Balcony Gardening has BEGUN!

I spent many years in an apartment without any outdoor access and when I moved here there was a marvelous south facing balcony.  And I immediately started a tomato. It grew like a marvel but had terribly disappointing tomatoes.  Just slightly bigger than a cherry.  They were OK tasting.  But just not quite anything size wise.

The following year – a friend gave me one of her seedlings and it got a fungus and was generally not producing anything due to the disease.

The next year I fell into a mental health hole and my cats chewed my seedlings to bits and I just didn’t have a tomato.  It was a sad year.

So this year I bought seedlings online from Laurel’s Heirloom Tomatoes.  She has a 4 plant minimum so I bought 4 and gave 2 to a friend as a housewarming present.  They arrived yesterday.

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It’s all VERY exciting.

I know what you are thinking – what does one person need with two tomato plants.  But it’s OK.  They are different tomatoes.   One is Green Zebra and one is Paul Robeson.  So.  Don’t judge.

Anyway – today I started to clean out the pot that I grow tomatoes in.  And there was a damn volunteer!

img_20200523_162721-1 So now I’m going to be growing 3 tomato plants, which I admit, is perhaps a bit much for one person.  But I can share.  Everyone loves tomatoes.  It’s a pandemic, dammit.  Tomatoes are the only good thing a person can look forward to, you know.  I’m just saying.

The real question is – where I am going to put the third one?  There’s one good spot for sun on the balcony because it’s a covered balcony.  There’s a second reasonably good spot and everything else is basically very bright partial shade.  It’s a dilemma.  It’s gonna take up some of my thinker space to figure it out.

I consider my volunteer to be an excellent omen.  It’s going to be a very good crop of tomatoes.

 

Reading old friends

There are a couple of authors whose books I have read so many times I know some passages by heart.  Georgette Heyer is one of them.  Pulling out one of these books is like sitting down with an old friend.  They are comforting and good company.

I know what is going to happen, but it doesn’t matter, I’m never bored.  I’m just happy to feel the familiar company.  To visit places I love.  To hear the words in my head, that I’ve read so many times, is a delight.

I’ve spent the last couple of weekends reading these books again.  It’s like being cuddled in a down comforter.  Warm and snuggly.

 

FC – Prisoner Release Scheduled

So FC was captured.  His wound has been tended.  They are keeping him over night and are releasing him tomorrow.

Part of me wants to just take him into the apartment.  But that is not a good idea for FC, my cats, or me.  Or it’s probably good for him to recover inside, but since he’s already pretty traumatized and my preference is for him to trust me, I don’t think putting him in a tiny bathroom in my apartment is going to encourage trust.

Or am I thinking too hard?  Shit.  I don’t know.  It’s just that I had this ideal in my head that FC and I would learn to trust over time and he would choose to come inside.  I would  not have to imprison him.

But…

Still.  I don’t think the vet would let him go – because the plan has always been re-release – if he thought it was going to be dangerous.  Poor Ol FC.

I’m glad he’s coming home so soon though.  I missed him.  🙂

The Plot against / for FC

FC continues to limp.  And continues to avoid being touched.

Tonight when I went to feed him I found another neighbor out there and a trap set up.  Apparently she very occasionally feeds him and saw his paw.  So she called a friend with a trap.  And so now we are plotting together to get FC to the vet.

I left them to it, since I’m a very regular source of food for him and he knows it.  And I don’t think he’s going to risk that cage when he knows I have food.  It’s awful to think of this from his perspective.  He’s hurt.  He’s hungry and he’s about to trapped.  Then go to the vet.  Imagine how scary.  But he needs his paw looked after.

It’s for the best.  I know.  And honestly this was a timely intervention.  Because I was at my wits end trying to get him to come to me.  If I could have grabbed him I believe I would have.  I’m not afraid to be bitten.  But he’s too wise for that sort of shenanigan.

So.  This is good.  I just hate worrying about his emotional state.

Snow in May

It did not snow here, but did snow a bit north of my location.  In the 2nd week of May.  On the one hand, it’s does seem like Mother Nature was showing her Schadenfreude at watching us all wither under her whim of a virus. A small smug smile on our collective misery.

Some Southern New Englanders see snow in May | WJAR

But I’m a bit perverse.  I find the oddity of a snow in May quite charming.  Mostly because I haven’t got any plants out yet, so I was not disconvenienced by the dip in temperature.  And of course it didn’t actually snow in my location.  So I could just lean into the marvel of a late snow.  Lots of pics were posted.  We live in an age where one can enjoy a thing without actually experiencing it.

I did worry a bit about FC.  But since he was out and about, eating hearty meals, I tried  to remember that he is in fact a feral cat and must have managed with far worse weather. But not this past season.  That’s when he was allowed into the apartment downstairs during cold days.  sigh.

Yesterday he let me get quite close but still refused to be pet.  He still limps but it seems to be improving.  Perhaps just a sprain from a bad jump?

 

FC – FeralCat – The interim update

I’ve finally seen FC.  He was waiting for his dinner last night.  His limp is very much worse.  He holds his paw in the air when sitting or standing still.

Under good news – I don’t think it’s an infected wound.  He doesn’t act sick and infected cat bite wounds make cats feels super shitty.

It’s obviously painful though and I would really like to catch him and take him to the vet.  Although it might take me 6 months to recover any trust after that.  Ideally he would trust me completely before I took him to the vet, but that is not the current circumstance.

So – trapping him and probably getting bitten and losing trust – is the path forward.  sigh.

Why can’t life be a bit simpler?

A Third Cat?

Back in the fall, my little grey cat Timmy jumped off my balcony and got lost for 3 horrible weeks.  It was a misery for me and I think also for him.  He’s shown zero interest in going out on the balcony since.

While he was out, I would walk the neighborhood calling, holding an open can of smelly catfood.  That’s how I met FC (FeralCat).  FC owned the backyard of this apartment building.  And lived under the box truck that is permanently parked in the parking lot that abuts the yard.  After my fruitless wandering I would end up putting down the food for FC, because the cat was following me.

I am normally not a proponent of feeding feral cats.  Wild animal populations tend to equalize to the available resources and when you feed cats – you promote more feral cats.  And being a feral cat is NOT a glad life.  So while it seems on the surface like a kindness, it’s actually a systemic evil.  Groups that feed and sterilize are at least mitigating the problem, but it’s slippery slope.

But once you do feed a feral cat, you have a problem.  Because I did it for 3 weeks, the cat was using me as a reliable source of food.  Happily, my downstairs neighbors were enchanted by the slow taming of the wild cat and began to participate in feeding it, eventually gaining it’s trust and letting in/out of their apartment during the cold winter days/nights.

They had never had a cat and everything about FC was novel and unexplained.   I thought the problem of FC was solved and went happily on with my life.  Then the neighbors decided to move.  And didn’t take FC.  I have a lot of thoughts on people who treat animals as disposable when they are inconvenient, but I will summarize with they are scum.  This neighbor was bold enough to ask me to feed and look out for the cat they consciously abandoned.

So now I’m feeding FC again.  It’s not been particularly easy on my mental landscape.  For one thing, FC isn’t always around when I put out the food.  So I have no idea if FC got the food or some other animal did.  Last time I saw FC he had a pronounced limp.  But will not let me anywhere near him…

And worse – I haven’t seen him in 3 days.  He’s feral.  Or maybe she.  I’m not sure because FC is never so comfortable as give me a high tail.

But feral cats fight.  And cat bites get infected and need to be looked after.  And now I have no idea where FC is, so I can’t concentrate on taming him and getting a look at that limp.

In my ideal world I would take FC in, all three cats would form a giant cuddle puddle of happiness and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about FC.  But reality is not like that.  The two cats I have just coexist and are in a constant land war over disputed territories.  They tolerate each other, occasionally play chase, but never groom each other or sleep together.  It’s not a big apartment.  Adding a third cat would easily disturb the power dynamics of the relationship and cause them to destroy my apartment.

Even then – keeping an outdoor cat entirely inside is cruel.  But I live on the second floor and there isn’t a good way for FC to get up and down.  I suppose I could let him in and out of the front door, but the idea of trudging out into a public hallway and down the stairs to let a cat in and out is borderline insane.  Only people who have indoor/outdoor cats will understand.  Cats have a thing about doors.  Just an insanity really.  They will beg to be let out, walk three feet, turn around and beg to let in.  And they do this many times a day and night, before they decide that yes, actually the conditions are all perfect for a bit of a walkabout.

So.  I don’t know what to do.  It’s exhausting my brain at the moment.  I had originally thought I would have the whole summer to tame him and consider alternatives.  But the limp is really weighing on me.  I wish he would show up and let me see him.

 

It’s rainy and blowing.

I  love to be cozy in bed when it raining and am extra delighted by the wind.  It’s just a feeling of cozy safety to be inside and warm in such weather.  It touches on that deepest hindbrain feeling that comes from ancestors who had to deal with weather directly, living out in it.  To know I am not out in it, but safe inside is lovely.

I have a tin roof over my balcony area.  Rain on tin roofs is also a lovely sound.  It seems to hit a note in my head that resonates nicely.  Happily the place I work also has a metal roof and so I get that lovely noise quite often.

I had a lot of anxiety dreams last night.  And woke up to one that kept it’s hand on my chest even after waking.  In those moments, finding a thing I can deliberately delight in, is a path away from from the anxiety.  I usually have to look for it.  Because my mindset was already in anxiety, a significant portion of my brain wanted to consign the noise of this rain into the anxiety.  But I know that I have always enjoyed that noise while in bed.  So I recalled and considered that past delight until it arrived in the present.

This post is part of the process.  Sometimes the delight does not come spontaneously.  Sometimes it needs to be pulled out of the ground like a paleontologist pulls out a dinosaur bone.  Much digging into my memory, much slow and deliberate brushing off of that remembered feeling, much consideration of where the delight belongs in the moment I’m living right now.

It doesn’t always work.  But it seems to have done today.  The pressure is off my chest.

 

 

Creepy And Accurate

So I don’t use Instagram much, but I do have an account.  I just clicked on it out of boredom and began scrolling.  Almost immediately I was presented with ads that were decidedly well aimed.  Very well aimed.  I clicked on 3 ads in a 40 minute scroll through my instagram feed.

I think I’ve intentionally clicked on 3 ads in the previous 3 years before that.  Maybe longer.  I just don’t click.  In fact I mostly don’t see them because I have an addblocker extension in Chrome.  Sometimes I unblock on creator’s website and see their ads.  Google ads are nearly always reminder ads of places where I shopped.  It’s super easy to resist because that decision was already made and I’ve already seen the things.

But Instagram is an app on my phone, so no ad block.  It’s a Facebook company,  and their ad targeting is much more insidious.  They know who I am.  They put things in front of me that I’ve never seen before. Things that intrigued me and made me go look at the product.  A portable microscope camera that you can attach to your phone and look at stuff in microcosmos – like right out in the real world!  A clean key that can be used to press buttons on credit card machines and ATMs and also has a hook that will let you use it to grab some door handles. – a practical and useful thing in this day and age.   A tablet that is geared toward writing rather than typing made an appeal to the old person inside me.

On the one hand, I guess it’s nice to see something new that fascinates me.  On the other hand, it just knew me way too well.  That portable microscope – so niche.  But I was within an ace of spending money on it despite it being an utterly useless thing in my life and me being short of money due to a cut in hours.   I bought the clean key though.  It was expensive but I have to use a keypad to get into my apartment building.  I’m constantly aware of how many surfaces I touch when I’m out in the world.  I think it’s going be necessary to find ways to mitigate this in the next year.  This feels like a good option.

The truth is I’m more pleased to be seen by the computer overlords than upset that algorithms snoop so much.  I’m not even on Facebook.  I only have instagram.  But the people I follow on instagram are apparently a big clue as to who I am.   Sigh.  I’m pretty sure I should be outraged.  That’s what everyone else says.  But, hell.  It wasn’t a bad experience.  It was kind of good.

Music in Headphones

There is something transformative about music when you listen to it in headphones.  I suppose it’s because there is no other noise that can come in.  But it seems to make the music so much richer and deeper.  If you didn’t want to dance to  an upbeat song, put on your headphones – it will slip inside your brain and you will be nearly unable to stop the movement your body wants to make.

I love how headphones just wall off the world.  When I’m experiencing anxiety I feel like I am clawing out of my skin. But I can put on headphones and my brain will recalibrate.  It doesn’t have to be music, but music is best.  A podcast or novel will also work though.  I think a great deal of my anxiety is triggered by sounds.  Happily, it can also be silenced by sounds.

I recall reading an article about how you can see the rhythms of music in someone’s brain MRI (or perhaps it was a different sort of scan) But they could see the brains activity sync up with music.  It’s an actual thing that’s happening in my brain when I retreat into the headphones.

I think when anxiety is crawling around inside me – it’s like my brain is experiencing the static that used to be seen on TVs back in the day of antennas and 4 or 5 local channels.  When you turned the dial to a channel that didn’t exist locally – the screen would be this garbled and skewed grey scale chaos and the noise was a harsh static.

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But when I tune into music through the headphones my brain is adjusts itself to that and the static disappears.  And that uneasy crawling of unreasonable aprehension ceases.

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Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

I am lucky to live in a time of headphones.