Archives for category: gardening

I’m relaxing with a cold glass of iced tea, as though a chilly rain had not started to fall. lol My Traveling Partner and I finished building the new raised garden bed in the front yard together this morning. I filled it with suitable growing medium from the nearby nursery. Hell, I even planted several rows of future veggies! I’m as excited as I ever have been about a new garden space. More, maybe. In fact, I got so excited and so motivated to work in the garden, that I wore myself out a bit, and now – in spite of this rather strong iced tea – I’m overtaken by yawning, and feel like having a nap. LOL I could, of course, it’s my choice. I’m choosing, at least for now, to simply enjoying this feeling…

… “Happiness”. What gets you there may be something different than what gets me there, but I’m for sure “there” right now, and it’s worth skipping a nap to just soak it in.

Happy.

Wow. Feels good.

I love having a garden beyond the flower beds. I enjoy that there is so much variety; peas, onions, and salad greens round the back, down below the edge of the deck, along the gravel walk, planted in grow bags. In the new raised bed? Well, so far some “easy win” crops: radish, daikon, carrots, parsnips, and bush beans, with plans for maybe a couple of short growing season melons, and the eggplant seedlings that are maturing on my windowsill. πŸ˜€ Yummy stir fries are going to get even yummier. Summer salads look like they’ll be fresher and more flavorful. Add to that the exercise I get being out in the garden each day doing some little task or another – it’s all “win”. So, yeah. Happy describes this feeling pretty nicely.

The thing is, “happy” is every bit as intense as my sorrows can be, but if I don’t slow down and take notice of the moment, and really savor it, drink it in, luxuriate in it, however briefly, it doesn’t “stick”. It’s as true as ever, “this too shall pass”. Our happiest moments are worth taking time for. Real time. To just enjoy the delights of life, love, and gardening. Or, um, whatever your “thing” is, I guess. Might not be gardening. πŸ™‚ Do you.

One sunny happy moment.

…I’ll be in the garden…

I’m in a strange headspace this morning. It’s a long weekend. My anniversary with my Traveling Partner coming up. 11 years married. πŸ™‚ Worth celebrating. Where would life have taken me if I had not taken this path? I don’t know, and never will know; it is the path I took, and the path I travel now. I’m okay with that.

The headlines in the news are pretty grim. Every day more terrible news about the war in Ukraine. Nearly as often some terrible family killing or murder-suicide or mass shooting or femicide or report of a child killing someone with a gun left too easily accessible is the story of the moment. If you’re reading the news in America, you’ve likely got a news feed filled with violence. It’s fairly shameful that this is who we are. (Oh sure, “not all Americans…”, but we vote, and we put the people in power who do nothing to make the changes we need to keep people safe and free. We each have a chance to do better.)

So, today I sip my coffee. I figure I’ll help out today by not killing anyone, by refraining from acts of violence against others, by embracing calm and contentment and making merry with my partner. I’ll treat passing strangers kindly and with courtesy. If I run an errand, I’ll drive gently and considerately, and I’ll refrain from flipping off stray asshats who drive like they own the fucking road and have nowhere to go other drivers. Choices. I’ll do better, myself. It’s a place to start.

The seedlings on my windowsill are doing well. Promising. New life. Fresh vegetables grown at home. πŸ™‚ I’m excited to have “a real garden”, although admittedly I begin every gardening adventure with maximum enthusiasm and commitment and I acknowledge the variable outcomes. lol I think my own best previous gardens were the balcony garden I had in my first apartment with my Traveling Partner (herbs and roses, and later some wonderful tomatoes), and the garden I had in the garden at #59. That one was lovely – just steps away from my apartment, with water right there easily available. I grew tomatoes, carrots, and some salad greens, that I recall were delicious, but bolted quickly in the summer heat.

I rarely took pictures of my vegetable garden, and the few pictures I had were lost when #59 was burglarized (my laptop was stolen). So… here’s a squirrel visiting my container garden on the patio there.

I sip my coffee and think about my parent’s garden when I was growing up and still living at home. At the time, I felt like an involuntary laborer most weekends. The whole family would have breakfast, usually my Dad would cook. Then we’d all go out and work in the garden in the mid-morning, on weekend mornings. It was a lot of weeding, as I recall. As kids we didn’t do much of the heavy work, or planning. I had my own 4″x4″ square plot to call my own, too. I rather foolishly planted it in Jerusalem artichokes, which thrived beyond my wildest expectations, filling the bed and coming back year after year. lol Why was that a problem? No one in my family ate them. LOL There’s something to be learned there.

…There’s almost always something to be learned…

My Traveling Partner is making me a raised bed for our front yard. I’ve planned it modestly – a manageable size that I can count on myself to take care of. I’ve outlined an “L” shape that will “nest” within the edges of the flower beds, and give about a 30 inch (about 72 centimeters) walkway between the flower beds and the raised bed. I’m excited about it! It’s a very sunny spot, well-suited to growing food. The grow bags in the back are excellent for cooler weather vegetables and things that like a bit of shade during the heat of the day. I like having both. It’s not a lot of square footage in this new bed – just 20 sq ft, but I know I can manage that comfortably without help, and that matters. I get about 3 sq ft out of each grow bag (of the size I have), and the four of those give me another 12 sq ft of growing space. 32 sq ft doesn’t sound like a lot of garden, but it’s the most I’ve had since the 20 ft x 20 ft community garden plots I had back in the very early 00’s. I had two of those; they were completely beyond my ability to manage them, but I hung on to them year after year, puttering around and playing at gardening without much to show for it. I don’t think we ever actually ate any produce from my own garden there (it was mostly herbs, roses, and flowers). My greed overcame my ability. There’s something to be learned there.

So, this time, I am hoping I’ve found the right balance between ability and will, between sunshine and shade, between yearning and having, and even between vegetables and flowers. I’ve learned some things. I’m sure there’s more to learn. There almost always is.

I find myself thinking about my parents, their garden, and the things that motivated so many of their choices and practices. Their garden was not “just for fun” – they fed us from that garden. We often didn’t have a lot of cash resources, and were not “wealthy”. In fact, I’m fairly certain we were “poor” by many definitions of that word, but that garden fed us and it fed us well. It set my expectations of what vegetables taste like way too high to eat supermarket produce and be happy with that (it often tastes almost flavorless without a lot of seasonings). I miss those flavors! My parents were not “doomsday preppers” or serious survivalists, but my Dad had an interest in survival, bushcraft, and the practical details of life without “extras”. He hunted, and we ate game. I grew rabbits, and we ate those, too. We fished, and crabbed, and ate our catch. The house we lived in was in quite an ordinary residential neighborhood, crammed pretty close to other houses, but we explored the countryside through family visits elsewhere, and trips to see my Dad’s friends out in the rural areas of the state. Most of the backyard was garden. We had a complete set of the Foxfire books and I read them eagerly. There were often evening conversations at the dinner table (or in the kitchen or by the fireplace in the winter or outside while working on a project together) about “what if…?” – What if the power grid failed? What if we use up all the oil? What if there were a new ice age? What if there were a serious drought? What if there were a major food shortage? What would we do to live, survive, and thrive… if? We were encouraged to really consider it, and to develop useful skills.

I have my doubts that anyone is truly “self-sufficient”. We are interdependent, each of us contributing something to a larger whole. Family, community, workplace… it’s not just one person standing in a garden, selecting that perfect ripe tomato. Where did the seed come from? The garden tools – were those hand-crafted individually by that gardener? The water… what is the source? How much of what is being used in the garden has to be purchased elsewhere? I sip my coffee and think about self-sufficiency vs interdependence. I think about “what if”… and wonder what my own life might be like if I suddenly found myself without electricity. What if there was none to be had? (“Generators!” Sure, sure …and when the fuel runs out..?) I slide contentedly down this rabbit hole on a sunny morning, as a rather large gray cat makes his way along the fence beyond my window.

A stranger passing by, curious about what I’m up to on my side of the window.

I call out to my Traveling Partner to come look at the hefty visitor making his way along the fence so carefully. I haven’t seen this cat before. He moves on; he has things to do, clearly, and no time to waste on us.

Today I’ll finish cleaning up the aquarium and put it up for sale with all it’s parts. I’ve been slow to finish this project, less out of reluctance or sorrow than avoiding the effort involved. I’ve been working at it a bit at a time, but now the time has come to finish it off and get it gone, and reclaim that space for other purposes. Here, too, there’s something to be learned.

…There’s almost always more to learn. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping an iced tea. I took part of the day off due to lack of sleep and waking up on the edge of a migraine, and struggling with pain somewhere around my sciatic nerve, between my spine and my hip. Uncomfortable. Tired. I was not up for a day of heavy cognitive workload, and would have been irritable and error-prone. No one needs that shit. Not me. Not my colleagues. Not my Traveling Partner. Light duty – just the essentials – and an early out made so much more sense.

The day is an odd one. Not “sunny” or “rainy” in any definite way – certainly a considerable portion of both, without a theme or pattern to grab hold of. Spring in the Pacific Northwest.

…Damn, my Traveling Partner makes a wicked good iced tea, I must say… πŸ˜€

I’m very fortunate. Not just for the iced tea, but for this life, this job, and this house in the suburban countryside on the edge of a large-ish small town. I sip my tea and think grateful appreciative thoughts, reflecting on the distance traveled in this one lifetime. I’ve certainly had it worse at other times in my life.

I think about “home” – and how very much at home I feel here in this place, secure and safe and wrapped in love; it’s not just a building. It’s not just a place I reside. It is “home”. It’s not perfect. It’s not spectacularly large or unusually luxurious (beyond those luxuries my skilled Traveling Partner has added to enhance our comfort, ease, and quality of life)… just a modest little house in a commonplace suburban neighborhood. Still home. Our home. My home. It’s comforting to feel so settled and secure, here. I yearned for this for so long… I’m grateful that it has more than met my (probably ludicrous) expectations of what “home” could be.

This morning there was an attractive earth-tone pottery planter half-filled with soil in a stand by the front door. It used to have my creeping thyme in it. That thyme has traveled with me awhile (one might say “a lifetime” lol), and it was a small sort of big deal to plant it into the front landscape, in the flower bed, on the other side of a favorite rose, near the large river rocks that used to be in my aquarium as dΓ©cor. Doing so left that planter mostly empty of soil, and definitely empty of obvious life. Today, I planted a geranium in it – one with showy leaves that will have merry orange and red flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever grown a geranium, before. It wasn’t that I disliked them, I just… never did. I’d thought to plant a begonia in that pot… but the plant I saw, that pleased me most in that moment was a geranium.

So here I am. Settled and at home, on a rainy-sunny day, sipping iced tea… smiling about a geranium in a pot by the front door. πŸ™‚ These are the sorts of things that make “home” more than an address. I mean… sure, I could have had a geranium in a pot on my patio at some other place/time… It’s not even about the geranium, itself. For sure it’s not about the pot. I’ve had plants in containers for a long while. It’s the choice. It’s the ability to plant into my garden, just anywhere I’d like, and know that it is mine, and will be mine tomorrow, and the day after that, and next year, and on into an unpredictable future. At least for some unmeasured while. That’s enough.

What matters most?

…This is good iced tea…

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Progress is progress – even in small barely noticeable steps. Incremental change over time says nothing about the size of the increments, or the length of the timeframe. Your growth, change, and forward progress in life are yours to pursue, to limit, to choose, to determine, to embrace or resist… No one else really gets to tell you how, when, or why to take a particular step on your path. Doesn’t stop folks from trying, sometimes, or thinking themselves in some way the moderator of your experience.

(One note, before you jump ahead, I’m not presently considering experiences such as childhood, incarceration, or military life, all of which do indeed include a considerable amount of one’s time being “told what to do”, for reasons outside the parameters of this discussion; this is not about that.)

I woke early this morning, a sunny, somewhat chilly Sunday. I woke feeling rested and eager to embrace the day. Feels good. A hot shower, meditation, and my first coffee were enjoyed without waking my still-sleeping Traveling Partner. Instead of bustling about on housekeeping chores or gardening (that would require rattling some things on the deck to get at tools and such), I head out for a short walk and to pick up donuts, hoping to start my partner’s day well. I arrived home to find out that he woke with a severe headache, and a request to be very gentle with him this morning. My greeting is quiet and less boisterous than usual when I open the front door; headaches suck.

We enjoy coffee together and hang out for a few minutes. Pleasant and agreeable moments, shared, are a lovely way to begin a sunny Spring morning. πŸ˜€

The garden begins to take shape.

I sit down here with thoughts of gardening and a smile. I’m eager to face even tasks like weeding this year. My vision of our garden is slowly coming together, just as our life here in our own home takes shape a bit at a time. It’s lovely. I wrote myself a gardening “mission statement” for this year’s endeavors (a suggestion by Huw Richards that I found especially helpful for focus and a sense of purpose).

To connect the garden to the kitchen through beautiful edible landscape, and create an oasis of flowers for passing butterflies, hummingbirds, and artistic inspiration.

I reflect on this each morning (and weekend) when I consider what to do next, and how I want to see the garden develop – and what matters most about each plant and seed. The thoughts feel more connected with each other, and I have been less prone to just going nuts with new plants that won’t thrive, or vegetables with cool pictures that I won’t actually eat, or may not be well-suited to the growing conditions here. It’s also helped me refine my thoughts about questions regarding raised beds, additional trees, and placement of objects – all things I sometimes tend to be rather haphazard about, resulting in unsatisfying chaos, and unmanageable workload for the likely return on my time and effort.

I have seedlings coming up in grow bags outside. Seedlings coming up in seed trays on the windowsill in my studio. Seedlings coming up in the front flower beds. Recently planted herb plants establishing themselves in the front beds are thriving – all but the pineapple sage, which I can tell has not been happy about the unexpectedly frosty handful of recent mornings. Looks like it will bounce back, though. I purchased some additional seeds for later sowings, with the eventual return of winter in mind. Planning ahead will ideally mean I am never scrambling to complete the next seasonal task. Somehow having this small “seed bank” of open-pollinated, organic, (often heirloom) selection of seeds that don’t have patent-protecting limitations on reproduction has me feeling more prepared for potentially worsening supply chain issues that may make buying produce challenging. It may be an illusion, but… I like having a garden. I like feeling secure. Having seeds on hand feels good. The time and consideration of each choice – and each source – feels well-spent.

Seeds – the planting, the nurturing, the harvesting of the results – are a fond metaphor, for me. So much of life’s quality is in that “we reap what we sow” sort of place. The idea that “we get out of it what we put into it” appeals to me. I think it is likely a bit more accurate to observe that regardless of circumstances, how we deal with those circumstances is key to the outcome over time and our subjective experience of living our lives. Sometimes the circumstances are garbage. Sometimes “the hand we’re dealt” is pretty fucking crappy. We don’t always choose the shores on which we stand – but we get to choose the direction in which we proceed, do we not? πŸ™‚ So… planting a seed is a small beginning on a new adventure – what we do once that seed is planted has a lot to do with how things turn out, once the fruits of our labor begin to ripen. I sip my coffee and follow the threads of this favorite metaphor as I look out the window to the pear tree beyond the fence, and the small bright yellow bird looking back at me. (I think it is a Yellow Warbler…)

I make a couple notes about things I want to do today, out in the sunshine… place a couple lovely large river rocks that were once part of my aquarium decor… tie the pea trellis more firmly… check in with my Traveling Partner regarding potentially adding a raised bed out front… weeding (and sketching & photographing weeds for later identification)… it’s a lovely morning to plant a seed – and begin again. ❀

I’m drinking water. It’s a sunny Saturday in April. The weather is mild and well-suited to getting outside into the garden. At least at the moment, I’m not “there”.

I’m fighting off a UTI, and I’ve been very fatigued recently, though I feel decently well-rested today (and since the antibiotics started doing their thing on this infection). I made a delicious scramble for my Traveling Partner and I to start the day on (he’s working, I’m… doing things that definitely require effort, but don’t “seem like work“). This antibiotic is best taken on a full stomach, so breakfast definitely made sense.

…After breakfast, I cleaned up the kitchen and did the dishes…

…I broke down a bunch of cardboard and took it out to the recycling bin…

…then started laundry (towels mostly)…

…then I made the trek down to the city to pick up a snap-together little garden shed to put all my gardening gear in, to get those items out of the shop space that my Traveling Partner needs for other things…

…then I came home (very cramped drive back, since that shed, even in pieces and boxed, barely fit in my car at all) dropped the shed off at the house, and headed out for some quick grocery shopping, and to return an item that didn’t suit the purpose for which it was purchased. Thankfully both tasks could be done at the same retail location.

By the time I got home again, it was lunch time – so I brought lunch home with me and sat down for a few minutes with my partner over a bite to eat between tasks in the shop. He’s got multiple projects in progress. I do my best to be helpful and supportive where I can.

…After lunch, I put the little shed together. Once completed, I asked my Traveling Partner if he’d like to help me decide specifically where to place it – he must have misunderstood my question; he came right out and put it where he wanted it. I’m cool with that; it isn’t heavy, this shed, but it is awkward, and it’s nice to have help. (I could have moved it into position, I’d just forgotten where we had talked about putting it.)

…Then I broke down the surprisingly large quantity of cardboard that the shed arrived in, and stuffed it into the back of my car for a trip to the disposal place next week; it’s too much to fit in the bin here at the house.

…Then I realized I was already feeling fatigued, and it’s not even 2:00 pm (at the time I noticed my fatigue, that is)… so… I sat down, here, with this glass of water for a few minutes of restful self-care. There’s still so much to do…

I had thought I’d spend the day weeding the garden and maybe painting… the decision to go get that little garden shed sort of threw that plan out, in that instant of spontaneous decision-making, and the discovery that there was exceedingly limited local availability of these specifically sized small sheds. I still feel the motivation… but for the moment I am wiped out. I need to give myself a proper break.

…Then…maybe…I’ll get a short walk in, out in the sunshine, around the neighborhood, checking out the progress of Spring in everyone’s flowerbeds along the way, and pick up the mail on the way back… I definitely want to do that; I’ve got new seeds waiting in the mailbox. They won’t do me any good there.

Soon the towels will be dry, and they’ll need to be folded and put away. There’s still plenty of weeding to do in the front flower beds… and my clean laundry (from days ago) has yet to be folded. “Fuck how am I already this tired?” I think to myself, drinking my glass of cool water. I know the answer; resources are finite. That’s it. That’s the whole truth of it. Whether we’re talking about acreage, or fresh water, or cash money, or our actual living life force expressed as our capacity to do work… it’s all dreadfully finite. It’s important to “stay within our budget”, but it’s not always entirely obvious that there is one…

…I felt so incredibly free and energetic – boundless energy and sheer force of will, on demand, at any hour, any day (pretty much) when I was younger. I’m thinking teens and 20s, when I make this observation. That kind of seemingly unlimited individual energy probably wasn’t as unlimited as it seems looking back on it. I do miss having just a bit more to draw upon, when fatigue seems to set in well-before I’ve checked off my to-do list, and before the afternoon can become an evening. Sometimes, a break to rest, to drink water, to sit for a moment with my thoughts, is enough to recharge for the next little while, and I get a few more things done. Yesterday, I even managed to push past my fatigue to prepare an excellent evening meal that we both enjoyed immensely… I wasn’t good for much after that. LOL I had “used up all my spoons”. I went to bed early(ish).

Today I tried to budget my energy – and my time – a bit more wisely. I don’t know that I succeeded at all… but if I stopped right now and did not one fucking thing more, I’d be pretty okay with that… but oh! there is so much more I do want to do today…

…It’s time to begin again…