Sunday, December 27, 2009
And then guilt. Today I feel like I should cry. Should let out what sorrow is left. Not that it would be possible. I think back to the days right after he died. The shock, the numbness and some part of me wants to be back there. Each day goes on and I live it out. Each day he isn't here.
So much in the world can be fixed. Most everything can be repaired. We fix cars, relationships, toys. You can pay debts. You can mend fences. Death just can't be fixed. There is no way to recover my brother. Just keep living.
And then the living seems unfair. I had a lovely time walking around Boston yesterday with my friends Mike & Ken. I enjoyed dinner at a pub in Falmouth with my Aunt & Uncle. Warren still isn't alive. He's still dead & gone.
He feels so much farther from me lately. He's gone more completely now. I don't feel his confusion, or encouragement. I don't hear him telling me what to do, like I did those first few weeks.
Losing a sibling is so strange. He was supposed to be with me. Go through life with me. Be there when my kids want to visit, as I'm visiting my aunt now. My parents have such acute pain - they lost their son. Their son who should have outlived them. His wife lost her world. I just lost him. The order of kids has been upset. I reject the position of oldest child. Brendan and I should both have stable Warren to be there for us. Warren the rational, the normal, the straight and narrow. Some part of my psyche thinks that I should start conforming now. Like I need to take his place. I'd fail at that miserably. How do I keep being me without his counter balance?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I was wrong. The two days prior I had been able to wake-up happy again. I reveled in the passing of the strongest waves of sadness. I hoped that the worst had passed. Yet, something about knowing that I'd never get to have my brother with me on Thanksgiving crushed me. It tossed me back into the state I had been those first few weeks after his death. I just held onto Marc and cried. I had a glass of wine and watched Super Troopers to keep me from being a sobbing blob of sorrow. Another factor I was not expecting was the exhaustion. The strong emotions wipe me out. I felt dizzy, barely able to walk from my office to the den.
To treat the exhaustion enough to make it to my father's on Thanksgiving I downed a Rockstar. It worked, but left me amped up for bedtime. Marc's first Thanksgiving with my family went well, aside from the general sad mood.
Yesterday the sorrow lingered. Only today did I wake up feeling better. I crave Normal, yet what is Normal now? Can I say that I'm thankful that I didn't see Warren every day? That he a constant presence - so now the new Normal looks a lot like the old Normal. Part of me feels that my grief is out of proportion; we weren't *that* close, how can I feel *that* sad. Like I have no right.
I feel what I feel. Today I feel OK. I'm up to distracting myself with the Christmas Card list.
Let's hope I can manage to feel this OK until Christmas. I suspect it will be as bad as Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 13, 2009
It doesn't make sense. I'm not sure it ever will. Just a week prior he was off happily hiking in the mountains with his wife. Then he crashed and we couldn't save him.
The pain of losing him runs deeper than I thought possible. And I hadn't seen him since July. I did get a voicemail that I'm going to have saved. He said, "oh, and I Love You." at the end. We weren't close and that doesn't seem to matter. He was supposed to grow old with me. He was supposed to tell me how to better raise my kids (not that he'd know, having decided long ago that he wouldn't have any - and I don't have any yet).
Now I have a new marker... no longer does my time start with the birth of Christ. I mark things by his death. On Tuesday it was, He's been dead 1 week. Today it is 10 days since he died. Soon we'll have 1 month. After my birthday, it will be about 4 months. People keep saying, "the holidays will be tough." and "It gets easier with time." I'm still waiting for the 24 hours without tears maker.
At first I didn't want it to get easier. I wanted to hold on to the pain, as anything less might mean I want or even feel OK with forgetting him. Then a wonderful man suggested I try to think of how Warren would want me to remember him. And I also heard Warren whispering, "Jen, don't be so emotional. Be rational." He'd be so critical of me if I were to be trapped in darkness from his death. I don't think he ever understood how I could be so distressed over relationships or emotional things.
This morning was the first time I could wake up and not be sad. For the first few days, waking and sleeping were the hardest times - followed by driving. Those were the times I had to be alone. After a week, the grief moved into daily things. I tried to go to work - just for some distraction. However, my mind has been utterly unable to focus. I forget things. I start something and am so easily distracted. I don't know how I was able to finish the Open Enrollment at the office. My lists of To Do are so basic, I nearly include, "brush your teeth" on them. Don't ask me what the date is, I have no idea.
The shock has worn off and so far I'm stuck with the thought, "I want my brother back!" fills the pauses in the day. At those times I try to return to how he'd want me to remember him. He'd want me to remember how he took me to breakfast after my last break-up. He wanted to comfort me, but, for once, I didn't need it. I was touched that he tried. I remember our lunches where we'd but heads over our life choices... he thought I should be more like him, I thought he should be more like me. He had such a laser focus on life. My laser didn't have a focus, more it resembled the night sky in a planetarium. I have always struggled with a little jealousy and a little disdain for how he so early on found his passion and then did only that. Reading the blog will memories of him, he was so lucky to be able to fill his days with exactly his passion - Science & computers. That's all he needed. He never struggled with the question, "What should I do with my life?" He knew and he acted - and science has been blessed by the results.
I love you, too Warren.
I wish I never knew of your scientific achievements. I wish I just knew the brother who I loved and disparaged. The genius who I could feel superior to when I called to remind you to get a card & gift for Mom's birthday. Did you remember this year? I did.
I wish you were here. I just can't imagine how life will be without you.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Starting backward - At 4 AM this morning I woke up in Toronto. At 7 AM we were pulling away from the gate. I had upgraded to Economy Plus and even scored a bulkhead. Things were going good, until a frazzled mother of 3 children settled in behind me. She put her youngest little one behind me in a special seat that gave the tiny devil the 5 extra inches his legs needed to kick my chair. Clearly he wasn't happy about the arrangement, as he wailed and kicked on several occasions. I do believe he slept for about an hour - I took advantage of the silence. However he did awaken, poop himself (I'm guessing that was where the poop smell came from) and mom took him to the bathroom for a clean-up, giving me an extra 5 minutes of snoozing before the next round of kicking and wailing.
Having recently finished A Year Of Living Biblically, and thinking of how the author won a battle with his wee-one in a mature & biblical way. I did jerk around during one of his fits and caught eye contact with his mother. She knew what was going on and was doing her best to keep the kid under control. I could just tell that saying something would only frustrate her without getting us any closer to a more settled child. So I let it be thinking, "I'm sure I once kicked the crap out of chair when I was that small. Life comes full circle."
Eventually I opened the window just to see Yosemite go by - we flew just North of Half-Dome and I looked down to think, "I'm going to be there in 3 days!"
Friday was a good day. I didn't quite get in a work-out as planned. Having had my first full night sleep in 2 days, I traded the tread mill for for an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Work had piled up since my long trip to Toronto, and I wanted to get to the most urgent before spending the morning on a critical team building exercise on Lake Ontario. I won't bore you loyal reader with the details of the meeting.
Friday afternoon I took a lovely walk from my Westin Harbour Castle across the downtown to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Lovely walk through the downtown to the University of Toronto where the ROM sits. I did check online and found that they had some discount program for Friday night, so there was a line out front. I enjoyed standing in it. I got handed a flyer by some passerby about the exhibition which happened to be on display - The Dead Sea Scrolls.
I thought we were done with the hubbub about the Dead Sea Scrolls. And I was right. What I didn't realize was that some Palestinian group believes they are the rightful property of Palestine and must be returned. In fact there were maybe 10 protesters. The flier they handed me stated that the scrolls had been in the East Jerusalem museum until their "unrightful theft" by Israel. What did I think? These scrolls have been safe & touring since their "theft". The scrolls are a bit of history - and unrivaled and precious gift. Why would we let that be in the care of a unstable government? Islamic extremists blew up statues of the Buddha, what would we put these treasures in their hands? I'm for holding on to the treasures securely in the west until the trouble in the middle east simmers down.
The scroll exhibit was fantastic. It took a call with Marc later in the evening to recall why they were so important... the text of the bible hasn't always been fixed. There were edits and different versions along the way. Next to it, I also got to see the Egyptian Book of the Dead, mummies and a lovely collection of Hellenistic Pottery. However, the end of the museum visit had to be the best - eating at their top floor restaurant. I dined on lamb with eggplant puree, something like hummus with tabbouleh. Stunning combination and I reflected that those who amassed the dead sea scrolls probably didn't dine this finely back 2000 years ago.
More later. We've got dinner to cook.
Friday, August 07, 2009
First, my feeling that the Federal Organic Label was BS has been vindicated. Strange how I just knew that the "organics" at Safeway weren't right and I've even had some questions about Trader Joe's when it comes down to it. Evidently, the Federal Regulators have been swayed by the Food Industry and foods labeled USDA Organic have synthetic stuff in them. Ick!
Like the Hebrew Kosher labels, I need an Organic Label I can trust. I do trust Whole Foods, yet I would like to have a holy of holy Organic Label created & issued by an organization that I trust who clearly defines what it calls Organic; clearly stating what is pesticide free, what is free range and such.
The USDA - eh? Their concerns: "The market's expansion is fueling tension over whether the federal program should be governed by a strict interpretation of "organic" or broadened to include more products by allowing trace elements of non-organic substances" Yikes.
Next - While I'm not going to feed these things to my worms, here's a list of 75 things you can compost. Who knew? And I'm not sure I want the contents of my vacuum bag added to the worms who will produce compost that I'll put on my organic garden. Yeah, but I do have 2 compost piles - the organic & the not-so-organic. The not-so-organic will get used in the garden on things that don't go into the food chain, while the strictly organic will get infused into the veggie patch.
So go forth and be green!
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
However with the summer heat, the dog walking window has shrunk. By 10 AM the temperatures pass 80 degrees, which I enjoy. However, their fur coats do limit their enjoyment of the sun. So the walk has to happen first thing or at the end of the day.
The end of the day poses problems. Sunday we were crashing from a long, fun friend filled weekend. Yesterday I didn't come home until 10, as I got invited to dinner with Ilyse and friends. We did have a lovely time, enjoying chatting & curry in the Richmond District. However, the four-of-paw were left out of the good times.
The last week has been a non-stop run of friends & fun. Thursday we briefly saw Aaron. We saw Greg while loading my furniture into the U-Haul. Saturday Shawn celebrated her birthday with friends & family. Sunday Jen & baby joined us for amazing pancakes. I got in a chat with Gail before old friends Kairi visited with her daughter & husband. Yesterday I had time with Liz -shopping for a B-day gift for Hil's, then dinner with Ilyse, Matt & friends. Fun and exhausting. And I know there are so many others I didn't get to have time with, and are on the horizon. I think making time for friends would be a lovely full time job - not sure how I'd pay the mortgage, eat and fuel the mini - but fun!
Today may be quieter.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I also put some basil in dirt and am hoping to grow it as well. Part of this weekend's efforts included a massive tomato harvest. Yesterday, from the harvest, I made divine tomato, basil, garlic pasta sauce. I was so proud when Marc told me it was the first time he's every really liked pasta. So proud!
But I did have to purchase the basil and now, again, I've got a load of basil. With my last two efforts in pesto making being somewhat unsuccessful, I'm thinking of other options for the basil. I still have tomatoes and i'm wondering if I can make some yummy bruchetta.
Also planted this weekend - thanks mom for the seeds! - carrots. My mom has never had luck with carrots so gave me this pack of seeds. She said to take care that the ground stays damp. I probably should have put a layer of mulch over the little seeds, but I was afraid of impeding their potential growth.
Next to the scattering of carrots, I planted a row of sunflowers. I'm not a big sunflower seed eater, however I did read a little article in Sunset Magazine about this: www.greatsunflower.org
I just realized I might not be using the correct type of sunflowers... I'm going to have to go out and find others. We'll see. I have time.
Time does seem to be on my side. However, nature does seem to be moving in. I haven't yet seen another Horn Worm and the Green Looper Caterpillar count is way down - bordering on 0. However, I do find these orange/black bugs that seem to be hanging out near white spots in the leaves. I've been fighting some mite infestations, I will need to do another organic spray-down this weekend. And there seems to be a growing population of spiders - which isn't the worst thing, I just wish they'd eat more of the mites. The ecosystem is evoloving. Along with it, I've had to evolve a doggie guard, as I think Zoe has developed a taste for my fresh from the vine fruit.
All in all, I'm happy with it.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Saturday I went out and collected all the corn I could. I hucked it and gave the strings & husks to the worms. After boiling it up, I found that about half of it was edible. Sad. The corn stalks had grown so tall and were such a point of pride. Too bad they didn't do so well in the production department. They suffered from mites at the end. Black mites which coated the ears like a mold.
Sunday the stalks were chopped down. I cut them up and put them in the pile of unwanted plant remains that is growing in the side yard need the gate in the fence. I felt sad and betrayed. All that love. All that water. Had I failed them or them me?
My attempts at growing seedlings has stalled. Some started and died in the hot sun, despite my watering. Others have found to be tasty nibbles for some unseen, and so far unstoppable, leave nibbler. Of the 20 onion seeds planted, I have 4 small shoots. I can't tell the arugula from the beets, as they both have red stalks for some reason.
The little plants looks too delicate to forcefully relocated into the soil. Then where can I plan them to allow them to thrive? I think they should go where the broccoli/cauliflower runts were. There they can get sun. The space left vacant by the corn has partial shade due to the 6 ft tall tomato plants blocking out the sun.
We'll see where they land.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A prominent black scholar was arrested, in his home, as a suspect for burglary. Some white woman called in and reported a break-in at the man's address, the police came and arrested the man. Stunning.
Now, this could be a Saturday Night Live skit - but have the break-in be at the white house and poor O'bama getting arrested. Would be quite a statement. Not sure if its funny, as it hits too close to home. The DC Police can make a statement like, "It was an unfortunate and regrettable incident".
Underneath - the head of our Supreme Court states, "The only way to end race discrimination is to stop discriminating." That's working out real well, don't you find? This man has no recourse. He's taken in, booked and harassed - impacting his standing in the community. Impacting his life, as he might have had work he needed to do or time to spend with his family, but instead, the state has taken his time & well being based on race. Imagine this a million times over.
When I was a child, my friend Cheran's mother was a judge. She went to South Africa when there was still apartheid where she got arrested by the police. I think it was due to being a black woman with a camera. When asked what she did, the police didn't believe she was a judge in America. Their bias was so thick, telling them the truth - that a black man owns a mansion in Cambridge or that Amercians might find that blacks are the intellectual equals of whites - doesn't penetrate their thick skulls.
I don't want to be judged by a court who is lead by a man who doesn't understand the impact of being black, latino/a, asian or female in this society. His insulated, posh, caucasian background prevents him from understanding the lumpy impact of the law's uneven application. I am excited to have Sotomeyer on the Supreme Court and to see the influence of her Wise Latina self.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Now I'm not sure what to do with him. Nor what to name him. I took a close-up of his head & claws. He has
Each of his little paws has ten or twelve little spiky-grippy things that help him cling to my tomato.
I enlarged the photo and was fascinated by his features. The polka dot pattern; the little hairs; the faux eyes; the under the mouth claws to help guide in the leaves; his upper lip that appears to end in teeth.
I feel queazy. And the worst part is that I know he isn't the only one. There must be more where this guy came from.
I've got goose bumps on my arms and I swear I can feel one of them crawling on my neck, under my hair.
Here he's posing on a CD to give you a sense of size. Can you see the claw-hook that sticks out as a dog's tail would, but in this case it is more like a thorn defense found on so many plants.
At first I got him into a paper cup. My first instinct was to run. Then I realized I had to remove this critter from my garden before it ate every leaf & stem. I wrested him into a cup with a chop-stick and sacrificed th tomato branch in the process - he wasn't going to let go! Next - bring the cup that was not coated in green caterpillar blood up to Marc to show him. I left him the cup. Really, I don't know what to do with it!
Sunday, July 05, 2009
On the same day I found the spider, I found a yet to be identified black and orange beetle. The next day one of my plants - unsure if it is a broccoli or cauliflower - was showing some mites. I washed them off. The next day I found the plant with a mite blanket and realized I had to take action.
Friday I visited the local nursery. The visit had three purposes, to get some organic soapy insecticide, get me some live insecticide in the form of lady bugs and finally, to get some sort of trellis to restrict the growth of my tomatoes. The woman at Pompei Nursery helped me out, going above & beyond to answer my newbie questions. She patiently listened to me discribe the tomato situation and suggested that the plants were probably spending a lot of their energy producing those vines. The arms of the tomato plants were twisting their way through the corn, over-hanging the bell peppers and oppressing my broccoli.
I came home and did a big tomato trim, after having been emboldened by the lady at the nursery. I trimeed down all arms without actual baby tomatoes. I dramatically scaled back the massive mound. Then, using an article my mother clipped for me, I found that my tomatoes are indeterminate - so I should have these for a long time. Marc came out and assisted me with the installation of the trellis bits. We created two wall-like breaks onto which the tomatoes can climb find support. They seemed happy today after we got it all settled.
Back to the bugs - I used the insecticide soap, which smelled so good, I had a hard time knowing when to stop the application. However, the bugs were still there this morning. Saturday AM I had released one of the two containers of ladybugs, yet I put some on the plant with the mites but they didn't seem interested. I did'n'g get the impression that they were ready to much down.
Then this morning, I discover three of those big (say .5 inches by .33 inches) orange & black bugs. Writing about them makes my skin crawl. The ceiling fan gently blows my hair on my neck and I keep thinking that it is the bugs and each sentance I type gets interrupted by a swipe of the hand to my shoulder. Ick.
Marc came out to visit me as I tended the plants and immediated spotted a bug that we later idetified as a stink bug. It pushed me over the edge. We did research on the web and found that many bugs are made scarce by spraying down plants with a mixture of molasses and water. So I grabbed our yet to be used spray pump, filled it up with the mixture and coated my garden and self with the mixture. I'm hoping to check tomorrow that it worked. Either way, I'll be releasing the 2nd round of the ladybugs in the morning. The thought of keeping them for another day in the refridge breaks my heart. Those creatures should be free and out in the world, doing good.
I'm hoping I can find a way to manage the bugs, the blissful plant-it-and-it-will-grow halcyon days at the start of my garden seem to be fading. I am also having problems in the worm farm. I believe I added too much food without providing worm bedding. When putting in the bits from today's cooking, I found that there weren't as may worms as I would have liked. In addition, I found two nearly 1 inch long grubs. Not good. I may need to harvest the compost and get new worms supplies. I'm hoping that I the little guys were just hiding, not missing all together.
Sad day in the garden.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Fifteen minutes later I climb out of bed to find that she's taken on one of the large moths - it would cover 1/2 my palm were I not to chicken to hold it - and is chasing it around the master bath. I dodge the moth while brushing my teeth, secretly cheering when it finds refuge behind the shutters of a window that, initially, seemed too high for Tiger to get to. I pray for the bug's escape, while being utterly unable to assist it, as well as for a quick death, if that is the critter's fate. She takes a break to come over to me, in hopes that I might giver he a little affection or turn the tap so she can drink from the faucet. Cheeky, as the Brits would say.
An hour later the bug is silent, yet Tiger is hopping up and somehow clininging to the bottom of the blinds, suspending herself - I don't know how, cand she get her claws into the drywall? I haven't checked on the bug.
When I moved in with Tiger, Marc mentioned that she would do this sort of thing. I didn't believe him. I've lived with cats and, yes, there is the occasional mouse and bird, but moths? lizards? He had to be joking. No - here on the edge of the delta, there seems to be more wildlife. She regularly brings in 3 inch lizards. Two nights ago she had one in the hall between the garage & kitchen. I saw her, then realized what she had and squealed. That set off the dogs - Austin running to my rescue by biting the lizard. 10 minutes later I mustered up the courage to check on the critter - one eye had popped out, yet hung by something.
The lizards I will save. Last week we chased off the Tiger & the dogs - the barkers get excited when I squeal - and we used an empty coffee tin to trap a gecko. Catch & release. I just can't muster the courage to help the bugs. Yesterday morning I went to pick up, what I thought was a blade or grass or thin leaf from the floor of the master bath, assuming it was something that Tsui had picked out of her, now mohawked, coat. Silly me. Marc laughed as I yelped and flung the detached tail across the room. The feel of the limp, rough, no mistaking what it ickiness was almost too much for me.
The bits are the worst - Tiger has a love for decapitation. I've cleaned up multiple headless bodies left about the house. She loses interest when they cease moving, it seems. I think she figures that the game is done and she's ready for some kitty treats.
I'll check for the bug remains tonight, after I've mustered up the courage - or, I'll ask Marc, if I haven't stealed my stomach.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Walking the dogs this morning I was struck at how our choices have changed over the centuries. Reading The Woman in White, nearly all the characters would take time each day for a walk. The expression, Morning Constitutional comes from that I believe. The author clearly valued such behavior, as all the good people were disposed to activity, while the villains were not known for having any physical habits.
It got me to thinking - what do I value? Where do I put my time, money & energy. The recent trip with Marc to attend his step-mother's funeral was a value decision. For me, time with Marc and being with his family during the funeral embodied the value I place on family; I spend my time, energy & money on family.
Likewise, I am invested in our upcoming trip to Peru. Having read about it in the guidebook, researched the guide options and assisted with the deposit. Yet, I realized I've been thinking more about a trip to Alaska. I have always wanted to visit Alaska- see Denali, cross into the Arctic Cirlce and check out the glaciers. That's supposed to be for next summer, yet I'm already there.
On the smaller end, I organize my day to have work time, time for home life (cooking and tending my garden) and time at the gym. I like to have a walk with the dogs. This morning they were running in the sprinklers with the biggest grins on their faces. Funny the sense of accomplishment I felt for giving our dogs that joy. They are family too and I want the best for them.
Watching TV makes me itch - as I can feel time passing and know I'm losing hours that could be spent in more engaging pursuits. I buy audiobooks to both enhance my learning and make use of time in the car that might otherwise be lost. At times, I realize I get compulsive about it all. I schedule these things - in the last few years, I've tried to get to Boston & Austin to see friends & family on an every other year schedule.
But then I think, yes I am compusive, yet those I'm visiting don't do the same. And I start to think and look at where those around me put their time, energy and money. They make the same choices I do each day, maybe not as compulsively analyzied, yet they are the same choices. Who should I see? How should I spend my paycheck? What show should I watch? What book to read? Gym or Work? And then I step back and compare. If I'm investing me into these things, shouldn't others be matching me?
Where do you put your resources? What does that say about you and your values?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
On Monday I was tending them and found the first red cherry tomato. I took it in, showed it to Marc and then enjoyed it. The rest of the tomatoes are stubbornly holding on to their Green like Irish on St. Patty's Day. I check daily for any signs of red within the expanding green mass. Each day I'm disappointed. How could there be just one red tomato? Wouldn't it have little tomato-mates that grew with it? If so, they are well hidden among the rich smelly branches.
On sadder note, I had to pull up yet another broccoli plant. I feel so bad. I helped created these plants. I put them in the ground and encouraged them to take root. But, after they didn't perform, I have cruelly removed them from the plot - in a plan to make way for more productive things. I'm making the garden for growth and yet I reap and destroy plants in the process.
Back to the good news... the Zucchini plant is thriving. I've got a think - we're talking over 1.5 inches in diameter think - zucchini growing with two following closely. I think I'll harvest this round on Friday for dinner - we'll have Zucchini & steak and corn. And there's a fleet of little pre-zucchinis waiting their turn to grow big & sweet.
The corn plants have shot up and are now working hard on their ears. I don't know when to harvest and am trying to find that information on the web. Similarly, I'm trying to figure out why my cauliflower hasn't done its thing and grown a head either.
Here's the instructions:
Step 4: Keep cauliflower plants evenly moist; especially when they're small, they need about 1 inch of water a week, whether from rain or the garden hose.
Step 5: Start the blanching process when the flower head (also called a curd or button) is about the size of an egg. Make sure neither it nor the foliage is wet; otherwise the plant may rot. Loop heavy twine around the leaves, gently lift them up and tie them together. The aim is to keep light and moisture out, but to let air in and also leave room for the flower to grow inside its shelter.
Do you notice some dramatic lack of information... I put the plants into the ground and have been waiting for the head/curd/button... for naught. There's no indication of time. But I did realized the first paragraph states, "Though it's a cool-season vegetable, it can't tolerate weather that's too hot or too cold" Cool-Season veg - like growing it in 90+ degree heat might now work? I'll feel so sad pulling it out. I was just rejoicing my victory over the caterpillars - they seem to have disappeared.
Now, I did see a little something that made me happy:
Their mission: "Inspiring communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time."
Pretty neat - I wonder how that might get going in my community.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Eichlers were mass produced homes built in the 1950's for solders to move into with their young wives to raise their families. My house had 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and atrium with the most prolific lemon tree, the kitchen that opened in to the diningroom and a living room. All that was tucked into less than 2000 sq. ft, single story, detached house. The walls were thin and I'm still amazed I was able to sneak out at night without my mom knowing.
About 5 blocks from home was the Eichler Swim & Tennis club. Our little club had maybe 6 tennis courts, probably only 4; one big pool with 5 or 6 lanes and a deep bit off the laned portion that went to 10 ft deep and had a diving board. There was the baby pool which we grew out of but took over on occasion. 6 of us could get in and circle around the small round pool, creating a whirlpool. When the water started to splash out the sides the life guards often noticed and kicked us out. Fifteen minutes of every hour was Adult Swim when we all would like on the cement drying off, letting the adults have a chance to enjoy the water without their little ones clinging to them.
Fast forward 25 years and I'm again living in a housing development. Only this time the homes are built on an entirely different scale. Marc's house is over 3000 sq ft. We have 4 bedrooms, but 3.5 baths - with the master bath being bigger than the bedroom I had when growing up. The upstairs has the bedrooms, a loft area, laundry and a high, double height section. The ground floor has the gourmet kitchen, breakfast room, den, living room (we call that the library) and then the garage. Everything is bigger than my little place in Palo Alto.
The bigness extends to the neighborhood. The parks are bigger and more abundant. My new club - it isn't just swim & tennis, but also a gym, childcare, basketball courts and spa. Their are at least a dozen tennis courts - some are even covered in this massive dome thing. The pools are bigger - 2 hot tubs (one is adults only), the family pool with the baby pool attached, the lap pool with 6 lanes and then a covered lap pool that gets used for aquasize. The changing room has showers, lockers, a sauna & steam room. The cars in the lot are bigger - though that has more to do with the migration of sububan moms from volvo station wagons to Bloated Land-ships. The people also seem bigger, but maybe that's just my being judgemental.
I'm not sure bigger is better. I do feel a twang of guilt when we close the windows against the 100 degree heat and enjoy the airconditioning - another feature missing from my childhood home. I appreciate the yardage of counter space in the kitchen, yet could do without the breakfast nook. Where does it stop? Our massive over consuption - I'm living it. Get me some solar panels!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The seedlings I planted will soon be big enough to go in and fill up their gaps. One of the beet-lings has two red-stemmed growths and one green. I'm not 100% sure what will grow or why these other seeds are sprouting. Maybe this is why one is supposed to use that special, sterilized soil when getting seeds to sprout. Hmm will have to consider that in the future.
On a brighter note, I found green tomatoes tucked away in the massive tangle of greenery in my veggie plot. They are bright green and one is nearly the size of a gypsy pepper. I can't wait for them to get some red streaks and start to change into something edible. Checking on them scents my hands with that fantastic tomato plant smell. Every day I poke my head around there.
The zucchini plant has done so well since getting moved to a pot. It has produced a 7 inch zucchini and a 4 inch baby zucchini. I'm trying so hard not to pick them - instead letting them keep growing. The whole thing seems like magic. How did I get so disconnected from my food?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday I bought the suit and friday night I did an 8 pm swim. I did 20 laps of a 25 meter pool. I was able to swim some 1250 meters or what one tri training schedule suggested for a swim. It took a little under 30 minutes and I wasn't impressed, dark sky, cool water, shivers to-from the locker room.
Despite the not so successful start to my triathlon training, I decided to have an informal triathlon today. My desire to test my abilities combined with a why-is-the-scale-going-up? moment has spurred me to burn more calories that I intake, by a factor of 100%.
Here are the results:
7 mile hike - 2:33 - 748 calories - mind you, this was with the dogs and Zoe was taking every opportunity to lay down in the shade to rest, I also had to pull burrs from Tsui's paws several times and prevent Austin from mauling every dog we passed.
10 mile bike - 40:50 - 458 calories - this was on the expresso bike machine. I think I did pretty good. The new bike pants were a saving grace. Now,
1 mile swim - 36:45 - 474 calories - Calorie count based on random website.
Total Time: 3 hrs 50 min with 1680 calories burned.
While the Sprint I'm training for is .5 mi swim, 20 mi bike and 4 mi run - I did try to balance out the exercises, as there was no 20 mile bike option for the stationary bike and I have no bike.
However, the walking in the sun with the breeze and views delighted me. The bike ride challenged me and had me sweating. The swim felt fantastic with sun and water. I'm thinking that I might look at getting a bike soon.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
My first thought, "How could two people meet for lunch?" and then I realized, there were no restaurants, so meeting for lunch wasn't going to be a concern. Hmm, life existed before lunch dates?
Speaking of noon, we have standardized noon. Before we divided the world into time zones, every town had noon on their own - why not? Was noon anything other than when the sun was highest overhead? Yet, as we now are divided, from Las Vegas to San Francisco our watches read 12:00 and the sun may not be at its highest point over head. We switched from sun time to clock time.
Clock time marks our days, for those of us raised in the digital age, imaging all towns setting the clock over their town hall to be noon at the local, sun-time of noon seems absurd. Yet, as recently as 75 years ago, that was the way it worked. The trains were the stimulus for the change to time zones. Think, if a train was leaving San Francisco at 12 noon and had a 10 hour journey to Las Vegas, when would it arrive? How would the stations along the way - each with their individual setting of the hour know when the train should arrive? Say the train reached Fresno after 4 hours - would it be 4 PM or something possibly later (as Fresno is father east, it would, presumably, have time running slightly ahead of San Francisco).
Only in the first quarter of the last century did people start to wear watches. This came about during WWI - as soldiers were issued wristwatches so that they might better sync up. Along with watches came migration and movement... the trains would have the say. They divided up the country so that they could make arrival and departure schedules. The time of sun defined noon came to a close.
It would be only a matter of years before the move from sun-time to clock-time was complete. Think, man started to mark the days with the sun dial - giving days divisions: night, before noon, noon and afternoon with changing hours. Then the clock was invented - a means to produce a regular marking of time developed in the 1300's and then hours were no longer divisions of the day, but independent. They were X-number of clicks of the clock. The day soon was divided into 24 equal hours - no longer 12 hours for the time when the sun was up & 12 hours of darkness. Now the hours were independent from the days. As the clocks progressed we got minutes - in the 1600's there were 4 divisions in the hour. But 1800 there were 60 minutes in the hour. By 1900, there could be 60 seconds within the minute. As our clocks developed, so did our divisions of time. Yet until 1967, the second was a division of a day: 1/86,400 (60 sec x 60 min x 24 hours).
In 1967 the second changed. From a part of a day, it was modified to a definition I can't quite understand:
"Since 1967, the International System of Units has defined the second as the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom. This definition makes the caesium oscillator (often called an atomic clock) the primary standard for time and frequency measurements."
Thank you Wikipedia.
Evidently, we cannot trust our second as a division of day, as the earth's day isn't quite the same. At some points in the trek around the sun, we spin faster or slower. Who knew?
Seeing the history of the hour, I realize how arbitrary my watch is. A part of me longs to return to the time we woke when the sun rose and retired as it set. Hard for many to understand me saying that, with my history of all-night parties, I know. But noon should be when the sun is highest. Sunrise should start the day. Why complain about the change in time from day light savings? The sun still comes up regardless of whether we call it 6 am or 7.
Not that I believe we could run our nuclear lives on solar settings.
Until then, I'm doing daily caterpillar checks and giving some extra water to the relocated cucumber & zucchini. I took time this afternoon to dig my hands into the worm farm. I tried my best to harvest a bit of the poop - got about 2 cups worth. I mixed that with the organic soil and filled up the little containers I bought the other plants in. Into them I mixed seeds for arugula, onion and beets. Tuesday, after work, I hope to drop by the Plant Mart at the junction of 101 & 280 and get more seeds. I need leeks, green beans and potatoes. I may have to order the potatoes online.
The garden grows abundantly. It feels like god is smiling on my veggie patch.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
But then, my collard greens were suddenly filled with holes. It was the Pearl Harbor of critter attacks. One day we're playing ball and having a good time, the next we're under fire from little green monsters who eat and eat and eat! My response was worth of a hunt the monster video game - picking off caterpillars of all sizes and dropping them into soapy water. But then I felt bad - killing the unlucky loopers (the ones I have are called, Green Loopers). So then I took to launching them into bushes that have leaves I was not inclined to eat and I felt marginally better.
Not only were they eating my collard greens, broccoli leaves and cauliflower leaves, they were eating my ego too. All while I was in England, there was a bit of gnawing away at my brain. Before leaving, I asked one of the nice people doing dog sitting shifts (we had three lovely ladies help us out -more on that later) to check my plants for caterpillars. I do think I'm strange - asking someone to go on a caterpillar hunt.
My only solace came from Tiger the cat. As she favors the silver moth as a toy. I realized this was one giant cycle. The moth lays its eggs on my plants, my plants serve as host to their babies and then my cat toys and kills the adults (too bad not before they lay their eggs). Mother Nature has such a sadistic streak in her!
Yesterday, I couldn't take it any longer. I harvested the Collard Greens. They got cooked in garlic, olive oil and lemon. Since they came from my veggie plot, they tasted better. However, I did have to wash them twice and do an extra find check to see that the little green guys weren't hitching a ride into the cauldron of boiling water that I put the leaves in. I let Marc know that I could say, with 95% confidence, that his dinner was caterpillar free. Good thing Tiger doesn't have to make that statement.
Time to go and do my morning sweep for Caterpillars to prevent them eating their way into the heads of cauliflower.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I hope we're able to get a measure on the next ballot to revise our constitution and remove the shameful Prop.8. Maybe we can also get a measure on the ballot to remove the right to vote for old white people? Wouldn't that be classed as a simple revision/clarification of the constitution? If the justices lost suffrage with a simple 50% + 1 vote, do you think they'd see that removing the right to marry by the same method should also be wrong?
In the end, I'm tickled that my friends Mike & Ken are still married. Someday we'll get society to catch up.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
After the rough ride through the city, Marc's father decided we would take the Northern route of the M25 around to his house in Rainham, on the East side of London. Not the best choice. We had a four hour journey which did include several country roads and a short pause to divest our bladders of their contents as well as refuel with a round of battered sausages & chips. Yes, I commenced my first day in England, in a similar way to my departure - sans-a-veggies. We had kabob for dinner, I'm not sure the shredded lettuce and bits of onion would be a very scant single serving of vegetable. All yummy and I do fear I'll need to shop for larger pants before my departure in 10 days.
As we were walking through Heathrow, down the long halls on our way to Immigration & Customs (where I did confuse the poor Immigration Officer by pointing out my British traveling companion who was already in England, technically) I had a David Sedaris moment. Marc lamented that he had forgotten his allergy medication. My response, "I'm sure you could get some from a local chemist." Boy did I feel smart - using Chemist instead of Pharmacy... look at me, picking up the local lingo! And then I was thinking of how Sedaris would smartly describe my pretensions and pride, right before skewering me or having some dark twist.
My focus on word springs from the book I'm reading, well listening to, The Woman in White and find it mesmerizing. Set in England in the mid 1800's, the characters are all so bright and fun. Probably people didn't really speak in such a vivid and luscious way, yet I do enjoy thinking they did and morning our current minimalist mode of communication. But I do find it plausible, as I'm provoked into hard listening here with the British form of phrasing not matching up with my Hollywood English ear. Between the locals, my novel and Angel Sedaris on my shoulder am dizzy with words. I hope I don't get pretensions in my speaking or blogging - maybe that's where my Sedaris angel comes in. He'll nudge me whenever I try to use the British tongue, as I am bound for failure as so many American women do in their attempt to wear the Parisian beret.
On a side note - Mom, please email me. I can't find your address.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"Physicists are very clear that the relationship is purely correlational and not causal," Sloan says. "There is nothing causal about quantum entanglement. It's good to be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out."
So the garden goes very well. I did some early harvesting and served up lettuce to my mother, brother, boyfriend and sister-in-law. Then I went out two days ago and found that my collard greens were getting enjoyed by someone other than me! Little green caterpillars were having a field day on my broccoli, cauliflower and collard greens. Those little tyrants!!
Marc has been a hero getting the drip watering system hooked up. We are traveling back to England under unfortunate circumstances tomorrow and I am so thankful that he took the time to get the watering system fixed so that I wouldn't have to burden out house sitters with the task of watering my veggies. I did ask a friend to care for our house. He thought it would be just Tsui and said he'd consider, but no... I informed him that we have 3 dogs, 1 cat, a tank of fish, a worm farm and a veggie plot that all needs some attention.
The last three days I spent in my company's class learning the inner workings of our email product. The class was very useful and I was the star student the first two days - even doing a demo of the Encryption product for the class. However, the 3rd day we got involved in LDAP routing. It was on the very edge of my technical understanding.
At times I felt like I was having a elephant described to me with out having ever seen one. How do you describe a trunk? The wrinkly skin? They gray color, the tree trunk like legs and ball of a body? So was LDAP routing, domain profiles, SMTP and the other tid bits. I'm happy that I now, can confidently say, "My product can integrate with multiple LDAP servers and do group look ups and routing" I won't add that I wasn't quite able to configure it. I did follow the instructions well enough - however, I wasn't totally sure of what I did. But the mail arrived in the correct inbox with the correct addressing.
That's it for today. I hope things calm down enough that I can go back to my essay format. I'm not sure all my readers enjoy the recent stream of consciousness method.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I guess I do need to go get my mother a mother's day gift, yes, I'm a week late on that. I love how Marc sends his parents cards for the American Mothers & Fathers Days as he cannot recall when the British ones are.
My work responsibilities have shifted slightly and I now drive to Los Gatos every other week. The last few weeks the windmills have been turning. Their arms move so silently and gracefully and watching them brings me a sense of peace, until I have to swerve to stay on the road. I don't know if any other form of energy harvesting feels so tranquil.
This weekend we have only 12 miles to run and we are debating if we want to run Saturday morning before visiting my mother - which will reduce our energy level or on Sunday, when we'll could be tired from Saturday. Either way, I want to do a road run and know that we'll need to be out by 6:30 - the sun heats things up by 9:30 AM.
It all should be fun and I hope to have some interesting things to report on. Have a great weekend.
Monday, May 11, 2009
However I have read some of opinions in print. What I'm seeing is everyone defending their particular minority. I cannot deny that I'm not part of that. I feel very strongly that the nomination should be a woman - and a young minority woman at that. I came to this conclusion when reading an opinion penned by a man - an older man. This assumption comes from his lament about the older white male justices who were going to be looked over due to the need to have a younger, liberal judge of some sort of minority.
What I found so amazing with some of these opinions was that there seemed to be an assumption that the best candidates were white & male and that there really was a best candidate. I do not accept either idea. I believe we have a pool of intelligent, liberal, rational, young and Constitutionally well versed scholars/judges that would make exceptional supreme court justices. Some of our current jurors, specifically Scalia & Thomas, do little to hold up the bar for rational or intelligent. So, from this pool of candidates, I cannot fathom that it would be devoid of women or minorities.
I firmly believe that race & gender should come into play for the current open seat. White males make up a small minority of this country, yet the majority of seats on the supreme court. I feel that not having a make-up of the court closer to our population disenfranchises our people. All that to say, I have faith that Obama will do the right thing and that he will nominate a good candidate. I wonder if his wife would consider the job.
On other fronts, the broccoli has started growing. The heads are about the size of a jaw breaker from one of those coin machines we used to find in Safeways and Longs. I find it amazing how easy this garden thing has been. I put the dirt in the box, added the baby plants and then they grow and start to bear fruit. So simple.
The last bit of exciting news... Marc & I finally purchased the tickets. We're going to Peru. The deposit has been paid, the plane tickets purchased and now we've just got to get the shots and oh dear. I just realized I put the tickets in my last name and my passport is in my formerly married name. Nothing like that for motivation to get that last document changed into my name. Damn.
Friday, May 08, 2009
"Aren't we all merely a collection of assorted, slapdash decisions disguised as thoughtfulness? Aren't we made up of various projections and patterns and expectations, a toss of the DNA dice onto the cosmic craps table run by drunken angels? I'm going with 'yes.'"
I've had this post rattling around in my head for a few days. Things I've seen or enjoyed that have been total successes. What better way to start off the topic than with an amazing column by Mark Morford.
The worms are a HUGE success! I'm so proud of them, of me, of nature. I had tried my hardest to leave the little guys alone - to let them do their eating thing and not be that pesky waiter who think that a check-in every 5 minutes will assure a good tip. No, they had nearly 10 days to eat through the massive amount of food and bedding and such. And they were great - they nearly licked their plates!! I opened up the worm hotel, which, due to the trays and layers, more resembles a hotel and found healthy, happy worms on each floor, chowing down. They clearly had eaten their fill, yet there was place for a lot more.
I harvested only about 1/2 a cup; mixed in the new food and then packed it all down to the first two trays. I could just kiss them. They are doing me proud!
The next success - the rose bushes in my neighborhood. I've been doing my best to get the four legged crew out for their daily constitutionals (it amuses me to no end to call a walk a "constitutional", so dignified!). While out enjoying the 'hood, I've found that they have put the local rose bushes on steroids. Most of the shrubs have gone aggro with flowers. Some teem with white blooms that they, themselves are nearly 100% white. The green leaves can barely poke through the explosion of white flowers. Then, on Neroly, the red bushes abound. I don't recall ever having seen such ambitious rose bushes!
The last success would have to go to Dania for a lovely dinner last night. Cousin Dania & her husband Chris opened the BBQ season with grilled corn, pineapple & sausage. The meal included super conversation and some amazing cookies. Thank you!
Possible Future Successes:
With the introduction of Dale Carnegie into the Cohen-DeLano household, I have decided to try to implement 1 idea a week for the next 5 weeks. This week is "Live in Day-tight Compartments" - so no ruminating over things one wish to have or not have said. Next week we have "No Judgment" week where I let the divine to all the judging and keep those opinionated thoughts out of my head. The week after, much to Marc's enjoyment I'm sure, I'll have "No Complaints" week. I really shouldn't tell him, I have a suspicion that he might do his best to provide me with thing to complain about just to test my will. What doesn't kill me will make me stronger as well as very annoyed.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
An News Host talking about "The Morning After Pill" - you know, the one that is equivalent to taking something like 8 birth control pills. The one that puts a hiccup in a girls ovulation cycle - changing the mucus on the cervix to not allow sperm to pass, delaying ovulation and/or making the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg. The pill that doesn't make a girl feel very good (I know, I've taken it), but neither does the stress of knowing that the fun sex last night might last in an 18 year hang-over and OMG, I really would rather not deal with pregnancy right now.
His words, "Think of a 17-year-old girl. Most of the time she's a high school senior, still living at home with Mom and Dad. She still needs her parents in the tough times. But they will be cut out of a traumatic situation."
She's 17 - do you think she asked Mom & Dad if it was OK to have sex in the first place? Why penalize the girls who are responsible enough to try to prevent pregnancy the next day by preventing them from getting the meds, or having them have to ask an adult.
I just laugh at the idea that "traumatic situation". She's not pregnant, just trying to prevent it becoming pregnant.
Here's another whopper, "Does it really take that long to get a prescription?" Yeah... getting a prescription at 8 AM on a Sunday - no problem!
I don't know what magical medical system he belongs to. As for me and my nearly all inclusive, upper-middle-class PPO option, I still can't get a prescription on a weekday except during a 7 hour window that usefully corresponds to the hours I work and I have to leave work to get a doctor's visit in before they hand me that little piece of paper. I don't even want to imagine trying to get anything on a weekend - it would involve hours of waiting at the ER or an urgent care clinic. And this 17 year old girl is supposed to know and navigate this system on a Sunday morning - is he going to sell us a bridge?!?
But wait, there's more, "The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the "morning after pill" the next day."
Since teenage girls have NO sex drive of their own. They must be talked into sex. They are the responsible ones. BULL-HOOEY! Maybe he's trying to raise his girls to think sex is bad, shameful and should only be done for procreation. Poor things.
I'm getting angry... must go buy milk to make yogurt.
Monday, April 27, 2009
- What tribes did I identify with?
- Where do my values come from?
- What have I done to signify my belonging
The questions kept coming.
- Why do we stay?
- Why do we leave?
- What happens when we leave our tribe.
- What happens when we stop believing in the magic of our tribe.
But then after I took out my bellybutton ring, I realized those ties run much deeper than I had realized. I've had that hunk of metal in my navel for 16 years. I didn't realize how tied to it I had become. Something clicked today - I didn't feel like I needed it any longer. It was a marking that I was alternative. I looked at it and felt the ties to my raving day, to burningman, to all the odd things I've done. But I'm not doing those things now; I don't see a space for them in my future so I felt it was not my marking any longer. I didn't think it was a big deal. Yet ever since I took it out, I've been in a bit of a daze.
Hilary and I got our navels pierced in a bonding endeavor just before going home on break during our first year of college. I recall my mother's horror and dismay when I showed her my stomach. I had left my family tribe and declared my allegiance to the young, alternative and wild. I still recall when Hilary told me she had taken hers out years ago. I felt sad and a bit violated. She had walked away from our ties. Our doing it together in the basement of some lesbian in Northampton had meant a lot to me, was It no longer meaningful for her?
I thought all that had faded. I didn't think I needed that badge any longer. I'm not part of the uber-hip tribe any longer. I don't go to raves, push fashion boundaries or live on the edge in any way. I grow veggies, compost with worms and culture my own yogurt. It seemed right that I leave behind that symbol. My life orbits different values now. I have no interest in raves and can barely tolerate bars now a days.
Taking it out and looking at my stomach, I felt as if I was looking at my body for the first time in years. I could see the contours of my abdomen in a different way; the sparkle of the metal didn't distract from my flesh. I was unadorned, truly naked. Washing in the shower, my hand didn't knock against anything, instead it slide on past my bellybutton without a notice.
The connection to the tribe goes deeper than I believed. I spent the afternoon reflecting on what I had done. I realized I was taking off the symbols of my former tribe. I had been leaving slowly for the last few years. Yet I didn't join a new tribe. I have no strong identification with any group or demographic. I'm an occasional social element in a dozen different groups. I don't identify with mothers or young professionals. I'm not tied into a sports activity or team. I try to connect with my family, yet with my cousins grown and brothers married, family feels more like a diasporia than a clan. I'm barely more than an acquaintance with anyone at work. I come and go. Partly I realized my wounds from breaking tribal taboos still smart and I avoid initiating myself into any tribe as a preventative measure. Partly, I don't see any tribe that encompasses me entirely - I distrust all group think.
I once believed that we had evolved with our Science. That we were beyond the ancient, as we now toy with space travel, nanotechnologies and the sublime Martini. Yet today I deeply realized how tied we are to our culture. My inner-self craves a marking of this passage. I don't know how to acknowledgment that I've moved on.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I'm not there yet. I have my little plants all tucked into their bed. We've been careful to make sure they don't fry in this week's heat wave. I hear it is supposed to be back to down to 75 today. 95 or 100 was a bit much! But all the little guys look fine. So, I keep going out side and thinking, "Now What?". There's no weeding to do. It is too early to start the seedlings for the mid-summer crop - I think there will be onions, beets, more tomatoes and beans in that round. I will have to check my gardening book to see what I might be doing now. Last night I dreamt of beans, polls and wire. I think deep down I want to grow beans.
On the yogurt front, this last batch I made wasn't right. But I was pressed for time, so didn't try to re-culture it. The taste had a strong tangy, and it did not firm up at all. I put it all into containers and just decided to deal with it later. 3 days later and the containers haven't solidified. I've been feeding it to myself & the hounds - with Austin, aka Mr. Picky, eating the stuff up happily. This morning I realized that accidentally made buttermilk! From yogurt to buttermilk, a new adventure!
Monday, April 20, 2009
They were low on veggies. There weren't any of the onion family represented - so I don't have the garlic, onion, leek & shallot section. Instead I over bought - getting yellow & white corn, 5 types of tomatoes, 4 bell peppers, 2 zucchini, 2 types of cucumber, lettuce, collard greens, 1 watermelon, the last strawberry plant, broccoli & cauliflower. Some might say I over-planted my little 4 x 8 foot plot. I say I'm optimistic.
I enjoyed taking each plant out of its little container, breaking up the roots so they'd quickly & easily take over the garden, placing it in its little hole and then tapping the dirt all around it. I didn't enjoy that the last bit of soil I added was laden with wood remains, so I'm getting splinters in my hands and know that I'm going to have to move to gloved gardening. However that will help my nails, as they are not enjoying all the dirt contact.
Marc did the honors of watering the little plantlings. He got home as I was planting the last few green babies. I am dreading the day when I have to rip out the remains of the plants to make space for new ones. But they all got tucked in and I'm hoping they'll all be there when I check on them tomorrow morning.
More updates to come... that is if you tune back in. Was my life more interesting when my favorite band was My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult? Hope my blog doesn't replace Ambien in your life. Is reading about corn growing as exciting as watching paint dry? You'll have to come back to find out.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
When I first came over to Marc's house, I admired the backyard. I asked that we enjoy drinks on the patio while the lamb roast he was making cooked. He obliged.
Then, when we started talking about moving in, I asked if I could have a vegetable garden. He said yes. I didn't want to push the issue, it would mean that I would tear out a section of the lawn for my pet project of growing veggies. So I just let it sit for a bit.
Then I moved in and we started talking serious. I asked again about the garden and he said yes again. Then I took a Sunday afternoon to dig up the grass and flip it, just like the book on growing a garden suggested. While I was digging, he brought me a glass of water. Then I realized he was very serious about me and totally indulgent.
Two weeks ago we went out and got the lumber and supplies. it then rained for most of the week. The next weekend Marc & I built the frame for the raised bed. I still need to paint it and then put in the outside brackets. On Easter I got 6 cubic feet of organic soil. I went back later that week - after swapping out Oola for Tilly, who can carry more. Friday I started to mix the soil with the soil booster. I filled up the box and on Saturday realized I needed more soil. Today we got another 9 cubic feet - in all, we have nearly 30 cubic ft of soil in my little plot.
Never did I think I would want to grow veggies. This all came about a year ago when I had that odd anxiety about the environment. When I got the composter and decided I needed to do more. As a girl, my mom had a veggie plot. The tomatoes never made it to the table, as I would harvest them straight into my mouth on summer afternoons. She stopped towards the end of my time in elementary school, I should ask why.
And now, suddenly, I have the urge to grow veggies myself. I get a box of organic fruit & veg every week and yet, I want more. I keep thinking about it and can't find a reason. I've spent $300 on wood and dirt and I haven't even purchased the seeds or plantlings I need to make the garden more than dirt. So, we'll estimate I've got another $100 to spend. $400 in all - this is not a plan to save me any money.
Friday, as I mixed the soil, I just felt content. I'd pour 1/2 a bag of organic booster #1, 1/2 a bag of organic booster #2 and 1 bag of top soil. Down and around I'd plunge my hands, ruining last week's manicure, catching splinters and doing my best to mix the dirts together, then dumping them into the raised bed. Over & over, I sweat and stank and needed a good scrubbing when I was done.
In all, I felt connected. I felt productive. Putting in the garden might be expensive and I'm not sure if I'll save any money in the long run, yet I'll be tied to my plants and the earth. Each day I can see what I've helped created. I can eat my efforts and then I can cut up the left-overs and feed them to my worms who will help me nourish my garden in the coming weeks.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
US Discovers Violations in Surveillance Program
Really - did any of us expect that the NSA would follow guidelines? I'm sure they were doing a range of things - from listening to their former girlfriends/wives conversations to, the well documented, spying on a Congressman making a trip to the Middle East.
Didn't they just hook up their hose to AT&T and try to trap a copy. The sheer volume of data makes the computing power they'd need to sort/pull/find specific bits of data mind-boggling - and yet them seem to have managed to do it. Impressive & terrible all at once. Can't we put this nonsense to a stop?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
In all, Somali pirates are holding over 280 sailors on 15 ships — at least 76 of those sailors captured in the last few days. Pirates have attacked 79 ships this year and hijacked 19 of them, according to the International Maritime Bureau, a piracy watchdog.
How shocking is that? The Pirates are extra pissed about some of them getting killed in that last rescue/raid. But really, if one is a pirate and hijacking vessels, why would one expect to NOT be killed in the line of duty?
They seem to be targeting the aid ships going to feed the poor & suffering in Somalia. They are trying to steal from their brothers. The can get $1 Million in extortion for the ship.
I thought we were beyond this - fascinating to find we are not.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
When I was 16 my mother totally indulged me and let me have a Jeep Wrangler. The car rode rough, inhibited nearly all conversation when going above 45 mph and I loved it to death. I enjoyed it for the toy it was. It didn't have air-conditioning, the windows zipped open and I could pull the key out of the ingnition while the car was running. I felt young, energetic and fun when I drove it.
Then I got the Jetta, as I wanted to have a more sophisticated car. And it did serve me well - 4 doors, pretty good gas mileage. I switched out the cassette player for a CD player. I had 2 break-ins in the 8 years I had the car. We enjoyed some great road trips togehter - SF/LA, Texas, Oregon, Nevada and many trips to the Eastern Sierras as well as Tahoe. It was still going strong at 250k miles. How I felt driving my car changed. When I first got it, I felt sharp and zippy. As we aged, I felt like it was a little lack-luster and I still loved her - I had named her Pris.
All at once, the jetta got broken into, needed her 3rd clutch and broke the 250k mark. I knew I needed a new car. So, Greg helped me search & search and we found something special - a 2 seater Mercedes SLK32. It was suped-up with the AMG construction. It was fast and so impressive. Driving up in that, especially with the top down, turned heads. It screamed, "I have money!" or "I'm HOT!" With the top down, I got to enjoy the sun on my face - sun roofs just don't cut it. I named her Oola, after the character in The Producers, as she was fun & pretty and otherwise useless.
Do I drive the car or does the car dive me?
There was such a great feeling of driving up to my high school boyfriend's house in Oola, he and his dad were impressed - my car outclassed both of theirs. I enjoyed that - but really, that is so shallow! And how sad that the car impressed them - shouldn't I be the one impressing them?
Didn't Socrates struggle with this - is it the Man or is it the Toga? Anyway, I don't want to be in my car's shadow.
Marc & I traded in Oola yesterday. We got a cute little JCW Mini Clubman. It is Pepper White with the Silver roof and has all the bells & whistles. He loves how it drives. I love that I can plug in my iPod, navigate with traffic information (but I haven't figure out how to turn this off yet, making it super annoying), make/answer calls on the car speaker phone via bluetooth, enjoy satellite radio (did you know there is a Playboy Radio Station? I nearly crashed while listening to instructions on how to masturbate!). And then the best part - I can fit the entire dog pack in the car! We can take trips together - Oola would only transport one dog at a time.
So, is the mini upstaging me? Is it undermining me? My car should be a manifestation of my values and match my goals. I value fuel economy, my dogs and fun. The new car, I think I'll call her Tilly (short for Matilda and said with a hint of British accent), gets me closer to living my values. On it's third outing, it transported the worms for my new worm farm composter.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
I did more checking on temperature this time - adding fresh yorgormet starter when the milk was between 108 & 112 degrees. I let it sit, then tossed it in a strainer that I had lined with a clean thin dish towel. The yogurt was a little lumpy, however it was rich & tangy and thick. I regret making it with 2%, as that it too much fat for my weight-watchers self... so I'm off to trade in the glass bottle the 2% came in for a full bottle of fat-free milk with which to make another batch tonight.
As for the worm farm, I have yet to get the worms. More on that later.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Marc got me motorcycling lessons and then let me ride his Harley. Which was fun, until I got to the end of the block and dropped it. This must be love - he was actually more worried about me than the bike! Not only that, but he sent me out on it again the next day. I did better then. It is MUCH heavier than the scooter I had and, likewise, much harder to handle when going slow or stopped.
Then Marc & I enjoyed dinner at Jardinere on Monday night. Which was good, but Marc didn't much care for the flight of Grappa I insisted on enjoyed after dinner. He let me enjoy it all... I guess that is a blessing in disguise.
Tuesday - the actual birthday - I had lunch with my mom & brother. Warren discussed how much of a disaster the current state of real estate is and how close he is to the poor house while heckling me for considering myself environmentally friendly just because I compost & make my own yogurt. My mother and I recollected about a lovely trip we had to Louisiana 21 years ago for my 13th birthday. Much fun.
On the other hand, Marc did encourage my environmental ambitions - he got me a worm composter! After you, kind readers, have endured my trials with the NatureMill, we're starting in on a worm farm. Should be fun! I have assembled the housing and am amassing the scraps needed. Last night's dinner helped a lot in that regard - I had Dad, Cathy, little brother and sister-in-law over.
The highlight, aside from the company of course, was the fantastic black bottom cupcakes. So good! We had the a la mode, in honor of late Grandfather Jim. And I had a card addressed to, "Jennifer Mercy DeLano, Jr" Not sure about that last bit... need to ask Dad about it.
But BCD was super generous with a gift of a circular saw - this is to assist my vegetable garden ambitions. He also promised 1 day of home improvement labor.... should be fun. I'd love to have him & Kate out again. Earlier yesterday, Marc & I got the lumbar and hardware needed to make a veggie plot. On Saturday I dug up the sod and flipped it over, per the instructions in my garden book. This weekend we'll build the frame and then I hope start to fill in the bit with top soil. Then I'll need to pick the beggies - I also need to get the worms for my worm compost house. Should be fun. I never thought I'd enjoy such mundane & wholesome activities!
In all, quite a happy way to start the next trip around the sun.
Today Marc let me ride his Harley. I went around the block, around the other block. Up one street and down the other. In all, I did about 7 miles and got up to 45 miles per hour. I was able to avoid dropping the bike and didn't terrorize the local skater punks too much.
The oddest thing happened. I felt some odd itchy down-under. When I later checked, I realized that I was starting to grow a set of balls. I'm not sure if all Harleys do that or just the Road King.
I'm not sure if I want to keep riding or not now.
That's all for today.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
It really is that easy. I tried with whole milk - it said that would be easier. And it worked really really well. Now I have two tupperware tubs of yogurt ready for dog feedings. I think tried it with non-fat yogurt, for me. I added some gelatin with the yogurt, as suggested, but it didn't come out as well as well as hoped. It was runny and not as tangy as desired.
I found this online:
A yogurt sieve. I may have to try it. While I don't really resent buying yogurt, I dislike throwing away a plastic container every few days. As a result, I'm now going to make my own! I am excited.
With this victory comes the celebration of my birthday (today). I'm happy to be turning 34. My mother once told me I was more agreeable when in an even year - we'll see. But with my happy day is some sadness. My good friend's brother is in the final stages of with terrible cancer. I'm sad for him. I'm sad for my friend. It leaves me feeling so helpless. I did find my friend on IM and was amusing him with silly thoughts & ideas. I felt like I was cheering him up - I think that is all I can do.
I read this:
Garrison Keillor's essay on losing his brother. He writes with such clarity. I want to share with my friend, but his brother isn't dead yet. It might be pre-mature.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
This morning I jogged down to the mall, past all the museums, to the capital, right as the sun was fighting up over the dome, back down the mall, around the tidal pool, waved at the Jefferson Memorial, was almost lonely as I passed the FDR monument, trekked cross country to the reflecting pool, looked right to see the sun, the Washington Monument and the Capital Dome gleam, then paid my respects to Lincoln, jugged back up the reflecting pool to the WWII monument and thought, you know, we’re running out of space for monuments, we might want to hold off on any more wars for a few decades, then tried to jog up and around the White House, but found it was barricaded & protected in such a way that I wondered what sort of statement it makes for children & foreign visitors to see, so up 15th St and then back to the hotel.
I have dreamt of seeing the Capital with the cherry trees in bloom. They are primed and ready. A few trees have popped early, erupting in white – when I do this jog again in Friday morning, I hope more have opened up their flowers. I feel so blessed.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Last night, driving into the city, with the lit-up monuments and glorious buildings that house our government, I find it overwhelming. This building, here, shelters the Congress while they debate and make deals. Over here the world impacting monetary policy gets decided.
Funny - I didn't have this same "oh my god!" feeling while walking around London. Not sure why. I did get to go into Parliament once. Back when I was 17, my mother and I were ogling the building and the nice guard told us we could go in and watch the meeting of the House of Lords. What fun! They heckled each other! Boo's rang out during while a well dressed man orated.
But there wasn't the same aura. London had a different glow. The "oh my god! I'm in London" feels different than, "oh my god! there is Obama's house!". The Awe tilted towards the strangeness and far away.
Some of it must come from the icons. The Washington Odalisque honors my 1st president. Trafalgar's column - um, Trafalgar - he lead the Navy, right? It is as if we both like the same sport, yet cheer different players.
I hope to eke out a few hours when I can see a sight or two.
Friday, March 20, 2009
What I came away with was the desire for $20k of upgrades. I almost wish I hadn't gone in, as I was very content with our house. We have been nesting and getting things just so, but then I see what professionals can do with triple our budget and I'm now sad.
Some things I didn't like, as they were just over the top a faux flag/brick wall in the family room? why? And some of the fixtures screamed, "I have no taste, just some extra cash to burn!" But then there were small things that did work. Mostly these had to do with furniture - not the look of the pieces, but the size & placement of them. The colors and details of the wall finishing and how the colors echoed in the pillows to make a very cohesive look. I was wrap!
I also saw how themes could take shape and be echoed about. One theme I want, and I have a feeling my civilized British-mate will not appreciate is my enjoyment of the West & Dessert. Like worn wood, polished smooth with age, bleached in the sun. Colors that give the feel of desert rocks, sky & vegetation. Yes, I wouldn't mind a cow hide on the plank wood floor; Sedona & Santa Fe without the Cowboys, Indians or knotty pine. I Hate knotty pine. Rough, smooth & warm.
Not that I would try such a task without a professional. They have a way with things. Little things, like putting a edge-thingy (yes, I know the technical terms) as a band around the room, and at what height and then what to do above & below the band in terms of color & smoothness to make it all work. It amazes me. Marc says it is simple, I'm not convinced.
All that to say, I don't have the time, energy or money to take the house to the next level. I'm stuck now, knowing what our house could be - yet unable to get there. Why are we humans so programmed? Or is it that we've totally hone our marketing skills to the point that executives can just push the average Joe's buttons? I recall my ex-husband having a fear of psychologists, as he thought they could get inside his head. He was right on getting in our head, just wrong about who had the skill to do it.
I came out the next day with a few more things to add and her red light was flashing - Jam. It was late, I was tired and I just unplugged the thing.
I'm dreaming of getting a composter on my way home. Our kitchen produces such a volume of scraps, I feel bad NOT composting. Putting all those things into the grand dumps around my great state.
I just need to shake off my city-girl limitations and go green.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Kindle 2 looked slick - you can download almost any book in a matter of seconds. Talk about instant gratification. I want, "She was a good reader" on my tombstone. However, I can't really flag pages for future reference. Also, after finishing a book I might want to share with Marc, I'd have to lend him my Kindle. What fun is that? We already struggle over the Nintendo DS, "Where did you put it?" "Are you finished with that Soduko yet?" "I've got the highest score in the 20 math calculations, ha!" Does the Kindle record how long it takes to read a book? That could be trouble for this hyper competitive duo.
Then, even if he were to get a Kindle 2 for himself, that wouldn't solve the problem of sharing a good book - as the books aren't transferable. What happens when the Kindle 3 comes out? Can I transfer all my Kindle 2 books? Probably not. This device is sounding less & less appealing.
On the 1/2 filled shelves of our new bookcases sit books from all parts of my life. A picture book of Italy given to me by my Great-Aunt Zada, edited with postcards she had collected on her trips. Across the room are the Greek Plays next to Herodotus - a book that I occasionally reference. My philosophy shelf houses the Bible, a book on Zen, The Elegant Universe and God's Debris. Even if the Kindle let me create virtual bookshelves, they wouldn't be there to amuse my guests. Nor could it provide me with the small and leather-bound book from 1750 that my Grandmother Polly gave me. I haven't been able to read it, as the S's are sometimes F's as was the printing tradition back then, or was that due to their not having formalized spelling by that time?
I imagine that, one day, I will have to switch over to a new book technology. I don't yet think that the Kindle is it. Instead, I'm asking for a larger, traditional composter - something along the lines of this Wibo - sorry NatureMill. It is made out of recycled plastic - all the better! And then, I'll see if my dad is up for giving me this, I think it is a ready to go garden plot, but I need to go check it out. I'm not sure if dirt is included.