You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Gardening’ category.

Title are literally the worst.

So I felt 1. proud that I’ve somehow been able to follow through on this vow to do a Saturday poetry series here, but 2. irritated that now my blog just looks like a string of poims that are not even that good. So here’s some large blocks of text to break up the monotony.

Life continues to be garbage and pretty good at the same time (like always). Since Mary’s due to wake at any moment, this will actually take the form of a list instead of the aforementioned large blocks of text.

  • I’m seeing a therapist, and it feels v. v. excellent. Partly, this guy is clearly just good at what he does, and it’s been productive, considering that I’ve only been twice. But partly, it just feels good to be doing something proactive for my own health. After trying and failing multiple times to help people I love, I’m finally learning that I’m the only one I can truly help, in a real and uncomplicated way. So, let’s get TF on that.
  • Organizing the house and the house’s numerous and complex projects is overwhelming, even though we have slogged and argued through initial first steps, including but not limited to ordering and receiving $3K’s worth of cabinets.
  • It’s fall, and somehow still super hot.
  • The garden is a bright spot: I still have to weigh (and finish harvesting) the winter squash and the dent corn, but it’s gorgeous and exciting. Peppers and cherry tomatoes are still coming in.
  • Mary is still refusing to toilet-train, which is fine with me, because I can afford pull-ups and so far no-one has suggested that I should be getting on it. I mean, I suggest to Mary that she should be getting on it, but so far that has only resulted in her trying to sit on her baby potty *after* she has already pooped in her pull-up and getting poop smeared on stuff. That was ONE GARBAGE DAY. And I probably shamed her and I’m … still trying to deal with that
  • I don’t have anything to say about politics at this time.
  • Back to Mary: I had a few hours of work to make up on Friday and couldn’t find a babysitter, so, she came to work with me. I feel like I’ve joined some ranks. So many ranks to join. So many of them are garbage. However, this day turned out to not be garbage—it was actually really, really fun and wonderful—due to the fact that my bosses are laid-back and I think they really love and care about me. They didn’t mind me bringing my toddler to work, and my co-worker Jessica got pretty excited about it and at one point put Mary in the truck and drove her across a field to go see the chicks. I can’t describe the cuteness of Mary’s tiny red head barely showing at the bottom of the front passenger window as they drove away. (Very safe, if you were wondering. As you were, if you were a mom.) Mary helped pick green beans, and stepped on several bugs as I weighed and bagged greens.
  • Also, Mary has somehow weaseled her way from her bed (napping) to the couch next to papa (watching sportsingball on TV) to my lap with my arms around her as I type on this laptop. Pretty cute man. She likes what she likes. And I do encourage that, no matter how much I vent about it on social media.
  • We went to Kyle Carver Orchards this a.m. so I could get some fall frenzy going on. I wanted a bushel of apples, but Marshall talked me out of it. Possibly he was right. So we just got 1.5 pecks of Arkansas Black, Mountain York, and Carousel, and a pint each of the apple butter and sorghum they make. Yeah I instagrammed it. The fact that I just spent 30 seconds trying to figure out if I should be defensive about that or just straight apologize should remind you that I’m in therapy. But it was a most excellent morning.
  • Pizza for dinner, dough is rising while I daydream about food. God I love food. This should be its own bullet:
  • God I love food. Since I seem to have grown 50-70 lbs of winter squash, I am going to have to get creative about eating it, and these are my thoughts so far: pumpkin streusel crumbcake; pumpkin-ricotta ravioli (huge batch, freeze half) ; enormous vats of butternut soup for dinner party; vegetarian pumpkin chili; pumpkin cheesecake; cauliflower-pumpkin enchiladas; pumpkin layer cake with cardamom-cream cheese icing. AAAAA. I love food so much.
Advertisements

Mary is singing and talking to herself in her crib, but she’s  in her crib, and I showered and made myself tea and am deciding—of all the top-priority things on my to-do list—to write a blergh. What if this is the road less traveled by, and it will have made all the difference?

So it’s Friday, and despite a terrible night of sleep, during which the husband’s bad cold roused him constantly till about 2a.m. with phlegmy throat-obstructions (sudden spluttering coughs like gunshots), and consequently roused me, I am feeling light and buoyant. Let me count the ways.

  1. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and we’ve agreed that my present will be a solitary date all by myself—to the mountains or some other piece of wilderness—where I will have fancy cheese and crackers and a beer, and write/edit, and read in a hammock (or similar). I might decide at the last minute to take myself out for lunch and then see a movie instead—obviously I should go to the mountains. But MAN I love movie theaters, and I hardly ever get to go.
  2. Making pizza tonight.
  3. The president of my country continues down the path of horrid nightmareness and it’s becoming less and less easy for his supporters to support him. TO MY GREAT RELIEF. One tweet in particular came out today and was fucking insane. Madhouse. But our independent paper has just reported that no fewer than six (6) women from Knoxville or Maryville are preparing to run for office as Democrats. A pertinent quote: “In Tennessee’s 220 years of statehood, only two Democratic women have held office in the U.S. House of Representatives, and no woman in Tennessee has ever served as a governor or been elected to the U.S. Senate. Just two Democratic women serve in Tennessee’s 33-member state Senate, and seven Democratic women in the 99-member Legislature” (17). Makes me curious about Republican women, but I’m sure it’s safe to assume their numbers are comparable or fewer. Hope for the future!
  4. Garden is getting along, and only one plant has been eaten by rabbits. A garden fence is on next spring’s agenda, so I’m just planting tons of the things I really want, and hope that the neighborhood warren spares me enough to freeze and can. For instance, as of today I have 25 tomato plants in the ground. Ridiculous, but like I say, some of them will get eaten by rabbits. I have gorgeous rows of Whippoorwill peas, Tiger Eye beans, and a cranberry bean called Lena Sisco’s Bird Egg bean. I have about 20 winter squash plants in the ground as well: Tan Cheese pumpkins, San Jose Mountain Club squash, Pennsylvania Dutch Crooknecks, and one random red Japanese squash plant I saved from the compost at the farm. One long row of Tennessee Red Cob corn. Also four pepper plants and five rows of zinnia & tithonia, also brought home from the farm. The herb garden is looking good, too, but the vegetable/flower garden is exciting because my hopes/expectations for it have risen sky-high and plummeted several times this spring, and I think it’s gonna turn out to produce ok. Yay.
  5. The “long-term forecast” for East Tennessee was so worrying, earlier in the year, as they were predicting a year like last one—hot, extreme drought—but despite (portentous) roller-coaster high and low temperatures, we continue to get rain. I’m grateful for every drop, even though we’re garbage neighbors and let mosquitoes breed in collected rainwater that we keep finding around the yard.
  6. We got a new couch to replace the old one, and we are delighted by it EVERY DAY. The old one was vintage velvet (?), striped with dark gold and pale yellow and blue—a very cool old couch—but it was passed down by someone who had bought it secondhand, and it was on its absolute last leg. I had grown to despise it. Its cushions needed daily re-shaping, the upholstery was stained and faded, it made bad noises when you sat down, and occasionally harbored mysterious odors. The day it left was the day I rejoiced. The new one is a gray sectional with nothing frilly or fancy—you might even call it Brutalist—but it is like heaven. It makes the room nice to be in. It has room for two people to stretch out, which is a heretofore unheard-of luxury, in our house. It makes me feel a little more at home.
  7. We’ve only killed one of the five chickens my boss gave me. Technically the other chickens pecked it to death (one of the several reasons I have no fuzzy feelings AT ALL toward chickens), but I think it was because we had them in an enclosure that was too small. We’re working on a larger pen and hope everybody will be somewhat at peace till it’s ready.
  8. I have so many things on my to-do list that I rarely write them anymore. It’s too frustrating. There are emails I should have replied to months and months ago, rooms to clean, weeds to pull, and just numerous other things. I don’t even have time to write them out. So instead of scrolling instagram, as is my wont, I’m writing. It’s little, it’s shitty, but I’m writing. And it makes me glad.

Today Mary threw up five times between 6:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Since she’s been incredibly congested from leftover cold gunk and allergies for the past week, we’re guessing it’s drainage build-up in the stomach, not a stomach bug. After her last barf she seemed especially bright and cheery and kept down a cup of yogurt (I know I know), two pieces of toast, and a handful of banana and apple bites. The nurse I talked to on the phone said “just watch her,” so I’m staying home and watching her.

I did like four loads of barf-laundry, moved the chicken house to a new spot of grass, planted a row of winter squash in the garden, and got climbed on while Mary watched Clifford and The Magic Schoolbus. Mary is not a snuggler, but simply MUST have me close by, so I let her climb and sit on me till it drives me crazy, at which point I jump up with a roar and run into the next room and shake the sharp little elbows and knees off like a dog after a bath. Definitely find her amazing, etc., but my god she jabs me with every hard little bodypart in the boobs, neck, —ugh!

I’m having Reese’s cups for lunch/tea while she takes a nap. Wishing I could take super glam selfies and work in a tall glass building, wearing clicking heels. I’m feeling pretty again, for the first sustained amount of time post-pregnancy, but have poison ivy rashes on my face and neck, and a farmer’s tan.

To which the better half of my brain replies, “sure love my job” and “things are pretty good right now,” both of which are true. The garden is growing, and I think I’m going to be able to grow most of the things I wanted; I have a few chickens and only one has died; I’m getting back into shape and feel strong; I’m reading White Teeth and am delighted to report that I’m underwhelmed by it at the mo; and I’ve been thinking about sending some poems out to litmags this summer. And I’m still finding profound meaning in my work at the farm (and I got a raise, binch).

But we’ve been watching Ken Burns’ new series The Roosevelts and the person of Eleanor Roosevelt feels a little too kindred for comfort. Hearing about her life, reading her letters, reminds me of my immersion in the character of Mrs. Ramsay from Woolf’s To the Lighthouse; I have the feeling of sisterhood, of her soul having been made of a similar material to mine. And when a guest historian declared, after a brief segment on her early life as a mother, that “Eleanor Roosevelt never really hit her stride, as a mother,” I felt the invisible cymbals clash. That does it.

I also feel out-of-stride as a mother. I realize that doesn’t make me a bad mother, but it makes life strange and out-of-joint. I hardly seem to catch my breath when I’m underwater again—I finally re-work my daily schedule so I can re-incorporate something life-giving like writing or reading poetry when the porch is blown off the house in a gale, and I with it. All that exultant fuss about me getting up early in the morning, a few posts back? Daylight Savings, a.k.a. parent-sanity-ruining-time, and creeping sunrise had Mary awakening at 7:00 instead of 7:45. And 45 minutes may seem like a tiny amount of time, but it had already been a delicate balance. I haven’t gotten up early to write in at least a month.

The next episodes are going to be about how ER fledges, how she manages to “run a family” and also enter into a new time of her life’s work. Already I can see little glints of hope coming from this woman’s life and words. She’ll likely become a new muse and mentor for me.

 

 

 

Just as the backyard pear
blooms,

these long peach limbs
cut down last month because of disease

and lying piled
waiting to be burnt

are, as I feared,
budding, and blooming.

Three weeks of sap
and softwood fiber swelling

with the idea of five thousand pink blossoms;
persistent, dead, yet undead.

Really, it’s exactly like hair growing
in the grave, or a corpse

bellowing in the cremator.
Or exactly like the memory

of fifty years past,
the moment that terrified then

terrifying still.
Bees

will come to these flowers.
Then they will brown, and shrink.

One last effort.
Maybe the blossoms will open, but be dry,

fooling the bees as I am not fooled.
Yet,

I am fooled, so long is the winter,
so thirsty am I.

 

___________________________

 

First poem in such a long time, I had to celebrate by getting some eyes on it. Second act of celebration will be to finish a journal for myself so I can use it for more poetry. This one was written on a notepad that really should just be used for grocery lists. Or not. Regardless, I need a new journal.

Plants I’m growing in my herb garden:

  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Chamomile
  • Calendula
  • Nettles
  • Comfrey
  • Peppermint
  • Echinacea
  • Monarda
  • Dill
  • Yarrow

It feels ominous to be so optimistic. Don’t know why I *must* add things like that, but apparently I must.

Plants I’m growing in my vegetable garden:

  • Tomatoes
    • Principe Borghese
    • Italian Heirloom
    • Opalka
    • Matt’s Wild Cherry
    • Speckled Roman
    • San Marzano
  • Beans
    • Bird Egg/cranberry/October beans
    • Tiger Eye beans
    • Whippoorwill peas
  • Winter squash
    • San Jose Mountain Club Squash
    • Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
    • Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck
  • Basil
  • Celery (I’ll let you know how it goes…haha)
  • Okra
    • Clemson spineless
    • Burghundy
  • Storage onions (Valencia?)
  • Corn
    • Tennessee Red Cob
    • Cherokee White Eagle Blue
  • More flowers, for the pollinators
    • Black-eyed susan
    • Cosmos
    • Tithonia
    • Milkweed
    • Chamomile, yarrow, monarda, calendula

Isn’t that so exciting? Yeah our springs are getting shorter (and earlier, in aggregate) every year, and yeah this year we’re 20 days ahead of where we should be, temperature-wise, and so on & so forth, but “for all this, nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things,” speaking of Hopkins, and I mean to bring them up.

Things I want to do with these plants (now this is where I’m getting way optimistic, someone hold me back):

  • Can maybe 10 quarts of tomato sauce, freeze lotsa tomatoes
  • Dry all herbs
  • Freeze basil pesto
  • Dry beans
  • Cure and store onions, winter squash
  • Become That Person who gives away tons of garden produce. You know who I’m talking bout. These neighbors that you don’t hang out with but who hang plastic bags of tomatoes and okra on your front door knob. That kind. But I’ll try to be kind of clean and presentable and maybe speak once in a while. So I don’t fit the type too much. I’ll be like…a gardening millenial, or young-mom-with-unusual-hobbies.

Omg I forgot we have that pear tree. Geez I wish somebody could tell me how to manage this tree & its heavenly bounty. It’s one of the old pear trees, with pears that end up with more of an apple-texture than regular Anjou—crisp, juicy, sweet. But it’s a huge tree and I don’t know how to tell when they’re ripe, or what to do with them when they all get ripe, etc. A little overwhelming. We have a huge, unpruned apple tree back there, too, which may actually set fruit this year since we’re replacing the diseased peach tree with two little apples. Someone planted a single apple tree and then wondered, each year for like 10-15 years (it’s a BIG tree) why it flowered but never fruited. Anyway, crossing fingers we get *some* apples this year.

Do any of you parents out there find it unfair that JUST as you’re getting up earlier, the sun is also rising earlier, and therefore your toddler is also rising earlier? I have to go to bed at like 10:00pm every night if I want to get up at 6:00am, and I just cannot tell right now if that’s a bridge too far. Because Mary used to get up at 8; now, thanks to ridiculous annoying sunrise, she gets up at 7:30. Unspeakably obnoxious, wth. But I just don’t know if I can go to bed at 10 every night. It’s diametrically opposed to our cemented habits.

My last thought for this morning, before Mary gets bored of whatever toys survived the night with her in the crib and starts yelling for me: there seems to be a huge black walnut stump in our yard *precisely* in the area I wanted to plant little apple trees. Last year we cut maybe a thousand suckers off of it, so it’s still got some juices down there somewhere. How bad would it be to plant there, anyway? I’m talking about the “toxin” (if that’s the right word) that walnuts produce in their roots and spread through the soil, some substance that acts like a repellent for other plants. I’m not sure what effect we’d have if we tried to plant little trees 10 feet away from this dying stump. Anyways. Maybe if I asked someone at the nursery? I guess I’ll do that.

Today I’m finally back on my early-rising schedule, after having dropped it for almost two weeks while Mary and I recovered from a “flu-like illness.” As a side note, Knox County schools are closed for almost the entire week for illness. The teachers were getting too sick…and then the substitute teachers got sick. Ha. I feel a little ahead of the game, that we’re on the upswing already. I swear to god though, if we get sick again. *fist emoji*

Yesterday was really difficult. Two things made it better: I planted seeds, and I met up with a couple of friends for a weeknight spaghetti dinner, with all our kids. (Shout out to Brenna and Elizabeth for letting us crash your kids’ spaghetti date! I needed that.)

Seed-starting, though.

I’m going to start talking about plants and my garden. (You are warned; and I shall persist. Did Elizabeth Warren get Rule 19’d yesterday, too? Cause I’ll add that to the list of things that made it better, by virtue of the fact that McConnell’s words are now a feminist rallying cry.)

So I’m going to become an amateur herbalist. I’m all the time wanting to make herbal bath mixes and body-butters and such, and some of these things are expensive and a hassle to buy. For instance, I bought a big bag of calendula to use for my postpartum care kit, and it was great, but a few months after I bought it, tons of weevils hatched (?) in there! Ugh! So that went in the garbage, and I have been a little scared to replace it. Lavender flowers are *not* a dime-a-dozen, either, and neither really is anything else. So, I’ve planned a perennial herb garden for the space around our toolshed in the backyard. I’m growing rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, peppermint, chamomile (and raspberry leaf)—we eat/drink so many fresh and dried herbs, too, so here’s the beginning of trying to supply my own culinary herbs—and nettle, comfrey, yarrow, calendula, lavender, monarda, and and coneflowers. Ohmuhguh I get so excited thinking about this garden.

The main garden will have a block of perennial flowers in it: milkweed (if I can get any of these seeds to germinate), more yarrow and monarda, black-eyed susan, tithonia, more chamomile, and cosmos. I’m growing Long Island Cheese pumpkins, San Jose Mountain Club Squash (extremely rare, Care of the Earth Community Farm is crossing it with butternut squash to get the size smaller, so this will be an ongoing experiment), and Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck.

I’m getting crazy and growing corn—Tennessee Red Cob, a local heirloom dent/flint corn for which we East Tennesseans are justifiably proud, and Cherokee ‘White Eagle’ Blue corn, another extremely rare variety from Baker Creek Seeds that originated/was selected somewhere around here by the Cherokee. Both make marvelous cornmeal, and the blue corn is just a rare treat that I could go on about. I want to know more about our indigenous peoples and the food they cultivated. I’ll be hand-pollinating the blue corn. Beans: Tiger Eye, Cades Cove pinto, Lena Sisco’s Bird Egg beans, and Whippoorwhill peas.

Basil of course, tons of it, celery (wish me luck), and both Clemson spineless and Burghundy okra. TOMATOES: Principe Borghese (for drying), San Marzano and Opalka (for canning), Italian Heirloom and Speckled Roman (for canning and fresh eating), and Matt’s Wild cherry (for the joy).

If I can get extras from the farm, which I can, I’ll also be growing whatever else I feel like trying but certainly storage onions. Onions are one of the only things I have to buy from the store throughout the year (except in onion season). Pretty much everything else I can get in some quantity from the farm. We eat just SO MANY onions. Would love to have big bundles of these braided and hanging to cure in the basement.

Baby’s up!