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

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.

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.

 

Growing a Kitten

They mostly grow on their own, but they do need a lot of food.

When you get a young kitten it is a delicate fragile ball of bravado.  They walk around, with the tiny brush tails sticking straight up and act like NOTHING can hurt them.

But just picking them up makes you utterly aware of how they are just fragile bones covered in fur with a tiny buddha belly if they’ve been eating properly.

Then they grow.  They stretch out in all directions and look mostly starved, like lanky teenagers often do.  They hold onto that fragile feeling because all the major muscles that bind together cats and make them such tangibly tough animals haven’t quite caught up with the growth.

So you pick them up, expecting to hold something solid with weight and instead you get a floaty bundle of fur.  Which sounds more romantic and relaxing than it is, because it’s actually a spastic floaty bundle and so you have try not to break the fragile spastic kitten that refuses to sit still while you hold it.

And then their muscles catch up.  And one day you pick up a kitten, thinking it will be floaty fragile flotsam and it’s a solid chunk.

I love the solidity of cats.  The fact that they can be given a good solid patting and it sort of rings on their body.  And what is most fun is that cats seem to like a good solid patting.   I call it banging on the kitty.   I mostly do it on their back leg or their back.  But it can’t be done to a fragile kitten.

Rebel Tim has just started to get his solid muscles.  And so I gave him some bangs and he loved it.  You would think cats would hate that sort of thing.  But I’ve never had a cat that didn’t love it.   Often it riles them up and they end up running around like maniacs. Unsurprisingly this is how it worked on Tim.

Tim is going to be one of those long lanky cats that are mostly just sleek fur over defined muscle, unlike Mrs. Fluffbutt, Her Highness Bijou.  Who is mostly thick fluff pasted to muscle and a bit of rounding out fat.  She is an exceptionally comfortable cat to hold as a result.  Just soft in all the ways.  Until she wants down.  Which is mostly immediately because she doesn’t enjoy being held.  She wants cuddles on her terms.  But every evening she condescends to allowing me pick her up for a good hug.  And doesn’t even complain.  bijou and tim

 

 

Excited Kitten Chattering

There was a bird on a wire not to far from the window he was sitting in.

He was chattering because he was so excited to get at it.

He doesn’t know yet that proper hunters are SILENT.  He is just a baby.

Plus he’s had a very exhausting morning.  Much rushing about and jumping with many battles large and energetic. I don’t think such a tired Tim could maintain his self control to be silent even had someone taught him how to hunt quietly.

He just came over and plopped next to me into instant sleep.  Also a kitten thing.  100 miles an hour one moment, dead asleep the next.