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dog on patio

dog on patio

I am gardening on a tight budget this year. Everything planted in the pots and raised beds came from home grown seedlings, except for a few hard to grow herbs. There aren’t too many actual “flowers” in the mix. I do hope to add some alyssum later for a little bit of frill.

container gardening

I can’t take credit for creating a garden plan, growing the seedlings, or getting much of the garden in — that was mainly Steve’s effort. I swooped in on Sunday to fill some pots and find homes for orphan plants that looked like they might get tossed otherwise. I have a thing about finding homes for the unwanted.

(and for overexposing photos on cloudy days)

container gardening container gardening

 

Since putting in a backyard pond last year,

pond

Steve had to move the raised beds over to the far left on the lot and work on putting up new fencing to keep the dogs away from the plants. We used some leftover chainlink and are still deciding what can be scrounged up to finish up the ends and make cuter gates. Chicken wire will have to do for now.

raised beds

Thank goodness the perennials are thriving. In fact, I think they are evolving into some kind of jungle.

chicken coop and shed chicken coop and shed

Sunday’s garden plunge was a much needed break from the things I’ve been busy with — much of which feels like misdirection and deadends.

“It’s all part of the process.”

“It takes time.”

True, but what it feels like is a whole lot of work with nothing to show for it.

Which leads me back to gardening. Digging your hands repeatedly into dirt and doing transplants as delicate as any surgeon (actually, I’m a bit rough with my plants, it toughens them up) does seem to put things back into perspective.

My father told me once that he liked to do things like weed or put up a book shelf because you can so plainly see the results. What I’ve been doing lately doesn’t seem to have visible, clear-cut evidence that I can point at and say, “Yup, that’s what I did today.”

dog by pond

Gardening is different, although the young, small plants we put into pots barely break up the blackness of the dirt they are planted in. It’s tempting to fill the pot, so it looks good right now, rather than being patient and giving the plants a chance to grow and fill out. But if you give into that temptation and over plant, the pot will become too crowded. The plants will compete for space, and some won’t get enough light or room to thrive.

container gardening

And so it is with building a dream. I realized that some of the things I think are opportunities that are going to draw me closer to my goal are actually too many plants in my pot.

Once I’m done with a couple things I already committed to, I’m cutting back. I pledge to fight the urge to run after the next pretty shiny thing that catches my eye.

Unless it’s a flower or a dog.

 

dog

walking dogs

bicycling

Yes, I admit it. I’m jealous of your life.

Not everyone’s life, but most everyone I follow on Facebook. You all look like you’re having so much fun, live in such beautiful areas and travel to such exciting places. And you are all so talented with art, music, photography, poetry, starting new businesses or pumping up your existing work. You guys are amazing!

What? You were going to say the same about me? Seriously?

I’ve been thinking about how social media can make us feel deficient — like we’re not doing enough, not exciting enough — and how we get kind of a one-sided view of what people’s lives are like. For example, I won’t be posted any photos on Facebook or Instagram of the fun time I have today working for twelve hours at a computer.

Which is why I got the idea of taking photos of my Sunday with my iPhone as I went about my day. I was thinking that I’d dedicate this post to reality. Only as I started to put together the photos and write about my day I realized that even this stuff really wasn’t so mundane and humdrum. I thought, ya know, I like this routine stuff too.

vacuuming

Okay, maybe not the dusting and vacuuming. And I spared you the view of toilet cleaning, although that might have been really getting down to the crap of things.

But I do like hanging clothes out on the clothesline. It’s kind of meditative. It gets me outside with the dogs where I can hear the pond running. And the best part is how things smell after they’ve dried outdoors. I’ll miss that when it gets too cold for clothes to dry outside.

clothesline

Before I started cleaning or doing anything else, I spent an hour on my writing. I actually had planned to spend four hours, then I was down to at least two. I ended up with one and had to be happy with that.

I’ve found if I don’t do my writing first on Saturday and Sunday, it doesn’t happen. But putting writing first is REALLY hard because I want to knock off all the so called little nagging things first. But I know the day is a wily critter that will be gone before you I get to my A list if I don’t start with my A list.

computer

I didn’t want to have to stop my housecleaning progress to make a stew, but I had some cabbage and potatoes I wanted to use up. The plan was to have carrots and green peppers too but my crock pot wasn’t big enough.

making a roast

I was attracted to this recipe I used because it called for two bottles of dark beer… It also called for two tablespoons of brown sugar. I had already piled things pretty deep in the crock pot and was afraid throwing the sugar on top wouldn’t get it mixed in so I decided spooning it into the cup I’d poured the beer into was a good idea.

I couldn’t stop laughing when the beer started foaming out of the top of the glass. I had to suck the foam down between guffaws (snort, snort).  Anyway, I guess you had to be there…

cleaning refrigerator

Did I mention the cucumber that was hidden away at the bottom of one of the crisper drawers? At least I think it was a cucumber. All I saw was green goo, which required that the drawer be emptied out and washed.

washing dishes

I took some of the vegetable scraps out to the chickens to munch on.

chickens

Finished cleaning the house and took the dogs for a walk while the stew finished cooking.

walking dogs walking dogs

Potatoes and cabbage still weren’t done when we got back so I played a little piano to pass the time and distract myself from my stomach growling.

playing piano

And then we finally ate and I was too hungry to take a photo of that. Didn’t take any photos either of me in bed with my mouthguard in to protect my teeth from the grinding that I do in my sleep.

Even so, the thing I realized is that I’m learning to balance my life a little better than I used to. I don’t mean that I’m no longer running around in a panic about all the things I’m not getting done and trying to multitask like crazy to pack in as much stuff as I can into a day. Did I mention that I watch photography class videos while I’m getting ready for work?

What I mean is that I’ve realized that if I’m going to deal with the stress of my job and my life, I need to have more good, enjoyable things in a day than I have of work and duty stuff.

sumac on the river

The good stuff is not trips to Europe or Alaskan cruises or tickets to see Fleetwood Mac but easy enjoyment like dog walks, bike rides, and sitting by my pond.

I’m tired of comparing and competing. The one thing I feel like I still want more of in my life is more time with friends and family. Like real time —  in person and all. Or at least phone calls instead of emails, text messages or reading Facebook pages.

But that will mean that other people besides me want the same thing. Putting it on the A list…

 
Chicken Little, 
you darn, silly thing. 
Without a rooster, 
from eggs chicks do not spring!

Steve built a chicken tractor to allow us to move the chickens around the yard so they can scratch for bugs and whatever else they scratch for. We do our best to have happy, go-lucky chickens.

The A-frame has a handle on each end to move it. Some tractors have wheels so you can just roll the structure. Steve is still working on the nesting box that will go inside but we’re afraid once we add that, Chicken Little (aka Miss Broody, the one standing on the water bottle) will immediate take up residence, thus defeating our chicken intervention intentions.

We were hoping that a change of scenery might break her broody pattern or at least force her to walk around for awhile and be outdoors. She is throwing all of the chickens off kilter by spending the entire day in the nesting box inside the coop. Spring and summer should be prime egg laying time, with long periods of sunlight and warmth, but the other two chickens are so confused by Chicken Little’s behavior and by her hogging their favorite nesting box (there are two in the coop), we are lucky to get a couple eggs per week.

I’m not sure you can see in the photos, but the hen who has gone broody and spends most of the day inside has a much smaller and paler comb than the other two girls. I have yet to hear of a chicken dying from going broody but it sure doesn’t seem very healthy.

By the way, it’s pretty easy to get the chickens into the A-frame once you catch them in the main chicken run. Getting them back out and into the chicken run is a whole other chicken game. Steve had to lift up the edges of the structure so I could squeeze in far enough to grab and pull out a chicken without having all of them escape at once. The whole process would certainly make a funny video.

I do have a vision in my head of laying a tarp down, moving the A-frame to it. Then picking up the whole thing, tarp, tractor and chickens, and moving it to the chicken run, opening the door, and letting them run in.

Ah yes, this sort of physical activity, trial and error journey, and the laughs that go with it are what keep me young.

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