Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garden Obsession

Although I haven't written posts here everyday, I have been writing every day.  I definitely feel like a writer again, like I am composing stories even when I'm doing dishes or working in the garden.  Rearranging the layers of my life into salient stories makes me happy.  It makes all of the bad times in my life have meaning - like recycling stinky garbage into something wonderful. 

I let my kids read one of the children's stories I wrote almost 20 years ago.  I even did illustrations, and I am no artist.  The story is titled, "Flowers and Clouds," and the main character is a pansy.  The pictures are priceless.  My teenager laughed out loud and demanded that I scan the image so she can use them for background on her iTouch.  As soon as I get them scanned, I will post them here.  I did the illustrations on really nice thick art canvas, using water colors (yes, I painted each of the pictures) for the characters and light blue crayon to make a textured sky.  I nearly threw the illustrations away several times over the years, and am so happy I kept them, especially seeing how much my kids enjoyed them.  They laughed out loud but weren't making fun of me - it was just really funny in a cute way.  It's hard to believe that I took all of the time to paint these pictures.   I remember being very lonely at that point in my life even though I was married.  I didn't remember until now how driven I was even then.  I had it in my mind that I just lately became type A, a bit of a tightly wound spaz, but now I remember how intently I worked on everything in college and in high school, how immersed I was in my studies and writing. 

Working at home (without actually working in the traditional sense), I find myself compulsively planning.  The project of the week that I am very obsessive about is my vegetable garden, which even now is only materialized in my mind.  I am determined to get it done before close of day this weekend.  If we move any slower on it, we are going to miss the growing season.

My husband bought seed kits for the kids to put together.  I ordered a cute little greenhouse that sits on the deck - it has four shelves and a plastic cover.  The kids and I successfully planted all of the seeds in the little seed germination kits.  My baby even had one for tomatoes in little red vases with Elmo stickers.  He screamed when I tried to put an Elmo sticker on the pot.  I peeled it back off and put it back on the sticker sheet for him, which returned him to a happy state.  My older kids tried to get the baby to pour water on the little peat pellets that fatten up after a few minutes and to put the seeds on the expanded pellets.  Instead, he intently played in the little water dish I brought out and poured it spoonful by spoonful onto himself and the dry blanket we were sitting on.  My big kids took on the project of planting all of the seeds including the baby's Elmo tomatoes and Oscar the Grouch green beans.

On Memorial Day, we decided to buy the retaining wall paver stones for two raised vegetable gardens after a weekend of intense debate about how to design our garden.  We went online to look at designs, went to stores to see what the wood kits looked like (too low and pricey for me), and eventually settled on a design using paver stones.  Once we had the design, we changed it at least 10 times over the course of the long weekend, broke out the orange spray paint, and marked the final design on the grass, including the placement for the swing set that I also ordered.

I opted for the relatively inexpensive, possibly lame, smaller, no-cut wood swing set kit that doesn't even have a tower.  It says you can build it in an hour, which means 6 for us.  I apologized repeatedly to my third grader for not buying the huge swing set of his dreams.  We had one in the back since my teenager was a baby, and it was only used about 20 times total before the wood rotted.  (It was about 30 years old, inherited from my kids' older cousins who now have kids of their own.)  I consoled my middle son with promises of customizing it, of adding a cargo net that we could affix to a taller wall of our deck, of the potential for him to design and build a custom tower just for him that we could attach to the shorter deck of the swing set I ordered.  For now, I just need a swing set for the baby, so I can entertain him during the day when we are home alone. 

We decided to get a baby pool too, the blow up kind that you can easily empty.  While my husband visited his parents, the big kids and I put up the extra large canopy my husband bought a month or two ago.  We put chairs underneath and admired our garden design. 

Later my husband returned from his trip with the baby happily in his arms.  He offered to purchase the paver stones and haul them home.  To occupy the baby, the kids poured fresh sand into the giant frog sandbox (which I always call a turtle for some reason) and played in the sandbox with the baby.  The big kids invented their own game, which I think involved hiding things in the sandbox and challenging the other person to dig in the sand to find it (sort of sad little game but better than digging gardens I think). 

Suddenly, the baby imagined the little blue plastic shovel was a spoon and stuck it in his mouth.  We screamed, "Yucky! Don't eat that!" in unison and encouraged him to spit it out, a concept he doesn't understand yet.  Minutes passed and all was well.  Just as quickly and unexpectedly, the baby tried to drink the sand from the bucket he had filled. "NOOOO!!" we all screamed, scaring him to tears.  Suddenly, the sky burst open with rain.  My son declared the baby's butt was wet, and we all ignored him.  I scooped up the baby to carry him inside, and realized the baby's butt was wet.  When I got him to the tub, I realized he was wet with diarrhea, that was so bad it leaked through his diaper, not out the edges, but actually through the butt of it.  It was totally sick.  I posted one kid at the front door to wait for the pizza man and another to assist with the diaper disaster and the bath.  Then I realized everyone who had picked up the baby in the last few minutes (all of us) needed to disinfect our hands and change our shirts at a minimum.  Panic ensued as we took turns changing clothes while one person monitored the door for pizza and another sat with the baby as he played in the tub.  Amid the panic, my husband called to ask about brick colors and abandoned his mission to join in the poo disaster, which we had quite under control by the time he got home along with pizza on the table.

After several runs to the hardware store and a lot of work, we have the outline of both raised gardens done in pavers.  Tonight we will dig them in and unearth the ground underneath.  Some people say we can just bury the grass with no problem, other sources and people I know say to use newspapers or garden lining underneath, some say to dig it up.  I think digging it up is better since I'm the one that's going to have to pull up the grass if it grows up to live with the tomatoes I hope to plant tomorrow....

Next time:  Microsoft - to get certified or just let it go....

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