Tuesday, May 31, 2011

:::Let it be known...:::

That it is 10:12 pm and the temperature is...88 degrees. Humidity at 61%.

My zucchini seems to like it.

It has doubled in size since yesterday.

Monday, May 30, 2011

:::The Three-Day Weekend:::

Is there any happier time in the world than the Monday of a three-day weekend? Workers are rejoicing. You can feel it in the air.

I was slouching around in my pajamas this morning and feeling 'meh'. Then I decided to put on real clothes and arrange the cheveux. Zippitty doo da!

This morning I made my squash blossoms get busy. Too many male blossoms, too few bees, not enough of these ladies...

Actually, only two female blossoms, from four plants. Oh-zee well-zee...Seeds cost pennies, I can't be too upset.

The humidity is only at 54% but it feels sweltering! I think I'll stay inside.


:::From the Drafts Folder -- Ride (10/14/09):::

I wrote this post when I was still living at the House. I think this is one of my favorites. Some times I really love myself...

Living in a big city seems so romantic...when you aren't living in the city.

Regardless of my former experiences with big cities, before I live lived in DC the thought of taking public transportation was so enthralling to me. I couldn't wait to be one of those urban folk who constantly has bus schedules and line delays running through her head like some kind of neurotic background music. I'm still not fully one of those people, but my friend Shorty is. Shorty is a New Yorker, and she can tell you what bus you need to catch in order to get anywhere in our fair town. Shorty takes public transportation like some people change underwear. I'm not being nasty, that's how the saying goes. Shorty once took a bus from our house, where we have free coffee, to Dunken Donuts to get a coffee. Coffee.

Did you hear me? She took a bus from our house just to get coffee.

My transit knowledge is every growing, but I keep a strict focus on basic survival needs. Home and work are my anchor points. I need to know how to get from home and work.

Metro is no sweat. I had the lines memorized when I interned out here in college and I know the lay of the land pretty well. Just remember --

Green and Yellow, kill a fellow.
East on Orange or Blue? They might knife you.
Glenmont on Red? At night you'll end up dead.
Unless you want a stab, in Southeast you'll take a cab.

My first year here I was almost a 100% metro rider because buses were just too much for me to handle. One, they don't run on fixed tracks and make fixed stops. The driver may go crazy and drive off into the distant with nothing to stop him/her. He/she could also blow past your stop (happened to me) leaving you to walk the 3/4 of a mile back to stop they should have left you at in the first place.

Two, there's less room to stand on a bus. I am not a sitter, I like to stand.

Three, there are more crazy people on the bus than on the metro. Like the man who calls women filthy names under his breath for the entire ride.

Four, buses go to more, shall we say, suspect locations than trains do. Yes, trains go to the hood, but buses go all over the hood. If your driver does go crazy, or if you aren't entirely sure when your stop is coming, you could end up dead in Rock Creek Park. Am I right, dad?

But now I take the bus, risks be darned. It drops me off closer to my house, and I'm tired off popping out of the ground like a mole. Metro in the morning, and bus at night.

This post was supposed to be about all the walking you have to do in a city, and how it seems so fun when you first get there, but when it's part of your daily, all-the-time-life it gets old.

And also about the fact that sometimes I walk home. It's two miles along Penn, then up Constitution. When it's not humid, I love it. I pretend I'm in London or Paris.

Coincidentally, if you ever want to strike up a conversation with a Washingtonian, the weather and Metro delays are you're best bet.

Monday, May 23, 2011

:::A Past Due, Out of Date Garden Update:::

*Video fixed!*

I haven't posted any garden pictures lately. So many of these plants are at least double the size now -- the cucumbers, the squash, and especially the giant lima bean which is growing now at a rate of 3 feet every four to five days. The arugula is now gone, and the spinach is trying it's darndest to go to seed, but I keep nipping off the buds. I've cut the lettuce back a few times, and might end the show completely later in the week so that I can get some of my peppers and eggplants into the containers.

The zinnias are getting gigantic, and the cosmos have a few little buds on them already. The four pea plants are dying an early death, having only given up six peas in their short, short lives.

Um, a week after taking these photos I discovered some powdery mildew on the cucumbers. They're getting a baking soda treatment every three days now. I think I put too much baking soda in the mixture. Oops.

Tons of tiny, minuscule little green bugs on the zucchini, which I flick off every morning. Who knows what will happen there.

Video at the end if you're interested in the whole layout.

:::From the Drafts Folder -- Oh, the Neighborhood (10/6/10):::

I live across the street from a housing project. Of all things, it is mostly loud. Right now it's 9:48 at night and someone is playing music so loudly that I can hear it clearly even in my bathroom.
When the weather is warm children play in the concrete courtyard. They are playing right now. There are people gathered in a circle of plastic chairs talking. At one house people are sitting out on their porch. I like that.

There is always laundry out on the line, even when it's raining. Even in the winter. Even when it's snowing. Bless.

When I walk to work in the morning I spy...one broken bottle, three used you-know-whats, and one large group of teenagers smoking not-cigarettes.

Their is a precinct, an emergency vehicle repair garage, and a homicide unit a block or so down the street. We've got a lot of cars with those fancy European sounding sirens, so, ooh-la-la.

The police end up across the street a lot, sometimes just driving through the neighborhood, sometimes to stop and talk to people, and sometimes they go into houses for who knows what purpose. I've never seen anyone be arrested. Wait...yes I have. All in all though, I think the police mostly deal with domestic issues. Sometimes the police act as family counselors.

The paramedics and fire department show up frequently as well. Many, many times the paramedics and firemen act as doctors.

There is an ice cream truck that shows multiple times throughout the evening. The driver rings what sounds like an old fashioned school bell loudly and without pause. When I was in high school the bell would always give me a heart attack if I was standing underneath it. I have the same reaction now.

His primary customers are adults. From what I can tell, I mean, my binoculars aren't that powerful, people don't leave his window with much. Actually, more often than not, when people step away from the window their hands are jammed deep into their pockets.

I hope we're on the same page as far as subtle hinting goes.

On the Sunday of General Conference I missed the end of President Monson's final address because there was a huge fight going on over there between four women. I think some people just like to fight. One group was in a fire red Jeep Grand Cherokee, and they kept getting in and out of the car to yell at the women who kept coming in and out of the house. It never got violent. The police didn't come.

Am I safe? Yes. I'm safe because I know what I should and shouldn't do. I'm safe because more than anything, this ghetto is mostly crazy ghetto, and not so much violent ghetto. Big difference.

I really wish they'd turn that music off...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

:::Might I Recommend...Poroit?:::

Murder on the Orient Express is on Masterpiece Mystery here in DC tonight. If it's on in your town, watch it. Watch it! It's an excellent story, and an excellent adaptation. Many people say it's Agatha Christie's best.

Gots to go! Poirot, ftw!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

:::From the Drafts Folder -- Tarps (7/17/09):::

 I want to know what the heck I was on when I wrote this post...

Let me tell you about tarps.

We have a tarp in our family. Flashback! You just got hit by one, right mom?

Our tarp was bigger than Alaska, heavier than sin, and 70s rockin' brown. Brown is a good color for tarps. It shows that you are serious about what you're doing and it hides dirt. I think my dad might have carried that tarp out of the Mekong Delta when he left Vietnam.

The first thing we did before we went camping was to try to and find the tarp. This would take at least an hour of frustrated searching and digging in the Bermuda Triangle that was our garage. During these tension fraught times there might (would) be raised voices and accusations flying back and forth like daggers in a ninja fight. I always wondered why it mattered who the last person to see the tarp was if at present no one remembered where it was. It could have been anyone one of my sisters, or my mom or dad. Me? Nah, I never helped unpack after trips. It totally wasn't me.

By the way we treated that tarp you would have thought it was a magic carpet. We could not go camping without it. If, after an hour of ninja daggers, there was still no tarp and you casually suggested that we could go camping without it, mom or dad would start yelling threats about giving the tarp your bed and making you sleep in the garage.

That last bit was probably a lie, probably.

The tarp has three main functions:

First, it acts as ground cover at your camping site. Once the tarp is on the ground, the tent goes on the tarp. The tarp prevents rocks and sticks from breaking through the bottom of the tent, and keeps ground water from seeping in during dewy mountain mornings.

Second, the tarp acts as an impromptu table cloth when you're eating in a picnic area of lesser standards. Before mom ever started cutting up sandwiches with the 10 inch buck knife (something else daddy brought back from Nam) that was always in the glove compartment of our station wagon, the tarp was taken out, shaken out, and snapped onto filthy tables from Cachuma to Lake Havasu. Herpes, tetanus, scurvy, and rabies were no match for the tarp. Lingering effects of Agent Orange? Perhaps.

Third, the tarp provided cover from both sun and rain when ropes were looped through the grommets on each of its four sides and it was hoisted up into the air and secured on trees. An oasis, a shelter, a welcome home from the brutalities of nature.

The tarp has more uses beyond this. For packing purposes, things can be wrapped in the tarp to protect them during the car trip. Upon returning home, the tarp can be used to cover boxes, which is important because you need to hide your valuables from garage robbers. The tarp is also an impromptu water slide, but it makes a very uncomfortable blanket.

You can see why the tarp is essential. It's obvious why it was worth fighting for.

I think my parents bought a new tarp when I was in junior high. Smaller, bright blue, not nearly as sturdy. A pale ghost of the tarp glory days, but in a pinch, it will do. As soon as I have my own garage, the first thing I'm going to do is take my money down to the Army surplus store and get myself a tarp. For camping, for living, for loving, for laughing, for a shadow by day, but not for a pillar by night, as the tarp is not fire proof, which is its only drawback.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

:::Part 1 -- A Dark Night in Virginia:::

Let me tell you a story...

3 1/2 years ago I left California on a jet plane. Six-ish hours later I landed at Reagan, and that's how all of my now began. I went to baggage claim, dragged my gigantic suitcases over to the taxi line, and gave the driver directions to a house that I had never been to before.

It was pitch black dark, like 11 pm at night, as we drove into my new neighborhood in Pentagon City. Not a soul around, and so dark. The driver stopped in front of a house that didn't look anything like the fuzzy picture I'd been sent. I didn't want to leave the cab. I was scared like a baby. The cabby was fidgeting, so I asked him again if he was certain that we were at the right address, and very reluctantly got out of the car. He didn't help me with my bags.

I lugged my suitcases up the creaky wooden steps and knocked on the door even though I knew everyone was home for Christmas. I wanted someone to welcome me to my new home, but I had to open the door myself.

Once I dug out my key, I opened the door to more darkness and more emptiness. Up more creaky steps to my attic room with heavy luggage thumping and bumping behind me. Out came the air mattress. I looked around my room and accessed the situation -- an attic without insulation with a tiny room eked out with wood paneling that bowed when I press my hand against it. The wind was howling, and it cut through my new room, and through me, like a knife.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

:::Organizing Junkie and Giver's Log:::

1. Organizing Junkie is a fantastic resource. Website and blog. I found this entry on clothes purging to be very helpful.

2. Giver's Log...oh, be still my heart. I've been reading for over a year now and I just love everything that Amberlee does. Her 13 ounces series is probably my favorite.

Did you know that you can send a frisbee through the mail? Bouncy balls? A stack of Post-its? A box of Junior Mints? Genius.

Primarily, she has amazingly simple yet thoughtful gift and ideas. This is one of those sources that you hate to pass on because you plan on using all the ideas for the people in your life and you don't want to spoil the surprise. But, I have to share. It's the right thing to do.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

:::The Will to Do:::

Through my gardening endeavors I've realized that there is often a huge difference between what 'They' say you can do, and what you can actually get away with.

Tomatoes and peppers won't germinate in cold weather. Well, if you sit them on your stove at night they will. Slowly, slowly, but you'll get there.

{Tomato -- Sweet 100 or Currant}

You need fancy heating mats, special soil, and a tray of neat compartments to start seeds. Or, you can use old takeout containers, Styrofoam cups, and milk jugs, and fill them with whatever soil they're selling at your nearest grocery store. Done.

I've even read information from DC area gardeners that says that you have to start seeds in January/February or all is lost. But I have a friend at work who has an awesome garden each year and he didn't start seeds until the middle of April!

Little by little, I've built a pretty sweet garden on a concrete slab in the middle of the city.

And things are starting to grow.


It's been a lot of work...

and a lot of carrying ri-donkulously heavy and awkward loads of gardening supplies through multiple metro stations...

but I've done it. I've done all the hard work over and over again.

Early on in this process I realized that I just had to do what worked for me and what I could afford using what was available to me. After all, plants have been growing for millions and millions of years without human intervention. One year my dad went up on our roof and found a healthy, viable tomato plant growing in a mound of opossum doodie. All that little plant had going for it was a small amount of compost, sun light, and a teensy weensy amount of morning dew, and it grew.

{Arugula/Rocket if you want to sound posh}

I don't have a green thumb at all. I've killed several cacti and succulents in my lifetime. But this year I've sprouted a lot of seeds in not the best environment, and now I have a lot of seedlings and plants that look like they're gonna make it. I've probably over- and under-watered all of them at some point or another, and will probably continue to do so, but, guess what? It's going to be okay.


Bottom line -- I think that intuition, common sense, and trial and error are the best teachers. I still do a lot of research, but I forced myself into just doing and possibly failing as opposed to waiting until I have the time, money, and space to kick things off exactly the way they should be. I don't usually have this attitude, but I'm making myself push through this time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

:::From the Archives: I'm Here:::

I wrote this post some time last August, but never published it.

I can hear children playing in the housing project across the street from my building. Children still play outside.

And crickets singing in the night air.

The white noise of cars.

Buses moving down their route.

The hum of my refrigerator.

That vacant but sonorous noise of cities at night.

My blinds are moving in the subtle breeze.

This is a good moment.

Friday, May 6, 2011

:::Sugar, Snap:::

A big, big surprise this morning from the sugar peas.