I have to admit I am not the best gardener nor am I the most knowledgeable (far from it!) but I do love to garden. Being able to grow your own food is satisfying on many levels and also lots of fun.
While most of my skill in gardening is on an intuitive level, experience has also taught me a few things. I’ve learned what varieties of tomatoes I like, how easy or difficult they are to grow and I try to grow something new every year. Sometimes it is a great success, sometimes a disaster and occasionally a mystery surprise that never occurs again. But every spring and summer I look forward to lots of fresh veggies and a greatly reduced grocery bill.
For twenty years I have grown vegetables and flowers based on my feelings and own intuition but in the last couple of years my garden hasn’t done well. I really didn’t know why, I had lots of theories, but no real explanation. So, this spring I decided to get some help. My friend Lee O’Hara, has quite a rep as an organic gardener and even has a couple of DVDs on organic gardening. Coincidentally, I ran into Lee while we were both doing work for the same company and we got to talking about gardening. Long story short, I bought his DVDs and watched them.
Now Lee has developed quite a regimen for gardening and while I didn’t do everything he advised in his DVDs I tried to do as much as I could (couldn’t quite figure out the drip system, for example) and I have to say the results were amazing. As you can see in the pics below:
Also because my yield in the previous couple of years was low I went a bit crazy. I planted 18 tomato plants – seven of which were seedlings of my own and eleven nursery plants. Since in my experience I have lost 2-4 plants for various reasons, I assumed that 18 plants would leave me with 12 really hardy plants. Still a lot, but I love tomatoes and so does my room mate. In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that 17 or the 18 would make it. Thanks to Lee I now have tomatoes with everything.
I have brandywines, Aunt Ginny’s purple tomatoes, Boxcar Willy’s, Marglobe, black cherry tomatoes, St Pierre’s, Homestead 24’s and Fresnos. With the exception of the Fresno’s, all of the tomatoes are heirlooms and I plan to harvest plenty of seeds for future plantings.
I also have the biggest cuke plants and squash plant I’ve ever grown, thanks to Lee’s methods and my cosmos are five feet tall!
So if you ever want to grow monster veggies that are delicious and hardy, check out Lee’s DVDs and his gardening methods. Incredible! Meanwhile, if you’d like to drop by my place for a tomato sandwich, please feel free. There is plenty to go around. Also if you have any killer recipes for tomatoes, please leave them in the comments section, I’ll need lots of ideas and soon!
(By the way, Lee has no idea I am writing about him and this post was not solicited by him in any way – I just like to pass on good info when I come across it.)
So here’s to tomatoes with everything and for a long time to come.
…and the Mimosa has bloomed. Ahhhhh. Excuse me while I pour some raspberry lemonade.
Recently I’ve had to accept gainful employment. Tough sell for someone who has been self-employed for quite a while. But it sure beats the heck out of being broke, hungry and homeless.
The job itself is fine, it’s website/Internet related and pretty much right up my alley. And of course you can always learn new things and to be honest I’ve learned quite a lot which will be helpful in future pursuits.
The interesting thing to me is that I realized it isn’t the working a job thing that really bothers me – it’s the ant brigade – aka the daily commute. After just a few short months I feel I have a whole new insight on road rage and bizarre behaviors reported on the nightly news.
I try to be easy going and just go with the flow. But when you are half asleep, driving on a road with hundred of others who are also half asleep, coffee deprived, distracted and actually dreading arriving at the office being easy going can be quite the challenge.
In my commuter adventures my favorite pet peeves are:
The bicyclist who thinks that pedaling down the middle of the lane with 20 cars behind him makes perfect sense.
The senior citizen who is so unsure of the integrity of their brakes that they never take their foot off the brake pedal.
The school kids and skateboarders who want to play chicken at the four way stop when it’s your turn to move.
The guy who waits to turn left in front of you until you are 10 feet away from him.
The fruit vendor who stops traffic because the lady in the hybrid can’t decide which bag of oranges she wants.
The texting idiot who keeps drifting into your lane then flips you off when you tap your horn.
The guy who suddenly realizes he has to stop at McDonald’s and crosses three lanes to get there.
The list can go on and on but you get the picture.
The really sad thing is that most of what I do at the ‘office’ I could do from home in my jim-jams. Unfortunately, companies insist you present a body at their house and jim-jams are not allowed.
*Sigh* I live for the day when once again my biggest commute is from my bed to my desk.
How about you, what is your ant brigade like?
I don’t know about the rest of you but when things go wrong in my life I find it ever so easy to lay the blame elsewhere. Maybe it’s a natural inclination, we don’t like to think of ourselves as less than perfect and so when things don’t act accordingly it must certainly be someone else’s fault. There now, doesn’t that feel good?
Not really. You see, I’ve found that by laying that blame elsewhere it has a number of ill effects on me including:
- Feeling powerless
- Feeling victimized
- Feeling stuck and unable to move on
- It doesn’t change anything for me
Sure, in most situations there are other people involved. One doesn’t have a falling out with oneself. So, of course there are others to blame or fault or who have more responsibility. It’s easy to believe that your actions were a result of someone’s actions and therefore not really your fault if it goes ass over teacup. However, conflict cannot occur without at least two participants. Even under the best of circumstances both parties are equally responsible. But I’ll go one better – I think in the long run it’s better to just assume it’s all you. That you caused it, it’s your responsibility and others’ participation is irrelevant.
If you can take that view then at the very least you can do something about it. You can change your mind. You can adjust your point of view. You can vent and move on. You can change your approach. You can pretty much do anything when you make yourself in charge. And the truth is, about the only thing anyone is really in charge of is themselves. Because beyond that, there are always others involved. When others are involved, you don’t get to have your own way. You don’t get everything you want. And really even if you did get everything you wanted you might discover that you really didn’t want some of that stuff. Maybe you didn’t really want any of it.
Case in point – some time back I had a relationship that went terribly wrong. It was an utter shock to me and it took months for me to get over it. I was on a merry-go-round of ‘why’ questions that I asked myself daily. Why did he, why didn’t he, why can’t I….blah blah. But you know what, I realized just today that the problem was that I was asking myself the wrong questions. Because the questions I was asking were questions I could never get answered – so they could only be irrelevant. Then I started asking myself the right questions, ones I could answer. The questions centered around my actions and my motivations and I have to say I wasn’t too pleased about the answers. At least at first. But after I got over my self disappointment I just kind of shrugged and thought, ‘oh, I see.’
And I ended up relearning a truth I know and have known all along. The answer begins with you. If you don’t like your life you can change it. If you don’t like a situation, you can change it. If you don’t like anything, it can be different. You just have to ask yourself the right questions and be ready for the answers. And it’s a funny thing, when you change your mind, often magically others do too.
Wow, why don’t I ever encounter this at the airport? What a way to come home!
I think everybody has their way of coping with problems or a case of the blues. Some people meditate, some hit the gym, some drink, some write lists or utter affirmations… Me—I make soup.
There is something relaxing and mind emptying about making soup. When you are chopping vegetables, mixing herbs and spices and roasting meat, you don’t have the room in your head to focus on anything else. I suppose it links back to some ancient synapse that fires up once the ritual begins. For me, the trigger is the smell of sauteed onions, the sweet pungent fragrance puts my mind in nurture mode and I can feel my whole body relax.
Because I know that something good is coming. No matter how much bad there has been that day, week or month. Something warm, tasty and comforting is in my near future. And I can cup that bowl with one hand while spooning up that goodness with the other. Vapor warms my face and the food warms my insides and when things are bad it’s the insides that need that warmth – that needs to send a signal to the brain that at least for the time being you are safe. That at least you won’t go hungry tonight and you won’t be cold.
Tonight I make soup, as things that worry me have nipped at the edges of my mind all day. Big things, little things, in between things. The kind of things that may or may not be better in the morning. But probably they will be. I know at least in my head that I can decide how good or bad things are. I can decide that change is just change and not really bad nor good – it’s just different. Sometimes it’s even exciting. Still, it gives me a chill, down to my bones. It makes me feel like a child, unsure, tenuous, a little afraid.
So, tonight I will eat my soup and let it comfort me. Because tomorrow is as yet unknown.
Here’s a great recipe for a stick to your ribs soupy goodness.
The sign up ahead on the road heading south cautions, detour.
From three scattered lanes our vehicular alter egos squeeze into one obedient column. We crawl up the single mountain lane – second-gearing behind behemoth 18-wheelers, cursing in hydraulic hisses.
Skimming sheer rock-face of crude red design while shunning the100 foot drop into endless canyon just to the left.
Swallowing the adrenaline that churns fear and impatience, we wind with the curves that forecast unknown treachery.
And the vastness of nature reveals our insignificance – humbles our arrogance in the mumble of prayers that implore God’s hands to nudge us toward safety.
The sharp autumn sun becomes slate shadow, forbidding illumination in our progression and artificial light is a ghostly guide.
When the mountain relents and the road opens again, a communal breath at last escapes. And we break apart like dominoes poorly placed. Now strangers in singular journey, on the same road, but heading in different directions.
How do you explain something that is not? A non…quality, characteristic or state? A thing that should be there and you expect to be there that startles and confuses by it’s absolute absence?
I have grappled with this phenomena for some time now. Trying to discern error, find my mistakes and understand my utter misconceptions.
Through the internet we can find the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. We may encounter the truest of friends and the craftiest of tricksters. Though as a rule I think largely we encounter fair weather friends. Nothing wrong or unusual about that because in normal non-virtual life we encounter such people constantly. That aside, there were a few people of whom I was absolutely certain were the stuff of profound friendship. And it was these people after literally hundreds of hours of phone talk, thousands of emails and regular exchanges of gifts and cards, I ventured to meet in the real world.
Not much of a risk really because it seemed we all knew each other so very well that in fact we were all dear old friends. I truly believed that and approached the meeting with great enthusiasm. However, within moments of meeting the first ‘old friend’ something told me I was terribly mistaken. The not-there was so not there that I felt disoriented and incredulous at once. Which was immediately followed by copious amounts of denial. I had to be imagining the lack of warmth, the indifference and lightly veiled antagonism. It was travel day after all and we were tired and not ourselves, right?
And so planes were boarded and eventually landed. And baggage problems greeted us at the airport which served as a useful distraction for a time… And then onto the next friend – the one whom I’d known the longest and the best and once again the not-there appeared and that void left me scratching my head in wonder. And then the next and …. And after everyone settled in, got rest, food and sunshine the not-there did not relent.
What made it worse for me was that I could see there were connections between the others – making me wonder what awful thing I’d done to be excluded. To inspire such indifference about my presence on a trip I was encouraged greatly to take.
The week was one of the longest of my life and though I was crammed into a house full of people it seemed I was utterly alone. And I didn’t think of much else than being home among friends. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat – hell I couldn’t even make a phone call because my cell fell into a water trap at the mini golf course – effectively cutting me off from everyone.
And when the big good bye finally came it was little more than a lift to the bus station with a wave and a ‘see ya.’
For weeks afterward I told myself I imagined it or must have misunderstood. Things would soon return to normal – but no, they never did. The void simply kept growing. And eventually I had to accept that the friendship, warmth and love I’d felt simply wasn’t mutual. And that was just the truth it pure and simple. As the saying goes they just ‘weren’t that into me.’ And the reasons and explanations that might have been offered were irrelevant because it wouldn’t change the truth.
For a long time I was hurt, angry and confused and part of me wanted some sort of vindication or validation. But eventually I realized there was no point in that kind of thinking either. You cannot make another person care about you – it cannot be done (and even if it could, what value is there in that?).
So…I let go and walked away. Not an easy thing to do when you feel so invested but under the circumstances certainly the right thing to do. For all of us. I wish them all well and bear them no malice. Perhaps just a tinge of lingering sadness over it all but this is life and life is full of interesting lessons.
And make no mistake, I don’t write this any kind of cautionary tale. I have made many wonderful online friends whom I hope to meet someday too and will approach those meetings in the same way. And even if I never do, my life is better for the presence of these people.
I think I just write this to so I can put it all to rest and finally move on.
People think that L.A. is
all smog and movie stars
chatter and multiple piercings
freeways and condos
tinsel and glitter
But they don’t know about
night blooming jasmine
orange, lemon and grapefruit trees
endless green hills
canyons in camouflage
cool ocean breezes
They don’t know that
we wait for the sunsets
The certain bruising and inflaming of
the evening sky
and its wheel of never-ending colors
Until night’s curtain
pushes aside the day for
the background music
that emerges us in restful
christine’s sun sets here
clancy is watching the sun here
Perhaps more than ever, we have liberty and freedom on our minds. Between the economy, current events and burgeoning political movements it’s hard to know what to believe and what direction to go in. Although, the following strikes my fancy. It certainly is food for thought.
The Ten Cannots by William John Henry Boetcker (1873 – 1962)
An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots. Originally published in 1916, it is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln. The error apparently stems from a leaflet printed in 1942 by a conservative political organization called the Committee for Constitutional Government. The leaflet bore the title “Lincoln on Limitations” and contained some genuine Lincoln quotations on one side and the “Ten Cannots” on the other, with the attributions switched. The mistake of crediting Lincoln for having been the source of “The Ten Cannots” has been repeated many times since, most notably by Ronald Reagan in a speech he gave at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston.
There are several minor variants of the pamphlet in circulation, but the most commonly-accepted version appears below:
* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
Boetcker also spoke of the “Seven National Crimes”:
* I don’t think.
* I don’t know.
* I don’t care.
* I am too busy.
* I leave well enough alone.
* I have no time to read and find out.
* I am not interested.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is something to really think about.