Saturday, May 19, 2012

Good Fences

The boyfriend and I spent most of the day working on the fence between my front and back yard. It is now chihuahua proof!

Well, I would like to believe it is, but my boyfriend's dog is a bit of an escape artist and small so she can fit through things I would never have thought of. It is also nice to have a bit of privacy from the prying eyes of the world.

I have an anxiety disorder. So I get panic attacks on occasion. It makes it hard to leave the yard, let alone the house. So it might be nice to have a bit more privacy in my yard so I can wander through it and work in my garden when I feel like the sky is about to fall on my head.

It isn't that I don't like my neighbors, because I actually do. They are awesome, and give me booze and talk philosophy with me and play music. So yes, I do like my neighbors. But when the panic comes on, I just want to hide and try to get my mind out of the worry loop that it gets in. Working on my little farm also puts me at ease, but I admit, I can not/ do not want to interact with people when I am having an attack.

So a fence was partly to keep the chihuahua from running rampant in the vegetable patch and partly to help me feel safe in my own personal space.

The giant metal part on top is the beginning of my boyfriend's arbor. He has big plans and at this point I just smile and nod.

Also, today I have learned that I should never, under any circumstances be left alone with a chainsaw. My lilacs look like they have been ambushed and the odd branch on the fir was taken down in one swift cut. OK, it really isn't as bad as all that. They definitely could use a pruning and they will be much happier in the long run, but it was very hard to stop once I started. I kept thinking about the Bad Pruning pictures on the Plant Amnesty website.

The boyfriend fixed the new lawnmower, we got for free from the neighbor down the alley, right before he broke it. Another neighbor has several lawn mowers in their garage that do not run so we will try to Frankenstein a working lawnmower together. But the backyard got a bit of a haircut.

I volunteered at the Seattle Tilth's Edible Plant Sale On May 5th and got my pickling cucumbers and paste tomatoes in the process. I could have spent a whole lot more money there, but I only took $20.00 to avoid spending a bunch. Some plant sales are dangerous. Seattle Tilth had an amazing selection of things and it is inevitable that I go for three items and leave with fifteen. MY GARDEN IS NOT THAT BIG!
My brain constantly reminds me of this fact, but my heart and soul scream for romanesco broccoli and every tomato under the sun!  My pocket book ends up being the decider in these cases and if I limit it to what is in my pocket then I am limited to what I actually need.

I know you can barely see it, but I have carrots, lettuce and cucumbers. Radishes, scarlet runner beans and yardlong beans. That pile of weeds in the back are actually flowers so "Nyah". There are beets in there as well, but they are sad and will most likely be replaced with chard.

Because, I am also prone to throwing out my back I have but two loves in my life; the boyfriend and
Capsicum Patch!

(the boyfriend and I have an understanding). There are other fancy patches out there that get icy or get hot. Salonpas is just glorious spicy pain, but the good kind. Although I have learned to never put it on directly after a shower... And never accidentally touch sensitive bits after touching the sticky part. Just a warning... do not stick a finger up your nose, in your eyes or on other um.. delicate bits.

My evening will be spent, relaxing as best I can, on my back. But at least I feel as though I accomplished something today.

Tomorrow will be a full solar eclipse in our region but it looks like the weather is coming in and we will not be enjoying feeling infinitely small in the vast universe. Although, working my little plot of land always helps keep my ego in check. I believe I control some of the aspects in my yard, in truth, it controls me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day Dreaming in a Cubicle - Mid Life Ramblings

I work in a cubicle. I have, for many years, worked in cubicles all over Seattle. I do not like the term "cubicle farm" because if this is a farm then this is a form of H E Double Hockey sticks.

I am currently AT work, mind you it is break-time, but I am here. Was this what I had hoped to do with my life during my youth? Nah.

I had hoped to homestead in the wilds of Alaska, the back country of Montana or the plains of Oklahoma, my closest neighbors a canoe ride and a days hike down river. Living off the land and my wits... (I feel like I should burst into the Monty Python's Lumberjack Song right about now.) But I never did, I still live off the land, my tiny .25 acre of a yard, and wits, I am pretty darn charming. But my days of homesteading in secluded locations may no longer be viable.

So instead, I sit behind this desk attempting to make ends meet and live a somewhat contented life, Some days I am happy and productive. Some days I feel unfulfilled and trapped. I do not have the luxury of leaving everything behind me and living a life unencumbered. And maybe I really do not want to, many people have done more with less and gone onto live their dream lives.

Consider if the life you lead was the life you expected to have as a child... I remember riding the bus home and looking at all the suits heading into work in the morning thinking "I'm never gonna be like that, man!" Now I am. I am still eccentric enough to not be a pure suit, but I am a suit none-the-less.

I have always been one of those people who like to see things progress. Meaning, I like to watch as things grow or get clean or turn into jam or a lawn turn into a garden bed. Working as a public servant, I do not get to enjoy the joys of seeing something progress very often. In fact, I talk to the same people with the same problem every day. Sometime I work hard to fix the issue just to have the same people call back with the exact same problem a month later. It can be frustrating.

Do not get me wrong, I enjoy my job. It isn't my dream job, but I have had worse jobs and when I did have my dream job I could barely survive. But I am always impressed with those who make a living doing what they truly enjoy. There is something very satisfying about working hard, playing hard and going to bed tired.

I am still relatively young. I am sure that I will have my country life. I just wish it would come a little faster.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Day In The Life

This last weekend, I helped my friend clear out her mother's garage. It was cluttered and disgusting and there was rat poop everywhere. A lot of the items in there just needed to go to the dump and there were quite a few items that needed to go to Goodwill and there were quite a few items that could still be used but weren't being that they were stored in a rat infested garage. 

My friend and her mother were kind enough to let me have any canning jars I could find and there were a good 20-30 usable canning jars; including a bunch of vintage baling wire glass topped ones.

 Now, I know it is silly to get all gushy about old canning jars, but they are gorgeous! Most a lovely blue and most without chips on the rim.  I see them very overpriced in antique stores on a regular basis and it always makes my bits hurt that they are considered collector's items and not used, like they should be.

I found sizes from half pints to half gallons and all will come in handy as harvest season comes up on us. I still have a few that need to be washed in a strong bleach/soap solution, but the rest are all clean and fit perfectly in paper ream boxes from work.  I am not one of those people that keep what I do not use, so they will all come in handy.

The vintage mason jars use a food safe rubber gasket to seal whatever is inside and you do have to be more diligent about getting the seal just right, but they work as well. The newer jars stack better, seal more consistently and are not as neat to look at, in my opinion.  But it is good to have a mix of bother kinds so that you have a couple of pretty jars in the front and the rest stored behind it in the newer jars.

My beans are coming up gang busters. I planted Scarlet Runners, Dow Gauk Chinese Yard Long Beans and a Burgundy Bush bean that I cannot remember the name to, but it has burgundy in it somewhere...

Carrots are popping up, French Breakfast radishes, I planted some spinach seeds I have had for a couple of years to see if any were still viable and some seem to be sprouting so I did a second sowing to stagger them. The purple broccoli my friend, Sandy, from Urban Land Army gave me are coming back from an attack by the chickens. 

This upcoming weekend, May 5th and 6th, is the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale. There will be workshops and smart garden type peoples there to answer any questions you might have and I will be volunteering a few hours on Saturday morning so I hope to see you all there. Their Vegetable List is AWESOME this year, although it is always pretty awesome since they try for new varieties every year. 

This years I have the Calypso pickling cukes, Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth, Costata Romanesca Zucchini and the San Marzano Tomato on my list, although I am sure I will spend more than I intend. Like I do every year.

I have a very grumpy broody Welsumer chicken who is currently plotting her revenge against me. I keep kicking her out of her nesting box and stealing her eggs, so I am chicken enemy number one.  All the birds are laying consistently and I am getting anywhere from 50 to 56 eggs a week. They are DELICIOUS!

I better get them put away while I am thinking about them...