Thursday, 26 May 2011

Blue and Black Thumb

Three years ago I packed all my bags and moved all the across the vast land mass of the United States of America from Portland, Oregon to New Jersey. Portland the city of roses has a milder winter full of rains and a summer blessed with long sunny days, being farther away from the equator. New Jersey on the other hand has relatively cold winters with snowfall that has increased every passing winter, followed by a rainy spring, a short fleeting summer, a surprisingly cold fall and then quickly back to the increased snow that I was talking about. So needless to add that the very summer I got here I decided to utilize the whole 4 and half months of warm weather we get to start gardening

Gardening is a pastime of the retired, people who enjoy a slower pace. You spend long hours out in the sun pottering with plants, while your pretty neighbour lady in a summery frock picnics in the lawn and waves to you. The plants which you picked after much consideration thrive under all your attention. And in return for all these sunny days, your house is full of fresh produce and fragrant beautiful cut flowers.

Or so they would have you believe. After three long seasons (before anyone jumps to any conclusions they were long only in my head the sunshine was beautiful but very brief), the one thing I have learnt is that whoever came up with gardening or maybe it was the maker of those weirdly expensive gardening gloves I see all over the place (24.99 for gloves that I am going to stick in mud, I don't think so) was very, very good at PR.

Things you should know when you start:

- When the seed company guarantees that a seed will work, if you provide not too much or too little water, not too much or too little sunshine, no squirrels (I hate squirrels but that is an another entry), no birds, the appropriate nutrients in the appropriate quantity, the appropriate drainage, the correct container size... And no they will not put all that on the back of the packet because that would leave less place for the bold 100 % guarantee that they like to display there.

- Squirrels/birds do not like the hedge plants that were mass produced by Lowe's and planted by your apartment complex a couple of feet away from the Thai basil plant that you have grown from seed. They like your 4 class teacher know what to get at to make you cry. To my 4 class teacher - thank god you had to go on long vacation half way through that year. I would never have made it without that break. I never asked why you went away because I was just so glad to be rid of you and thought I would jinx it if asked too many questions.

- If you water your plants thoroughly before a vacation it will rain all the time you are not there and you will come back to water clogged plants. If your do not water your plants there will be a heat wave that will break records and your heart.

- You will never remember what you planted what seed no matter how good your memory is. All containers with seeds must be labeled. Since I have always been told I have a mind like a sieve I am not sure why I made that mistake.

- It is very important to pick produce at the right time. That is when they taste the best and provide maximum nutrition. What is the right time to pick produce? - The week you were working late in office with takeout Greek food or the week you went for the vacation that you planned 6 months ago. Those two weeks and the week you were down with flu.

- Keeping your seedlings in the "slightly" warm oven to accelerate growth is an accident waiting to happen.

- Despite twisted backs, chipped nails, grazed knees I keep hearing about tennis elbows, golf elbows, runners' knee and not one whisper about any gardening related injuries. They are very real. Be careful and please garden while making loud noises about how hard it is with a considerate husband within earshot.

- Visit nurseries after steeling yourself against plants that will be twice the size of your plant and also will have been grown organically from an heirloom seed passed down for generations in the family of the nursery owner. Your little plant may have taken more of your time and effort and maybe from a seed that you picked in a catalogue but at least it costs more money than it would to buy this plant (wait that doesn't sound right).

Despite all this gardening is a very rewarding hobby and first thing I look at every morning are my stunted, overpriced beauties. It is indeed a hobby fit for royalty- you know with all the help they can hire...


Sunday, 22 May 2011

All iz well

I got up earlier than usual this morning with a smile on my lips. It is a Sunday with crisp, cold spring air that helped drive away any remaining sleep from my eyes. So I checked my plants, which are flourishing courtesy all this attention they are getting, made an aromatic cup of coffee and sat down with my laptop.
Read Ratan Tata's interview which upset me a little since here is a man to be respected speaking with little regard for work life balance. The article has some eye catching headline about Mukesh Ambani but what caught my attention was Ratan Tata's views on calling meetings at the end of the day. I got a little mad and sat down and put my anger down on paper. But in doing so lost my anger. I feel a little of my peace come back to me these last weeks. So I do not want to send out judgement and opinion into the world this early in the day.
Instead here is a picture of some spinach and lettuce from my patio full of pots. The lettuce was lovely in a salad yesterday.

Monday, 16 May 2011

A Year Wiser

It has been a crazy year. I have grown a year older, hopefully also a year wiser. I have found it difficult to write this past year. I have had much less time to myself. But the real reason was the place I found myself in life.

Writing for me, even when I write jokes involves a moment of introspection. That is why writing makes me just a little calmer, just a little happier. The process gives me an excuse to collect my thoughts and look at life. Even if it just to pick something from my life to write about.

This past year however my life could not stand up to any introspection. I found myself in a job I did not enjoy at the end of commute that took time away from anything else which would have made the job worthwhile. I have been angry, frustrated and defeated. I have thought about what I should do rather than what I want and in doing so what I want has become hazier and hazier. I have been trying to fit in and have failed miserably.

A week ago, I finally quit my well paying job. I am unemployed yet I feel strangely free. I am just beginning to feel like myself again. I still panic every other day and feel a flood of fear and confusion. All my thoughts are clouded once again with the immediate. But once the first wave of fear has subsided, all the reasons why I am here come back. I have no idea what I am going to do next but in finding myself here I feel more alive than I have felt in a long time. My life can once again stand up to some examination and that alone is a step forward.