Hobbies. Kind of.

May 15, 2009

I'm trying out Plinky this week, because I just noticed that it's been two full weeks eleven days (I can’t count, hurp derp) since I updated. I'm sort of butting heads with writer's block right now, so I figured I'd let someone else come up with topics and I'd just ramble on and add some pictures. Uh, enjoy!

I don't really ever de-stress, as it were. I do a few things seasonally to shut my brain down for a while, but I've never been any good at relaxing.

During spring and summer, of course, I garden. I garden pretty much unceasingly, dawn to dusk, even though there's not all that much to actually do in my few pots or the garden box. Sometimes, "gardening" looks a lot like "sitting on a chair outside, sipping a soda and gazing at the plants." I grow mainly tomatoes, because the smell and feel of them triggers a sort of sense memory of happiness — my great-grandmother grew tons of tomatoes, and I spent entire summers in her back yard, with nothing to do but be a kid. (I also grow them because they taste good, of course.) I guess I really shut my brain down by sniffing and fondling a few plants each summer, but I call it gardening in order to come across as slightly sane.

In fall and winter it's harder. I cook often in the cooler months, and I enjoy it enough to edit a food blog and talk kitchen tools and herbs for hours, but it's not really a de-stressor. It's a distraction, maybe, and sometimes it's a comfort — but really it's a way to pass the time and nourish my family until the sun gets stronger and the leaves turn green. It's a way to feel competent, too; I'm so often overwhelmed by raising a kid and keeping a house and paying the bills that it's nice to have one normal thing I can manage. But it's not particularly relaxing.

The closest I come to relaxing in the house is when I read. I read pretty much all the time (all the time that I'm not actively raising the kid or washing the dishes, anyway), and I figured out years ago that it's a defense mechanism. I read things online, I read library books, I read newspapers, I read magazine clippings. I read cereal boxes and shampoo bottles and the packaging from Connor's toys. I read like breathing, and between that and my garden I do all right. Even if I don't ever actually relax.


Big Box of Garden!

May 4, 2009

So, that happened. I thought the big box was a lost cause, but my mom totally saved it at the last minute (meaning yesterday) by providing good soil and cow poop to fill it up. I planted this afternoon, and I’ll be adding more tomatoes next week — as well as planting cucumbers in a huge plastic tub, as I did last year. This is going to be awesome; if you want to keep up, this year’s garden album is here, and I seem to write/photograph garden stuff a lot on Twitter.

Damn, I’m excited. Last year’s paltry little container garden went from this to this with a side of this; this year’s garden has 32 cubic feet of high-quality amended soil in which to spread. My goal is to grow a 5-ft tomato plant and/or harvest over 200 tomatoes by summer’s end. Oh, and to spend every single summer morning with dirt under my fingernails. Mmmm.

As an aside, how cool is it that last year’s planting and this year’s planting occurred exactly a year and a day apart? And also, how lame is it that my grass is patchy, my old pots are scattered about, and Connor’s “baby” playset is still lurking dustily about? Sigh. Next step: cleaning up my damn yard.

A dreamer’s eyes are always open wide.*

April 28, 2009

I forgot to mention this in all the (not-)smoking talk, but one of our cats killed my seedlings. It was a great tragedy, and I’m fairly sure he did it on purpose. The sequence of events went something like this:

12:30 PM: I put the seedlings outside in a nice sunny patch for some good ol’ UV rays.
12:31 PM: The cat saunters over, eyes the seedlings, and smirks at me.
12:32 PM: The cat backs up to my seedlings, sprays them vigorously with urine, then kicks them off their perch, sending soil and broken leaves and snapped roots flying.
1 week later: I am still crying.

So, that happened. I’ve decided that come hell, high water, or angry cats, I will be buying starter plants tomorrow. And planting them. Some of them, anyway — my square-foot garden is also a bust, because I was not able to procure the free compost I needed to fill the box and complete my soil mix. (DUDES! Unable to procure FREE compost! I epitomize pathetic!)

I’ll be container gardening again this year, and I am woefully underprepared; the containers have all been scrubbed and sterilized, but I only bought two medium bags of soil, which is just enough to fill up one big container. Maybe one big container and one herb pot, if I plant shallowly and carefully.

I’m a little frustrated and spluttery about all this still. I had a garden for barely four months last year, but I have missed my plants all winter. As spring heats up and the sun comes out to play I’ve begun to physically long for those damn plants, as if they are errant lovers or prodigal children. If all I manage this year is a tomato plant and some basil, I will be heartily disappointed (not to mention heartily encouraged to spend the rest of my life in bed, as gardening has been The Thing I Promised Myself to get out of these damn doldrums). I could begin planting later, once I’ve procured more soil and whatnot, but I am dubious about the results — our summers are too hot for fruits to ripen, and all I’d end up with would be a bunch of green tomatoes and some sadly spindled herbs.

In sum, ugh. Still not smoking hardly at all — I seem to have turned out to be a social smoker with my physical dependency broken; I smoke a cigarette or two when there’s a large gathering, but am otherwise content to abstain. I missed was too lazy to take my Chantix two days in a row, and remained stalwart. I am expecting my medal ANY DAY NOW.

* Nine Days.

You’ll start to think you were born blind.*

April 1, 2009

Yesterday, within the span of twenty minutes, I whacked my leg with a vegetable knife while cutting carrots for Connor’s lunch and dropped a metal bedframe on my arm. The former was irritating but Band-aidable; the latter required five stitches and a tetanus shot.

I haven’t slept in forever and ever and ever, and it’s starting to be dangerous. I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow to (hopefully) refill the crazy pills I’m supposed to take all the time, because this shit does not fly. I’m going to ask about anxiety medication too; I’m going to ask for something to put my ass to sleep at night, and I’m going to ask for Vicodin because the ER doctor did not give me any pain meds, even before stitching me up. And, uh, this shit hurts.

In sum, everything sucks. I’m gimping around today, trying to accomplish spring cleaning, by which I mean “getting rid of the two rooms and four closets full of crap I can no longer manage.” Michael is balking, because that is what he does these days, but I seriously cannot handle everything in our home right now. It’s time to simplify.

In the meantime — and that is such a good word, because this time is very mean indeed — I’m trying to write. I’m trying to write because it’s what I do, and I’m trying to write because I no longer have friends or therapists or a husband who gives a shit upon whom I can dump all of this crazy-brain stuff. It’s an up-and-down process, but it’s tried and still true. Some of that, like the last post, might end up here. Most of it, again like the last post, won’t be particularly pretty, so remember that I have a blogroll over there in the sidebar if you want to click away now.

In other news, my seedlings have exploded. Not (quite) everything sucks, and y’all should kick me if I forget it.

  • matchbox twenty. Oh, the shame.

Roses have thorns, they say.

March 16, 2009

I wrote this as an email a while ago, but I realized that it makes a near-perfect blawwwwg entry, and thus I am copy-and-pasting. Email: Now a handy labor-saving device! (Actually… I guess it was kind of labor-saving before, too.)

Well, I got the first of my seedlings started (eight tomatoes, one cucumber, a strawberry pot, sweet basil), and tomorrow Connor and I are going to set up “his own” strawberry pot. We’re rotating the soil in the big box, adding more whenever we can beg/buy some, and I’m looking into cow poop. Today was warm, sunny, and not windy, so we did grocery shopping. I made burritos for dinner. It was all right.

The rheumatologist has gone beyond “ridiculously expensive” into “outlandish” — it’ll be $150-200 for my damn appointment, depending on what tests he does. I have to pay $125 up-front, and whatever remainder there is will be billed. A pox on these stupid… healer-people. It’s like they think they’re necessary or something. I almost hope that the proposed increase in Medicaid spending will magically make us eligible, but I doubt it will. Fie.

Still, the day was — for once — not a waste. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s day, so we’re doing a picnic in the park with Connor and whichever of his friends can come. I would like to go have a green beer, but for the fourth year running St. P’s falls the day before payday instead of the day after. (The day before payday is, historically, the brokest of broke times.) I will accomplish this goal before I die, though. It should be a nice day for a picnic, at least.

With as tired as I am right now I feel like I should have more news, but alas, that was the whole day: grocery shopping, putting away groceries/cleaning out the fridge, calling the rheumatologist, planting things, making burritos. It does not take much doing to wipe me out these days, although that is probably because I have not slept in like four days. Diphenhydramine — it is to laugh! Tramadol — a mere bagatelle! No, this insomnia can be stopped by none other than the Acme Anvil of Great Cartoony Hysteria! And if I could find such a thing, it would be awesome.

*Lady GaGa.

Take a look at me now.*

March 9, 2009

Oh, my goodness, it has been so long. So very, very long. So incredibly long that I kind of don’t want to write this post, because so much trivial-yet-essential stuff has happened! I don’t even know how to connect everything together, because it’s not like over a month’s worth of life is really going to have a narrative flow. Also, I don’t really remember what I wrote about last time, although I guess I could just check, and this paragraph is really just more procrastination. Deep breaths. Okay, here we go:

I dyed my hair blue a while ago, except that I didn’t dye my hair as well as I dyed the bathtub and my toes and also, every inch of my skin from the shoulders down. I thought I had taken pictures of the tub, but alas I did not, so you will have to take my word for it. That word, by the way, is “disaster.” I’ve been applying straight bleach to the entire tub twice a day for three weeks, and the color still isn’t completely gone. On the other hand, my hair is now mostly not-blue, because the dye washes out in copious streams if I so much as think about wetting my head. I don’t know what possessed me to dye my hair blue, but… it doesn’t really matter, because in this case dying my hair a funky color on a whim was totally fine and not permanent at all! I will try to take pictures before all the color is gone, but I make no guarantees.

I went to the doctor, finally, to have that whole arthritis thing checked out, and he was very alarmed by my blue toenails. Aside from that, it’s apparently not arthritis causing the pain and the swelling and the pain and the discoloration and, oh my God, the pain. I got prescriptions for the pain, but then I had bloodwork that showed the problem isn’t arthritis, and now I need to see a rheumatologist and my doctor won’t refill my prescriptions, and did y’all know that healthcare is expensive? Because it is. Those taxes I was so excited about aren’t so exciting when pitted against multiple appointments and prescriptions and blood tests and, now, specialists. The status of all this health nonsense is kind of undefined — until I see a rheumatologist, nothing can go forward; until I win the lottery, I cannot see a rheumatologist. I’ll just be over here, hoarding my dwindling supply of pain pills and NSAIDs, all right?

I also had the Most Expensive Day Ever a while ago, involving (in order): an auto-payment for our electricity that didn’t go through, late fees and reconnection fees, running through my phone minutes in the course of straightening things out so that I had to go buy more, ridiculous car repairs, an extra payment to our Internet provider because we’d thought we might switch providers and then could not, and probably other stuff I don’t remember. Then Michael booked himself into a convention in Denver without telling me the price had jumped, and surprise! My account was overdrawn by $100! Which meant that, after we replaced that $100 and the overdraft fees, I had to cancel my own trip to Denver!


I am still considering going to Denver anyway, just catching a ride with Michael and parking myself on a friend’s couch with my kid for three days, but dudes: lame. Can’t we all just trade pretty beads and shiny things for this stuff? I bet I’d never run out of those. (Although really, I haven’t run out of money either; I’m just at the point where spending any more this month is distinctly a Bad Idea.)

Bad Ideas notwithstanding, I have begun buying seeds and accoutrements for this year’s garden. Michael and Chris built me a 4’x4’x2′ box last year, and my plan is to try square foot gardening in it — which would give me 16 miniature plots for growing various things. I want to plant eight big tomato plants, two cucumber plants, two squares of bush beans, and uh… some other stuff, to be determined later. I’m using the pots this year for strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. If I have the time I’m going to build a tomato trench and grow three or four more tomato plants, because who’s obsessed with growing tomatoes? HAHA, CERTAINLY NOT ME. Except that I kind of am, and I really want to try some funky stuff (black tomatoes, blue tomatoes, striped tomatoes) this year. This has, so far, been the one spark of good in an otherwise crappy week, and I will be starting my seedlings as soon as the clouds clear out, which had better be soon because Velocibadgergirl totally has the jump on me.

Finally, can I just complain for a minute? Because my kid — my awesome, smart, hilarious, sweet kid — is DRIVING ME NUTS. I don’t know if it’s an early taste of Four Years Old or what, but he’s suddenly… well, he’s been whining. And arguing. And refusing to do things he’s perfectly capable of doing, like unsnapping his own damn pants when he has to pee, or holding his fork properly, or uh, listening. What the hell, almost-four-year-old? Please, someone, tell me that this phase ends.

There. I think this covers almost everything, although I still haven’t written about OMGBOOKS and OMGTV and OMGMOVIES and OMGCONSUMERISTBONANZA and OMGSTIMULUSPACKAGE. Later, maybe.

*The Postal Service. I have so much trouble with titles that I thought I’d steal a page from Jonna’s book and start using song titles. This will probably backfire spectacularly, as I display my horrible taste in music, but we’ll see how it goes.

Never quite content. (Alternate title: Shut up, me.)

September 8, 2008

At the end of spring I started a new ritual. Every morning I’d get up, make coffee, stumble about being grumpy until it was finished, and settle myself at my desk, where I would immediately check the weather. I watched the forecasts obsessively, watching the virtual mercury rise — slowly — until it would be consistently warm enough to get on with life.

First, I watched for the days to be above 70 degrees for a solid week so that Connor and I could make outside plans. Then, I watched for the nights to stay above 55 degrees so that I could plant the garden without stunting and/or killing my tomatoes. Finally, I waited over a month for the temperature to remain firmly in the 95-100 range so that I could declare it officially summertime. As the summer got underway, I got a little busy with — well, with summer things. The garden. The sprinklers. The incredibly neglected, incredibly ugly “lawn” that I was determined to mow the scare quotes off of before summer’s end. The park. You know, summer stuff.

I stopped checking the weather around, oh, the end of July. It was going to be 100 degrees before 10:00AM forever! My garden would be producing gigantic fruit forever! The lawn would be pretty, lush, and emerald green forever! Yay! Except that’s apparently not how it works, and I am obsessively checking the weather again. Did you know that things cool off in September? Did you know that there is rain, and cold nights, and overcast days? I somehow managed to forget these things.

I went out to water the garden today and everything was just a little sad. My tomatoes are still plugging away, but everything’s kind of… withered. Elderly. The “second harvest” I was so jubilant about turned into nothing more than ten puny tomatoes that are failing to ripen. My cucumber leaves are turning brown, and I don’t think the last few baby cukes are going to make it. The butternut squash is pretty much dead — it produced massive, gorgeous yellow flowers a couple of weeks ago and then everything fell over. The air was a little chilly as I watered, even though it was 2:00 in the afternoon. Nothing’s really getting much sun anymore; the shade creeps in earlier every day.

We haven’t gone to the park in over a week. It’s always either about to rain, or a little cold, or too muddy from yesterday’s rain. The sprinklers have become unnecessary, because the lawn — which was beautiful for, oh, three weeks — isn’t really growing anymore. Everything’s still green, but it’s an old green, a faded green. I’ve cut down two of the tomato plants already, and I have plans for the rest of the garden: cutting down the plants, storing the soil safely, sterilizing pots, turning the cucurbits bed into a winter compost box. I know I was just blathering at great length about how much I’m looking forward to autumn, but all I could think today was, Man, having a garden sure makes winter more depressing.

It’s been one of the best summers of my life. I’m so proud of my garden and my yard — proud of the little bit of ours I carved out of theirs. I’m going to be sad to see it (and summer) go.