Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Weirdness: It’s what’s for dinner

Lately, I haven’t had a lot of energy in the evenings for making anything particularly interesting for dinner.

Actually, I think that sentence should probably be a lot shorter. it should probably read, “Lately, I haven’t had a lot of the energy in the evenings for making to make anything particularly interesting for dinner.”

Tonight, though, I had just enough left over to indulge a case of The Sillies that hit me and throw together something to keep the Denizens guessing a bit. Which is pretty much my primary goal in life, second only to giving them plenty of things to tell their therapist about in years to come.

I take these sorts of duties very seriously, so! Step One: “Sushi” rice

Now, I’m not an expert and I probably do it all wrong, but, this is how I make rice I intend to use in rice balls or rolled-up-sushi-like-things. Inside this bowl is three cups of CalRose rice (family of six, remember, plus inevitable neighbor-kids whose parents never, ever, feed them, no really, like, NEVER) (unless I’m making something gross for dinner, like palak paneer [spinach with “weird” homemade cheese that is, $DEITY my witness, made only of milk + lemon juice] or curry lentils, in which case their mom is Julia Childs and they just remembered she’s making a twelve-course pizza extravaganza or something like that) (but I digress). This is a readily-available white rice, medium-grain, that cooks up plump and sticky – perfect for molding into things like rice balls, sushi or just flat-out molding because it’s fun in a lunchbox. Why the heck not? I do not see any laws on the books that says lunch has to be ‘serious’ just because you’re an adult. And molding little devils complete with black pepper dyed horns and red pepper flakes for eyes, and possibly a screaming jalapeno-round for a mouth, to go with your 5-Alarm Texas Chili bento seems only natural to me.

But I digress. Again.

This rice needs to be rinsed a few times in cold water before you cook it. I rub it gently between my hands each time under water; the first rinse is usually like real whole milk, the second rinse is like non-fat milk, and the third, while still a bit cloudy, is usually clear enough that you can see the rice in the water.

After rinsing, I just cook it per package instructions. Which in my case consists of “add 1-1/2 cups water for every cup of rice, drop all into rice cooker, and hit ‘white rice’ button.”

Next, I grabbed some hot dogs and some spaghetti and oh yes, I did.


I saw this on the internet somewhere and went, “SQUEEEEE!! I have got to try that!!” I will grant you that it is a bit on the ‘fiddly’ side, but it’s not a bit hard and the look on the Denizen faces was totally worth it.

Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So. One pot of boiling water with several drops of green food dye in it…

…plus a generous handful of angel hair pasta equals…

IT’S SEAWEED, GET IT?! Because of the not-sushi roll thing?

Shredded carrots (which were still in the ground a few hours ago, which makes me feel all cool and self-sufficient and some junk until I remember that these particular carrots are only still there because I sort of forgot about them and then when I was weeding I was all, ohmygosh, hello there, I forgot about you! and they were looking at me like, …geesh…! and so I made a mental note that they were a) there and b) ready to pull and then when I needed carrots I was all, OH YEAH, I TOTALLY HAVE A BUNCH READY RIGHT NOW, DON’T I! which I rather suspect downgrades my coolness-factor a bit but at this point I’ll take whatever I can get and also rambling run-on sentence crown of supremeness: STILL mine, HA!)  and thin-sliced ham.

Totally authentic “sushi” fillings.

As long as you have “sushi” in “quotes.” (<= loophole!!)

The blue thing there is a silicon baking mat, which I find does a great job rolling rice into those long logs for slicing. I used a knife this time because I couldn’t find my preferred tool for things like this (and also cinnamon rolls, this works a treat for cutting up cinnamon roll dough), which would be unflavored, plain, no-wax dental floss (trust me on this, do not get, like, ‘mint’ flavored floss). Position the floss under what you want to slice, cross it over itself on the top and zzzzzzzzzzzip!! Makes lovely, not-squashed-oval little rounds.

But, couldn’t find it. So I used a knife. So the “sushi” wasn’t really round, it was oval. Which made me think of eyes. Which is why I changed the plating at the last second from being ‘double-jointed squids in seaweed fronds gazing soulfully at the two moons of whatever that world the Wolfriders are from’ to ‘You MUST pay the rent!!’ (Bonus geek points for getting that reference.)

Things to tell their therapist about in years to come: Check. I am the frickin’ MOTHER OF THE YEAR, Y’ALL.

Eldest walked in, snickered, snagged a couple slices of rice-roll, and went back to drawing manga. Danger Mouse made herself a bento to take to school tomorrow to show off. Boo Bug rolled her eyes, grinned, told me it was awesome, and ate every bite.

Then Captain Adventure came in, looked at his plate for a moment, then looked at me sidelong with a crooked smile and asked, “Is it a-posed to be an eye-face wif da mooose-tash?”

And then I died from the excessive cuteness of him, the end.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ah, the little reminders life gives us

My eyes are killing me right now. I’ve got the font set to about a 400-point size and I’m still having trouble seeing it. (It would likely help if I weren’t doing a reverse-blinking thing where I open them ever so briefly, take a quick glance to make sure I haven’t gotten my fingers in the wrong place and started typing ‘yi[[omh’ and like that, then close them again for a while.) (But then they sting. And ache. And feel like I have rocks in them. Argh!)

I have no idea what’s up with this lately. It started last week, this end-of-day eyeball-aching thing. Feels a bit like I’ve been putting drops of acid into them and then having a game of Don’t Blink with the sun or something.

I can’t decide whether I think I’m just that much more tired than usual, or if I’m not taking care of them throughout the day the way I think I am, or maybe I’m allergic to some perfume or other at the office, or…what.

But that’s not the biggest problem. No. The worst thing of all is that…I have no idea what to do with myself, really.

I can’t knit.

I can’t play a video game.

I can’t watch TV.

Let alone read.

And I don’t really like audio books, either. They tend to give me a headache. Plus I get irritated because I don’t like the way the reader does things. That’s not how I would have imagined she would have said that, I will fume.

And I know I will be even more critical right now, because it’s making me just generally pissy, this whole eyeball-aching thing.

So, well, about all I can do is sit here, with my eyes mostly closed, and listen to the sound of my boredom as it claws at the inside of my head until bedtime.

So many things in life that I never really think about much. Every so often some tragic story will come up where somebody lost their sight or hearing or sense of smell or what-have-you, and for a brief moment I shudder and think, Wow, that would really suck…and maybe I say a few words into the Great Stillness about blessings and strength and other stuff you say when there’s really nothing you CAN say, but you feel you must say SOMETHING.

And then I go back to whatever I was doing. Queasiness over, and another potential realization of just how fragile the life to which I’ve grown accustomed really is, averted.

Being forced to actually not do stuff for an appreciable amount of time because of something – being unable to keep my eyes open, not being able to get up my own stairs when my back is really having An Episode, those times when I’ve popped a tendon in my elbow or wrist and had to take a week or so completely off all knitting needles, keyboards, stirring-of-pots or pulling-of-weeds – well, it’s quite an eye-opener.

Oooo. Ouch. OK, that was a rather unfortunate word-choice, right there. {wince} I think maybe I’ll give this up for now, and resume whining at Eldest about how annoying it is and asking her what time it is now seeing as how the clock is just a big old blur to me right now…

(It’s probably just allergies. I have some suspicions around some rather pervasive scents at the office right now. In related news, I suppose writing my Congressman about drafting up a law banning all perfumes in public places is probably a touch much? Yeah, I…kinda figured…)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Perhaps we should ALL just go with “Smith”

Earlier this week, we had An Incident™ at the high school which necessitated me dropping everything and rushing over there so I could stand around for – I swear I am not making this up – going on four hours waiting to hand over my id, spell my darling child’s name, and wait for her to be summoned forth from the stadium unto my loving arms.

Yeah. It was a thousand kinds of awesome. But what made things truly awful wasn’t so much the process itself, but rather my fellow parents.

YA KNOW…one the one hand, I understand. It was hot and cold by turns out there. The process was painfully slow. And seemed like it was being done in a crazily upside-down manner. And for those who weren’t completely sure that the whole thing was a big old Nothing courtesy of teenagers being stupid, it might even have been a little frightening. (For the record, this was not me. I was so damned certain that it was just a group of teenagers being stupid that if it hadn’t been a) early in the morning, thus Eldest would have been stuck outside in the elements all frickin’ day and b) her birthday, thank you very much, I wouldn’t have come down to get her in the first place. But I digress.)

STILL. Parents. Look at my eyes, and answer me this: What the @^*&@ is wrong with you people?!


  • We get that you are not happy to be dragged away from whatever you were doing to stand in lines.
    • Everybody feels that way.
    • So, shut up already.
  • Cutting the line is way not cool
    • Trying to do it repeatedly becomes exponentially uncool
  • Dude. While I understand your feelings (and even privately agree with them), saying, “I tell you what, @^*&@, you try that again and I-a-gonna bust you UP” to the woman as she is being escorted to the back of the line after trying a THIRD time to cut the line…is a little much.
  • Mom, please tell me you did not just call your kid on his cell phone and ask him to attempt a breakout, and then argue with him when he said it was a way bad idea, and point out that there was a hole in the fence right next to you.
    • I mean, you realize that’s an automatic three day suspension, right?
    • PLUS, you understand that when they go over the list and realize that he a) was here BEFORE the incident and b) WAS checked into the stadium but c) was never check OUT of it…he’s automatically a Person of Interest to the cops, right?
      • You think this is inconvenient? Try explaining why your kid pulled that particular stunt, in the middle of All This.
      • But please let me know before you do. I wanna sell tickets.
  • When a school is in lockdown, things like pesky rules are not going to be ‘bent,’ let alone ‘broken’
    • This means trying to pick up your neighbor/friend/cousin’s kid when you are not officially authorized to do so? Is not happening.
      • Yes, even if you can prove you live ‘right next door’
      • Yes, even if the kid “totally knows who you are”
      • Yes, even if you have some female voice on the phone saying “I am his mother, and I approve this pickup.”
      • Yes, even if you can produce ID with the same last name on it.
        • I know there aren’t very many people named “Rodriguez” in California {pause to roll eyes}, but this still doesn’t authorize you to take a child off a school campus in the middle of a lockdown
        • Or any other time, for that matter
    • Also, quit arguing about whether or not you “have to” produce identification before picking up your child.
      • This is nothing new or special
      • You have to produce this any time you pick up your child during school hours.
        • Dentist appointment? Please show me your driver’s license.
        • Funeral? Driver’s license, please.
        • Note: the “please” is optional
      • Why on earth you think the school being lockdown means rules should be looser than otherwise is beyond me.
      • Also, you’re holding up the line
      • And I’m-a-gonna bust you UP for it in about two seconds
      • ‘Cause my feet hurt. Really badly.
      • And we won’t even get started on the back-cramps.

BUT MY PERSONAL FAVORITE OF ALL THE ATROCITIES I WITNESSES DURING MY THREE-SOME-HOURS OF LOITERING AROUND THERE, the one that had me struggling sooooooo hard not to bust out laughing right there in front of God and Everybody (which likely would have gotten me punched in the face by numerous people who saw no humor in anything by this point), was this little farce-in-three-movements.

Tired Teacher (TT): Okay, so, what is the child’s name?

Idiot Mother (IM): Sam Cardoza. (<= totally not his real name)

{TT beings flipping through New York City Phonebook Sized book of forms and such}

TT: Um…what’s the last name again?

IM: Cardoza.

TT: Erm…how do you spell that?

IM: {shouting to make it clear she thinks TT is a moron for having to ask} SEA-AY-DEE-OH-ZEE-AY.

TT: …and, he is in the tenth grade, correct? (<= also not his actual grade level)

IM: YesssssssssSSSSSSSS!!!! {tone says, “You are a moron, of course he’s in the tenth grade, what other grade would he be in?”}

Me: {thinks: aaaaaaaand, are you QUITE sure he goes to THIS school…?} snicker!

{They both shoot me a dirty look. I try to appear that I’m sneezing. I fail. I don’t really care, but I attempt to appear as though I do and return my attention to my knitting.} {well, duh, I had my knitting with me. it is the only reason the false alarm didn’t turn into a national news story about the insane woman who went all bat-poop crazy while standing in an interminable line to pick up her kid during a lockdown at a high school. Film at eleven.}

TT: So, he’s not in my book…um…lemme just…

{pow-wow ensues amongst all the desks, effectively bringing all pickup to a screeching halt as all books are being checked for one Cardoza, Sam (or Samuel, or Sammy, or Starts-With-S) }

TT: Can you write the name down for me? (Clearly, she is hoping she’s still got the wrong spelling or something)

IM: {sighs from somewhere about three feet under her toes, glares at TT, glares around at everybody else for good measure, scrawls something completely illegible on a scrap of paper and flings it at TT}

{TT’s face assumes a look of absolute despair. Nobody could possibly read this. Even a pharmacist would be all like, “Dude. Can you do that in Latin or Greek or English, instead of, what are these, hieroglyphics?” MEANWHILE, somebody with that “I Am In Charge Around Here, $DEITY Help Me” look approaches. Let’s call her IC for short}

IC: {brightly!} {ooooh, you’re good, IC, very, very good…} What seems to be the problem here? 

{explanation of the non-existent Sam Cardoza ensues. IC looks pained. She prides herself on knowing all the kids in the school, this kid is not ringing a bell. She has failed in her personal mission.}

IC: Ah, so, are you sure he’s in the tenth grade?

IM: {EXPLOSION!! already told her and KABOOM! and furthermore and KAH-POW!! and another thing WHAM-BAM-SMACK!}…and I will call his father and…his father’s name is Singh-like-the-big-shot-guy-Singh just you wait…!

{there is a silence you could cut with a knife at this point…a long, desperate silence while TT is undoubtedly controlling her urge to leap up from the table and strangle the life out of this crazy person, broken only by choking sounds coming from Yours Truly because I am about to die laughing…}

TT: {quietly, and with truly admirable professionalism} Ah, here he is…under SINGH…!!!!!!

{signing out happens while I marvel at her ability to leave it at that…I might have been shouting, “OH, SO ACTUALLY, ‘CARDOZA’ IS SPELLED ESS-AYE-ENN…?!”}

{Sassparilla Singh, a.k.a. Sam Cardoza, is summoned from the stadium, received by his now-flustered mother, rolls his eyes in classic teenager-boy fashion at her hopelessness, mutters something about ‘gawd, mom!!’ and slouches off in her irate wake}

And, as I stepped up to product my ID so I could finally rescue Eldest from the elements…I happened to glance over and catch TT’s eye.

“Fun day at work, huh?” I asked her, practically gnawing my lip off trying not to laugh.

We looked at each other for a moment, appraisingly…and then we started laughing so hard we could hardly stand.

The Denizens think I’m crazy, and disorganized, and otherwise hopeless.

Ha. At least I know that their last name is Grasselfofferphlepinocks, and that Eldest usually goes by Serdingawinginer.

(Which is, sadly, not that far off what was actually called into the stadium. They mangled it so badly that I whipped out my phone to text, ‘Um, ya, that…is supposed to be YOU, babe’ because I couldn’t imagine she would realize it otherwise.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

I blame MacGyver

YA KNOW…there are things I do that, in retrospect, I look at and just kind of…shake my head, tiredly, and shrug, and wonder aloud what I’m going to do with myself because, really now…why?

SUCH AS finding myself with a bunch of terracotta pots I’d like to use to start some broccoli, and I have nowhere inside to do this, but we’re still in the time of year where we ‘boomerang’ a lot, temperature-wise.

It was 43 degrees when I left the house this morning. It was 74 when I got home half an hour ago, 69 now, and on its way to  a guesstimated low of 44 tonight. California: We ARE a desert state.

It isn’t actually the 40-somethings that worry me – it’s the occasional, usually abrupt, dips further down that tend to kill off things I try to start outside this time of year.

Which is why I found myself wishing I had some kind of greenhouse-ish thing I could use, YOU know, something with a cover (and not weed cover because that, I’ve got), and then I could use the old ‘milk jugs full of water’ trick to bump up the temperature just a bit if I needed to and waitaminute, gimmie that busted-up old white plastic patio table, and also one of the sprinkler-type end-of-line deals…oh, and the clippers, AND the clicker (which is what we say when we mean ‘a fire starter with a trigger’)…

…aaaaaaand, uh, that plastic thing that came off that broken thing, YA, PERFECT! {RUSTLE-RUSTLE-RUSTLE-clip-ffffffffst-shove-hold-two-three-four-five-six-SET!-tug-tug-TIE-TIE}…


(What you can’t see here is, I insulated the underside of the table with a combination of newspaper, really old felt, some filthy wool batting I found lying around, aaaaand I’m not actually sure what-all else because I was just sort of grabbing random stuff at that point to make it thicker.) (It is a sickness, people, a SICKNESS…) (Oh, and, I use the clicker to gently warm up the cut end of the drip hose; it’s slightly tricky the first couple times, but once you get the hang of it [pronounced: quit MELTING the hose] it’s a really fast and easy thing to do, and it makes it a lot easier to get the drip dealies into the line [particularly for those of us with achy hands that like to go all weak at the worst possible moments], and then if you put a little pressure on the softened hose as it cools back down, it makes an excellent seal that is less likely to be dripping water where you don’t want it to go.)

I totally blame MacGyver for this kind of thing. Even though to be honest, I almost never actually watched the show back in the day, it just sort of imbued the American psyche or something. And now I do things like amuse myself in waiting rooms by thinking of fifteen ways I could use objects in the room to simultaneously ward off a terrorist attack, inform the President of the plot, survive the Zombpocalypse, repair a broken pair of sandals and put together a three course meal for six people.

Or put together extremely odd looking contraptions out of things that arguably should have gone to the city dump months or even years ago, but which we kept either ‘in case’ or due to sheer inertia until I suddenly decided I had a use for them again.

It is how we roll.

Anyway! In other news, I am about as sore as I have ever been in my whole, pathetic life right now! Because in other other news, I finally wandered out into the yard to see what the lay of the land was.

And mostly, it lay like this.


Every year, I go through this.


And every year, I say to myself, firmly, “NEXT YEAR, I SHALL NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!!” And I make all sorts of plans whereby, in no more than a few minutes a week!, I shall maintain order throughout the winter yea verily right through the coldest, most-frozen months!, I will stay on top of this and there shall not be the annual weeping and gnashing of teeth over the waist-high weeds, leftover dead-things I never cleaned up after the first “surprise” frost, etc. etc. etc.

And I fully believe that I will, too.

But then winter happens. And I go out one or two times in defiance of the cold, and my hands and/or hips and/or knees go into Super Tilt mode and then I say welllllll, OK, it’s a LITTLE too cold for this today, I’ll just table it for now and pick it up next weekend when it’s sunnier…at which point I have not merely taken a step onto that slippery slope, but flung my cardboard down on it and done a running-start belly-flop onto it while screaming “COWABUNGA!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs.

Possibly while wearing cut offs and a tank top.

Which are the absolute best attire for cardboard sledding down a slippery hill. Because you get the coolest, most long-lasting scars that way, which makes the storytelling later totally awesome.

But I digress.

Mind you, it wouldn’t really matter all that much if I did get out there every weekend all winter; the weeds don’t start coming up until right around the first of March, and then they don’t come up slowly but rather in a way that defies all logic.

One minute, there’s just enough to make you go, “Huh. I’m going to have to get out there and deal with that soon…”, and the next weekend bam! You’re at tigers-could-be-living-in-it-for-all-we-know levels of weed encroachment.

Fortunately, I had a couple volunteers for the first bit.

(The shorter one was in it because he realized that since his turn on the computer was to start ‘after I’ve finished weeding out here,’ it was in his best interest to hurry things along. Well played, sir.)

As we cleared weeds, we found that some of the seeds from the last planting had over-wintered, sharpened their elbows and gotten into the game.

After we’d cleared that bed, my forces withdrew to amuse themselves with things like games and homework (the tall one has a ludicrous amount of that), and I continued on to this.

NOW, as I started diligently working my way down this fence, I looked at the delicate fronds you can see in the bottom left foreground there and thought to myself, wow…I wonder what THOSE are, they look EXACTLY like carrots!

And that was because…


CHECK THIS OUT. This is after I’d removed all the weeds.

I have no idea how they got there. None. I suspect that what we’re seeing here is the result of a packet of seeds getting blown off the patio table, and then scattered down the fence line; I know I didn’t plant them there, because most of them are waaaaaaay too close to the cement (and therefore pretty far from the drip line), and are incredibly random in placement; there are also just a few spread out into this little bed, and even a couple right up against the fence.

Really feels like a wind-sow to me. Particularly given this.

Uh-huh. On the left side, too. Got to have been some Seeds Gone Wild action. {Insert ‘sowing wild $plant’ joke of choice here.}

And I’ll take it, because this time of year, I’ll take anything I can get, really; we’ve got a few carrots I “stored” in the ground over the winter, and some onions that could be pulled early and used in a pinch, but overall…this is the hardest time of year in terms of gratification.

A lot of this.

Not so much of this.

(This was a few weeks ago. The lemon tree was feeling enthusiastic again this year. I swear, if I show that tree any kindness, give it even half the recommended fertilizer and a passing nod in the general direction of correct pruning care, it goes nuts like this.)

Last year really wasn’t a particularly good one for the garden. We had some ugly pest invasions, a lot of water issues (broken valves, leaking pipes, drips-that-don’t-drip, etc.), me working too many hours (and then being so damned tired that suggestions about the garden needing to be looked to resulted in snarling and/or snapping and/or heavy sighing and vague grumbling but no action taken) and so forth and so on.

I have high hopes for this year, as long as my body can keep up with the demands being put on it; it’s really protesting this weekend’s endeavors, and pitching quite a childish fit about it to boot. It’s actually pretty funny to watch me trying to do things like, say, get out of bed in the morning, or get out of a chair after I’ve been sitting for a while.

Which reminds me. I’ll bet I could totally engineer myself a set of handrails for our bathroom out of PVC left over from the last ‘reroute all the sprinklers’ adventure…

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Reality may not be my strong suit

This week is turning out to be one of the sort where I feel as though time is holding its breath; like it is watching a particularly delicate maneuver being performed and doesn't want to risk disturbing the players involved.

Which is a poetic way of saying, "is it over yet?!" (How about now? Now? What do you mean, 'it's only Wednesday,' it has GOT to be at LEAST friday by now...)

When I'm not being irritated by it, these sorts of weeks fascinate me by driving home how very odd a species we are.

Night / not-night wasn't good enough for US, oh no! We had to put rules on time, break it up into standardized blocks so we could utterly disregard what sun, moon, stars, weather or our own bodies told us and be able to say we should be here or there, doing this or that, because! 9:00, dude!

I love us so much for that kind of thing, you know? Our breathtaking arrogance charms me, little insignificant specks of carbon saying, "Now see here, Natural Order, we have decided this thing you do with the days-get-shorter-then-longer doesn't work for us, so, here's how it's gonna be..."

We are magnificent in our flippancy, are we not?

None of which changes the fact that, on this Thursday, I feel as though it should be Saturday at least. The restless nature of Spring is seeping into me, pricking my mind with the notion that I have so very much more to do today, while my body insists that the day has already dragged on far longer than it should have already and that the last thing needed would be anything else.

Which I suppose is just another variation of the human tendency to reject Nature's reality to substitute our own; I'm not quite ready to accept that the relatively (physically) lazy days of winter are nearly over, and soon my 'free' time will begin disappearing into endless weeding and mulching and planting and harvesting and processing and otherwise not having much free time at all.

I know I will enjoy it once it's underway...but for now, when I'm still enjoying being "forced" to stay indoors by wind or rain or cold, I must admit that every time I look outside and think I really should think about fixing the beds or checking the drip lines...I find myself feeling strangely more tired than I was when the thought first occurred to me...

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Down and dirty

I planted strawberries this weekend. And also some broccoli. It was the first planting for the new year, which means it was damned hard work.

I am sore in muscles I hadn’t heard from since…well, about this same time last year. I was moving slowly and without a lot of enthusiasm today, I can tell you; but it’s a start, and it will get better.

I have to believe that, or all is lost.

The bed where the strawberries went was a mess; that whole side area was, as always at the beginning of the season, covered in weeds that somehow manage to spring up to waist-high in what seems like a matter of hours. Plus there was all kinds of wind-blown debris, plastic bags to leaves and everything between. Toppled over wood. Cardboard boxes from some point when the husband was moving things around in the shed, and skipped the step where he put the boxes back into it.

So they sat out there, in the wind and rain and sun, becoming a nest for earwigs and spiders. Lovely.

A few weeks ago, I hastily turned some almost-finished compost into that bed; yesterday, I finished actually working it in, and topped it off with some of the precious “finished” stuff.

It never ceases to amaze me, compost. I suppose someday it’ll be old hat enough to raise no particular emotion from me, but at present…every time I work with it, I find myself amazed by the small miracle it represents.

It’s not generally very pretty when it starts out. Crushed up eggshells, and onion skins. Grass clippings. Tea bags. Shredded junk mail. Fireplace ash. Apple peels. Bits of pie crust. The bones from a beef roast, burned in the fireplace along with some of the wood from the trees we took out a couple years ago, and pulverized with a mallet. Vines. Weeds. All kinds of crap.

Waste, come right down to it; things that ordinarily would have been tossed into the tote to be put out on the curb on a Tuesday night, to be hauled off to the dump.

Instead, it’s probably gone into the tumbler for two weeks of intense burn-down.

(This gets really hot, comparatively-speaking – breaks tough things down super-fast, so fast that it will go from “almost too full to get the lid on it” to “I thought you said this was full, but it isn’t even a quarter full!” in about a week.)

And then it starts the ride down the bins, from right to left…about a month in each…

(Moving day! Bin two to bin three, please…)

…until it comes out like this.

And that is not only loaded with nutrients, but is of a nearly-perfect texture – it is light, and loamy, exactly the sort of environment that invites roots to stretch out and get cozy. It breaks up the clay that persists in surfacing throughout the yard, prevents it from turning back into the near-concrete it would like to be, locking its precious minerals away from the growing plants.

It’s just dirt. But it’s our dirt, in ways that go beyond deeds and titles.

Now. If I could just figure out how to plant an ibuprofen tree for the backache that comes with all this poetic dirt-making…