28 February, 2013

You know, when you wear gray, you remind me of something...

So much for my beginning of the year goals to write more on this blog. I have no excuse other than laziness. And an extreme dislike of the iPad typing interface. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad, except if I have to type anything on it. Which makes it, for me, little more than an expensive piece of screen with which to check my facebook (but not post on it) and watch videos on the Youtube.
And our iPad is so old that it won’t let me watch all the videos I want to watch because of something called the Flash player, that is apparently so old and doddery it’s the computer equivalent of an 8-track tape deck. And if I try to look at the facebook page of my friends, nine times out of ten, the iPad dumps me out of Safari. It also won’t let me play Scrabble on facebook. I might as well be living in a cave and sending messages with fire and a blanket made out of animal hides.
I find myself in the position of needing to stop using the fancy technology which is the perfect size to use while lying in bed like a beached whale. And honestly? I’ve spent most of February since I got back from SC going to work, coming home, putting on pajamas, and heading to the bed like I am a beached whale and the surf is up. It’s pathetic. All I’ve wanted to do was watch gardening videos. Down side: general beached-whale sadness; accomplishments = 0; increased weight and self-loathing. Up sides: I now know a LOT about seed starting, permaculture, and replacing my lawn with a no-mow garden. See, there are positives even in Extreme Laziness.
I need to put away the iPad and start using my laptop, which would enable me to 1) type, 2) play Scrabble, and 3) post things. (I would like to point out that I am writing this post on the lovely laptop.)
And then, if the weather seems like winter is ever going to be over, I need to put the laptop away and get out there and do something in the yard! Cause let me tell you, dear readers (both of you!), I have plans for this yard. No more grass in the front yard. More things to grow and eat. More native plants.
Do you know anything about permaculture? As a way to produce food and improve the land/environment it is extremely appealing to me. The one drawback is that online it seems that people who are into it are either 1) prepper/survivalist types, 2) dirty hippies, or 3) Australians. Not sure where the Aussies come in as they don’t seem angry enough to be preppers or earnestly mellow/stoned enough to be hippies. I don’t really think I have it in me to become a survivalist because I don’t think living without the mod cons sounds like fun. I don’t WANT to live off the grid. So…you can see where this is going! In two years I will probably be unshaven, unshod, unwashed and reeking of patchouli.
One thing I can promise you though, I will not be trying to grow white-girl dreads. That’s just not going to happen. I think you should only have dreads if you have naturally twisty, curly hair. Anne Lamott looks good in her dreads, as did Bob Marley (mayherestinpeace). If I have to give up washing, I was thinking I’d find out how I look with a crew cut and a pair of granny glasses, a la Sinead O’Connor. I will also be wearing a bra under my dirty t-shirt, I don’t care if that makes me a bad hippy; the other Permaculturists will just have to accept me WITH my foundation garments. I may be a failed Southern lady, but I was raised right, and I’m not leaving the house without a bra.
Anyway, that's it for today. I have posted (!), so go me. I went to a programs meeting for quilt guild, and now I am 1) in pajamas and 2) playing on the Internetz. 

10 February, 2013

Thomas Wolfe didn't know what he was talking about...you can go home again!

Just got home tonight from a week spent in Clemson, SC. Helped my parents move into their beautiful new home there. They'd been living in a cabin in the mountains while waiting for the house to be finished, driving down to Clemson every day to see the progress on the house, so they are overjoyed to be (mostly) in.

It was a long tiring week, but full of laughter, good meals, satisfaction, and golf cart rides. Yes, my parents are the proud owners of a new to them, used golf cart. It was delivered on Monday, and about five minutes after the guy unloaded it from the trailer, the three of us climbed on board and tooled around the neighborhood. Fun!

One of Mom's friends came over one day and helped us hang pictures and rearrange furniture. This lady is a good interior decorator and helped us get the living room looking good. I picked up some tips from her on how to hang pictures.

We ate some delicious meals...and quite a few burgers from Hardees. Mom and I went to get ice cream from Clemson, and went to Liberty to get some of her pictures reframed one day. What with one thing and another we drove over large parts of the Upstate.

Thomas was there from Thursday-Saturday, and with his muscle we were able to get them down from 2 storage units to 1 - and all that is left in that unit is things they are trying to sell.

They are all moved in, except much of their stuff is in the garage, ready to be unpacked in the next weeks and months.

01 February, 2013

Thirty days hath September....but February is seventy five days long

I have spring fever so bad…just as we enter into the longest month of the year – February. Now, I know you are saying to yourself, “That Amanda isn’t so bright, February is actually the shortest month!”
To me though, February can be difficult to get through. Winter has been going such a long time, and I am dry and itchy. Tired of gray skies and dull colors. Weary of wet and mud and slick grass and salty, dirty roads. Tired of the fusty, dusty winter house smell, a tired, sad smell.
This time of year it is tempting to eat chocolate until I pass out and hibernate until spring has sprung. In the world today we don’t make any allowances for late winter. In the olden times, that our bodies are designed for, this would be the slowest time of the year and we would do our indoor chores and sit by the fire, craving something fresh and green to eat and enduring until warmer weather came. But now we continue to go, go, go – in these tired bodies, with these stupid, sleepy winter brains.
My drug of choice for this time of the year is gardening catalogs. Have you looked at one lately? The pictures are so lovely, they are practically garden porn. The colors are luscious, and the descriptions of the plants, the flowers, the fruit…each one is irresistible. “Yes,” you think, “I must plant those, and those, and ooh, pretty! Yes, I have to have an entire field of those!”  I am like a child at a dessert buffet, my eyes, starved of beauty, want to buy ALL THE SEEDS and have ALL THE FLOWERS. Then I start to consider the actual amount of space I have to fill and realize I’d need a garden the size of Versailles to plant all the seeds I am getting ready to order; this crazy woman puts down the garden catalog and slowly step away from it, aware that she’s am not entirely rational while in the grips of spring fever.
The catalogs do a lot to keep me happy though. Even if I don’t buy ALL THE SEEDS, just looking at the pictures and reading books about gardening, and watching videos on the Youtube about growing things – it helps. I bought a beautiful book called The Layered Garden, by David L. Culp. It is about planting things in your yard that give you something to look at all year long. Not just planting something that blooms and is gone, but having interesting shape, color, and form going all the time. Also, planting up, and under, and using all the contours of the ground and the resulting microclimates to make things last longer. I love the book, if all it had going for it was the beautiful pictures -  that would be enough. But I like the writing style of the book and the fact that he gardens in Pennsylvania, not too far from where I am.
So many (too many!) garden books are written by people in California. Not that there’s anything wrong with California, or California gardens, or people who garden in California – the lucky bastards. But when Southern California gardeners talk about their 12 month growing season, and the heat, and the sun, and all the advantages of living in a gardening paradise (sob!) I might have a tiny problem with Envy. And with sifting out the nuggets of gardening advice that apply to people who can’t grow lemons and avocados in their front gardens. And next thing you know it I am dissatisfied with my lovely little Maryland garden and am feeling stabby towards snooty Californians and their 365 days of sun and I’m beating myself silly with the gardening book and wailing, “Why do I have to live heeeeeere?”
Ahem. So, back to my point, David Culp knows what it’s like to garden with actual seasons, and cold, and snow sometimes. And he likes it, and has managed to make his winter garden just as interesting and complete looking as it is during the other three seasons. And that’s refreshing and leads away from the dangers of Envy and into the delights of learning to work with what you have and making it the best it can be, even without 365 days of sun.
I’m also reading Douglas Tallamy’s book about planting natives in your yard to attract and sustain native birds, bees (and other pollinators), and animals. It’s a good book with an important message. If anyone wants a copy, let me know. I am going to send a copy to the first person that asks for it.