Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And this will make no more sense than the other one did!

So, first: My insanely fancy bean trellis!

Aggressively Rustic Bean Trellis

There is, of course, a story here, and it goes like this. Last year, I planted just a couple of Stueben yellow-eyed beans on something of a whim. I got about seven pods out of the two plants, which turned out to be (I thought) pole-bean type. (There are both pole and bush types of these, so, planting store-bought beans really was a crap-shoot that way.)

I harvested those pods, carefully and gently dried the beans, and put them into my seed box. There were exactly twenty beans-worth-saving. And then this year, I stuck my bean towers in the ground, planted the beans and waited.

They grew, and grew, and grew…and did not show the slightest sign of wanting to vine. Instead, they were acting extremely bush-like. They were spreading out instead of striving up. Every other day, I would inspect them closely, looking for the telltale tendrils that say, “Hi. I’m a vine, and I’m looking for something I can climb!”


Eventually, as my midget not-pole beans began crowding around the base of the coveted bean towers and still not reaching, you know, up, I thought I had to be suffering some form of memory loss and that these had actually been bush-type beans.

And thus it was that I yanked the bean towers out, patted the beans fondly on their collective little blossoms and moved the towers over to become cucumber towers instead.

…about, oh, two days after the cucumbers were coming up? Vines.

On the one hand, I’m a bit relieved that they are, indeed, pole beans. Because I had such vivid memories on that front, and was frankly a bit perturbed by the fact that I had been so thoroughly wrong. I mean, what else am I not remembering quite right? I might be rich, famous and glamorous right now! Only I don’t remember it that way!

On the other hand, now I’m a bit perturbed by the fact that I was so willing to talk myself out of what I knew was the case. I remember the vines. I remember dealing with the vines. I was growing them on this little oddball patch of dirt, just to see what would happen. And they grew into these insanely long vines.

But I talked myself out of that pretty easily, all things considered. Which worries me. Because, seriously: What if I am actually filthy rich, but talked myself out of it because I thought I had conclusive evidence to the contrary, but I was wrong?!

These are the things that keep me up at night. Along with low back pain and, thanks to Recent Developments, a rollicking case of nausea and really vivid dreams that make even less sense than my usual rather…cough-cough…quirky subconscious offerings. (Y’all can imagine, right?)

In related news, today was my first work from home day. I worked from home today because yesterday I was pretty sure I was going to barf or something. Plus I almost just sort of randomly fell over backwards on an escalator because my inner ear got into a fist-fight with my other senses and kept insisting I had to lean back! further! further! QUICK, YOU’RE GOING TO FALL FORWARD OFF THIS THING, IT’S MOVING WAY FASTER THAN YOU THINK IT IS!

YA KNOW…I’d forgotten just how badly birth control messes with my system.

But it is coming back to me – oh yes, it is definitely coming back to me.

Last night, I was awake an irritatingly large chunk of the night because of stomach cramping and other complaints – like my stomach insisting I was going to throw up any second and then going, “Ha ha, fooled you!!” after I’d clawed my way out of bed to crouch obediently in the bathroom for a while.

This morning, I looked at the package of birth control pills, thought about yesterday’s middle-of-day smackdown (which felt like somebody had punched me in the gut with a syringe full of stomach flu virus or something), and decided that in my considered opinion, I could not support the given instructions to take one of the blasted things twice daily for the first week because said instructions violate my Personal Code, which includes among many other things the fact I will not turn a blind eye to human arrogance.

BECAUSE I MEAN, YOU KNOW…what is a week? It’s just a meaningless human construct we’ve erected in a pathetic attempt to declare ourselves the masters of the world we inhabit by inflicting our own rules on its nature; thus we divide a cycle of dark-follows-light into blocks that only make sense to someone who has lost three of their fingers in a tragic gardening accident (ooo, I so can relate!) and call it “a week.”

Because that person also couldn’t spell and was trying to describe how they felt after the accident, see? It’s all just made up, people! And I refuse to support such hubris by obeying instructions such as, “Take one pill twice daily for one week.”

{cue vaguely patriotic music}

We must face our uncertainties, embrace our own smallness, and not continue to double-down on chemicals which are making us almost fall over backwards on a BART escalator due to a sudden wave of vertigo. Word.

(Yes. I am the queen of rationalization and amplification.)

(Also, someday I fully expect that I will drop dead of something completely preventable because of logic very similar to this.)

(But, not this time. My hormones just got lost while trying to navigate through a normal menstrual cycle a few months ago. And then my body got all confused about whether or not it was pregnant, decided it totally was, and hilarity ensued.)

(Said hilarity being even worse than side effects of the hormones? I guess I’ll put up with it.)

(But not twice daily for an arbitrary duration set by human beings on a power trip. Because I have SOME standards.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

But other than THAT…

So, last week was…eventful. Although I suppose technically, it wasn’t so much last week being eventual as last week being when a whack of existing Crazy all decided to come together in a tsunami of scurrying around like a demented hamster on Red Bull.

I started my new job last week Wednesday, which of course has resulted in a complete and utter breakdown of my entire life. I can’t find anything. I have no idea where I’m going. I can’t remember what forms I’ve filled out, and which ones I haven’t. I know I’ve forgotten something, but have no idea what category to look in to figure out what I’ve forgotten.

Meanwhile in other news…Skyrim. Oh yes, it has bitten me. For those who are not crazy people suffering from a serious case of arrested development, this is a video game. A deeply immersive video game. One that should possibly be investigated as possibly being way too addictive.

I strongly suspect it should be available only by prescription. Or possibly put on the…whatever that list is called for drugs that are highly addictive and have no medicinal purposes whatsoever. It is the sort of game that makes time do strange things – like, get this, I literally thought I was playing for “just” a couple hours while the boys were watching their UFC.

And then, like, six hours had gone by. I didn’t realize how much time had actually passed until I suddenly became aware that the light was changing outside. (And of course, the husband didn’t march in to admit that his show was over because that would have meant I would have been all, “OK! Let’s go take care of that yardwork, woo hoo!” so instead he put on another show, and then another one, and pretty much kept that up so that every time I would pause the game to listen for “his show” still going on, by golly, I heard something that sounded like his show still going on…)

I have to actually set a timer for myself whenever I play this stupid game. It’s ridiculous. It also doesn’t help that the husband thinks it is “cute” when I disappear into this realm of Advanced Geekdom (where I am a Level 42 Dork, thank you very much). He actually encourages this behavior! (Because it gets him out of doing work himself, see digression above for example that’s how swell a guy he is, always looking out for my R&R needs and such.)

PLUS, I have been having…well…girl-issues. And while I think we’re on the way to resolved there, we are also…not EXACTLY resolved.

And the treatment is making me extremely nauseous. (Birth control pills. Hated them then, still hate them now. Also, blech!)

WHICH REMINDS ME…guess what happened yesterday?

SO, one of the Denizens decided that it was necessary for her to have the reading light on over her seat. And since it was broad frickin’ daylight at the time (don’t start me), whoever was driving at the time didn’t notice it was on. (We shall also ignore that I have on numerous occasions informed the Other Parties Old Enough To Be Driving that the master kill-switch for said lights should always be in the ‘off’ position, because of exactly this, which has now happened at least three times and I thought I said ‘don’t start me’ so why am I starting me…?)

Thus it was left on, until Homer the Odyssey’s battery was completely dead – so dead that the remote entry system wouldn’t unlock anything. So dead that there wasn’t even a click-click-click when we tried to start him.

So we come to Monday morning at 9:00, when we were piling into him to head to a friend’s house. We knew the van was dead, so we got out the jumper cables, hooked Homer up to Albert the Civic and vroom! - Homer roared back to life.

And by “roared” I mean “honked and flashed his lights.”


(Which is a lot longer when you’re sitting in a noisily-honking vehicle than it is while watching your favorite show or something. Trust me on this.)

SEE, the battery was so dead that Homer couldn’t tell that what had started him up was an authorized key. AS AN ADDED BENEFIT TO US, Honda has added this thing where the key itself has a microchip that tells the van that the key in the ignition is a “real” key. If he doesn’t “see” that microchip, he assumes he is being stolen.

Yeah. It was awesome. I had to sit there like an idiot in that noisy vehicle, waiting for it to have just enough charge that I could use the remote entry system again – thus reassuring Homer that yeah, it really IS me, Stupid!!

{rubs temples}

Have you ever suspected that the Universe was just messin’ with you?

Yeah, so I wasn’t all that surprised when I got the message from the lab that my blood work was in and, well, there was a THING there.

Sometimes, I rather dislike the super-informed world that we live in. Because I suspect I saw these results before the doctor who ordered the tests did, and thus I have been groaning and grimacing to myself all day, waiting for the phone call from his office.

Mind you, I’m not a doctor or anything, but when I cast my mind over the last about two months and am tallying up at least five separate infections I’ve had from my sinuses to my…well, let’s gloss over that…call me crazy, but I’d say that me having rather elevated white blood cell counts right now would be perfectly normal and even expected, really.

If I were a doctor (which again, I’m not, but, let’s pretend), I would say, “OK, given All That, how about if we wait x-many weeks and do another test to see if they’ve gone down in the meantime.”

This is because I can think of a thousand and five other things I’d rather be doing with my time than going in for endless tests and other expensive and/or painful and/or embarrassing and/or pointless things am rather conservative when it comes to Such Things.

It’s like the old least said, soonest mended thing. Only it’s more like least irritated, soonest healed up.

And I know, I know in my heart of hearts, that this yahoo is going to jump all over this and rush me around for full-body scans and whackity-majillion tests and after everybody and his uncle has fondled every last one of your parts, let’s throw fifteen medications at it and after many annoyances it will transpire that I just hadn’t actually taken the infections to the mat the way I thought I had. Or that I did, but, my white blood cells are still preening and posing in front of mirrors, bristling their muscles at each other and saying, “I’ll be back!” in accents thicker than any of the Terminator iterations. And possibly writing their names in the snow before pounding back a few beers and then attempting to use a popcorn maker to heat the whirlpool they just built in the back of somebody’s pickup truck using a whole lot of yard waste bags and duct tape.

That’s how bright I suspect my white blood cells are. Plug’er in, Joe, see what she does! {ZZZZZZZOT!} Woooooo, free perm! Looks good on ya, buddy! Har-dee-har-har-har!!!

I have no idea where I’m going with all this. But I do know that right now, I am not defeating the minions of darkness with my bad archery skills. Coupled with rather impressive thieving wealth redistribution talents.

(Dudes…I can sneak up on a fox and grab it with my bare hands. That is how bad I am.)

(You know, in…uh…the…video…yeah, um, never mind…)

(I totally owe you pictures of the garden. I built a bean trellis yesterday, but it is too dark to take a picture of it right now. It is so “country chic” it looks like it should have cost a lot of money or something. Determinedly Rustic Bean Trellis, $280. But it’s actually just random scrap wood from the tree removal and some recycled twine from some other thing I did at some point. Is it a vegetable garden, or is it art? All depends on the eye of the beholder, oui…?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012's something I did not know about me

"Hi! My name is Lisa, and I am a gynecology student at Medical University - is it all right if I do your exam today under the supervision of Dr. Dude?"

Me: "That's fine by me!"

"Hi! My name is Lisa and I am a certified hair stylist, here is my state-issued license! This is my orientation week here at Discount Cuts R Us - would you mind if I did your trim today under the supervision of That Stylist Who Has Been Here Longer Than Forever?"

Me: "Ummmmmmm...errrrrrrrrrr...wellllllllllll..."

To sum up: Apparently I have no problem with a student using my cervix as a hands-on learning experience...but have CONCERNS about a fully graduated hair stylist nicking a quarter-inch of fur off my head under supervision at a DISCOUNT HAIR-CHOP SHOP.

...I don't think I want to know what this probably says about me...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Heh-heh-heh-heh…check THIS out (alternative phrasing: “Hey – hold my beer and watch this!”):

Netted cherries

Another netted cherry

MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s right, cute little birds! This year, we got the netting up the instant there was a tiny, faint little blush on the cherries.

And all the birdies say, OoooOOOOoooOOOOoooooh, SNAP!!!! We don’t get ANY of those this year?!

No. No you do not, birds!

Well. You might get one or two that is poking out of the netting if you’re particularly bold and some junk, but the vast majority of these little beauties?

Mine, yo.


(OHMYGAH, isn’t that just the most…Valentines-day-ish photo ever? Leaving aside the fact that my kitchen table looks like something from a biker bar in the middle of the desert that is also a truck stop and orphanage, of course. Which it totally does. Also we’re down to five ‘actual’ chairs plus my spinning chair because of course they broke a chair. And the husband told me he couldn’t fix it. Which broke my brain and upset my trust in the whole universe, because in my mind, broken stuff + husband = fixed stuff, no exceptions.)

(Also, there is a slight chance that I have not quite recovered from the emotional trauma of The Great Cherry Debacle of 2011, wherein I looked out my kitchen window one morning and said, thoughtfully and with the air of a scholar, “Oh, hey, lookit that, I do believe those cherries are thinking about getting ripe…we probably better get those nets over the trees before the birds get started on them!” – and by 4:30 that afternoon, there was not even ONE lousy semi-pink cherry left. {sobs} Sure, OK, fine, granted, it was only going to be, eh, maybe half a cup of the things altogether…but they were my lousy half-cup of rubies cherries, and I wanted them. STUPID BIRDS.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This is not exactly how I envisioned it

YA KNOW…I thought that this period of between-contract-ness would be filled with all sorts of practi-creative endeavors.

Things like, I dunno, posting to this blog more than once a month or so?!

Things like…blowing the dust off my poor, neglected rigid heddle loom and cracking through some of my yarn stash. Dyeing up the t-shirt blanks out in the garage. Starting some good hard soaps curing. Filling the house with potted edible plants (it has always bugged me how we don’t have much greenery in here!). Putting up more recent pictures of the Denizens in the frames scattered around the house. Actual Decorating As Such, in other words.

The clean, folded laundry wouldn’t sit on the dining room table for weeks on end. The kitchen would always be clean. Or in the process of getting that way. I would cure the annual ant invasion before it even got started by keeping the crumbs off the floor. (HAHAHAHAHA, good one!) I would apply some oil to the kitchen cupboards. And shampoo the car’s seats so that I no longer had to drape napkins strategically to prevent getting sticky something all over my work clothes. (Sadly, I am totally not lying right now.)

There would be so many things finished by now. I would be a frickin’ Martha Stewart, with a hefty serving of Awesome Mother on the side and also there would be music and pies would be baked and it would be just so gaw-dam-ed PERFECT around here that we would make headlines around the world.

That was the plan, anyway.

Instead, I’ve been spending my days dealing with other stuff. Job searching. Paperwork. Testing for various job positions. Researching companies I’m planning to interview with so I have at least some idea what they actually do. Doing interviews that seemed to last for hours, for positions that ultimately went nowhere – either because they never called back, or I thought I would find them almost as enjoyable as trying to get sand out of my eyes using a toothpick.

I’ve got something lined up now and am in that holding pattern where everything is racked up and ready to go…but we need somebody at the client to actually sign off on it. {twiddles thumbs} Should happen…any time now…

I’d have to say, though, the one thing that is really eating up my time is all around brushing up on the stuff I haven’t been using lately in SQL Server.

I love my whole industry rather madly, but I have to admit: It’s awfully…big. The sheer volume of stuff I should at least be aware of (if not “expert” in using) is massive. And if I ever get to a point where I start thinking, …yeah…I’ve GOT this…, well, they’ll go and release a new version with a thumping huge list of new features. ARGH!

I had 2000 pretty well down. Then they went to 2005, which is what I’ve been working on the last three years at MegaBank. I’ve gotten most of the new analytic and engine features down now…but, the new stuff in 2008 and 2012 are new pages for me. Dammit.

I don’t think I fully realized when I got into this business that I would never, ever be completely out of school, you know? Every day, there’s something new to learn, some new feature, or some new use for an existing one, being published out there.

It’s a double-edged sword, really. On the one hand, if it wasn’t that way, I’m sure I’d get bored and wander off. That’s kind of how I am: If I’ve “mastered” something, I lose interest in it and want to do something else now.

So something that is constantly shifting and changing, adding new things, getting rid of old things, and evolving…is a good fit for my overall temperament.

But at the same time…gee whiz. I’m probably working more hours now getting caught up on whatever-all else has been going on out there in SQL Server Land while I was playing with “just” this set of features in 2005 than I worked while I was trying to finish up my project at MegaBank.

I want to learn it. I want to keep getting better and better at this. And this is one of the ways I’ll do it – by keeping up as best I can with the new stuff as it comes in, and refusing to cling to my old ways of doing things until the last possible second.

I don’t want to end up somebody for whom “twenty years experience” means “I have experienced the same year twenty times.”

That’s lame.


At times like these…

…I have to admit…

…I do rather wish these young pups would slow down a little, and quit releasing new things into the world every eight seconds that somebody like me then has to read up on, and puzzle through, and figure out if, and where, and how I can apply them to the sorts of things I’m doing.

Because there is a huge stack of folded laundry on the dining room table right now. And seriously, those car seats…they need shampooing.


This is not how I envisioned this “break” between contracts going down.

Oh well. I guess whining about it doesn’t help much either, does it…also, I think I’m going to take a break from NTILE functions and MERGE statements and take care of that car.

Because it is bugging me, something fierce.

I hope everybody else is having a less dry and pragmatic sort of week…I’m starting to suspect my life ranks pretty high on the “most boring person alive” list right now…

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Never has not working involved so much work

I had forgotten how days begin to blur together when I’m not working; also, I had forgotten about That Thing I do when I don’t have actual obligations-as-such to be in such-and-so a place and this-or-that a time, when there are no specific due dates to speak of, or (at least sorta) clear tasks laid out before me to accomplish.

Which is that I promptly invent enough work to keep six people busy for three months, and then naively expect that I can totally churn through All That in, what, half a day?

{rubs temples}

I really need Whatever’s Next to…um…get started. I had a start date of Monday, but then it turned out that somebody hadn’t actually put a full blessing on the scope of work sooooo actually, I’m still kind of pending having a start-date, but PROBABLY soon, except that I’m not sure what the definition of “soon” is in this particular usage.

Could be a couple days.

Could be a couple weeks.

The people having to sign things don’t have the same sense of urgency I do. Probably because they are not the ones facing down a huge list of such faaaaascinating tasks as “doing something with all those damned school pictures that have been piling up everywhere since the dawn of time” or “try to figure out where The Randomizer has put most of my cookware.”

One major downside of having “help” with the cleaning: It now takes an extra half hour for me to do anything because first? I have to find the tools I need to do it. SEARCH EVERY DRAWER, MEN, THAT ROLLING PIN HAS GOT TO BE HERE SOMEWHERE…!!!!

But going back to the pictures thing…am I the only person who finds it almost physically painful to throw out duplicate pictures of their kids? Duplicate pictures, mind you. We’re not talking about “this is the ONLY such picture in existence.” We’re talking about “I have 20 wallet-sized, four 4x6, and one 8x10 of this same exact picture of a sulky-looking Eldest who probably didn’t want to be wearing that shirt or something.”

And yet, whenever I try to toss all but one or maybe two of the extras that nobody wanted…it’s like they stick to my fingers or something.

It feels a lot like throwing away their artwork. Which is another thing I have trouble doing, although I’ve had to get over that one because otherwise we would have been forced to start living in the van by now due to the overwhelming volume of artwork those kids can produce.

My scanner is my best friend, y’all.

OK, so, going back to the whole start-date thing…it also turned out that somebody’s minion in the contractor management system realms noticed that the ‘has taken SQL test’ box hadn’t been checked, and thus requested that I present myself for one.

To which the folks handling the corp-to-corp billing went, “…seriously?!...”

And then they called me about it and I went, “…are you even being serious right now…?” – because I’m not coming in as some unknown person who just wandered in off the streets looking for a job. I’m only there because I know a guy who is in charge of some things, and he knows me, and we have worked together, and he has seen my code and knows my (ahem) quirky personality and (somewhat obsessive-compulsive) work ethic and yet when I asked if he had anything going I’d be a good fit for, still thought that hell yes, he had some things I could do for him.

Which is about the best way for me to find a new gig, you know? This guy is super-sharp, very good at what he does, and won’t think the easy stuff is hard and the hard stuff is easy; plus, he won’t be giving me stupid things to do, or, expecting me to do stuff that is so beyond my current skill set and then being all, “Ohmygah, I totally thought you could do that!” when I tell him so.

If I know him at all (and I think I do), this gig will be interesting, fun, challenging enough for me to grow my skills but not so hard that I want to cry a lot.

(Because I despise crying. I do not resemble a Victorian-era heroine when I cry, swooning delicately into a lace hankie or something…I look like something out of a B horror movie about zombie alien swamp creatures from the high school next to the nuclear waste pond.)

BUT…how would the contracting-system minion know that there is this connection? And if they have their set of hoops that one is supposed to dance through, well, I’ve generally found that it’s usually going to be better to just do it.

And besides…I’m not afraid of a SQL test. (Now, a .NET test? Or anything dealing with XML, which is looking like the next thing I’m going to be forced to figure out how to play with in database-speak whether I like it or not? Those. Would. Scare. Me. A. Bit.)

Fortunately, even though it was timed and all, I was able to take it from here at home. Yay, not having to commute just to take a stupid test!

Unfortunately, I was also given a rather long block of time for it – up to two hours. Uh-oh…that’s too long…how detailed / long IS this thing, anyway…?

The test itself wasn’t bad. I had a first draft of answers done in about thirty minutes.

Which meant I only used up a quarter of my available time.

Which meant that I had plenty of time to go back over it to just kind of double check real quick that I hadn’t done something painfully silly.

Now, most of the time – especially on tests like these, which by nature can’t generally get too crazy in terms of table structures and what conditions are wanted – the answers they’re looking for are very, very simple. The “obvious” answer is usually the “right” answer…although frankly just about every question you’re going to answer in SQL has at least two ways you could get that same answer.

This leads me to the Pitfall of Being Experienced which is over-frickin-thinking things.

Which is why I started going, “Wellllllllllllll, sure, you could just join the table back to itself and that works and all…buuuuuuuut, you could also do this, which would tighten the whole thing up and is just kind of cooler and usually runs a little faster…and frankly, who on earth would just want straight-up just-those-fields, that would be kind of lame and meaningless, sooooooooo, what I’d probably do is add in variables so that you could customize on the fly to isolate the individual buckets…ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT? This whole damned thing should be meta-data driven…so, we start with CREATE TABLE store_variable AS…

{three hours later}

“…and that’s how you build yourself a customized reporting system, son! Enjoy!”


Seriously, Tama, all you needed was a left self-join to the blasted table…or a simple CTE so that you could do a recursive query to do the same thing…speaking of, you know what else could be cool…?

{another three hours later}

“…and THAT’S a really clever way that you COULD use DENSE_RANK to do the same thing but with more robust sort-by capabilities!!”


People…I wrote almost two pages of essay on the “new” ranking functions (new as of SQL Server 2005, not “new” as in “just came out”). Geez.

AND THEN…I moved on to the PIVOT / UNPIVOT functions.

I seriously need a hobby. OH LOOK, THERE’S ONE NOW!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

This is the Oceanspray shawl I cast on a couple weeks ago. I expect I will finish it just in time to wear it when I move into the old folks home, because it is now taking me about twenty minutes to finish each row and I’m only on row 50 of 128 for the main section. And then there’s the garter stitch and then there’s that beautiful Elm Leaf border to go.

Dear Me: What do you have against simple things?

(By the way, all of this is just a con…I’m totally trying to avoid dealing with those pictures. I can feel them sitting on the table behind me right now. Glaring at me. We are not just going away, you know, they are saying. You can write FIFTY blog pages about absolutely nothing, we will STILL be here…waiting for you to woman-up and DO something with us… It’s like being haunted by glossy scraps of paper, y’all. Seriously.)

(OK, fine. I’m going to deal with the pictures now. Before they do any breeding. Gads. That would explain a lot, actually, if pictures could do that…)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

That it all may be

Today, I made dirt.

I know. My life is exactly that exciting. Wooooo! It’s better than Pay Day! It’s Dirt Day!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Oh hai! We’re your new beds made up of masonry you got off Freecycle, that you wanted to put watermelons, okra, peppers and a Denizen-managed Gosh Knows What They’re Going To Do With It in today! BUT FIRST…you’re gonna need some fresh PLANTIN’ DIRT…

Finished compost
…which you get from here…

The Screen
…by way of this doohickey…

…which sifts out all of THIS kind of stuff…

Finished Dirt
…and leaves you – TA DA! – dirt! Yay, dirt!, just do that about 62,781 times and you’ll be SET…

In related news, this is some of the most tiring, tedious and otherwise not my favorite jobs I inflict upon myself out there in the garden.

It’s downright monotonous, really.

Four shovels of Composty Matter…shake, stir, sift, shake, stir, sift…bang-bang-bang against the edge of the wheelbarrow…shake, stir, sift, shake, stir, sift…carry sifter to first compost bin so Composty Matter that didn’t, uh, compost enough can go to summer school…wheel the wheelbarrow wherever the dirt is wanted…lather, rinse, repeat…

It takes an awful lot of wheelbarrows to fill up new beds. It also takes an awful lot of them to refresh existing beds. And the other various containers.

Like these, for the Cherokee Purple tomatoes.


Or these, for the container zucchini.

container zucchini
…you seek to CONTAIN us…? hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

It’s an excellent task for those times when thinking has become a kind of hell, the onslaught of ideas and memories and remember-this and forgot-that and what if and how about turn into a murder of crows inside my head – a party of one making enough noise for a party of a thousand, and I just really wish I’d shut the hell up for five seconds.

So much of life today is so intangible, really; I’m up to my eyebrows in things like insurance, pondering cash base versus accrual, dealing with various esteemed personages who regret to inform me that the form they told me to send was not the form I should have sent and required two more signatures anyway…fees and summer camps and music lessons and whether or not it is more or less economically/ecologically viable to use paper or plastic

All these Very Grownup Things frequently strike me as being…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. A pathetic attempt on the part of an increasingly spoiled race who, having largely removed the fear of being eaten by tigers or starving to death from their existence, needs must create new, equally-urgent and horrifying things to worry and pace themselves into an early grave over.

Sometimes, I think we were better off with the tigers and famine…they were quicker and more humane killers than our current poisons of obesity, inactivity, endless worry over ultimately nothing and constant striving to achieve amorphous somethings that never seem to be finished but always remain ever so SLIGHTLY out of our reach.

Do you have ANY IDEA how many carbon tennis shoes it took to print that receipt? Well, DO YOU?!?! You are worse than ten nuclear bombs, sixteen thousand vehicles AND all the cow farts of the Central Valley COMBINED, Mr. Yes I Would Like A Receipt…!!!!!

AND YET, however much I know that all these things are made up of nothing, that these weighty decisions are all equally likely to succeed or fail and that really…at the end of the day…it matters more that I simply do my best than make myself crazy(er) looking for the best decision…even so…I do it. I strut and fret my hour, my dismal hour, upon the stage…whining and worrying and turning the same phrases over and over and over again.

Making dirt, though…it’s very real. There isn’t a whole lot of thought in it; no weighty decisions; no carbon footprints or denuded rain forests; no political upheaval or tax implications.

Nobody’s God approves or disapproves.

It’s the sort of task that rather puts things into perspective for me – all those civilized things fall silent as what was a hodgepodge of weeds, trimmings, kitchen waste and ripped up paper becomes, one shovel after another, dirt.

Rich, life-bearing dirt.

It’s a humble sort of miracle, really, that looks all that huff and bother we call “important grownup stuff” these days and just…waits, for us to realize how silly it all is.

Not much gets more humble than dirt, after all…and yet…and yet…without it?

lemon blossoms
…not a lemon would grow…

onion blossom
…let alone an onion…

little green apples
…or little green apples…

…or impudent horseradish bushes…

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…no pak choi…

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…or peas…

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…let alone potatoes! not inside…

blue niles
…or out!

blackberry brambles
…and blackberry blossoms could never, ever be.