A couple of years ago, Trout gave me a homeless tomatillo plant. It was a tiny, pitiful thing. I planted it in the corner of the garden and nothing much happened for months. Suddenly one day the little thing started growing madly and my daily attempts to support branches couldn’t keep up. This went on until months after I thought for sure the monster would stop growing or I would lose my mind. I mean, holy crap! That is a picture of one plant, no doubt plotting evil. I couldn’t wait to pick the tomatillos and chop it down.
Only reasonably daunted, I planted tomatillo seeds, which sprouted pitifully. The little things do not appear committed to this growing business, but I am not fooled. My friend Scout (no relation) reminded me that growing the monsters upside down might save me months of caging, staking, re-staking, tying, re-tying, staking, tying, re-staking, re-tying. Today, Pete and I transplanted and hung them up. And now we wait.
Americans can help by continuing to visit the communities and beaches of the Gulf Coast. I was talking to the governors just a couple of days ago, and they wanted me to remind everybody that except for three beaches in Louisiana, all of the Gulf’s beaches are open. They are safe and they are clean.
Christ on a cracker, everyone knows what happens when an authority figure says The beaches are safe! it’s time to make a break for the mountains: Greek tragedy-grade comeuppance is on its way. Canst thou catch Leviathan or a scriptwriter with a hook?
My cousin says ash is raining on houses and cars in Guatemala. The photographs of the eruption are elegant compositions depicting a frightening local reality. This one is my favorite. It reminds me of the reasons my great-grandparents left Sicily: Nothing there but rocks, they said. Of course, it wasn’t true. Sicily, like Guatemala, is by all accounts a lush, lovely place.
Rumor has it the reporter who was killed was standing next to the lava like this guy.
On the other hand, sometimes you could take a hint and a powder. My cousin, a tender hearted young mommy with bright, talented children, who speaks four languages and has traveled extensively, curtly remarked that reporters are supposed to be close to the story, but really. I was impressed with her pragmatism, seeing as how I have an irrational fear of lava that’s looking less and less irrational as Guatemalan children go missing. Perhaps my cousins would like to sojourn in torpid New Jersey.
Last night, I saw about half an hour of this, though not the whole thing, because I saw a shiny object and chased it and I don’t drink bottled water.
This morning, I looked at the ancient plastic cups from which I drink water-cooler-water coffee and water-cooler water and realized I drink so much bottled water out of plastic my innards are probably a Superfund site. Tonight, I washed out old ceramic mugs for coffee and a quart Ball Jar to minimize trips to the water fountain.
Drusy’s eye is swollen today, poor darling. I’m hoping it’s just an allergy, but each time I look at her I worry. Meanwhile, Topaz has that same bemused expression on her face Larry, the little black cat no longer bent on stealing your soul, used to have. Lovely Topaz has adapted to medication for her oral infection through repeated application of delicious tuna, but the steroids have done little for her dark mood. Sweetpea now gazes at me with such adoration I hardly mind when I wake up pinned to my mattress by a 12 lb. cat, though I get the feeling she might be a liiiiittle bit obsessive. I like to think I’m paying gentle, constant attention, but where the cats are concerned, I might overpay.
The potatoes are growing like crazy. Pete says I dumped two full bags of soil into the potato towers in two weeks, but I’m not so sure. I think it might have been more. Today, we picked up another big bag of flower and vegetable soil and after he dumped it into the wheelbarrow Pete read the part of the bag that said it contained manure. “Wear gloves and wash your hands often,” he said. At the time, I was holding a bucket of goo I’d pulled out of the composter and wondering if those weren’t good instructions for me, you know, generally.
I tried a couple of different ways to take these pictures so the height of the leaves above the level of the soil might be more visible, but you might just have to believe me. Some garden store soils feel dense as you shovel them out of the bag but that’s often moisture. The soil often compacts overnight or after a good rain, so while the plants are growing the soil also shrinks back. This has been driving me bats.
This is the same potato tower after the addition of a metric assload of soil mixed with compost plus some shredded leaves. Into the four potato towers I ended up adding about half the bag of soil, raising the height of the soil about five inches.
The last brand of garden soil we used turned out to be a lot more water than it at first appeared. I was having a lot of trouble reaching down into the bag on the ground, grabbing about a cup of soil, dropping it carefully into a tower and repeating the process forty or fifty times; I started to dread remounding the potatoes. Today, I asked Pete to dump the garden soil into the wheelbarrow rather than leave it in the bag. The wheelbarrow offers the distinct advantage of being just below hip height on me, and the mobility didn’t hurt either.
The experiment with the potatoes has delivered a lesson daily. Yesterday’s was that potato-growing success might truly kick my ass. Today: we could use twice as much compost as we generate, perhaps more. The answer might be to get the tenant next door her own composter from which we draw more organic material. In the news: events too large, too terrible and too far away for me to act upon directly. Sometimes, the best I can do is shovel shit and banana peels.
The choir has been part of our lives for over a decade, maybe closer to two. Tom and his college glee club friends joined ages ago to sing for a director they liked. Tom is a large man, but he sings in a high, clear tenor that could break your heart. Mom joined after a few years’ voice lessons, though she developed the confidence some time later to become the choir’s president and grant writer. The choir took them across Europe and to the Vatican and tonight to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Old Bridge, NJ, where in an auditorium the choir is singing and in the next room, a boozy high school reunion makes liberal use of a PA system. Someone in scheduling has really fucked up.
This lilac ha got your number!
After the choir completed Foss’ Behold! I Build An House, reunion celebrants began filing through a side door in the lobby to use restrooms. I sat in the lobby, directing. Periodically, and I mean that in its rhythmic sense, revelers fell through the door, shouting. I shushed them, speaking quietly myself. A monsignor and two women stood right next to me, gibbering loudly about the locked sacristy door. I asked them to please speak quietly. The monsignor asked why he should whisper. I said, “Choir concert,” and pointed to the auditorium behind him. He whined loudly, “I told them this door should be left unlocked for me.” One of the women produced a key just as I was considering how loudly he’d whine if I dragged him out the front doors, so I’m not under arrest. During Pärt’s Berliner Messe, the trickle of peeing partiers steadily grew to a stream, and fewer of them cared whether they were disturbing anyone else. At intermission, Pete reappeared and we decided to hand over the t-shirt concession to one of the young ushers and leave the lobby without a bouncer for Faure’s Requiem.
Mom really wanted us to help out tonight. Chances seem excellent tomorrow she will be singing a different tune.
Pete and I are bicycle racing fans. A couple of days ago, we DRV’d a stage of the Tour of California and watched it later the same evening. As the broadcast opened, it was raining cats and dogs in Santa Rosa and so severe was this rain the helicopters and planes following the race could not take off. The commentators apologized that they could not show the race, but it was just too dangerous to fly in the rain. I kept fast forwarding, but nothing different happened. After one hour and fifty-five minutes, suddenly the sodden cyclists appeared under an overpass, rode hell bent for leather around a corner and crossed the finish line. The commentators breathlessly explained who won and who had yet to cross the line. Pete and I stared at each other. The program was suddenly over, so we erased it and flipped to the Giro d’Italia, where it was also raining, and yet, we could see everything from an aerial view.