Tuesday, May 08, 2007


The silliest, most mundane things can sometimes be sublime.

Take, for instance, the flushing of a clean toilet. A rush of clear water pours into the immaculate basin, followed by a satisfying belch of air as the water empties into the pipes. The quiet background hum of the water pump kicking in, just as it should, then a softer trickle as the tank begins to fill up. Just as it should.

Given the outrageous losses suffered by the people in Greensburg over the weekend, it’s ridiculous to complain about a clogged septic line and a full septic tank. I didn’t, much, because Brian was outside either slogging through shit-clogged pipes or digging a trench to find the tank – which we had to pump out Sunday afternoon. Some of the blisters on his hands ruptured yesterday, so he got one of his friends to finish digging out the line. I borrowed a long pipe snake from our maintenance guys, he installed a clean-out in the line from the house to the tank, and somehow he managed to get it working, with only a couple of intermittent clogs, to which he ferociously applied the snake.

My husband is one tough bastard. And of course he would have to be, to be married to me.

I sanitized the bathroom top to bottom (this was no ordinary clean-up job), gave Duck her bath, stumbled through my own (somehow you just don’t get as clean when you’re using someone else’s shower) and we collapsed into bed.

We all slept through the night. Halleluia. Because honestly I was considering digging a hole in the back yard and putting up a screen.

This was one of those perfect examples of Calling In The Cavalry. Sunday we took showers at friends’ houses. Monday the shop guys let me borrow the snake, and Brian got his friend to dig the trench. So you know, when people talk about Southern hospitality and generosity, they’re really not kidding.

But you have to ask for help, you know? I think that may be the single most important thing I’ve learned over the last five years. You won’t get it if you don’t ask for it.


The herb festival was insane. I took Duckie with me. Somehow, in between the mob of passionate and oblivious herb gardeners, Duckie’s complete boredom with the whole thing (splashing in puddles notwithstanding) and my own frustration with the stressful and unsatisfying experience, we managed to score three baby German Chamomiles (the older ones were showing signs of being root-bound and yellow-legged), four beautiful nasturtiums, yellow-blossomed with a deep orange center, and a nice healthy bee balm plant – the native one, which is practically a weed, and blooms red when mature. Something’s already munching on the leaves, but the plant doesn’t seem to be overly concerned at the moment.

I’m hoping for an Echinacea purpurea (coneflower) – just because it’s pretty, not really for any medicinal purposes – anise hyssop, upright rosemary, and another specimen of lavender, just to see if I can get it to grow in six hours of sunlight a day. Next week I’m planning to visit an organic gardener a few miles from work, before the planting starts.

Almost all the basil seeds have sprouted. Carrots are showing progress (I’ll be damned if I know what to do with them if it comes time to transplant) but the lavender is slower to germinate. Daisies are looking good, too.

“I’ve really got to separate these guys soon,” I said to Brian last night. “They’re starting to get really crowded. I have no idea how to do it.”

“You know you’re only supposed to put three or four seeds in one pot to start out.”

“Really? Oh. Because honestly I didn’t think they would do anything anyway.”

The plants we got last week are all thriving on the front porch, which bodes well for transplanting in the front bed next weekend. The petunias are blooming like gangbusters (I finally figured out what deadheading means), the lemon balm has grown a half an inch in less than a week, and even the creeping rosemary has crept stealthily outward.

I’ve reworked the garden plan several times. To begin with, I made an effort to keep things more or less symmetrical. But given the new opportunities, input from friends, and time to really think and dream about this garden, it’s turning into more of a sprawling mess of ornamental and useful herbs. I think the only plants that are just for looks are the petunias and the alyssum (if I can get it to sprout from seed, that is.)

We’ve also inherited some day lilies and other fascinating perennials from friends who have divided their own stock. Lily of the valley (YAY!), the requisite hosta, something they call “Pinks” and another plant they call “red-hot pokers.”

Happy, fun stuff. A few minutes more in the mornings for us to water the plants. Duckie is happy to be involved, for the most part, although it shaves off mosey time in the mornings. She has a little miniature upright petunia with variegated pink and purple blooms. It’s so cute. I have no idea what to do with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

I brought the basil inside for the evening – weathering is necessary, I understand, but it got below 40 last night and I didn’t want to take any chances. They really cheered up the dining room. And I pinched a couple of cinnamon basil leaves to chew before bed. Spicy. Will be so good in salad.

There are worse things in the world than having too many nice plants around. I’ll just have to find some more pots.


(un)relaxeddad said...

...and then again, maybe we should carry on living in the city...

I really admire people who can, like, go outside and dig. In the ground.

(un)relaxeddad said...

OK. I just read the 40 below bit. I am so not moving outside the M25.

SB Gypsy said...

Dirty fingers and broken nails. My son "gave" me a little veggie bed in his back yard, all roto tilled and ready to plant, for mother's day. Better than chocolate! (and THAT'S saying something) It's now full of tomato and pepper seedlings. I have lettuce and spinache planted in my shade gardens at home.

Isn't spring wonderful?