The Rock Whisperer

Instead of one big plot, I'm making little floating veggie gardens using raised beds with rock borders.  Tomatoes here, mesclun greens over there, broccoli and cauliflower nearby, maybe some flowers up front.  Only I ran out of rocks.

My sister suggested using some of Dan's rocks to finish the beds.  He works them into his sculptures, so rows of them march around the perimeter of the yard, waiting for their next incarnation.  Why not stand in as garden borders in the meantime?

I suggested it to Dan;  he's protective of his rocks, and I could tell he was not thrilled at the idea.  "Well.  We could do that I guess.  I'll have to give you a tour about which ones can stand up to being watered."  

I said, "They're rocks.  They live outside.  How can any of them not be watered?  What about when it rains?"  

"That's different."  He is completely serious.

"Honey, that doesn't make sense.  That's like saying some rocks shouldn't be in the sunshine."

"Well, some shouldn't.  But I don't have any of those kinds of rocks."

My relationship philosophy is to respect what's important to the other person, even if I don't agree.  Or (in this case) start laughing too hard to talk coherently any more.

"Well...I don't know what's so funny, honey.  But I love you.  Even though sometimes you don't know about rocks."

Thank god he doesn't take it personally; I'm not laughing at him, exactly... it bubbles up from from the same heartsource that loves him to pieces, and he senses that.  

We decided it would be easier on his nerves to go out and collect rocks specifically to use for the garden.  Rocks that are both water- and sunshine-safe. 



I've been on a mission to get a veggie garden in our front yard, but it's been obstacle after obstacle.  Pretty soon it will be too hot for plants to want to sprout, and we haven't even tilled the manure in with the soil yet. It's hard to coordinate schedules;  Dan is working on house projects for his folks, and it never seems like a good day to spend hours digging holes. It's making me crabby.

I decided to take my frustrations out on the little side-yard out back of our bedroom door.   It's a disaster;  it's been run over by weeds and Bermuda grass which has grown thigh-high.  It's beyond the mower's capacity to tame at this point, so I scrounged up my gardening gloves and hand shears, popped in some ass-kickin' music, and hunkered in for the weekend.

Hacking out unwanted growth is fantastically cathartic.  My aggravation eased up with every yanked root.  Within an hour, I was happy in my productive solitude, unearthing various "yard treasure" (as Dan calls it):  a tiny green army man, bayonet shouldered and ready for action;  a green marble;  a boring attachment for a drill.  I also found some near-smothered vines with pretty white flowers;  star jasmine, I think... they'd poked through their way through fence slats from our neighbors'.  I gently disentangled them from the barbed Bermuda grass runners and re-wrapped them around the fence post.  

Then I smelled nostalgia, and paused.  Mint? 

The Minnesota cabins where we'd spent our family summers growing up had mint running wild on the beach.   The smell of fresh spearmint  is forever tied to bare feet and beach walks and artesian well water.  There were only two rules in summer:  Don't yell "Help!" when you're swimming unless you actually need help.  And no wearing bathing suits at the table.  

When we bought our current house, I was happy to find our neighbors had mint growing up by the sidewalk.  I break off a leaf whenever I walk by.  Some of it must've migrated.  I hunted in the tangle in front of me, and-- yes, there it was: a defiant little patch of mint.  I freed it from the oppressive overgrowth and thought for a minute, looking again at the fencepost, with its curling vines and fragrant mint.  

I'd planned on just lining the whole thing with pavers and maybe set some planters out here and there. The mint changed my mind.  This funny little back side-yard needs to be a garden, a real garden, overrun with trailing vines and moss-edged flagstones.  It's just enough shade back there for plants to survive the oppressive desert summers.  Daisies, lavender, maybe a little fountain.  Enough room for an Adirondack chair just there, in the corner.  

I've been feeling a little strangled in overgrowth and choked out by runners myself these days.  But if the mint can find its way in all this tangle, surely I can find my way too.



Having a kid is amazing.  I keep forgetting to be mindful of this as Miss G gets older.  A few months ago,  the two of us were sitting together at the dinner table and she was holding something and I said, surprised, "You have my hands!"

"I know!" she said, wiggling her fingers.

I never noticed before.  They were just chubby kid hands for years, but now that she's shooting up and slimming out, I can see the bone structure.  They're mine, all right.  I think that brings the total of my genetic contribution to 3 items:  she has my eye color, and my stubborn chin.  Most of her is straight from her dad, both in looks and personality.

But as much as she is like her dad, there is a sizable chunk of Miss G that is unique to her, and not from either parent.  It's a funny mix of tough-as-nails and fiercely gentle. The other night, she cleaned out the fridge and organized it.  A couple years ago, she woke me up one morning with an envelope chock full of 3x5 cards with explicit, step-by-step instructions on how to spend my morning.  She's a relentless micro-manager:  of her friends, our family pets, and of her mother, in equal measure.  She always wants to stay home from school and nurse me if I'm sick.

This is the part of Miss G that I find most intriguing, because it's such a mystery.  It's also what defines her more than any other quality, and we don't know where it came from, or how she learned to be this way.  Whenever people give me compliments about her, I always deflect them, saying, "She doesn't get that from me.  It's all her."  "Oh, but you raised her!"  Nope.  I don't take credit for raising her well, either.  She's been a grownup since birth; she was pretty much born "raised," with a few nudges from me here and there along the way. I give her the freedom to be herself, and every day since her birth has been sitting back and watching her Self emerge.  One long miracle.


Spring Cleaning Redux

With a nearly entire week all to myself, I excavated dark corners of our closet and organized the kitchen cabinets.  I like feeling as if things are in order, even if it's only for a few days.  I have trouble keeping things tidy;  I'm not the greatest housekeeper anyway, and there's only one of me.  My favorite method of cleaning is to just get rid of crap.

Sometimes I think about throwing everything out.  Just everything.  When I look at what we have, and realize I use maybe only 10% of it on a daily basis, I wonder why am I making more work for myself by keeping a bunch of unused stuff around?  It's just more for me to dust.  If I dusted.

I prefer to donate.

This week's cleaning frenzy sent a good half-dozen bags out to Salvation Army, a task that can only be accomplished when the house is empty.  I removed unread books from Miss G's shelf and outgrown clothes from Miss L's drawers.  I threw out Dan's ziplog baggies of coyote poo and broken beetle carcasses.  They'd kill me if they knew.  But they won't miss any of it.  They won't even notice it's gone.

I like easing my home out from under the weight of its useless knick-knacks.  I get tired of clutter, of the things that used to mean something but have become husks. So, I pack them up and send them on to their reincarnation, to be unearthed treasures found by someone new.

I think I'm going to start an Underground Railroad for the safe escape of tchochke to the outside world.  They deserve a life of adventure, not resigned to some cluttered windowsill.

Fly free, little ones.  Fly free.