musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “gardening”

a few highlights, low key

Pretty low key weekend, but we found a watermelon growing in the cukes.

 Toots had a haircut on Friday, but with the humidity, you would never know. Many women in the salon pleaded for a head of hair with her natural caramel highlights and those curls. Of course, they don’t have to comb them out three times a day. I do, or dreadlocks.

 It was too hot to even blow bubbles, but we did.

 “”But I done wanna yook at you, Mommy. I’m busy here.”

I walked Lucy, also known as The Goo, Goose, Goosie, Lucy Goose. We sat by the lake for a bit. It was cooler than it has been, a few clouds rolled in and spit on us today. I wouldn’t exactly call it rain, but it made things about fifteen degrees cooler. Again, poor cellphone camera capture, but that lump on that branch on the tree across the inlet? That’s a great blue heron. He was magnificent in person. I know, bad tease. I’ll try to remember a better camera next time.

Mostly, this weekend was spent wandering in a big box store, watching a three year old who has been full of beans lately, and reading Sookie
I have come to the conclusion, that I like the books better than the show. The show mucks with perfectly good material way too much. They need to leave a good thing well enough alone. Although, I do love the show, too, but now that I’m well-ensconced in the books, I love it just a little less.
I’m really ready for the boys to come home.

gardening

I think my favorite thing about growing okra (besides frying it up and eating it) is these beautiful blooms. They bloom for one day, then the next you have the beginnings of a pod and within 48 hours, you have an edible delight. I tried my best to capture the deep buttery yellow petals and burgundy center. Temporal nature of beauty at its best. Tough to do the other day, even making some digital adjustment. I’ll get one soon with a better than cellphone camera. Macro that baby up.
Tonight I’m frying up a batch with my grandmother’s recipe (but I sub peanut oil for her bacon grease.). I can’t wait.
Blurry Cucumber Babies

A Green Pepper

Yay Tomato!

But this is what I am most excited about. Right now that striped beauty is about the size of a large grape. Soon enough, it will grow to the size of , that’s right, a watermelon! After the squash bugs decimated my beautiful bevy of squash, I was really worried they would get the cukes and watermelon, too. But both waited to fruit until after I got rid of the hordes of death. At least, I hope so while crossing fingers. 
I have also been picking quite a lot of beans and basil, two kinds. I think tomorrow night’s dinner will be pesto. 

walkin the dog

It’s hot.
I walked the dog.

What’s that?

Get in for a closer look, but not too close. Sorry, only had the cell phone, again.

 Egret!

Yesterday, on my fence, a lizard skittered. By the time I got the yes, cell phone, out of my pocket, he was replaced by this dragonfly.
And then I found these Kentucky Wonder Beans under the tangle of vines covering my posts. I found quite a bit more than those. I think I’ll cook them tonight. If Toots hasn’t eaten them all in refrigerator drive-by snacking.
Today, I spent a few hours at the library, editing another chapter and a half. I hope to make more good headway tomorrow. I am making good, if slow, progress. 
Kinda like walking the dog in muggy Virginia mid-July.

quiet & things

Back from camping, this week was mostly much needed downtime. 


My writing group had a lunch meeting after a hiatus period due to travels of each, and surgery of one. We had a logistics meeting discussing where we all were at the moment in writing, how we want the group to function, and dare we invite some new blood in after loosing two members to moves somewhat cross-country in the past year. We all agreed on new blood, some of us moaned about the current transitory state of publishing world, the other members all recently submitted works and are in that sea of rejections and non-responses. I ended up being the cheerleader to keep them all from quitting writing, and thankfully it worked. They are all too good to not be read out. 


One had to remind herself of why she writes besides trying to publish. I not so eloquently put it, “If I’m not writing, I am miserable to be around. Might as well shoot me it the head.” And the rest, thankfully, recognized that in themselves.


Speaking of writing and rejections, I saw a bit of an interview last night in which the author of The Help claimed to have received 60 rejections over the course of three years. Now she’s a best selling author with a highly anticipated film on its way to release. 


So there’s always hope.


I had one good writing session this week. Polished up another chapter. I am hoping to get more in this week, especially while the boys are out of state with their father. I really want to knock this revision out and get it in the same state as my writing group compatriots. Although, if I feel as hopeless as they did before my cheer session, maybe not. Who am I kidding? I want to get the book out of my hands and into the public. And I have other starts and ideas to work on.


It’s quiet. Too quiet. I find it disorienting, though it is what I loved most about my pre-motherhood. I really loved just curling up with a book because I felt like it and no one interrupted me for anything darn thing. Or just going outside for a walk to clear my head. Not that it needed much clearing then. And writing for endless hours because my head had empty rooms to wander around in.


Now I want to be interrupted. Curses.


I miss the boys. I miss my grown up talks with my really perceptive teen. I miss Captain Comic yelling and stomping through the house because I am ruining his life or crushing his dreams because I won’t buy him a real movie camera. Hm, just Googled, looks like that would run me about $67K, used. I would sooner replace Big Bertha, my rusty year 2000 minivan, and the fence. Or maybe try to put in that second master suite to the house.  Or sock it away toward the kids’ college educations, half of one of them anyway. I miss how he always makes me laugh.


Other than that, I have been battling weeds and squash bugs, a Normandy style invasion of which destroyed my beautiful squash plants, again. And Toots and I have been having fun with each other and with friends. 


So this Saturday is an extra quiet one, and I almost – note almost – feel a smidge ho-hum. 

breakfast

A little while ago, I brought the corn husk materials from last night’s dinner out to my compost pile. I perused the pickings around the peas. I popped one pod in  my mouth. I’ll let the others linger and grow another day or so. I strolled by my little swiss chard piece of a plot in front of the okra,  and was struck with an idea for breakfast. I picked a few leaves thinking of combining them with eggs, and considered what else to add as I reentered the house.

Last week’s storms broke Grandma’s hanging tomato plant. The remaining tomatoes are ripening on our kitchen counter.

I chopped some garlic as I started to scramble the eggs. I gave the swiss chard a few licks with the knife and tossed those in. I took a small tomato from the opposite counter did the same. A little salt and pepper later, and voila!

Garden fresh swiss chard and tomato scramble, from garden to plate.

This is why I love to garden. Everything you grow yourself inspires and tastes better, from plant to table in ten minutes.

dog day

Does it get any better than this?

Lucy has just dug up another mole. She is excited at a job well done in her mind, while the yard has yet another hole in it. But the sun is shining and something good has been scented. She has taken over my chaisse once again.
I took this the other day. Today, I have been all over the yard, digging up dead boxwood root balls, transplanting peonies to where they will bloom, reorganizing the shed, weeding, watering and trimming dead branches. Guess what I meant to do?  That’s right, none of the above. I went out to weed whack the driveway edges and hedge trim the boxwoods in front of the big window. I still intend to make the driveway job happen today, because the whacker and extension cord are waiting for me there, but I’m hoping the forecast rain holds off tomorrow, so that I may trim to where the window is visible again then. I don’t think I can do all of it today. This is me trying to listen to my back. I’m still a little late, but I may actually not put the darn thing completely out.

hot hot hot

It’s supposed to reach one hundred or so today. My morning shower was a waste of water, as I am now covered in sweat, from just a little gardening.

I fed and pruned the roses and other flowering bushes. I am way late for feeding them, should have put a post-it about it on my forehead. As I cut back dead branches and tied up the hydrangea, I found a chrysalis. I think it’s a swallowtail, but I don’t know what type. We get a lot of swallowtails around here, state butterfly and all.

Sorry, still stuck with cellphone shots, until I figure out a better camera situation that doesn’t eat batteries.
Here’s some lavender by the driveway. I should really trim it back. Grandma parks on that side of the driveway and it attacks her as she gets in and out of her car. 
The crepe myrtle I planted street side a few years ago is blooming. The white blooms smell like cinnamon Necco wafers this morning. 

I think I mentioned before that I didn’t realize the sprig was spliced with pink when I bought it. The little pink bloom smells like cinnamon, too, but in a different way, a larger, more mellow scent, not as sharp as the white blossoms. Kind of like when I used to take a fireball out of my mouth as a kid once it was licked white and my tongue was on fire – after I drank something to cool my tongue.

Besides the chrysalis surprise, I found something Lucy left in the yard. She’s been digging a lot lately because we have moles, again. She left me a present of a dead one by the deck.

Well, I”m too hot to write much more. How’s the weather where you are? 

on writing

I went to the library. I resisted. I stared at the screen, the document, out the window and at the critiqued copies.

I wandered the library stacks looking for the the next Charlaine Harris book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. It wasn’t there. I looked at bindings. I couldn’t remember who else I wanted to read. Nothing else appealed.

I opened facebook. I kvetched. I closed facebook.

I picked up one of the critiqued copies and started reading the chapter I needed to work on. I wrote in what needed to be added, in the margin. I stared at the screen, knowing I needed to start typing. I looked out the window. It is a stunningly gorgeous day. I thought I’d rather be weeding my garden.

My phone buzzed. It was a call from my father. My father rarely calls. Does he want to ask about my garden? Does he want to talk about his? Did something terrible happen to Mom? To one of my brothers, anyone in their families?

I took the phone out front and called him back. Mostly he wanted to talk about gardening, but he also wondered if he left a hat here when he last visited. He found it in the garage before I called him back. He laughed at himself. We talked about growing beans, and his single radish that came up.

I returned to my seat. I started to type. I texted two different friends to see if they wanted to meet for coffee. I typed a little more while they both teased me via text.

I typed some more, then noticed the time. I needed to make a run to a store across town before I came home in time for the boys to arrive home from school. One of the friends said she had something for me. I stopped at her place. We chatted, major girl talk. She gave me purple Thai basil to grow in my garden, because she realized she wasn’t going to eat it no matter how pretty it looks in the sunshine.

I came home. I think I forgot to disconnect the USB before I turned off the laptop. but I saved my changes, minimal as they were on the desktop.

I know this doesn’t sound like I did much writing or editing, but I did. I changed the way I thought about the chapter, and I only need to type about half of it, hopefully tomorrow.  I have edits in margins I can type in, and I gave my brain room to roam as I wandered the labyrinth of library and mind. And that my friends, is how I write.

What did you do today?

mayhem, garden, creativity, sing

The blur continues through the week, hence my absence here.

I did manage two library sessions of over two hours a piece. Tuesday, I finished edits to the chapter where I had left in the middle, a longer one, and Wednesday I edited the following, shorter chapter. I left after that because a man joined me at the table where I sat and proceeded to attempt games of footsie with me. I would have thought that the 5th time I kicked his foot way and said excuse me in a very annoyed manner, that he would have gotten the hint.  Dude, I may be friendly, but I’m not THAT friendly. And there were plenty of other tables in the room. But I finished editing a whole chapter, regardless, and feel like I won that little confrontation.

In the garden this week I discovered snap pea pods, and Toots and I have been enjoying them straight from the plant, in the hot sun. She eats them like some people eat Oreos. She peels them open, eats the peas out then consumes the pod sides individually.

That’s another thing, it has been super hot here, very demotivational when there is so much going on. I feel for my little black dog, whose fur feels as hot as stove burner to my touch. I have been sheathed in sweat when outside for very short periods of time. Summer has arrived early and fierce. Somewhere is a piece of paper with a poem half-written about it, written upon my steering wheel outside of Mr. Cynic’s bass lesson.

Speaking of Mr. Cynic, last night an awards banquet was held for his school choirs. His teacher/choir director has a great relationship with his students. The seniors saying goodbye to him called him a second father figure. In his words to them, he had to pause from the emotion of sending them off. Of course, it didn’t help that his daughter is one of the graduating seniors. I am very happy that Mr. Cynic will be under his tutelage for his whole high school career. Everyone should have a teacher who loves and lifts his students as much as Mr. P. I hope in my years in public schools that I was half that for mine. Some of the toughest ones thanked me, and that means a lot, and will for the rest of my life.

At some point this week, I found a forgotten piece of Memorial Day’s events in my purse:
Captain Comic discovered the free photo booth at the WHRO tent at Town Point Park in Norfolk. It took a while for him to warm up, which of course just makes it funnier. He also folded and stuck his in his pocket.

And then he tried out some ninja moves:

And then he told me about it and some of us got very silly, while he played it straight. He always has to do the opposite. 

 And then Toots had to do it herself. The woman running the booth expressed she probably wasn’t tall enough without my lap, but that didn’t stop her, the little nutball. It took a minute for her to realize it was taking her picture.

Yesterday, I fell in love with my garden. Sorry, cellphone again, batteries still dead in other camera.
There is something very sexy about bean plants tendrilling up poles, especially when I grew them from seeds. Every gardener knows what I am talking about.
This weekend is over-scheduled, too. Next weekend, I hope I can quit this. Part of this week’s mayhem was a two day scramble session to get things in place for my solo singing this Sunday morning. The pianist got sick, we hadn’t rehearsed together, turns out the music I scrambled to get was in a different key from the recording, which Mr. Cynic, on bass, and I had practiced. His bass teacher kindly and late one night, after receiving a flurry of panicked texts from me,  transcribed three different keys for him just in case, but in the end, I am going to do the number a capella.  
I am going to get up and sing in front of two ‘audiences’, essentially, naked – without accompaniment. 
The reason I never became a rock star is I was too chicken to sing by myself in front of an audience for the past twenty-five years. I have no trouble as long as I stand with a choir. I’ll even sing a solo line as long as I am surrounded.
But my voice, alone?  
And then I turned forty-five, and no longer feel chicken, just a bit nervous and excited, and that’s a good thing. Wish me luck. Please.

before & after

It was a process that took days, and woman hours, and a few man and kid hours, too.

I had another over-scheduled weekend to try to squeeze the most important thing to me into – because, really I should have done this about a month ago.

I moved the shadiest garden plot to the sunny side of the yard. a 4×8 plot.

Before:
Here is where it was:

Of course I took the before shot when the plot was in its sunniest hour of the day. Those birch trees, and others absolutely cover this plot in shade for most of the day, especially the back end of it.
Yuck, right? All the grass and crap growing under the plastic is largely because once upon a time, I bought a truck load of dirt from a guy. Turns out it wasn’t good garden dirt. And then I was on bedrest pregnancy, and recovering from it, and had surgery because of it, and so forth and so on, and it sat in my side yard growing things I had no intention of growing in it for a couple of years. Even after I’ve been weeding it mightily and feeding it mightily for few years, it still just likes to grow crap, not so much what I try to plant in it.
Target, sunny side of the yard. That chaise is where you can find me for a little while most sunny days. And Toots likes to picnic there for lunch. The plot is going to move in next to the plot you see to the right. the wisteria is finally filling in, wall like, after the bloom cycle, to the left of the frame.

During:
I tried, but couldn’t loosen the frame. I couldn’t get it to budge at all. Honey did it by himself with a proper lever system he rigged up. Flipped it right over. I love when he gets all manly.

Then he had something going on and I tried to move the frame across the yard with my bad back and ankle and reluctant Mr. Cynic. We couldn’t budge it, except to get it up on its side.

The next day, Honey got back on it and after a failed attempt with positioning on the flat tire wheel barrow, 

we recruited Captain Comic and the three of us worked with cinderblocks and my garden supply Radio Flyer.

It worked! 

And then we maneuvered it into place on the barrier tarp over the grass.

Then we went out to Lowe’s for more good dirt and some garden path stones, and stopped for Hawaiian Ices with Captain Comic and Toots. Mr Cynic was working on a school project at a friend’s house, but I saved him some of my ice and he thanked me.  Toots climbed her first tree while The Rapture did not come except for me, because I was always up a tree as a kid. That’s my girl!
When Mr. Cynic came home shortly after we did, I drafted him to move the dirt and stones from the van to the plot. I told him he could count it as a work out for his independent gym credit. Six bags of dirt and four concrete stones.

Then this morning, I finally got back to work. But my bad back and ankle did not like me before I did, and even more so now. 

That’s some good dirt.
Apologies for the awkward angle.

After:
It’s still a bit shallow. but I planted watermelon seeds toward the back, yellow straight neck squash seeds in the middle, and a tomato and a cucumber seedling in the front. The fat rain drops began to pelt me. But I decided I could plant one more thing and get all the tools, etc back into the shed in time.

And I managed to plant a pepper in the new plot with good earth. And I believe that completes my plantings for the year.

But of course now I am dreaming about bulbs…..

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