Archive for May, 2009

For years I have called my yard “Darwin’s Garden” due to my lazy approach to gardening.  I do not like to weed.  I do not like to use pest-control products.  Every spring I approach my flower and vegetable beds with big plans and big dreams, enough so to get everything planted and hopefully weeded once, but soon the attraction wears off, and the plants are left on their own to battle weeds, the occasional deliberate planting run amok (lemon balm anyone??), wildlife, and insect pests the best they can.  Only the strong survive.

So Darwin’s garden is in again.  My 4 raised beds, kindly built for me by my husband several years ago out of standard lumber, are now missing sides and falling down, but cleared of weeds and planted, they look pretty good.  I have one bed planted with early season veggies – leaf lettuce, radishes, carrots, cilantro, swiss chard, and nasturtiums.  We’ve already harvested a few radishes and the leaf lettuce is looking like it will be ready in a week or two.  The remaining 3 beds each hold 6 tomato plants as well as  various and sundry herbs (basil, volunteer cilantro from last year, a tiny stub of a chive plant, and something I think may be parsley, but also could be more cilantro – more on that later), as well as cukes, peppers, and a lone marigold.

So, why am I not sure what the herby thing is?  Well, I generally start my own plants from seed sometime in the spring from a stock of seeds I have bought over the years and keep in a bag in the freezer.  Some of the seeds are older than my teenagers and predate the house we currently live in, but as I told my boss recently, I still get a pretty impressive germination rate, so I am sold on the freezer idea.  I group the paper seed packets by type (tomatoes together, lettuces together, cukes and squash together, etc) and then put each group in a ziplock bag and put the whole shebang in a plastic “Smokey the Bear” bag that I acquired at least 12 years ago when taking my then toddler on a leaf hunting hike with the county naturalist.

Anyhow, I have an impressive collection of tomato seeds – at least 24 packets of various hybrids and heirloom varieties.  I stood in my kitchen with seed starting supplies ready (an ice cream container full of a haphazard mix of leftover worm compost from a foray into wormkeeping about 7 years ago that until recently still contained live worms (!) and whatever other potting soils and additives I had laying around – too cheap and lazy to go out for regular seed starting mix….and a stash of the black plastic greenhouse 4 packs that you usually buy annuals in – I have been saving and reusing them for years).  I had a stash of little flags I had used in the past to label various plants and stared at them for a minute before I said, “oh hell, let’s just be surprised.”   So I planted one type of seed in each compartment of the 4 pack, mostly tomatoes, but when i ran out of those, adding herbs like chives, sage, and whatever the parsley/cilantro thing is, as well as at least 1 pepper plant, though I ended up with two things that LOOK like pepper plants, so we’ll see when they grow up:).

Surprisingly, out of about 8 four packs planted, only a few compartments did not sprout.  I ended up with 22 unidentified tomato plants, so 18 went into the available bed spaces and the other 4 got placed into various flower beds.  Heck, I am not going to waste a good tomato plant!

I started the sage as I had savagely pruned my large sage bush that grows at the front corner of my garage this spring and thought for sure the ancient thing was dead, but lo and behold, it came back gangbusters in about 4 different spots in that bed.  SO my new little sage friend went into the massively overgrown streetside bed along with a tomato plant, left to fend for itself among lambs ear and bayberry shoots run amok.

So, Darwin’s garden is planted and I am left to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I told my husband this morning that I have every intent this year of “staying on top of things.”  I also told him that I recently searching the internet to find out if anyone else had a “Darwin’s Garden”, where survival of the fittest is the rule.  Turns out that, um, Darwin had a Darwin’s garden and it has been relentlessly studied and recreated in various places, including New York City.

I told my husband that perhaps my garden needed a new name.    He said that my yearly gardening exploits reminded him of something.  He said, “you know how every year, Charlie Brown goes out to fly a kite….maybe it works for a while, but eventually, it always ends up tangled in a tree!”  I laughed.  Ok, so maybe it is “Charlie Brown’s Garden.”  At least when I pull up a radish, I don’t find that all I can grow is “ROCKS.”

But whatever I call it, I am looking forward, as always, to what develops this summer.

Best Regards,



Read Full Post »

Death and Guitars

OK, not exactly the most upbeat topic for my first real post, but something that has been on my mind for the last several days.

Over the weekend, we got the shocking news that my son’s not quite 40 year old guitar teacher had died unexpectedly. Certainly not the first time anyone in our family has had to deal with death, but it never does get easier.  My son was understandably very upset.  He had taken lessons with this teacher for over 2 years and had greatly admired the man and counted him as a friend.  I think the teacher became sort of like a cool parent to my son – only slightly younger than my husband and I, but cool and understanding rather than strict.

What surprised me, though, was that I was greatly affected as well.  I have had to deal with death many times – my dad passed away suddenly when I was in high school and in my adult life I have lost my mom and both in-laws as well as all but two of my many uncles and my one lone blood related aunt.  My yoga teacher died in her late 40’s from cancer – I had known she was ill when she gave up teaching, but always assumed she would “get better,” so I was saddened and surprised to see her obit one day.  But I didn’t cry for my yoga teacher or mope about as I have the last few days over my son’s teacher.  I have been trying to figure out what’s different.

I think maybe it has to do with my son.  He is a person who does not like his routine or his world upset.  It has been this way since he was quite young.  Neither he nor I deal well with change.  Losing a person you see every week and for my son, someone who was an understanding confidante, really upsets the cart.  He misses his teacher, but he also misses the simple way his world used to be.  I think I grieve for the lost easiness of his life, and know that over and over again, he will have to deal with the cart being upset and things being completely out of his control.  I guess I had hoped to protect him a little bit longer.

He was absolutely frantic about finding a new teacher.  My son is quite good at guitar, which is why he did well with an older teacher, rather than with the typical college students who also teach around town.  He was worried that he would never find anyone as good as his former teacher again.  Luckily, he also takes lessons with a talented trombone teacher who performs and is deeply involved in the local music scene.  That teacher has given us the name of a professional jazz guitarist who may be able to take my son even farther than his late teacher could have.

So, what comes of  such a terrible tragedy?  Well, for one, my son and I had been butting heads like a couple of crazed rams lately.  Teenagers and moms are not notorious for getting along.  I am starting to realize that it is not long before he is catapulted out into the real world and out from under my wing, so I am trying hard to readjust how I deal with him – making that spot under the wing a little softer and comfortable and a lot less stifling.  He seems to see my compassion for him and accept it, so the last few days we have been talking and walking and getting along better than we had in a while.

I think also the situation is causing him to examine whether he wants to recommit to guitar, since lately it has taken second place to his passion for skateboarding.  Many of his friends who took lessons with the late teacher have decided they will probably quit.  My son thinks he still has a strong interest and is going to try to continue.

So, death and guitars.  They come together often in the world of rock and now in my world.  I hope my son can put his heart around his sorrow and never forget his first guitar instructor who fed his passion and was his mentor and friend.  Hopefully that passion will continue.  To the one who was lost too young, rest in peace.

Best regards,


Read Full Post »

Hello world!

My first blog post!  I don’t know why – off work for the summer and bored, or looking for something new, but this past weekend I declared, “I am starting a blog!”  I started researching the process online, having visited a variety of blogs during web searches, but not actively following any in particular, to find out what I was getting into.  The most practical piece of advice I saw over and over again was to JUST DO IT.  Sit down and write that first post.  So, here it is and here I am.  I am a private person, yet pretty opinionated.  I am often regaling others with my thoughts, which some find interesting and some probably find that they wish I would just keep my thoughts to myself.  I don’t really have a theme in mind at this point, but perhaps that will evolve with time and practice.  I have always wanted to share my thoughts, and this seems a good vehicle.  Unfortunately, I have to go make dinner.  A real post coming tomorrow morning.

Best regards,


Read Full Post »