Archive for March, 2016


June
Are you weary of the lengthening days?
Do you secretly wish for November’s rain?
And the harvest moon top reign in the sky (now that it’s)
There is nothing in this world more bitter than Spring
Now I wrote you this letter
Because the clothes were hung on the line
And the crows flew out of the field
And up into the sky
I’m lying here in the station
Stretching out on the tracks
For all the possible places that I might arrive
There is nothing in this world more bitter than love
In all those long days of
Bring me the long, brown grass now that it’s dry
There is nothing in this world more bitter than Spring

(Song by Camper Van Beethoven, off of Key Lime Pie)

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Bluebonnets – March 6, 2016

My heart is full and wandering. It is once again spring. Every year as soon after the first of spring as I can remember, I reach for Key Lime Pie. I want to type numerous superlatives in support of this album, but instead I will simply say it is absolutely essential springtime listening. From beginning to end. Every year it reminds me that it’s a good idea to stop and listen to albums from beginning to end.

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Fava Bean Harvest – March 12, 2016

And every spring I renew my efforts to listen to more albums from beginning to end, but I’m always random-shuffling it by mid year. Still, at least I always have my Key Lime Pie. Since 1989, it’s been my jam. And now that I’m listening to it once again, I think it will be the opening essay to my zine which I very definitely am FOR SURE going to finish this month.

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Cucumber and pole bean beds – 3/15/2016

Things have been moving along in the garden. I haven’t been taking a whole lot of pictures, but every day it seems something new is blooming or sprouting or producing some sort of yummy treat. This morning, for instance, I saw the very first been sprouts starting to emerge from the soil of the bed pictured above. Soon the cucumbers will sprout, and I’ll alternate 2 rows of mulch on either side of another row of soil, in which I will plant bush beans and squash…and random other veggies.

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Strawberry Blossom – 3/15/2016

There are days when I feel like I’m being far too lazy. That taking 3 hours to listen to an album in the garden and draw pictures is maybe too much time away from the Essential Business of Keeping A Tidy House.

 

And then there are days like today when I need every last microgram of strength gathered in those wiling hours.

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Tomato and Barley soup with Dill and Greens – March 18, 2016

Being a parent is fucking hard, man. But being a teenage boy seems to be much more difficult. I feel completely unequipped to respond to the feeling Tao of Bird seems to be describing as being completely unequipped to handle life.

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Three Sisters Garden (Corn Planted) – March 19, 2016

It’s trickier now that he is in a situation where he’s expected to perform a certain way or there are consequences. My instinct as their parent was to allow them space to perform the way they needed to perform. To allow them the time to focus and concentrate on what they were interested and happy with. But that was a path that was closed to us, and now everyone seems to agree closing it was the right thing, because – look – now here are the consequences of allowing that choice.

And I want to move forward, but maybe instead these are the consequences of denying that choice. We’ll never really know, so I keep as quiet as I can about the path that has been chosen for him, and do my best to help him.

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Big, Gorgeous Artichoke ❤ – March 21, 2016

It’s just that it seems like everything is so dire all of the damn time, and I hate that. I’m so fucking sick and tired of it. If I’m honest – what I wanted most for my children was for them to be as carefree as possible, because as someone who cared WAY too fucking much, I saw what that did to me. Now that I care less, I am so much happier.

I want them to care enough to have the full range of choices in life, but not so much that they waste their youth worrying. Or that’s what I wanted, anyway. But it just seems like they are always being pressured to worry.

I just wish there was a way to take away the worry.

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Ladybugs on Artichoke Leaves – January 31, 2016

Lately I’ve been reading gardening books. It’s funny, because my relationship with gardening books is sort of like my relationship with parenting books. When I was a new parent, all of the information seemed really intimidating and I just wanted to make sure I got everything right. Desperate for some sort of instruction guide to the intimidating endeavor of nurturing a tiny human being through various developmental stages, I attempted to uncover some sort of set methodology to apply in any given situation.

With gardening, as with parenting, I quickly discovered that my preferred way of doing things tends to drift towards benign neglect. This makes reading gardening books especially amusing. All of those overly-specific instructions about planning and executing the perfect vegetable garden actually deterred me for years from even attempting. And it’s only now – a year since I began gardening in earnest – that I can glean what I want from those books without feeling inadequate about my haphazard, crooked garden beds lined with cardboard boxes and sometimes surrounded and infiltrated by weeds.

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Dustbathing in the Garlic Bed – January 31, 2016

And I know not everyone has the means to experiment, especially when expensive soil is in play as the cost of experimentation. My investment in my haphazardness has been chalked up in my budget as an education expense. Also entertainment. And fitness. And I’m thankful I have room in my budget to afford it.

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SEVEN eggs – February 2, 2016

Even still, I wonder how many people just let their entire yard go to waste because they never realize that they don’t have to stake and string and double-dig and properly fertilize and balance and amend and take the temperature of your soil to get started with a garden. Like, you can LITERALLY just dig a hole in your yard, throw some seeds in there, cover them with dirt and tend to the emerging seedling and VOILA – you are a gardener.

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Ladies who dustbathe, and their feline admirers – February 2, 2016

 

I am ahead of myself on beds, and behind on planning. I have tomato seedlings and some pepper seedlings. I learned the hard way that the markers I used to mark the seedlings weren’t permanent and therefore I have like a FLAT of ?? seedlings. I’m pretty sure I can tell the difference between the tomatoes and the peppers, but I don’t have any idea of what variety of each they are. SURPRISE!

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Cauliflower – February 6, 2016

I have my little grow-lamp situation set up in the window of Buddha the Grouch’s room, since he’s away at college. It glows at night, and I keep waiting for the cops to bust down my door and raid my tomato plants.

 

The above are the remnants of summer’s tomatoes and peppers, which never really produced anything, finally coming to fruit in early February.

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Texas Two-Bean Soup – February 8, 2016

Today I cleared a space for a cucumber bed when it’s time to plant cucumbers. I might put cukes, tomatoes, peppers, and beans alternating all along the fence…and then just continue to fill up beds as they are emptied of their current bounty. Gradually – here and there. Piece by piece. Bit by bit, it all fits together and becomes an accidental plan.

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Dragonfly Lights in the Moon Garden – February 12, 2016

As a parent of young children, I was always searching for a rhythm. It shifted regularly, but on occasion I would find it, and things would be harmonious for a time before a new developmental phase would hit and I would have to pivot and shift. This still happens as the kids get older, but not as frequently. This is what I’m learning about my garden, and perhaps myself. I like rhythm, but I also like chaos and freeform. And, while I understand the reason efficiency is stressed in these gardening books I’m reading…and tools that need to be oiled, maintained, sharpened…bought…today I took my old spade and re-loosened the soil that my friend tilled up for me last autumn. I loosely lifted a 5×3 bed. First, with spade – then, sitting & running my bare hands through the soil, breaking up clumps and removing as many weeds as possible before covering with cardboard and bags of soil/fertilizer that I will add when I’m ready to start planting the bed.

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Princess Leia (1.5 days old) – February 12, 2016

Today when I brought my little seedlings out to transplant them, water them, rearrange them…I felt very much like I had delicate, precious cargo. I was worried I might forget them outside and kill them all. My precious babies who had come up under grow lights, with gentle eat from mats beneath. It was my first ever real “starting from seed” attempt that actually resulted in what might actually be viable seedlings. And it’s looking like I’ll have about a 50% success rate that time. Room for improvement, for sure. I’ve learned some things. But in the end I should still have plenty of seedlings, and probably plenty to spare.

With the rise of Donald Trump and the desire for a significant percentage of our population to elect an authoritarian into the presidency, I feel like I’ve already accomplished the most radical and revolutionary act possible by raising anti-authoritarian children.
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Moon Garden Salvia – February 15, 2016

I’m proud of my children. They have thus far managed to carve a “them”-shaped space among their friends without compromise or cruelty, and even though we don’t always agree, they are thoughtful and usually considerate of opposing points of view, as well as being prudently skeptical of their own opinions.
It’s not always fun to be the constantly-questioned leader of your own household, but I do my best. And I almost always learn more about myself when I overcome a knee-jerk reaction to over-rule by listening to those I am tempted to rule over than I do by strictly enforcing my authority.
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Mustards, lettuces, dill, collards, fava beans, and calendula – February 15, 2016

This is another thing about gardening/parenting that I’ve learned about parenting/gardening. In spite of their unrulyness, they listen to me in direct proportion to the degree to which I listen to them.
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Four Nerve Daisy – February 15, 2016

Me – talking to my tomato plants: OK little ones…grow grow grow

George (the dog) – sits in front of me, cocking his head from side to side while I’m talking.

Me – to George: What? I can talk to plants! I talk to YOU!

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Cabbage bed – February 21, 2016

I have such fond memories of this time of year – back when SXSW interactive was actually cool and not just a way to market your brand and monetize your ideas. Every year I would look forward to attending the Interactive conferences and seeing all of my original nerdsters. Talking about social justice in the blogosphere and diversity in the twiitersphere. Hell, I remember when Twitter broke during SXSW and we all stared, transfixed, in front of the map of tweets coming from around the world. Back when my Twitter feed was small enough to witness the arrival and departure of my out of town friends by their increasingly, then decreasingly frenzied reports of their comings and goings in short 140-character bursts. (or, before then, when check-ins on 4-square…or even before THEN – that other app that preceded 4-square that I forgot the name of.)

 

The last time I went to SXSW interactive, I just wasn’t feeling it. Most of the panels were thinly-veiled 30-minute advertisements for products that pissed me off, and everything still looked way too white and way too male to me – and no one really seemed to care about that anymore. I got thrown out of the conference that year for mic checking Stratfor’s George Freidman with other members of Occupy Austin, and headed down to a free show sponsored by Occupy…

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Arugula blooms – February 21, 2016

The following year, I was laid off from my job right before SXSW. I went to a few events out of nostalgia, thinking I would try to stay in the non-profit realm, but I was too jaded by having been ousted unexpectedly from a job where I had been told for many years I was a member of a “family.” (I wish employers wouldn’t say that shit. A job is not a family. It never will be.)

Since then, I’ve laid low. I did a solo road trip to Colorado a couple of years ago. I was planning a vacation this year, but canceled plans because Buddha the Grouch is coming home during the break for the first time since he went away to school (and possibly the last time for awhile, as he might stay in Vermont over the summer.)

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The best carrot I’ve ever grown! – February 21, 2016

This year, I intend to stick close to home. I have time off, and I plan to spend that time in the garden. I’ve also promised PROMISED myself I will finish the Chicago issue or Oyster Lexicon while on vacation and have it printed up by the end of the month at the latest. I actually hope to get it printed and everything while I’m off work, but I really only have 3 days off, so…that’s a bit ambitious. All of the pieces are there, I just need to put them together, and that might take time.

It has taken me FOREVER to get this post done, so I’m trying to wrap it up here. So much for my plan to start posting weekly! Ugh! I hate it when I don’t live up to my goals. But I’ll keep trying.

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What my carrots usually look like because THINNING IS MURDER! 🙂 – February 21, 2016

I have tons of photos of the garden that I need to take once it stops raining. My fava beans are beaning up, and I’m getting more and more actual real straight carrots, which is super encouraging. It’s nice when you fail at something and then succeed. It’s true that success breeds success…mostly because so often failure means quitting. I’m glad I haven’t quit yet. I have so much more to learn.

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Get a room, ladybugs! – February 24, 2016

But first, I have some serious weed-eating to do. Everything uncultivated is going completely insane with this rain.

My plans for the spring/summer garden are to plant my tomato and pepper seedlings in two of the raised beds. I think I can intersperse the tomatoes with the garlic and put the peppers in the bed that currently holds a gigantic borage plant covered in pretty blue flowers. The other three beds will hold squash, Melons, and random herbs and edible flowers. I’ll throw carrots and radishes in between other plants and plant a bunch of cucumbers and beans along the fenceline – one row of vining plants in the back, and a row of bush plants in front.

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Tofu and bartered pea stirfry – February 27, 2016

I’m also going to dig up a new bed next to the house for a small three-sisters garden. Corn with squash and beans. I wasn’t planning to grow corn this year or make ANOTHER new bed, but I ended up with a packet of corn seeds after what appears to have been a drunken shopping frenzy at various seed sites (the funny thing is, I can’t remember the last time I was drunk…but I’m just gonna go ahead and use that as an excuse anyway.) So, why the hell not. The worst thing that will happen is I will loosen up some dirt so I can plant more stuff next season. My intention is to add at least 2 garden plots a year, while maintaining and building the plots I have. Starting in ground and gradually raising everything up. I really need to pick up my soil-making game so I don’t go broke doing this…dirt’s EXPENSIVE.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a customer, and he asked how I was doing. I told him “I can’t complain” and I meant it and he knew I meant it. He told me that was a really nice thing to hear – people seem to complain all of the time these days. Granted – I have my days, but in reality…I have very little to complain about, and many fond memories of any one of several eras of Salad Days to reflect upon when things get rough. ❤