Friday, June 24, 2016

Inch One Hundred Twenty-Three: The Good Enough Garden

My Aunt Ginger has subscribed to Good Housekeeping for decades. When she finishes reading an issue, she passes it along to me, so I have been reading GH for decades as well.

There used to be a monthly feature, often showing a small DIY project, in which the editors would show the reader the "Good Housekeeping" (read "more expensive and more detailed") way to do it, then show the "Good Enough" (read "cheaper and less complicated") way to accomplish close to the same thing.

My garden this year is the Good Enough Garden.

As I wrote in May, before I left for my lengthy trip, I wanted to get my tomatoes and other plants in the garden. We accomplished that before I left. Warren watered my garden well and faithfully while I was gone. I came back to the basil doing great, the tomatoes starting to grow, and the peppers looking forlorn and pathetic (I do not know what is going on there). As I predicted, most of the marigolds I had hand-sowed in the perimeter blocks sprouted while I was away.

So had the pigweed. And so had the grass.

I don't have the physical energy or strength to weed regularly. Or even sporadically. I don't have the means to hire a gardener. I really just want the tomatoes and the flowers and the basil without all the interference. But for about the equivalent of my copays for a full three weeks of treatment ($90.00), I could finish my garden.

So I did what in the old days I would have considered cheating. In the old days, I would have started everything—flowers, vegetables, herbs—inside the house in the early spring and nurtured it along. I don't do that anymore: too much work, too little strength. So I bought three large containers of Blanket flowers (Gaillardia), four smaller containers of lavender, and five bags of mulch. Sunday morning Warren and I hoed up the garden. We were careful around the established plantings. The rest we slashed at with abandon.

Pigweed, be gone! Grass, be gone!

When we were done, I dug holes for the new plants. In they went. Then Warren got the shovel and dug the holes deeper. In they went again. Then I watered: the extra basil starts (from my good friend Donna) I had planted Saturday, the new plants, the marigolds, the tomatoes, even the pathetic peppers.

I can only work in the early morning (before 8:15 a.m.) or the evening because of the heat and sun. The mulch did not go down on Sunday, but Wednesday night (after chemo), I started to spread a few bags. I quickly measured my energy and realized the best "good enough" thing I could do was mulch around the vegetables, the herbs, and the new plantings. There are three bags of mulch yet to go, although one is earmarked for the front. I just transferred to the east side of the house, in the shade of the dogwood tree, some blue spiderwort and planted some pink spiderwort that a good friend gave me. It will probably get some mulch too to help it get going, although spiderwort is pretty hardy and takes root quickly.

I could have/should have put down newspaper for a weed cover before I started on the mulch, but I am too tired to do that too.

But it is done.

Here is my good enough garden. The tomatoes are starting to set fruit. The basil looks great. And the flowers are beautiful.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Inch One Hundred Twenty-Two: Home Again

I got home Monday at about 5:00 p.m., almost the last person off the plane. Of course we were parked at the very furthest gate, so I had a hike (albeit a small one compared to coming through Houston a few hours earlier) before I could clear the security area, drop my bags, and hug Warren.

This trip may have been the very last lengthy trip I take where I fly by myself. Besides the simple pleasure of having Warren with me, my overall health may be such that I simply need to have him accompany me. I am typing this on Friday and I am just now starting to feel I have recovered from the travel.

Health issues aside, it was a very, very good trip. The Seattle conference was exciting, my joint presentation with my daughter-in-law Alise was lively and thought provoking, and there are not enough words in the dictionary (to quote an old friend) to describe how great it was to be with my family in the Portland/Vancouver area.

There are no words to describe adequately what a wonder Ramona is at three and three-quarters years of age. Of course, she is a wonder child. She is funny and bright and lively and thought provoking (not unlike our seminar) and I marveled at her every moment I was with her.

As may be expected, I took pictures, but not as many as I would have thought. I realized that the only way to fully appreciate the trip—Seattle, Portland, my sons, Alise, Ramona, Mackenzie, and the rest of the family—was to put the camera down and just savor the time.

Ben, Alise, Ramona, and I went to the Oregon coast, to Rockaway Beach, on one of my days. It was
a typical Oregon coast day: cold, windy, overcast, an occasional sprinkle. All the same, Ramona frolicked in the tide pools until long after she was wet and chilled and ready for lunch. I found myself going between watching Ramona scamper and standing facing the ocean, watching the gray waves break as they came in.

I have always loved the ocean; I have always found its ceaseless rhythm to be a source of comfort. This time was no exception. Children (and grandchildren) grow up, cities change, life happens, the world turns, but the ocean, the amazing ocean, stays eternal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016