Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Birthday Blessings

There I was sitting next to my husband of 30 plus years and across from my husband of three years over 35 years ago.  We were celebrating our son’s 40th birthday at Bocci's in San Francisco's North Beach.  Families make the everyday meandering of life into something special.  Complicated, but special. 

Having a child who is 40 makes the moniker “mature” even outdated.  And he has a daughter who will be 16 soon—looking every bit her age and more.  A child of San Francisco, she comes equipped with all the accoutrements of her generation—wanting to look different from everyone else and actually looking the same as everyone else.  Looks aside, she’s just exactly like any other teenage girl I’ve known and was.  The one distinctive feature, of course, is that she’s my son’s daughter, which makes her more special than any other teenager.  Energetic, thoughtful, creative, kind. 

Birthdays mark the passage of years, of course.  For mothers, however, birthdays forever transport us back to the moment when a baby takes his first breath in our presence.  The memory never fades.  The feeling never wanes.  It is a special memory—shared with others, but not felt as others feel it.  What a miracle is birth!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Fence

I figured that once the garden was planted, Milo wouldn’t be all that interested in it.  And anyway, he has to jump up to get into it—pipsqueak that he is.  So I blithely planted the rest of the plants and sowed lettuce, carrot and radish seeds.  It turns out that Milo doesn’t have to jump to grab those little plastic stakes that identify what’s growing there.  At once it’s there, and the next thing you know, it’s gone. And there I am chasing the white streak around the yard to retrieve the damned thing before he eats it.  He does love to be chased as does any self-respecting dog.  Given my response to his mucking around in the dirt, he forgot the plastic tags and opted for full-body immersion. 

Bichon frises are all white with fluffy fur—fluffy all the way down to their toes.  The bottom of their legs look like big white dust mops—unless, of course, they are covered in mud when they look instead like something that was used to clean the carburetor. 

Like an epiphany, I realized we needed a fence. 

So. . . Off to Home Depot—again! 

You remember what I said in my previous blog about how many of my friends asked about fencing for the gardening?  Well, it turns out they were delicately suggesting I might want to rethink the notion of enclosing the garden—verdant paradise though I might have wanted it to be.  So now I am forced to step over the fence.  Not in the least graceful, I assure you.  But at least I know the plants have a better chance at survival.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time to Plant

We expected the soil at 8.  It arrived at 7:45.  Though we can't complain, we weren't exactly expecting it on time, much less early.  It came in a big dump truck--the kind you wish you had small children around to watch.  I was a stand-in for the small child and, in fact, had a camera handy to record the event.

Sam arrived much later than the soil, but never mind.  Since one of the boards purchased at Home Depot was more warped even than when we bought it, there was some jimmying going on; but in the end it seems to be o.k.  I laid newspaper on the grass inside the box, and Sam brought in the first wheelbarrow of soil.  Now it's happening.

Milo, in the meantime, is stuck to the corkscrew in the center of the lawn that leaves him out of reach of the garden and, most importantly, the open back gate.  That corkscrew thing-y was a wonderful invention.  I think it was invented for dogs that are always tethered--which Milo isn't.  But it's great for the occasional tethering.  (If you think that sounds a little sadomasochistic, I don't want to hear about it.)   Poor Milo.  The most frustrating thing for him was that he was just a "leetle" out of reach of Spike the cat--who knows better than to be available in Milo's circle of accessibility. 

After many more rotations of the wheelbarrow, we finally have a virgin garden.

Patrick, son number two, arrives and helps with the yard doing other activities--like wearing out Milo.  The gate is now closed and Milo has free run of the yard--thank goodness. 

I start with the tomatoes and leave the others for later as I am exhausted from hoeing all the dirt into place in addition to lunch preparation, mail opening, e-mail checking, shrubbery clipping, and all things requiring the full attention of the upper body.  Now I'm paying for it all.  Everything above my waist hurts.  And some things below my waist.  

So the rest of it will wait for tomorrow when I will finish the planting and leave the seeds to germinate as any patient gardener would.  (Is this sounding oddly familiar?  Or oddly fallacious?)  

Here's a picture of the finished project with the four tomato plants and Milo finally expressing some interest.  Did I tell you that no fewer than three people have asked if I am fencing the garden to keep Milo out?  My response has always been:  "I'm not planning to--unless it becomes a problem."  I may have to change that tune.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patient Gardening

Patience is a virtue.  If you want to garden, it’s a requirement.  I’m sure those who know me well are saying:  “She doesn’t have a patient gene in her body.”  And they’d be right.  I can fake patience.  I’m skilled at that.  But it’s not really part of my DNA.  This is an inherited trait—both the actual patience and the faked patience.  My father is a spur-of-the-moment guy.  If he had a car, which he doesn’t because he’s 92 and shouldn’t be endangering the lives of small children walking home from school or frail grandmothers walking to the bus (because they don’t drive anymore either), he would go off to Peet’s or the library or the church or Radio Shack or Border’s or Java City--all in a New York minute.  In his case, that minute is the point at which the thought enters his mind—and not a second later.   But now he has to wait until someone close to him with a valid driver’s license can take him.  So he pretends it wasn’t all that important in the first place.  “No, don’t go to any trouble,” says Dad.  This is the pretending part.  What he really wants to do is walk out the front door, put the key in the ignition, put the clutch in, ease the gear into first, and burn rubber.  Well, I’m exaggerating about the rubber part.  He’s a retired minister and has a reputation to protect.  And ministers are supposed to have the patience of Job—even Unitarian Universalist ministers.

So to my real point here.

Tomorrow, soil will be arriving to fill my raised bed garden box.  We’re late, I know.  It should have been planted weeks ago.  But my pace is often dictated by others’ pace—others upon whom I depend to help me out.  They’re willing, but not always timely.  Well, sort of willing. . .  This is an example of my skill at faked patience.

We’ve bought several plants—tomato (a few varieties), snap peas, lemon cucumber, and red bell pepper.  And I have seeds for carrots and radishes.  I tried to plant eggplant in an egg carton, but I didn’t have the, you know, patience.  So I bought an eggplant seedling.  Today, I noticed that there are three sprouts in my egg carton proving once again that I am a failure at real patience. 

This gardening adventure will be one of those “life” experiences.  Is it possible that patience is something one can develop later in life?   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tribute to Fritz

While my husband and I were visiting my oldest friend on the northwest coast of Washington last September, we became acquainted with their miniature Schnauzer, a feisty gray and bearded jet stream named Fritz.  We teased about taking Fritz home with us as we enjoyed his energy and size.  We learned, however, that Fritz’ breed is not known for bonding with other dogs or cats or even small humans.  And anyway, I don’t think my friends would have embraced the idea.  So we left Fritz to his owners and his buddy, Zeke, the enormous Alsatian--or some other mellow and hirsute breed--that gets along with pretty much any mammal.  And instead, we returned home and began a search for a more suitable dog, ending up with Milo, our bichon.    

I returned to Washington a few weeks ago and reported on that trip in this blog.  Fritz was his same old self but for the recent invasion of two kittens with which he was trying to bond—or at least that was the idea.  Like our Milo, he especially liked the tasty treats found in the litter box; so my friends had to make other arrangements for such things, which weren’t so appealing to Fritz.  I can’t say I observed him actually warming to the felines, but they were learning to live together after a fashion.  

Yesterday, Fritz died after somehow injuring himself a few days before.  I think it only fitting that I mention that Fritz was worth getting to know.  He was a bit like that challenging high school friend who knew all the answers and had the nicest clothes but whom everyone liked even so.  He was a special dog and we will miss him.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Long-Legged Daddy

There’s a daddy longlegs under the sink in my bathroom.  Most people would have long ago squished, sprayed, or vacuumed it up—or taken it outside into the yard.  I haven’t found it in me to do any of those things.  So I watch.  Like a gymnast, he twirls, stretches, wanders around in about a six-inch area.  I’ve never seen him leave his little haven.  I don’t know how he can survive.  I don’t know what he eats.  But I consider him my own personal “Nature Channel.”  He is fascinating.  He’s not harming me or anyone else.  I can clean around him with impunity and expect him to respect my need for minimal order in my bathroom.  Wikepedia tells me that these creatures—also known as harvestmen--are not spiders, but an order of arachnids (which I thought meant “spider”) that has been known to exist for 410 million years.  Evidently, people have been letting their daddy longlegs sit under their sinks for millennia.