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How Does Your Garden Grow?

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Cicero

We recently had our backyard cleared of bushes and tree stumps that have been needing to go.  Overall, the yard still needs help.  The previous owner had an in-ground pool and just threw dirt in it when they didn’t want it anymore.  So now we have a big cement crater that just needs to be broken up and taken away.  But hiring someone to do what is considered a small job? Hard to find.  But it’s too big for us to do ourselves.

Nonetheless, our backyard is coming along.  And it has afforded me the opportunity to finally plant my vegetable garden.  I have been so excited.  Researching what to plant, how to plant (we went with a square foot garden), when to plant, then planning, procuring, and executing.  It’s all been wonderful.

We started with this space:

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We cultivated the hard ground, added Metro-Mix, safe fertilizer, stepping stones (more to come in the garden so that we don’t step on the roots) to define the area and got this:

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Then we planted 2 creole tomato plants, eggplant, mustard greens, artichoke, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro and lemon verbena (to detract bugs safely) and got this:

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We will also be adding cucumber and hot peppers.  It will take a lot of attention.  But I LOVE the idea of fresh vegetables and herbs, and the idea of tending to this garden, and that I’ll get to play in the dirt.

New Orleans is so darned fecund.  It’s been rated as one of the greenest (not “green”) cities in America.  We have trees on patios of skyscrapers.  Left unattended, the weeds and vines in this city will not only encapsulate an entire building, I am certain if you stand still long enough, they will capture you, too, and tie you down with roots too strong to be broken.

So am I hopeful this garden will flourish? You bet I am.

Still Life with Sun

CS and I take lots of pictures of Sun.  In the age of digital film, we are all amateur photographers with no costs of development to worry about.  At year end, we pick our favorite pictures and print them for a photo album we have for Sun.  In looking at that photo album tonight, I am humbled by how fast she is becoming a child and leaving babyhood and toddlerhood behind.

The thing about photographs is that you take the pictures of the smiles and the first good things: petting a goat, seeing snow, flying in a plane, eating Bud’s Broiler, holidays, and relatives.  You tend not to get the meltdowns, the disappointments: cranky, nappus interruptus Sun, fights over toys, spilled milk, busted chins, and laser treatments.

And so in looking back over the past year, one would think it has been all smiles and that it should have been all enjoyment.  And it just wasn’t.  Mainly, it was exhausting.  I am just tired all of the time.  I am not complaining.  It isn’t Sun that makes me tired.  But it is Sun that makes me realize that my tiredness is a deficit.  I feel regret in not doing more, not being more full of life and not basking in her seemingly endless smiles more.

But overall I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  It’s been over a year now that I have felt I finally got all I ever wanted and I still want for nothing more than the maintenance of the status quo.

(P.S. My grandfather is doing quite well–the clots have been cleared and he’s moving out of ICU tonight.  Once his blood thinner medication is where they want it in his system, he will be sent home.  Thank you all for your kind words of support and concern.  They were very much appreciated. –Nola)

Oh, holidays, how you exhaust me.  I can’t really even blame the holiday season.  The end of year is usually a bit busier for me at the office, and this year is no exception.  And with it getting dark so early, I am finding myself very tired as soon as I walk in the door at night.

And with all that is going on, I have temporarily lost my blogging muse.  But fear not! Family is coming, and that is certain to spark emotions!

For my fellow bloggers, bear with me.  I am getting caught up with your blogs, and just too tired to leave a lot of comments.  But I DO care and love reading you all even when I do so as a lurker.

More of a more interesting variety soon, promise.

Six Random Things Meme

I have been tagged by Wet Bank Guy.  He likes meme’s about as much as any man.  But he obliged and thus I will too.

First The Rules.

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So, six random things you don’t already know about me. Hmm. Well, you know so much already.

  1. I was never a Brownie or a Girl Scout or cross-walk guard.  I was in NO clubs throughout all of my school years.  Except Guitar.
  2. When I signed up for Guitar, I assumed my big brother would let me take his nice Fender to school. I assumed very wrong.  So my mom bought me a big, clunky, “country/western” looking guitar (yanno, with 2 f-holes instead of the standard round sound hole) with a soft case at a garage sale.  I. Was. Mortified.  And soon I gave up guitar.  I still strum, Down, Down, Up. Up, Down, Up.
  3. My best friend in grammar school was on all the sports teams and in the Glee Club.  I never went to any of her after-school events.
  4. The brother of my best friend from grammar school married my sister.
  5. Before my sister dated her now husband, he and I and his sister build a mad card house out of a UNO deck.
  6. I was a good student but not a superstar student.  My all-time BEST course in high school was Chemistry. Yup.  And in college, Logic (no duh), and in law school, Civil Procedure.  In all three courses, I scored the highest grade possible (and in Logic, due to bonus questions, I scored even higher).

So, to keep this thing local, I am tagging fellow NOLA bloggers.

  1. Charlotte.  She’s a minx and I want to know the good stuff about her.
  2. Pete.  He swears he’ll never do a meme, but if all NOLA bloggers do it, I think I can shame him into this one.
  3. Pistolette.  She’s a rockstar that has the nerve to live the way I ideally want to live.
  4. Ryan.  To get his mind off the details of his upcoming nuptials.
  5. Sphinx Ink. Because she has been waaay too quiet lately.
  6. Mike.  To maintain the male-female ratio and to see if he’ll play along (I hope you do)!

I think this will teach Wet Bank Guy to ask more about me again!

Offline Lessons

After a rough start, I did it!  I stayed offline for a week.  It got easier each day, and by today I wasn’t even itching to get online.

So, what did I learn?

I learned that I go to bed several hours earlier when I am not online.  Gaining those 2+ hours of sleep has been wonderful.

Being consistently away from the computer gave me TIME.  Time to read (yanno, books), time to plan and throw a party, time to spend with my family.

What did I miss?  Here’s what I wasn’t sure about.  I missed googling things (and admit I had to bend and do a few, but just a few!, searches).  I also really missed Twitter; I missed twitter a lot.  But I also learned that I had let my time spent on Twitter become a bad habit.

And I missed reading your blogs.  And again, although I missed it, I learned that I spent too much time with blogs and not enough time with my family, books, knitting, writing….

So although I really, really, really missed Twitter and reading blogs, my time doing both going forward will be less.

I will continue to write on my blog as well as on a new project offline.  But my priorities have been readjusted.  This is a good thing.  And I hope my writing and my topics going forward reflect this new insight.

It’s so nice to have my fingers on the keys again!  Oh, internet, you are an underappreciated friend!

Control Alt Delete

I have been feeling this coming on for a while.  I need a break.  An announced, clear break.  Maybe it’s the election.  Maybe it’s my writing.  Maybe it’s my attention span.  But for whatever reason, I need to shut down and turn off the computer.  All of it.  No blogging (writing or reading), no e-mails (other than my work account), no twitter (gasp!), no Googling.

For one week.

When I return, well, I can’t tell you what to expect.  Maybe I will slavishly read every post of every blog I keep up with.  Or maybe I will mark all as read and start anew.  Or somewhere in between.  Or something completely different.  That’s the point.  I need to regroup and decide where my time is best spent.  What will I miss?  What won’t I miss?  What matters to me about my blog?  Is it the number of comments I get?  The number of hits I receive?  The ad dollars I earn?  Is it really about my writing? Or is it maintaining contact with the friends I’ve made? Or is it none of the above or something I have yet to fully realize?

The weather has cooled a bit here in New Orleans and is begging for me to be in it, outside.  And I have several projects on the home front I want to tackle, as well as a new writing project to which I want to commit serious time.

So, starting tonight at midnight until next Saturday at midnight, I am going offline.

Be well and wish me luck.

Gustav is underway.  And I have NOT been glued to the television.  As a matter of fact, it may as well be off.  We have it on but muted.  No, my addiction is Twitter.  It is instant gratification and information.  Instead of trying to figure which news channel to watch, which to trust (especially being away from our local news), I have turned to twitter to get and confirm information.  And then I started to watch live feed of local New Orleans news channels on the internet.

Then Maitri twittered this, “Ok, everyone, turn off the TV and watch these four local news stations (WGNO, WWL, WDSU and WVUE) at http://is.gd/26y“  And now I can watch all four local news stations and turn the volume down on three and listen to the one I want to hear.  Then switch among all four.

And so as Gustav blows water over the top of the Industrial Canal (even though, as WeCouldBeFamous twittered, the Army Corps of Engineers say it isn’t an “overtopping” because the water level is still below the top of the wall and it is instead “tidal sloshing”) and punches New Orleans and nearing cities, we on the twitter are acting as neighbors and doing what we can to calm nerves and keep accurate information afloat.  Pete too posts about the help Twitter has been in this time of trouble and concern.  Great post (if you ignore those parts referencing me).

Here in the second floor of our Baton Rouge hotel, you’d not even know it was raining if you didn’t look out the window.  We are fine.  And hoping New Orleans and her levees stay intact.  And that the rest of the Gulf Coast weathers the storm well, too.

Too tired to write what I saw.  Here are pics instead:

Incredible, eh?

First purchase of the day was from Artist Sisters.

Aren’t these Ugly Dolls cute?

Emily the Strange.

Con-goers striking a pose.

A Cool Saturday Morning

CS had today off. Oh, what to do? How not to waste the day? I read the newspaper and scanned what events were going on today.  There was a book sale at one of the libraries.  That’s always a good thing to me.  Then there was a party for the streetcar beginning the route from Carrollton to St. Charles Avenue again post-Katrina.  Well, I am all about streetcars these days.

But then my eye settled on a third event.  A book reading at New Orleans Main Library.  The book was “Cooling the South: The Block Ice Era, 1875-1975,” by Elli Morris.  See, my family, way back when, was a very major player in the New Orleans block ice business.  A great-great-great uncle made a fortune in the business and sold it just before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  And his line of the family sailed through the Great Depression flush with cash.  My great-great-grandfather had a small piece of this family business and my great-grandfather worked in the business, too, until it was sold.

So, with my curiosity piqued, we were off.  Getting off the elevator on the Main Library’s third floor brought me back in time to the countless hours I spent there researching my family.  How coincidental that that research had brought me back where I started for a book reading.

Inside the auditorium, there were few people.  Elli Morris talked for about 45 minutes.  Her family owned the Morris Ice Company in Jackson, Mississippi.  She grew up around all the machinery.  Her photographer’s eye drew her to the icehouse over and over.  Their icehouse is no longer working (like so many other block ice plants) but it is still every bit in tact.  She lived there for a year in 2001.  And explored and photographed.

Then she researched and learned that her family played a role in a much bigger piece of southern, even American, history.  And so her little story about her family’s business mushroomed into a much bigger project.  Her book is the result of her hard work.

She talked about the inventor of the first ice machine and ice deliverymen, and the ice trucks that were pulled by mules.  She explained that some trucks did not have a spot in the front for a driver; that the mule knew the route and didn’t need to be steered.  And she talked about the switch to refrigerators and the customers who returned their refrigerators because they were too noisy!

She intimated to the decline of the block ice industry, but “didn’t want to give away” the end of her tale.

Morris then opened the room for Q&A and then signed and sold her books and blank cards of her beautiful photographs.  Her book is wonderful–it is hardcover and filled with lovely photographs along with her thoroughly researched story.  The cover of her book shows a block of ice “feathering” as it freezes from the outside in.

Elli Morris will be in the New Orleans area for about a week and then she is moving on to other parts of the country with her book tour.  This is something that is truly fascinating, and hearing her tell of her story and read from it was just a delight.  Click on her site here and check out her schedule.  You won’t be disappointed.

On a Rant

I prepared my longest post ever. Then broke it into three shorter posts. Then wasn’t satisfied at all. Then the Supreme Court ruled that we have a Constitutional personal right to bear arms. Then my head exploded. And I got political on twitter about local politics. Then a recording of one of those local politicians called my house. And my head exploded again.

Earlier, I wrote about knitting and how whatever I experience as I knit goes into the piece and becomes a part of it every bit as much as the yarn. Cue the awwws. Yeah, well, the warm and fuzzies have left the building.

And instead of going on a political rant that will generate comments that are certain to make me seethe, I will only quote the philosopher Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” And I will be pissed if I am repeating a past others failed to learn.

Goodnight and good luck.

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