Sunday, April 17, 2011

Garden Update

Tiger was restrained, however the snails were not.
I am missing a bean plant, mystery plant and was able to rescue a clump of baby lettuce from two marauding snails. Plot #1 doesn't look happy.

Tiger Proof Fence - Veggie Garden Year 3

The veggie garden has expanded. With a lovely gift from Dad & Brendan-Kate-Lilly Mac, I now have a second garden plot. This one out sizes garden plot #1. We've gone from 4x8 to 4x12. This grow was in part due to my annoyance that I really can't grow corn, Tomato & other veg in a 4x8 foot plot - well, not more than 1 plant of each. This year, the new plot will be the tomato-corn plot. The original will (hopefully) have beans, okra, peppers, chard, carrots, cucumber and eggplant. Maybe I'm being a bit ambitious.

Last weekend Dad helped with the installation of the plot. We were quite a motley crew of workers, Dad being a bit older and seeing him work makes me uncomfortable. Me, unable to pull my normal weight being 8 months pregnant. Which leaves Marc, our only able bodied worker. Despite the collection of physical limitations, Dad & I dug up the lilies (which are awaiting planting at my mother's house) and sod. Together the three of us assembled the wood frame. Then Dad & I filled the plot with the soil that able-bodied Marc had carried from the garage to the back yard. While we filled, Marc worked on our reward - a steak & potato lunch. Our successful installation praised, our reward consumed, Dad soon departed and we promptly napped to recover our strength.

This weekend we took on the watering system and installation of the Tiger proof fence. Last weekend, we realized we had an odd configuration of sprinklers that we could tap and re-work to provide irrigation to the plants. Saturday started off with a trip to Lowes and much thoughtful time in the irrigation aisle. $200 later we headed home with piping, nobs, tubes, adapters, caps, fence posts, fencig and six sage plants that work as caterpillar deterrents for my tomatoes.

Marc set to work on the sprinkler system and I, realizing my utter lack of water delivery knowledge got tasked with driving in the stakes for the anti-pet fence. With all my learning, I never expected to be the one driving posts with mallot in hand. After 7 stakes, I realized that gloves would be a good idea. I AM looking forward to my mani-pedi today to soothe my ego & rough skin.

This year marks another new adventure - a few weeks back I treated myself to a seed sprouter. This magical device gives me little pods into which I put seeds and then it creates plants. Some call it nature, I call it miraculous. My first round was an utter success, until I tried to move them to larger grow containers and killed about half of those that had grown. Well, I started another batch - this time including 3 types of tomatoes: Beef Steak, Roma & cherry. Well, the ones that did survive my brutal replanting as well as all of those from round 2 have been put into the ground. The cord didn't really make it, but I, ever the optimist, put them in plot #2 and said a prayer. Also in plot #2 we've got the smallest little tomatoes tucked in under protective wire frames, guarded by sage plants along the border. In plot #1, we still have Massive, Happy-Chard that hasn't been pulled up in 18 months. I think we need to eat more chard to keep it better under control.

Also in Plot #1 - the cabbage that I put in back in December that is finally getting big enough to consider producing heads. To them I added 3 pea plants, the 1 bean plant that made it, 2.5 okra plants (it would be three, but I knocked off the leaves from one during the replanting process, so we're again optimistic and saying prayers) along with a row of carrot seeds (they can't be sprouted, must go in the ground. I also planted 5 tender shoots that I think are bell peppers, but am unsure along with one total mystery plant. I'm trying not to over plant, per Marc's encouragement. However, things look so bare right now. It is taking a lot of energy to NOT add more.

Also, I created the potato circle/mound and put all my seed potatoes into the ground. We're crossing our fingers for a nice harvest of banana potatoes in 75 days. The package says 75 days, yet I've never had my plants fruit in that short of a time frame. What am I doing wrong?

By the end of the day, and many impromptu sprinkler showers later, we have installed a happy irrigation system, plants and a fence that should keep Tiger, the cat that loves to use my plots for a litter box, out. I haven't checked if it was successful. Marc earned himself a special gold star by dragging our exhausted selves out to the store to get kitty litter so that Tiger might use her outside box instead of my plots.

With that, I'm out to see if kitty-enemy #1 has soiled my labors.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Birth

I've tried to keep my interest in home birth a bit of a secret. I didn't want to be harangued by people telling me why I need to go to the hospital. Until last week, I had my parents & husband set against the idea, but Marc cracked and we've picked a team of East Bay Midwives to do the home birth - barring any complications that would send me to the hospital.
My friend's baby-mamma wrote up this wonderful rationale for why home birth:
Which I 100% agree with. However she left out one part of my decision - the physical achievement.

In my life I've hiked the Andes. I've danced until dawn. I've run 26 miles in a row. I've done two half marathons, one up Mt. Diablo and through streams coming down. I've done 3 hour bike rides that have left me saddle sore for days. I've done cousin death marches around various cities. I've risen to many physical challenges and endured the temporary pain that comes with them.

Along the way I've noticed that endorphins kick in. Running 26 miles is a long time to be in discomfort, yet many people do it voluntarily. I haven't yet experienced child birth, yet my Bradley Method Instructor who's had 5 natural births describes labor as work, but not necessarily painful work.

Training for the early stages of labor - relaxing so that the only muscle working is the uterus. Advice I have heard when doing distance running training - relax all muscles but those working. Tight shoulders during runs will cause pain as will they during childbirth. Anxiety or mental tightness during running causes pain as will it during childbirth. Yes, stretching those parts of me will leave me saddle sore for a while - as does a long bicycle ride.

I hope that putting childbirth in the same context as endurance physical events and using the same mental & physical techniques will result in a childbirth where I'm high on endorphins, not morphine. I'll have the baby and be coherent and a full participant in the experience - not doped up and woozy.

Yesterday the midwives pointed out that I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions. The rest of the day, I was feeling my belly, waiting for it to become firm and solid as it was in their office. I am so thrilled that I'm getting closer to the big event. My body is working and preparing like I am mentally.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How many products do you use each day?

In the last few years, I've vacationed several places which should have lovely snorkeling but instead have reefs that appear to be dying. What struck me in my last visits to Hawaii as well as staying at a hotel on the "Coral Coast" of Fiji was how fuzzy the coral looks. Hawaii especially - what was once a magical world of vibrant colors looked like it was coated by mold and sand. I credited global warming, and sadly shook my head.

Then I saw the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and some ideas started bouncing around in my head. They are pushing to get toxic ingredients out of products we put on our bodies. I watched their video - - agreed in my standard liberal way and then didn't think much of it.

But then it started to eat away at me. I mean, I compost my organic, locally grown veggie scraps. I grow my own veg. While being pregnant and peeing twice an hour, I've taken to flushing every other time (kinda gross, but it is just a touch of pee that can mellow until joined by more pee). I do what I can to live as gently on this plant. But I'm potentially washing my hair with stuff that is killing fish and marine life.

While in the shower, I looked at the bottle of Pureology, which I love, and realized that it proudly stated that it was Vegan. My shampoo is vegan. Seriously! But then I looked at the ingredients. Most of the ingredients came out of a lab. I'm sure some were derived from petroleum products. What good is having vegan shampoo when the ingredients it requires come from oil? The stuff that we just dumped millions of gallons into the gulf killing billions of fish, birds and other marine life. Seems a bit silly. Then I looked at the Neutrogena body wash - same thing, vegan but with chemicals. The pattern emerges.

As I got out of the shower, I started counting all the products I lather on my body. Special anti-stretch mark lotion for the belly, Essential Organic moisturizer for the legs, face moisturizer, eye treatment, deodorant, 3-4 different products to make my hair happy and maybe a dash of perfume and counted eight or nine products in all. No wonder the reefs were dying outside the hotel in Fiji. All that stuff plus sunscreen washes off us, into the water and it disrupts the delicate balance of the water.

Now, I'm terrible, I'm not going to stop dying my hair. I am going to take a closer look at the products I rub all over me. I'd like to see if I can find more earth friendly. I want more ingredients which I can identify - Tea Tree Oil - and fewer that I can't - Methylparaben.