Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Potting up and other stories

The book said "bleach your possibly disease ridden pots." So I bleached my possibly disease ridden pots. The book said, "put down pebbles in the bottoms of your pots." So, I put down pebbles in the bottom of my pots. Then the book said, "mix sand with your potting soil." and that's where I stopped. There's always a limit to everything. A limit to getting things done, a limit to details, there's just a limit. Mixing sand with potting soil was my limit. Bleaching the pots and actually having pebbles from a past project was stellar in my book. The sand would be for a time when I had sand around.

I'm not a detail sort of girl so I was pretty damn proud over my neat rows of potted bulbs. They're for later this next year, about January and Februrary when many of us go stark raving mad for color, please God, color. Some of us around then need something different from glaring white or the washed out hues of brown and yellow. These little pots hold gems of color and I trust they will not let me down. I'm going to do it right this year and monitor them like people with hard hats monitor nuclear plants. That's right. That's monitoring.

Last winter was a financial failure. I got my pots, my soil, my bulbs and with very limited information, I planted and stored the bulbs away. I watered faithfully but come around January, something was horribly wrong. Nothing grew, nothing came out of the soil. I was in a funk with the failure of it but steeled myself. Next year, I vowed, next year, I would arm myself with intel and get these little things to bloom.

And yes, oh yes, we have the intel. I picked up a discounted book on bulb forcing from Smith and Hawken in the late Spring when the sting of forced bulb failure was low. I read the book and realized all the terrible mistakes I had made. They were terrible. And then I put the book away and went through the summer, languishing in the heat, picking up on the cooler days. Just having your basic summer.

Today, I followed the book- almost absolutely. My bulbs and their pots are tucked into the garage. I have written down dates in my date book (take out pots to be warmed in cool room, etc, etc). I have figured out how to deal with the garage freezing (put the pots in old stryofoam coolers! Go figure!). I have labeled them. They are a small army but they will succeed.

Now sitting here, reading a bit more on forcing, having laid out the dates of when to do this and that, I settle into the couch and think, wow, the taste of doing something well tastes very good indeed. This rarely happens because I tend to jump steps in my haste or do something by myself without stopping to get info. This time I didn't. And it's all over. They're all settling in, getting ready to sprout their roots. And thinking about this leaves a good taste in the mouth. I am pleased with my work. And that's no small thing for a hasty perfectionist to say.

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Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.

How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.