it’s a fucking tomato plant and I fucking suck at tomato plants. Fucking prima donna plants. hehehe.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

The younger child is at his dad’s, and the older is at a special event at his college. I’ve been kidless since Wednesday. My intention was to clean Buddha The Grouch’s room, in spite of his protestations…but I haven’t exactly accomplished that yet.

Moon Garden - 7/18/2015

Moon Garden – 7/18/2015

*Sigh* – I guess I better start counting to 45.

Butterfly Garden - 6/27/2015 1:00 PM

Butterfly Garden/Free Library – 6/27/2015 1:00 PM

Playing catch up with photos. I’ve decided I’m going to change up how I approach these blog posts so I don’t feel so pressured to think of anything interesting to say. I feel like I sound like a broken record. Chickens. Dog. Chickens. Road Trip. Chickens. Garden. Chickens. Chickens. Chickens…

The Big Oak - 7/3/2015 (wide shot post-trimming)

The Big Oak – 7/3/2015 (wide shot post-trimming)

But we all need some diversion. And this is mine. And I am quite…diverted.

Toilet Garden - 6/27/2015

Butterfly Garden/Free Library- 6/27/2015 1:19 PM

Speaking of road trip – I’m planning one. Soon. Dragging Buddha the Grouch and Lulu the Dane up to Vermont to drop the grouch off for his college thing & then proceed on to whatever epic adventure awaits while I meander my way back down in a vaguely random-ish manner. It is my graduation present to myself, and I’m looking forward to all of it. In both directions. I keep telling Buddha the Grouch we need to do a podcast of life on the road with us, but he’s not into it. So I might just do a podcast with Lulu. hahaha. Shit I say to my dog while traveling.

20150627_200859

Toilet garden with start of bottle border – 6/28/2015

There’s not much more to say about life lately. It’s full of slack and activity and beauty and minor amounts of frustration on occasion. I miss the Tao of Bird now that he’s at his dad’s, but it’s nice to be alone in the house for a bit with Buddha the Grouch. The work is unending and unendingly enjoyable.

Sunflowers through screen

Sunflowers through screen

Some ideas for spots to visit on my road trip include:

White Mountain National Forest

Stoney Pond State Forest

Amicalola Falls State Park

Blue Ridge Mountains/Smoky Mountains/Asheville, NC

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Mark Twain National Forest

Ouachita National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

Monongahela National Forest

Baxter State Park

Acadia National Park

Deering Oaks Park (Just because I want to go to Portland, ME)

Green Mountain National Forest

Susquehannock State Forest

Allegheny National Forest

Shenandoah National Park

Cherokee National Forest

Daniel Boone National Forest

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Shawnee National Forest

Chattahoochee National Forest

I’m all over the place. I’ll figure it out when I get there. I might randomly pick from a deck, or throw a die…roadtrip roulette.

Moon Garden - 6/28/2015

Moon Garden – 6/28/2015

Books on Nature I’d like to read/listen to on the road:

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Hardcover)
by Cheryl Strayed

Walden & Civil Disobedience (Paperback)
by Henry David Thoreau

The End of Nature (Paperback)
by Bill McKibben

The Sense of Wonder (Hardcover)
by Rachel Carson

Walking (Paperback)
by Henry David Thoreau

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region (Paperback)
by Elbert L. Little

Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth / My First Summer in the Sierra / The Mountains of California / Stickeen / Essays (Hardcover)
by John Muir

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
by Bill Bryson

The Control of Nature
by John McPhee

Crossing Open Ground
by Barry López

Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
by Candace Savage

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America’s Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont’s Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondacks
by Bill McKibben

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
by Bill McKibben

My First Summer in the Sierra
by John Muir

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein

Naturalist
by Edward O. Wilson

Self-Reliance and Other Essays
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
by Edith Holden

The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany
by Graeme Gibson

Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd
by Karsten Heuer

Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside
by Edward Abbey

Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks
by David M. Wilson

In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone
by Rick Lamplugh

Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness
by Mary Reynolds Thompson

How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art
by Kathleen Meyer

A Natural History of North American Trees
by Donald Culross Peattie

Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript
by Henry David Thoreau

Adirondacks: Views of An American Wilderness
by Carl E. Heilman II

Where The Sky Began: Land of the Tallgrass Prairie
by John Madson

The Big Oak - 6/28/2015 (Pre-trimming)

The Big Oak – 6/28/2015 (Pre-trimming)

One of my goals for the road trip is to focus on drawing and art. I’m getting a good set of sketch and watercolor pencils and some fine line black pens. I’d like to bring along some good books about art and nature, such as:

The Big Oak - 6/28/2015 (pre-trimming) wide shot

The Big Oak – 6/28/2015 (pre-trimming) wide shot

And also, some books on Environmental Justice:

Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply (Paperback)
by Vandana Shiva

Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (Paperback)
by Robert D. Bullard

Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago (Paperback)
by David Naguib Pellow

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (Paperback)
by Carolyn Finney

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States (Paperback)
by Seth Holmes

Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability (Paperback)
by Alison Hope Alkon

All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (Paperback)
by Winona LaDuke

The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Paperback)
by Robert D. Bullard

Stuffed And Starved: Markets, Power And The Hidden Battle For The World Food System (Hardcover)
by Raj Patel

Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices From the Grassroots (Paperback)
by Robert D. Bullard

Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island (Hardcover)
by Will Harlan

Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Paperback)
by Karl Jacoby

Chicks under big oak and brush pile.

Chicks under big oak and brush pile.

Books about the Commons:

Frischmann, Brett M., Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resources

Hartzok, Alanna – The Earth Belongs to Everyone

Barnes, Peter, Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons

Burns, Weston and Bollier, David. Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights, and the Law of the Commons

Freyfogle, Eric T., The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good

Heller, Michael,The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation and Costs Lives

Barlow, Maude, Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water [report], (San Francisco, Calif.: International Forum on Globalization, 1999)

Barnes, Peter, Who Owns the Sky? Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism

Alperovitz, Gar and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance

Nature for sale. Commons versus Commodities. by giovanna ricoveri

Reid, Herbert and Betsy Taylor, Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place and Global Justice

Hardin, Garrett, The Tragedy of the Commons

Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
by William Cronon

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
by Wendell Berry

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism
by Jeremy Rifkin

The Drama of the Commons
by Elinor Ostrom

Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance
by Peter Linebaugh

Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons
by David Bollier

Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good
by Heather Menzies

The Wealth Of The Commons: A World Beyond Market & State
by David Bollier

The Future of the Commons: Beyond Market Failure and Government Regulations
by Elinor Ostrom

Subverting the Present, Imagining the Future: Class, Struggle, Commons
by Werner Bonefeld (Editor), Stevphen Shukaitis

Butterfly Garden/Free Library 6/29/2015

Butterfly Garden/Free Library 6/29/2015

Books about National/State/Public Parks and forests:

National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 6th Edition (National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States) Paperback – March 17, 2009

Lion The Chicken

Lion The Chicken

Resources for traveling with pets:

http://www.petswelcome.com/

http://www.tripswithpets.com/

http://www.bringfido.com/

Big Oak - 6/29/2015 (post-trimming

Big Oak – 6/29/2015 (post-trimming)

Another one of my objectives of this trip is to “do nothing” most of the time. Which is not to say I will put myself in suspended animation, but I will take lots of time to sit, read, draw, and do what pleases me without rushing to do the next thing or trying to keep up. I will remind myself of the “go slow go slow” mantra, and stay in each place for as long (or as short) as I feel is necessary to really experience that place.

Roots

Roots

I’d also like to avoid eating at chain restaurants. I’m bringing two coolers that I will keep stocked with fresh fruit, veggies, and drinks. Of course, I will want to sample local restaurants (as much as I can with a large dog in tow) – but I really don’t want to get in a rut where I’m seeking drive throughs because I’m ill prepared when hunger strikes.

Some resources for road food and restaurant guides

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 800 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More Paperback – May 10, 2011

http://nourishedkitchen.com/real-food-road/

Panther/Drublood/Skunk

Panther/Drublood/Skunk

General road trip books and resources (non-fiction):

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k2952460-Best_Online_Road_Trip_Resources-Road_Trips.html

http://www.roadtripamerica.com/travelplanning/Road-Trip-Planning.htm

http://www.planning-fun-road-trips.com/roadtripresources.html

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/road-trips/

http://www.reidsguides.com/destinations/northamerica/general/road_trips.html

http://myitchytravelfeet.com/usa-road-trip-planning-resources/

Lulu!

Lulu!

So – about the present…the garden is hanging on. I’ve decided I dislike tomatoes. Not eating them…just growing them. Freaking prima donna mother fuckers. However, my cucumbers are still producing, and I’ve got sweet potatoes growing, and I think there are some squash coming in. The flowers are AMAZING and wild. The moon garden looks ok, but I worry about the grass. I feel like I want to seed again when summer is over, but I might have to wait until spring. No peppers as yet – just the one chocolate pepper that was on the plant when I bought it…and a lone jalapeno. The melon/pumpkin patch looks pretty bleak…the weeds are doing AWESOME though. hahaha.

Lavender

Lavender

I keep saying “this is an experimental year – but I’m hearing from gardener friends that they are ALL experimental years.

Integration Day - 7/1/2015

Integration Day – 7/1/2015

The chicks integrated with the hens super well. I was paranoid to let them intermingle, so I was only letting them all out when I was able to supervise. One day, I accidentally left the coop open a tiny crack, and when I came outside later they were all in the pen scratching around together like no big whoop. Without any incident, they have become a flock. The older ladies still kind of hang out in their own little self-contained unit, and they still sleep in the doghouse coop for now, but even they have started exploring more. They are more approachable, not as fearful of me. They seem more relaxed now that there’s a bigger flock for them. At the end of the day when I open the chicken pen, the big girls flop in the mulch and dustbathe while the littles flit around the yard in search of new and exciting delights.

(Future) Chicken Garden - 7/1/2015 8:31 AM

(Future) Chicken Garden – 7/1/2015 8:31 AM

I’ve been looking at pictures of the yard from this time period last year. I had some friend who were staying with me who did a bunch of really awesome work back there. Most of it has come undone. There’s some wildness in its place, but also a whole lot of beauty. It doesn’t look as clean, but it looks alive. I’m not entirely sure that I’m interested in my yard being “clean” anyway. But the foundation they laid has really helped me to get it where I want it.

(Future) Chicken Garden - 7/2/2015 8:34 AM

(Future) Chicken Garden – 7/2/2015 8:34 AM

I’m waiting for one more bid on the fencing. And I’m torn. Part of me really just wants the professional fence builders to build the chicken fence, but the cost of that one fence and gate is substantial. I’m not sure I want to pay that much for a chicken yard, BUT – in terms of resale value, that particular area of the yard – fenced off – would make a great dog run. So perhaps it is the best choice. I know I would enjoy having a nice sturdy fence to contain the chickens so I’m sure the dog won’t chase them…and if my plans to foster and/or adopt a parrot come fruition, having a secure fence out there to enclose a parrot would be helpful for outside days.

I’ve been non-planning my route. Gathering random information…flipping through destinations like the used LP bin & today I was talking to someone randomly and they were from Maine & the words “cabin on a beach” were uttered, and I was…smitten, just so smitten, with the idea of that.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

So, I think  I’ve found at least one destination to plan for. It pleases Buddha The Grouch that I’ve decided not to hang out in his new town for a few days as I had originally planned. Though I did tell him I might drop back into town on my way back down.

The Big Oak - 7/3/2015 (wide shot post-trimming)

The Big Oak – 7/3/2015 (wide shot post-trimming)

I’m very very slowly and gradually repurposing the mulch from the tree trimming into pathways – in hopes of making rainy days a slightly less disastrously muddy proposition. I have tons of the mulch – probably also enough to surround the beds with. The grass/weed combination that I call my lawn is slowly growing back, and I’d like to at least attempt to somewhat rein in the wildness. This time of year most summers, all the grass is dead and gone and not an issue. My yard is lush with the stuff. I hate that it’s so prevalent without my approval, but I gotta admire its hardiness, while those fucking prima donna tomatoes WHITHER at the first overheating and sputter and die with a HINT of frost.

Morning Glories

Morning Glories

Seriously. I really really hate growing tomatoes! Or trying and failing to grow them. I’m far too lazy to baby those fuckers. Or I have far too much else to do.

(I say the above knowing full well I am equipped with an arsenal of tomato seeds to sow for fall tomoatoes.)

Lulu

Lulu

So, while I’m repurposing the mulch, I’m also burning some of the twigs and branches from the pruning I’m doing. Today, I googled “What can I use wood ash for” and, lo and behold, the wood ash can be put in the chicken pen and mixed in with the rest of the poop/food scraps/hay/pine shavings so the hens can scratch and move it around and aerate it and turn it into black gold.

First Moonflower

First Moonflower

DUH! Hahaha. I probably should have already known that. I mean, of course it all works together. I am an ecosystem.

E.S.P.

E.S.P.

This little kitty – almost a full year after deciding she does not ever want to be in the house again with THAT DOG; mostly because she weighs all of 6 pounds (pretty much exactly 6 pounds – no lie) and THAT DOG is a big, sloppy, dorky 100 – has decided she is going to try to be more brave and has on multiple occasions actually lay still and allowed the big, sloppy dorky dog to sniff her all over. She’s been coming into the yard when the chickens are out and the dog is in – because I can’t trust the dog around the damn chickens, either. We have a deal that she won’t go all bloodthirsty murderer of things (like we all know she can be) on the birds if I will pet her belly. I think we are both satisfied with the deal. Well, all of us – if you count the chickens.

Morning Glories

Morning Glories

I’ve been trying not to say this, because I hate being a commercial for a product that…well, ANY product, really. But I am kind of crushing on the new “For You” playlists in iTunes. At least one and usually two and sometimes even all three of the suggested playlists are consistently awesome. And I am a picky-ass motherfucker who never lets ANYONE play music for me (just ask my children, who have NEVER been able to play their own music in my car.) It’s getting to the point where I can’t wait until the end of my day so I can play a playlist while cooking or cleaning or…writing a blog post. It’s some pretty amazing shit.

Lulu

Lulu

I texted:

OMG! I’m going to camp on the beach in Maine in September!!!!!

With my dog!

She said:

That is going to be so dreamy!

I replied:

I know!

Pets welcome!

She concluded:

Kick ass!

Moon Garden - 7/11/2015

Moon Garden – 7/11/2015

Kick. Ass.

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

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