Balcony Gardening: The Battle.

The tomato has been planted in it’s ginormous pot.  Pot has been placed on it’s stand.  I have sustained a life threatening injury, that seemed minor in the whole accomplishment.

I cut myself.  There was not a knife within 20 yards of me, but I managed it on wire.  Rusty wire.  I expect to die by the end of the week.  But the tomato is outside in it’s home.

Flowers have been purchased.  I spent too much by going to a small local landscaping company that had a small selection of expensive flowers.  But all of them were in great shape and since I don’t really have a ton of space to fill, it really wasn’t outrageously expensive.  But key to the experience – NO CROWD.

Next Year: All plants with the exception of the tomato will be purchased in the pot they will live the rest of their life in.

No more repotting.

I dumped a nearly done planted pot on the ground, probably killing both plants in it.  It obviously needed to be repotted again.  I like putting things directly into the ground.  You can’t drop the ground.  Just saying.  I miss the ground.

I ruined a beloved t-shirt, possibly for even longer than til I wash it next.  Which won’t be today because instead of laundry I did balcony gardening.  Shut up.  Multi-tasking is a loser’s game.

I had a total of 6 plants to pot.  SIX.  In 4 pots.  And I made a mess that rivals people with gardens that cover acres.  And I still have to clean it up!! grrrrrr.

Also.  It’s not pretty.

More accurately,  it’s not as pretty as I magically thought it would be since I did not put any pre-thought into it and it shows.  Planning.  It’s so simple and generally enjoyable.  I’m not sure why I didn’t indulge in it.

Next year will be different.

I’m seriously considering throwing away every damn thing but the tomato, although it’s what I cut myself on.  And I still haven’t netted it.

Remember when I was excited to balcony garden??!!   I used to enjoy this.  I don’t know what happened.

drama llama

Sharing your Mother with the internet

Over on tumblr everyone is sharing stories about their mom.  Most of them are affectionate and grateful.

Some are justifiable not.

It brings to mind the fact that being a mother is not a sanctifying event.  Any one with the working organs and a sperm donor can be one.  Indeed, anyone who adopts or fosters can be one.  For millennia it has been a role given by default rather than intent as though parenting isn’t one of the most important roles a human can have.

One of the more inane defenses of Huckabee Sanders is “She’s a mother.”  As though that has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with criticism aimed at her.  As though being a mother is get of out a mess free card.

But of course it’s not.  Nor are women naturally predisposed to be great mothers.  Motherhood is a daunting, exhausting, psychologically and emotionally scarring role and there is little preparation given to the VAST MAJORITY of women who become mothers.  The fact that so many of them do it well enough to continue the species and for that species to have achieved what it has to date, is the greatest achievement of women as a whole.  But it is NOT the only thing any individual woman is.

It’s daunting to be handed the responsibility for another life when your own feels out of control.  And many face motherhood on those terms.

It’s daunting to raise a contributing member of society when no one did the same for you and you struggle merely to make it through a day.  There is no escape from motherhood except in death.  You mostly can’t quit unless you do it up front.

I’m not a mother.  I was raised by one who faced the daunting task under the burden of alcoholism.  It did not always go well.  But she managed it.   And she taught me a great many things that I still hold inside me as foundations of who I am.  And in the end, she managed to dry out and I met my mother at age 21, someone different than I had lived with in childhood.   The person who overcame addiction and redirected her life was not just a mother.  She was a woman.  Who had children and did her best with them.

I worry when we reduce women to motherhood.  To some unattainable sainthood that has little depth and no soul.  A woman, can also be a mother.  But motherhood is only part of who she is.  She is a complexity of things and sometimes those things make motherhood a mess. Sometimes they make it wonderful.

Some of us aren’t mothers.  But we are assumed to be.  I got wished Happy Mothers Day 3 times today.  I’m a middle aged woman.  It is assumed that I must be a mother.

People assume this because we have reduced women to a monostate that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of her.   We have raised motherhood to a state of sanctity that no woman could achieve and quite a number dismally fail.  We would be better off as a civilization if we treated motherhood as a hard role, that requires training and support.  Instead we pretend they are born with the knowledge. No one can see the souls and hearts and the dreams of the women raising our species because the reflection off the shiny MOTHER ideal dazzles us.

 

 

New Neighbor

My downstairs neighbor moved out in December.

Yesterday someone finally moved in downstairs, so I have go back to feeling guilty everytime I walk around in my creaky apartment.

Seriously – the creakiness of this apartment is louder than a vuvuzela. I’m sure it would drive me crazy if I lived below me.

But I can’t very well not walk around so…

Anyway – about the neighbor.  It’s a man, about my age I think.  Seems super friendly.  Which, because I’m antisocial, makes me nervous.  I don’t actually want to interact heavily with my neighbors.  Saying hello once a month because we meet in the hall or whatever is the extent of how much I want to chat.

But he strikes me as an extravert who will want to get to know the neighbors.  I could be wrong.  Today was his first day.  You always want to seem friendly when you meet people.

He has a pot of flowering plants already on the balcony – which seems like a very positive note.

I don’t think he is deaf, which was my only real hope for the new neighbor.  Hopefully he won’t be driven to distraction by the cats and I walking around. I’’m up 3-5x a night.  So.  sigh.

I really don’t think deafness was too much to ask for.  I didn’t want total deafness, just someone with hearing aids, who would be unlikely to notice me or the cats stomping around.  Of course that would mean loud TV, so maybe it’s just as well.

I’ll just deal with the ongoing guilt/shame of living in my apartment and bothering someone with my very existence.  Welcome to the crazy corner of my mental state.

How many people does it take to stop the fire alarm from beeping every minute?

Today I got to work and the fire alarm was beeping in that “my battery is dead” beep.  I told the dispatcher and said that if he could change the battery it would probably save the life of the person I would kill if I ended up listening to it all morning.

He and company’s general dogsbody guy went in and opened up the alarm.  No battery.  It’s hooked up directly to the electric.  There was no button to push to turn it off.  It just continued to beep.

So they called the owner.  He came in and was sure he knew the solution.  But couldn’t figure it out.  One of the general managers showed up and spent sometime in there with the owner, at one point falling off a ladder but not getting hurt.  Several drivers gave pointless commentary.

So the owner called the fire alarm company.   Turning off the electricity was tried on multiple occasions.  He even went so far as to turn off the electricity in the entire building.  That fucking thing just kept beeping in the dark.    The fire alarm company told him it couldn’t be beeping if they turned off the electricity, despite the very reality that it was in fact beeping.

He called in an electrician.  He and the electrician spent 2 hours searching for a sensor that could be beeping.  Finally the electrician gave up and left.  It was still beeping.

You know – in the old days this beeping would have been competently handled by the dogsbody.  He would have replaced the battery.  The owner would not even have been aware that the dogsbody did it until Monday morning, if then.  It would have been that trivial.

Instead highly paid people spent 6+ hours trying to fix it and failing.  And I’m not really sure we have that much greater advantage to this fire alarm system than the old independent battery operated units being set up every so many per number of square feet.

When I left it was still beeping.  Tomorrow the fire alarm people will show up and attempt to fix it.  I don’t hold out much hope.  I think the building could burn down and that fucker would still be beeping every minute.

Stereotyping

A couple of weeks ago someone left a phone on one of our charter buses.  They called in and said the tracker said it was at our location.  The calltaker asked a dispatcher to check.  Dispatcher sent a driver.  Driver came in saying – No phone.  Calltaker asked dispatcher to check again.  Dispatcher went himself, came in – No phone.

Calltaker, exasperated with both of these men, went out herself.  Got the phone.  The look on the dispatcher’s face was exactly this comic when she showed him the phone.

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tahilalats.com 

One of the gender stereotypes we perpetuate is that men are apparently blind when looking for a thing that is right in front of them and women are not.  It’s funny because we all know a story that aligns with the stereotype.

But I must be the exception if that is true that women see things men don’t because I am often blindly staring at things I am looking for.    I think many women are.

So many gender stereotypes are funny.  A way to bond with our friends over stories.  But they remain problematic.

Because so many of them are either patently untrue, or perpetuate a social norm that is harmful to both society and individuals.  So many of the roles and norms we assign to masculinity are negative and harmful.  Men don’t have feelings.  Men don’t don’t need help, they are self reliant and strong.  Men fight they don’t hug.   Men don’t clean.  Men can’t find anything.

So many things that we accept are very hard on men and women.  But we have somehow normalized them.  It’s odd how easy it is to find something toxic or just plain incorrect to be normal and right.

 

Kitten and Snow

We are having a lovely winter storm in Spring.

Much hand wringing and disaster predicting has happened for a week.  And after stepping back from the dire predictions of 12″ the weather people have come to the unreasonable conclusion that we will have at least 2″ and as much as 8″.

In spring.  I’m just saying.  Mother Nature is off her meds and someone needs to see to it.

Anyway, Tim was sitting in the window, watching the big fat flakes falling and swirling and clearly feeling like he was missing out on a fun time.

So I let him out on the balcony.  He ran out like he was going a play date.  He arrived back looking a bit cowed.  It was COLD, MOM!  Also, despite a desperate attempt to cajole her, his babysitter, Mrs. Fluffy Pants, aka, Her Calico Highness, known to her familiars as Bijou, FLATLY REFUSED to go out into the cold.   The advantage to age is knowledge.

He was clearly disappointed in the whole experience.  Poor Rebel Tim.  Life is so much more disappointing than one expects when looking out a window.

But don’t worry.  He has overcome his disappointment and is current chasing ghosts at top speed through the apartment.

Bijou and I are less active on Saturday Mornings.  We have elected to watch his antics rather than participate.

Dangerous Plans are afoot.

I should NOT plan.

When I dream of the things I want to accomplish I’m nearly always ruined.

I know why, but it doesn’t fix it much.

I have the brain crack problem that Ze Frank describes.  Basically I focus on the accomplished goal instead of the DOING of the thing.  I picture a clean house or a picture drawn or novel published.   That is brain crack.  Our brains love that and they also then file away the goal as a done thing and you lose the motivation to get up and do the damn thing.

It is far better to make the process your goal.  To focus on doing the thing.  Then you have a better chance.

However, I have spent the better part of this week thinking about how I want my living room to look.  Not how I am going to make my living room look that way.  I have done a similar thing with the balcony and bedroom.

It’s far more satisfying than planning the mopping and the vacuuming and the polishing.  293ff8faf8eccb20f7f44636fd82dba3I’m not sure why those dreams of scrubbing floors don’t hold my attention as much.   Who can say, really?

We are supposed to have a snow storm tomorrow.  It’s a good day to get cleaning done.  Not the balcony but I assure you, there is PLENTY to get done in this apartment.

I had planned to do it a couple of weekends ago and fell victim to brain crack then too.  I do wish I would learn a lesson and then change permanently as a result of it.  Why don’t I?  It feels like a flaw in my life.

Everyone does it.  Knows what is good for them and then doesn’t do it.  Sometimes despite experiencing the failure of not doing it.  Why?

Of course, if we all started doing the things that are obviously best for us, the economy would collapse.  All the diets and self help books and seminars and coaches and psychologists and drugs would no longer be necessary.  f9f190a93356af1d9d7e0d5cb7543eb9

Do you suppose we are broken just to support the modern economy of fixing our brokenness?

ANYWAY.  I have created a Pintrest board in the name of Cleaning.  To inspire me on the actual DOING of the task.  Hopefully this will redirect my thoughts to more practical matters.  But I never thought I would be a person who has a Pintrest board for cleaning.  WHAT IS MY LIFE COMING TO??? 

 

 

Tomatoes!!

My little tomatoes have raised their little heads through the soil.  They are Money Makers seeds that I got from a friend.

But I’m very unsure about them.  I think they are going to be a bit small. It is very tempting to start a beefsteak.  But that is

  • a.  too many tomatoes.
  • b.  too much room.

I only have the balcony.  And the balcony only has so much sun.  And the best spot for the tomato only has room for one plant.  So.

One tomato.

I had been thinking I would have an entirely edible balcony garden this year.  No flowers.  But then I remembered the damn squirrel.

There is a squirrel that lives on this apartment building.  He runs up the sides of the building like it’s a sidewalk.  He hangs out on balcony and on the window sills.  He ate a couple of tomatoes last year until I finally figured out a cage system that worked.

But I don’t think I could do that the whole balcony.  So I think I will sadly give up my brainstorm of a fabulous kitchen garden on the balcony.

 

Balcony Gardening!

It begins today!  Well – I’m going to plant a few seeds today.

It’s going to be a bit of a test because with the new cats I don’t know how the seedlings will fare.  Hopefully better than they did with the Much Missed Lily – who killed a lot of plants before I figured out how to get around her.

It’s probably a slight bit early to start.  But…  I want to have tomatoes as soon as possible.

My friend at work shared her tomato seeds with me.  They are MoneyMaker tomatoes.  We are  hoping for bigger tomatoes than Box Car Willie, who was such a disappointment last year. All his tomatoes were just barely bigger than cherry sized.  But he did produce until freeze, so that was encouraging as far as confirming the location the tomato is on the balcony.

I’m worried about the sizing of these Moneymakers though.  They say 7-8 oz.  A beefsteak is 14 to 24 oz.  I don’t want as big as beefsteak but 7oz seems a bit small?  Boxcar Willie was supposed to produce 10 to 16 oz.   Which seems more like what I want.  I think 7 oz might be small.  gaaah.

Well.  They are what I have.  I guess I could poke a couple in some dirt and ponder more.  Its such a commitment without knowledge of end results.  It makes me crazy.

I’m considering replacing all the flower pots with edibles.  It’s won’t be pretty and this is very much a problem in my brain.  I’ll have to think on it.  It would be nice to have a salad garden though.
IMG_20170528_112130119_HDR.jpgThis is how the balcony looked last summer.  The big pot in the corner is the tomato.  I had hoped to have peppers and zucchini last year, but Lily defeated me.  This year I could make all the flower pots be salad greens.  And cement planter could have french carrots.  And the big pot on the ground could have peppers or a zucchini.

The balcony faces south, HOWEVER, the building blocks morning light because it sticks out farther than the balcony.  So it basically only gets afternoon sun.  And most of that is only on the edges because of the roof combined with the brick balcony.   So if something requires full sun – it has to sit where those blue flower pots are.   Even then, there is a difference in light; as you get closer to the tomato, you get more sun.

I think I’m going to try it anyway.  It might inspire me to eat better.  🙂  But today I’m mostly just worried about tomatoes.

EDITED TO ADD:  We now have answers on how the new cats will treat the plants.  I was tentatively hopeful because they seemed to be ignoring the succulent I put on the window sill 3 weeks ago.  But a few minutes ago I had to clean up this.  That cat in the foreground is looking super smug.  Just saying.

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I’ve recently been covered in fur.

I took my cats the to vet.  When cats are stressed they shed.  ALOT.

I, and I would imagine most caretakers, try to comfort the stressed cat at the vet by petting and cuddling it.  This transfers all the fur on their body onto your body.

I did it twice because Bijou, her calico highness, has deep and unnatural hatred for the carrier and I think she would probably rip poor little passive Tim into a bloody pillow if I took them together.  Particularly since I only have one carrier.  It’s a bigger carrier, and it would hold them both if required, but I decided it wasn’t required.

Bijou hates the cage so to her the actual exam room was not terrible.  She explored it thoroughly while we waited and clearly developed an escape plan.  She didn’t hide from me when I picked her up and put her on the table and submitted with dignity to all the indignities they did to her.

Tim, however, doesn’t think the carrier is a cage of horrors.  So he had to be pulled out the carrier and then glued himself into me, hiding his little face in the crook of my elbow.  There is very little as pathetic and endearing as a cat burying its face into you for safety. He did not see the exam room as an interesting place to explore.  Which is upsetting because he’s going back next week for his neutering.  When I turned away from  him to get my purse he jumped off and hid in a corner under the chair.

When we finally let him back into the carrier he scrambled in like it was home sweet home and settled in the back.

People who don’t have cats probably think of them as a monolithic sort of detached personality.  But they are not.  Like humans they come in a huge spectrum of personalities and a trip to the vet is a great place to see that.

Particularly this vet because they have a big orange office cat who helps the receptionists.  He likes to lay across the keyboards and get in their way as much as possible.  He has no fear of the barking, and meowing going on in the waiting room.  He thinks all animals are inferior to him.  It’s written so clearly in his attitude.

There was a whining pit bull in the waiting room.  His pathetic cowering noises made my Tim look brave.  Office Cat looked at that dog like he would not have bothered to bury him after he took him down in any fight he cared to enter into.    And despite the odds, I think I would have taken Office Cat in that fight.  But office cat didn’t even growl at him, just looked disdainful and walked away.   He’s wise and generous.   He let the dog live and didn’t jeopardize the good life he’s leading as Official Office Cat.

Anyway we all survived and Tim will be deballed next Friday.