Archive for the ‘Growing things’ Category

This  morning my son woke himself up by clapping in his sleep.  Loudly.  He then sat straight up in bed and asked for the phone.  “Call? Call?”  As we began to get up, he leaned over to the nightstand and proclaimed, “Ball!”

This is how our days are going lately.  He has other words (in a grand nod to his Irish roots he calls all food “potay-toe”) but for the most part, he wants to talk on the phone or play ball.  All.the.time.    It’s cute, though.  For the first 7 hours at least.  Right now?  He’s dribbling a soccer ball around in the living room.  He’ll do this for hours, and honestly?  I expect his obsession with soccer to pay for C and I in our infirmity.  Either that or he will use his grand meowing skills to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a cat.  You never know.

We lived through St. Pat’s and are down to a reasonable number of shamrock plants (15.)  I replaced 14 out of the 20 bought from those bastards but I think most of them were going to make it.  Thank goodness that the one I took in which was not-so-great looking had new buds and thank goodness the little girl who got that one was thrilled when I showed them to her because I felt really bad taking in a straggly plant.  Aside from that, it’s sprout city in here.  We’re planting some wheatgrass this weekend I think and then keeping the rest of the seeds until Lucy’s spring break.

What else?  Hmmmmm.  I’m using my time this Spring Break (still haven’t flashed the worms) to put away all of the crap that has collected in various ‘where the eff does this go’ bins.  I cleaned off my dresser and C’s dresser, have almost-completely-clean bookcases in the foyer and even cleaned out all of our old condiments from the fridge (you can’t imagine how many satay sauces and marinades we had crammed in there.  Seriously.)

And this brings us to right now, which involves much less cleaning out and much more writing.  Hey, any excuse to get out into the Real World–there’s a burger and cup of coffee with my name on it at the pub.

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Suckage and Money

So I heard back from the garden center from whence the shamrocks came.  They told me to cut off any dead or damaged parts.  Needless to say, this has left me with several (7 so far out of 20) plants that are in really sorry shape.  Plus I am furious that the company hasn’t addressed the fact that they were shipped in such craptastic fashion.  Seriously, a one line email when someone writes to tell you that an entire box of plants came upside down?  Fuck y’all man.

I bought an additional 7 plants today at the grocery store and am hoping I can salvage the rest before Tuesday because I seriously don’t need this hassle.

This serves as warning though.  If you are thinking of ordering from Hirt’s Greenhouse and Flowers?  Think again.  Not only do they not know how to package plants for delivery, they can’t be bothered to address their fuck up.  If I had more time I’d haul all fucking 20 plants to the UPS store and send them back but alas, I can’t replace them all by Tuesday.  Oh, and they charged $2 more per plant than a grocery store in NYC.  Total rip-off.

Oh yeah, it’s the first negative feedback I’ve left anywhere.  Because seriously?  They are plants for little kids and close to half of them are in too sorry shape to give to anyone.  Two are completely dead.  And these people clearly couldn’t give two shits about their customers.

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One of my assignments for this week was to write a one-scene continuation of the Glass Menagerie.  It ended up with a happy ending.  I gave a happy ending to Tennessee Williams.  This is a clear indicator that I have reached pessimism overload.  It didn’t start out happy but that’s sure as hell where it ended up.  WTF?  I am so not a happy ending sort of person.


As I was waiting for my yearly exam with my midwife, standing in the gown rewriting my history midterm essay on the counter next to the swabs and speculum, I realized that I may have gotten myself in over my head every-so-slightly this semester.  Four classes is definitely too many.  Or more specifically, four classes and two children is too many.  It’ll be ok and I’ll make it through–this isn’t one of those angsty freakouts–but in the future I must remember that school is a lot of work, kids are a lot of work, and the two together are massive.  Fun, but massive.


Sprouts are still sprouting.  Flowers blooming.  Geranium plant has taken over the entire window-area and needs desperately to be repotted.  Next week, if all goes well, I’ll be planting my pickling cukes, nasturtium and marigolds.  How’s that for Spring Break?  Don’t worry, I’ll flash my tits at the worms or something.


Late to the party as always, I just discovered both Regina Spektor and Feist.  Is there anyone else I should be listening to?  I’m trying to listen to mostly women artists for a while so I’m back in the Ani-Indigo Girls-Etta James groove but am always looking for more.  I feel a playlist coming on as soon as I get through midterms.

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There is a specific question for anyone from the Riot reading this on the feed at the bottom–I need advice about how to get myself to stop buying stuff.


I am thinking a lot about Tillie Olsen for my paper.  Thinking about privelege, about struggle, and about how my favorite thing about “I Stand Here Ironing” is that the narrator is a mother who sounds like a mother.  Slightly harried, proud and regretful at the same time, and a  mother and person at the same time.  I am excited to write my paper, and nervous to not do justice to this writer I have come to admire greatly both for her writing and for her life.  Her words are so powerful.  They make me want to write again, which is good since all of my classes are conducted in writing 🙂


We are growing things again here at chez Neko.  Over the past two days, we planted basil, chives, parsley, cilantro and thyme, plus this cheezy-ass Gothic Graveyard Garden I ordered from Tarzhay.  It is awesome.  We are growing moonflower, sensitive plant, dragon tree and black coleus (this last one amuses me as I spent the better part of last weekend trying to decipher photos of slides of coleus plant structure.  I find myself wondering how much different the chloroplasts must look if the leaves are black, which means I am actually learning in my botany class.)  I picked up marigold and nasturtium seeds as well as pickling cukes what can be grown in containers but we are waiting to plant those.  I think we’re going to give some tomatoes a go this year again because I think moisture was the problem last year.


What do both of the above sections have in common?  Buying things.  I have been a lean, mean buying machine.  This continues to be my weakest Riot section.  I would say that I suck at it except I really haven’t been able to find a way to make myself really try.  I see something, I can afford it, I buy it.  Books I need for class, new pants so I don’t have to live in sweats, pants for Chico, socks for C, feeding Lucy’s Littlest Pet Shop addiction.  It’s like a reward system for my good work but it isn’t something I want to keep up.  Everything gets used, we actually have room for most of it, but I want to get myself out of the habit of rewarding myself with STUFF.  I can’t seem to maintain any sort of resolve in this area.  How do you keep yourself from impulse purchases/reward purchases?  I am really feeling like I need to get this problem under control NOW.

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I was going to work up a good lather about the appointment of Kristen Gillibrand to fill Clinton’s Senate seat but I’m just not feeling it today.  I’m sort of in a good mood, actually.  And feeling kind of, well, positive about life in general and the outside world even.  Curse you, Obama 😛

Tomorrow is the ‘playdate with cake’ for Lucy’s birthday.  We’ll be having fruit, veggies with homemade hummus and store-bought craptastic cupcakes.  I thought about baking for a nanosecond and then came to my senses.  We’re still short favors for the two littler girls but I am hoping against hope the box gets here today instead of Monday when it is scheduled.  Curse you, FedEx!

The school birthday is arranged as well.  We have swank Preserve plates, a veritable arsenal of plastic cutlery from various take-outs that I can finally justify having kept for so many years, and we went with cloth goody bags which I probably should have made my damn self but, then again, probably wouldn’t have gotten made in time.  The theme is ‘animals’ so Lucy made the drawings to go on the cupcakes–anaconda, panda, shark, eagle.  I’ll scan in her drawings when we get them back because hell, they’re better than I could do.  Each kid is also getting an endangered animal puzzle to complete the theme.  I’m trying to figure out if Lucy’s teacher will kill me if I plan to collect all of the plates and cutlery to wash and reuse.  Or if I take a cloth napkin for each kid.  It couldn’t be that hard, could it?


We’re getting back in the worm business ’round here.  Lucy is getting some gardening paraphrenalia for the ole birthday and I’ve been getting seed catalogs so I’m going to ignore my no seed-starting edict from last year and start thinking about growing stuff.  I still have seeds from last year in the freezer so it’s really just a do-over.  At the very least we should get some herbs out of the deal.  I just have to keep ’em alive this time.  You can tell I’m choking on optimism by this decision-reversal.


I can’t even believe my classes start on Monday.  I am so beyond ready it isn’t even funny.  I’m going to be logging in at like 5am just to see what I’m going to be doing for the semester.  C’mon Monday!  This is literally the only thing that could overshadow Lucy’s birthday.

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During my brief stay at college, I had a poster of SARK’s How to Be An Artist bought in one of those huge poster sales at the campus center (I got a Skinny Puppy poster at the same time, which sort of exemplifies how much I was caught between stompiness and hippiness, but that’s not relevant to this post.)  The line that always stood out to me the most was ‘Plant Impossible Gardens.’  In fact, it popped into my head this morning as I was in between watering plants and making coffee and negotiating with Lucy about the watching of Discovery Kids.  As I booted up the computer, she was leaning over Chico in the stroller, his face turned up to hers as though her hair was the rays of the sun.  Every time he looks at her, it’s as if he is trying to soak up everything that is Lucy, big kid, friend, mentor.

I have finally figured out what it means to plant an impossible garden.

We came home from the beach to our home, minute in comparison to where we were staying and far less manicured.  It was hot without an air conditioner, sticky.  I had left my bag of dressy shoes on the floor of the bedroom and the dress from the dinner on a chair in the living room.  The desk was still covered with papers, the dining room table with some of Lucy’s drawings and my poor, poor seedlings.  I sat on the couch to nurse Chico and it was glorious.  The heat, the art, the wash hanging in the foyer and the thick air.  It’s mine, it’s the way that I want to live, and it’s where my children are growing and learning.  This feels so very good.

Within moments of getting back, Lucy had set up a picnic in her room.  C and Chico attended while I took my canvas bag to the grocery for soy milk.  On the way, I organized my thoughts to begin writing a new essay (!!!!!!!!!!!!) while listening to Tom Waits croon God’s Away on Business.  Later, C and I made plans to pick up the meat/egg/bread/everything else order together with the farm share today.  And it felt good too.

My little flowers are thriving despite having (and because they have) a mother who is perfectly imperfect.  In my garden, we stay in our pajamas until we have to go somewhere and we make everything from art projects to messes.  We get paint on  the carpet and sometimes leave dishes lying out.  I will give away half of my wardrobe before I let go of a single piece of Lucy’s artwork, and I gladly give up half of my living room to store materials for future projects.  They will always have to put away their things at the end of the day, but we’ll always make room for their treasures.

For my part, I’ll try my best to feed them and water them and guide their growth so that they will grow up to plant impossible gardens of their own, no matter what they decide to cultivate in them.  And I will try my best to set aside time each day to enjoy this little plot I have made.

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Mmmmmmm.  C sauteed ours up in oil and merlot vinegar with red pepper and garlic, and they were delicious.

Lucy and I had a nice walk to the CSA pick up, and she has expressed interest in trying new foods again like we did last year with the farm share.  I don’t know if I can get her to try chard though.  She doesn’t do cooked veg except for a newfound love of steamed broccoli.

Otherwise, we are getting ready for a night out tomorrow for C and I,  followed by a weekend at Grandma’s for the kids and I.  Daddy gets to have a nice break from the rabble while I get to lounge beside a pool.  Fair trade, I think.  Of course, I’m going to need it by the time it rolls around because it’s packing time again, and this time I have another wee one to contend with.  I’ve gotten less ritualized about packing since we stopped flying, but I still have to have a good list going to get anything done, and my list is barely begun.  There is swimwear to handwash (I think I’ll introduce Lucy to No Impact Man’s bathtub stomp method to which I cannot find a direct link but it’s there somewhere and you should be reading his blog anyway.)  There is an apartment to ready to be cleaned (which is a gift from the gods this week, I swear.)  There is a me to ready for the dinner (I ordered a swanky new nursing dress so that I can nurse Chico right before I run out the door and as soon as I run back in because I’m not sure if he’s going to do a bottle but I haven’t tried it on.  Or pumped, for that matter.)  I threw out all of my makeup except for powder and lipstick so the temptation to get uber-made up will not be there.  My hair is such a mess that I can only pull it into a bun or leave it down.   I cannot wear shoes with a closed toe so I will be rocking my Birkenstocks, which is tacky but easier than trying to walk in the surgical shoe and a heel.  I refuse to buy new shoes, especially open-toe ones which I hate with a passion.  Am hoping nobody will be looking at my feet anyway.  All in all, it may very well be an occasion wherein I leave the house looking like a total mess.  Meh.  And, in between all that, we have laundry to do to take with us, a ton of greens to eat before we go, and Lucy has somewhere between 5 and 10 projects she wants to do.  It’s gonna be a busy day.

I would have gotten much of this done yesterday except we were making things.  Making things is far more fun than cleaning things or packing things.  A pox on responsibility.

In other news, I have a new mesclun sprout.  I don’t know how, or when, but it snuck up on me and was proudly standing up between the pot of vermicompost and an old newspaper.  This pot hasn’t been watered in months.  It’s like the Gardening Gods felt bad about my seed woes and sent a gift.  I also have several sprouts in the pot of vermicompost.  I don’t know what they are, though.  It looks like maybe cukes.  How about that.

Can you tell that I’m freaking out about getting everything done?  I don’t need coffee in the morning, I need oxygen.

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I am damn excited for summer.  Well, for now.  I reserve the right to be desperate for the summer program to start after a week of full-time, 2 kid parenting.

Last night, we sat up and drank wine on a Thursday without fearing the oversleep-Lucy-late-for-school.  It was embarrassingly divine.  Yes, I am that lame.  It wasn’t even particularly great wine, but it was local!  This morning we are lounging about in the clothes we slept in, and I do mean clothes.  I finally shoehorned Luce into bed at a little after 8, and I wasn’t about to argue over pajamas.  Chico was awake until close to 11, and by that time I was ready to pass out.  Sometimes you just gotta sleep where you fall.

Today we are going to make yogurt cup dolls, a bracelet and necklace for each other, and hopefully get our veggies planted in their for-good containers.  Then I am going to make a strawberry rhubarb pie again, only I am seriously tempted to attempt making my own pie crust.  I probably won’t though, because I’m chicken and besides, if it’s anything like last year, I’ll be the only one eating the damn pie anyway.  It was good, though.  Then we have local clams for dinner with a salad made from greens from the CSA.  Or maybe some kale steamed up, but I think I’m going to look for some other way to prepare it.  Have I mentioned how much I love clams?  I could live on ’em.   And to think, I was in my twenties before I beheld the glories of clam.

Wow, yet another entry wherein I say a whole lot of nothin’.  I just don’t have the attention span for any serious sorts of essays, but I’m hoping to again soon.  I had a mini-breakdown yesterday over feeling like maybe I’m not cut out for writing after all and should just stick to focusing on the copyediting/proofreading stuff.  And maybe I should, but I’d probably feel like I was missing out on something so I’m just taking a break from trying to write anything serious.  Also, sometimes there are things I just don’t feel like sharing, and it’s really tough to write about things I’m thinking about without addressing that stuff.  It’s tough; I know to write good nonfiction you have to be able to throw everything out on the page, but it’s hard with blogging to adhere to the other big rule, which is to get sufficient distance to be able to provide good analysis.  I’m right in the thick of some heavy thoughts, and I’m not able to analyze yet.  At least, not accurately.

A break will do everyone good, I think.  Lucy from school, me from killing myself over writing woes.

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First, happy belated to all of the fine mamas that habituate my comment section.  Y’all have some lucky kids!

I had a long conversation at the in-laws yesterday about blogging and I walked away a little peeved.  It was compared to standing on a soapbox in the park, which rankled me.  See, you can play your guitar on the subway and be a musician, or sell your paintings outside of the Met and be an artist.  For there to be no equivalent for writing goes to show how little people value it as a means of creative expression.


I got Lucy a sewing book that came on Saturday and I am so very excited about getting a sewing basket set up and trying out some of the projects.  I used to love handsewing as a little kid.  I think I still will, actually.  I don’t know where this whole artsy-fartsy kick is coming from but it’s been a lot of fun.  I made Lucy a  beaded necklace on Friday, and then yesterday we transplanted half of our peppermint seedlings to give to Grandma for Mother’s Day which I really enjoyed (in spite of the big pile of soil on my living room floor.)


Speaking of potting, our second worm bin should be here today or tomorrow.  Then we can get to work planting the seedlings that are staying inside.  I’m waiting on the outside plants until Memorial Day.  My MIL gave me a pot of mini-roses that I need to find a place for as well.  They are really lovely.  I hope I don’t do them in like I usually do with flowering plants.  Although my oxalis has managed to bloom for the 3rd year (no thanks to anything I have done.)  Bean thinks the roses are fabulous.  I wish I could get a photo of him delicately sniffing the blooms; he looks most refined.


Our CSA is going to have meat/egg/honey deliveries this year!  I am so excited!  We may actually make 70% local 25% bulk over the summer!  I have sorely been neglecting my poor Riot numbers.  It’s the tracking of the trash and the saving of the food receipts.  As far as I can tell, we’ve completely stagnated numbers-wise and I’m not sure if I want to take up tracking again.  I may do a few extra months to make up for the ones I didn’t track, or I may just write a huge wrap-up of the first year at the end of this month and start fresh on June 1.  As I see it, I’m not ready to be finished with the project despite my horrible tracking.  Or, maybe more accurately, I think we have more work to do.


I should have done my proofreading over the weekend and now I’m stuck with rushing through this morning.  I should know better…

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I am a bit of a hoarder, especially when it comes to plastic containers.  The apples we have been ordering are local but come in heinous plastic clamshell packaging and I have been dutifully stacking them and storing them in the ‘someday craft’ box under the dining room table.  Well, yesterday my “I’ll use it someday” mantra came to fruition.  Voila!

Mini greenhouses!  All seeds are now planted.  Now it’s the waiting game.  There will be many meals at the coffee table.

There’s our first sprout in one of the ‘real’ greenhouses.  I wasn’t paying attention when Lucy was planting so I have no idea what sort of sprout it is but it’s an onion, pepper or strawberry.  My money’s on onion.

We have mesclun sprouts of all sizes.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.  They sure are cute, though!

I have a ton of worm poop to clear out of the bin but have been trying to avoid the ‘dumping the whole thing out’ method.  I think I can avoid it no longer.

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