July 21, 2014

I finished my first screenplay--well, finished it enough to send it off to someone who knows enough to tell me what to edit first. 

I bought two dress patterns in celebration. (MonetaCoco.)

Laura and I are currently having a little sew-along; both of us are making Emery dresses. As of two weeks ago I have thrown myself on to the dressmaking bandwagon with no hesitation or decorum. 

I got a new shirt.

I got a new shirt.

I filled out my tuition grant application. 

I trimmed Simpkin's claws. 

I thought about fitness goals and ate with a mind to "making my macros". This fervent intuitive eater is test-running a switch to calculated nutrition. What can I say? Intuitive eating saved my sanity and helped me gain a healthy attitude toward food. Now I want to know that I'm eating in a way that supports the development of a stronger, abler--and yes, more attractive--body. I just want my abs to show up. Today this quest involved a smoothie made with 60 grams of whey powder . . . 

oregano flowers

oregano flowers

Thinking about fitness made me think about Allison. I suddenly wondered if I'd ever heard her sing. I looked her up on youtube, and promptly had a cry to this song.

I wrote a thank-you note.

I squished all visible worms on my cabbages. I transplanted about 20 chamomile plants from the driveway to the backyard.

I was envious of Glynis's morning project. So quotidian, specific, pertinent, consistent. It's extremely refreshing.

Tim and I are about to watch the last episode of the new Cosmos series. I'm going to try to knit the last couple inches of the second sleeve for this sweater.

coffee mirror

coffee mirror

 

Good night kids!

vagabonds

We've been gone for five weeks now. We've spent three weeks at Tim's parents', one week with four of Tim's coworkers at the Transcend house, and one week at a seventh floor concrete sanctuary of a condo downtown. We're back there for a few nights. We are living on the back of a community, eating very large crumbs. Remember: We cannot become hermits. I cannot burn bridges. We need other people. They've fed us, taken vegetables off our hands, given us beds, lent us phones, driven us around. They've invited us over for supper and to stay for weeks.We're seeing a lot of our friends. We're seeing much more of the city. It's all practice for Germany, I suppose.

I need surprisingly little. Some of the things I've been hauling around with me: Annalena (my yellow road bike), a cloth tape measure, headphones, brown sugar, steel cut oats, laptop, paper clip stitch markers, four books of poetry (Bertolt Brecht, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Stanley Kunitz), two scarves, two dresses, two hats, two hoodies, two mittens, a foil packet of black tea, a huge ball of wool yarn, a flat of mason jars, a pumice stone.

I've been borrowing books from friends and the library. I've read more than I did over the entire summer. Last night at the condo I canned green tomato salsa after Tim and I biked home and pillaged the tomato plants one last time. It has been suspiciously warm all autumn, but the contractor ferreted my parka away in a storage pod, and I am knitting a cardigan just in case. Simpkin mostly stays with us. He is a courteous, comforting, admirable cat.

In brutal contrast to Simpkin: contractors and insurance adjusters. Can I properly express how much I have grown to despise bureaucracy over this past month? The Circumlocution Office (Little Dorrit) could hardly seem more intent on doing absolutely nothing useful or reasonable.

I should sign off--it's 6:47 am and I need to leave for work. I've been working so much. It's hard. But I think the move is really going to happen. We jumped the gun and bought suitcases, and we apply for visas next week. I'm using some gorgeous free software to study German. Work on the house is supposed to start this week. We have three invitations for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we'll be home (for a while) by the end of the month.

tea and pickles

Drying herbs feels wonderfully crone-like. Some are for tea, some are for salve, some are for gin and olive oil infusions. I'm so glad we're able to do this in the city. 

Jam is not far behind. There's going to be a giveaway--maybe tomorrow.

what's in the garden

blueberry
greenberry
taragon
cherries
concord grape
chives
. . . and cucumbers
tomatoes
zucchini
hot peppers
parsley
dill
lemon thyme
basil
oregano
apple mint
chocolate mint
beets
carrots
potatoes (purple, red, yellow)
sage
rhubarb
pansies
sorrel
chamomile
spinach

I am busy.


it is summer



These shoots came up two months ago in place of the slender, weak-kneed peony stems I bought and planted last year. Now they are big-boned shrubs; they have tens of heads. The green is the oregano that was supposed to be an annual and nevertheless returned.

The garden beds look nothing like this any more. I do not need to crouch down to look for plants--by now they wave around my knees. It is already high, unstoppable summer, somehow only exacerbated by two weeks of rain, and I wonder how we got here.

It's been a difficult start. Life demands that I take myself in hand: if I am to survive and if we are to be happy, I must be stronger and saner than ever before. So Tim and I continue to talk. I've been lifting weights, like I said I wanted to. I've been tallying up the number of  panic attacks I've been having in horror and shame. I am healthier now than I've been in a long time, but now there is much more responsibility and much less allowance for fear, panic, anger, paralysis. I am an adult. I want to be an adult. The great, progressive change this summer is that I am not inventing difficulties out of perverse boredom or self-destructive instinct. These challenges are blessedly real: money, the house, the tenants, Simpkin, the health of my body, mind, marriage. And the solution is simply to work, so I will.

splint


I brought our jalapeno plant home from Superstore already over a foot tall, ensconced in a plastic planter with a built-on cage. It was ten o'clock at night; we'd been running errands all day; I had to work in the morning. In the dark and in my rush to get the pepper and the four new tomatoes into the ground immediately, I snapped the crisp fifteen-dollar main stem on the jalapeno while I was trying to wrestle it out of the plastic pot. I swore. I ran inside for scissors and tape. I scrounged a stake from the pile of scrap wood on the other side of the fence. I made a splint and set the bone.

That was two weeks ago, and the plan is still alive, flowering like all get out. It is amazing how similar all things are. How a plant stem can heal like a femur, while the heart surgeon is essentially a plumber of tiny pipes. How, on their respective ends of the pH scale, baking soda and vinegar apply themselves to issues from the tweaking of lentil curry, to the removal of a stain to the treatment of a mosquito bite, to the fertilization of a plant, to the banishing of pimples, to the removal of mineral residue. How the cooking--the making-edible--of food foreshadows the metabolic process. (How I find plant metaphors almost all-sufficient.)

harvest (some bragging)


In an old-fashioned way, I can't help fawning over the not-unimpressive quantity of food I have harvested and preserved during the last month. We have:

yellow and green beans--cut in half, blanched, and frozen on a baking sheet rather than in a lump

crab apples from my Opa's trees--sauced and canned

rhubarb, raspberries, saskatoons, gooseberries--jammed and canned

tomatoes--sliced and dehydrated

chocolate mint--dried for tea

potatoes--washed, left to air for a day, boxed in a shallow layer

carrots and beets--scrubbed and filling both vegetable drawers in the fridge

Only the hot peppers, onions, and the unripened tomatoes are yet to bring in. Tim and I are debating the merits of dehydrating vs. pickling the peppers. (We don't have a peck, but we probably have a couple of litres.) Strong opinions on this?

ETA: I also jammed and canned some red plums over the weekend. Time to quit with this sort of thing and concentrate on scholarly pursuits.

Monday



I'm afraid the season has already turned. After our one allotted Canadian week of +30 degree temperatures, the days are already a wee bit shorter. The plants are in an obscene rush to put themselves out before time is up.



Tomato plants flop over the sides of their raised bed. Potato plants bloom floridly. Pea plants sprawl, fattening pods before they've done any climbing to speak of. The weeds stop spreading (quite so fast), and just quietly grow taller and taller. We're having a dour, stormy day. It's so dark inside the hobbit hole that I had to go outside this morning to try and photograph the experimental legwarmers. It was raining by 9 am, but luckily the structure that I've been cleverly calling "the laundry roof" protected the laundry.

The miserable-looking avocado plant to the right, the plant we've had for over two years, and started from seed before we were married, was broken (and possibly killed) by our tenants' friends.

Knitting the legwarmers, I've gained some valuable practice working on five needles in the round. When my sock yarn ("peaks ferry") arrives (tomorrow?), I will be ready to attempt a somewhat neat job. I've had several failed attempts at Making Things over the past couple of days--including one this morning. This afternoon I am ignoring everything but The Poetics of Translation. 




(I did have a piece of news that made various sad paper-sewing and -folding catastrophes seem less important: around 11 this morning I received an email from The White Wall Review*. They want to publish "Thirteenth House", a poem I wrote this past winter, in their Fall 2012 issue. So I will have two publications coming out within the next few months. I have to say I'm ridiculously pleased.)

*WWR published "Cat Wants" under the name Patrick Walker-Nelson in 2009. It was my first and only acceptance under a pseudonym. Nice that I've made it in again, under my own name.

developments

And now in the garden . . . 


one tiny hot pepper


beets


one tiny tomato


hydrangas


carrots


peas


potatoes


peonies


Please excuse a bit of a silence. I find myself easily tired and easily saddened lately. Dissatisfied but not driven. 

a few items

Things feel so hopeful this evening. I thought I would give you a few items (what qualifies as news around here):

~ Our third rhubarb plant has pulled through a very rough transplanting indeed. After two weeks of flopping around in the mud, its stalks are finally perking up.

~ After intending to do so since our first year of university, when Tim took a course and brought home an intriguing textbook, I've been making my way through an introduction to mathematical proof-writing.

~ My friend Laura is coming over on Sunday, and we are going to sew harem pants like the ones all the women I saw in European airports last summer were wearing. And I can honestly say that I don't remember the last time I was so excited.  I need to buy some cotton print.

~ I bought peonies and a hydrangea for our empty front flower bed. Those huge, bobbing heads of flowers are hardly real. And I found sorrel at the same greenhouse. Sorrel! The herb that tastes like sour apples; I used to eat it out of my Mum's garden when I was six. She had an amazing garden that year, the first and the last for a long time. Now I'll plant it myself, beside the covered patio, and harvest handfuls for potato soup.

~ (We finally planted the potatoes. We were so late. I hope they come up.)

~ For the past ten days or so, I've been utterly drained, stripped to my nerves, emptied of all physical and emotional reserves. Eight-hour shifts have turned into tests of endurance. I've fallen off my bike once, and I spent all day yesterday in bed. Tim and I put our heads together, squinted at my inner eyelids, and diagnosed anemia due to iron deficiency. I don't think I've ever purchased red meat, since moving out of my parents' house, but the time has come.

~ Tim built our first fire in the backyard tonight. The flames ate around the rings in the wood.

~ I'm in the middle of purging and organizing the files and programs on my laptop. I've never done it before, and it's strange, to learn my way around this little machine that I've used every day for five years.

rhubarb, dandelions

The dandelion situation is becoming nightmarish. When I consider adulthood and all of its horrors and responsibilities, I do not generally consider weed warfare. Alas, we have had to literally dig ourselves in. Tim spent hours today with a propane torch, combusting seed heads. Tomorrow I have to attempt to break up a patch of lawn for the potatoes. Imagine a writhing nest of vegetal snakes, glued into the soil with grassroots. I'm terrified that the act of hacking them up with a sharp spade will only serve to multiply them. 

(Tim, reading over my shoulder, starts being a broom from the Fantasia Sorcerer's Apprentice.)


Today I avoided the backyard like the plague, only going outside to plant four more tomatoes in a half-barrel Opa brought over. Instead of yanking at fat, morbid tap roots, I made rhubarb jam. 



It was my first attempt at real canning. To my surprise, all nine jars sealed, and remain unexploded on the window sill. Each successive small batch is darker and less sweet than the one before, so that there is a progression from bright clear red jelly to dark amber rhubarb butter. I'm out of jam jars, but there is still at least ten cups of chopped rhubarb in a mixing bowl on the counter, so I think that rhubarb syrup, and a rhubarb pie (with poppy seeds in the crust) are still on the agenda.



over-ambitious

To Do:

- clean bathroom
- bike 15 km
- write
- make lemon curd
- clean inside of fridge
- turn soil for potatoes
- plant potatoes
- practice violin
- paint toenails
- make rhubarb jam
- make rhubarb pie
- dumbbells

As I announced last night, Tim and I have basically undertaken urban farming. On our way home from my Opa's acreage yesterday, we decided to dig over most of the weedy back lawn, and turn it into a field of potatoes (and spinach). We stopped at Canadian Tire, and I bought two boxes of gruesome-looking seed potatoes, a pair of work gloves, and three more sprightly tomato plants. There is a lot to be done today, because tomorrow and Sunday I'm wearing a black skirt and lace sweater, serving coffee and pastries here