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June 13, 2008

All Fridays, even Friday the 13th, are welcome around here

So far the only horrific thing that has happened this Friday the 13th is someone farted a toxic, deadly fart on the bus this morning and I thought I might have to ralph. Someone opened a window and we survived ... just barely.

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I got this email recently from reader Suzanne:

In your post today, you mentioned putting some peat moss around your pumpkin plants. Just recently my boyfriend and I were planting an azalea bush and the instructions said to plant it with peat moss but we had a hard time figuring out what that meant. What is it and where do you get it and why is it better than good ol' dirt? Thanks!

Peat Moss is a spongier material than dirt so it holds water and stays moist longer than my poor old dry garden soil.

I bought two small bags of sphagnum peat moss at Home Depot. They were the MiracleGro brand, that's all I could find and they worked out just great. Each bag cost me less than three dollars. They probably had some funky stuff in there for making the zukes grow even larger and scarier.

I have noticed a big difference since I added the peat moss to the dirt around my plants -- I have to water them less! My pumpkin vines are vinier and happier than ever. The peat moss seems to soak up the water and hold it in better than just plain dirt. Our soil out here is real dry and it never rains in the summer so anything that helps retain moisture is a good thing! Another reader suggested I use newspaper mulch but I live in a place where it is regularly so windy that trees fall over. My peat moss kind of mixed in with the dirt and should stay put even during the Santa Ana winds.

To use it, I just haphazardly dumped a little peat moss around the base of each plant and kind of smoothed it out with my trowel. Or whatever you call that little hand-held tiny shovelly thing. Wow I am such a knowledgeable gardener with my misnamed tools. Hah!

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A few days ago, reader Laume commented:

Is this a Hundredth Monkey sort of thing? It seems like everyone, including myself, has suddenly decided to drop out of the consumer lifestyle. And not out of a sense of need or discipline but instead with a sense of freedom and abundance. I'm not trying to do a 100% drop out, but I'm finding it much easier than I thought to not buy 90% of what I would have bought before my "less is more" epiphany. I'm not stopping myself from buying things, instead I don't WANT to buy them. It makes the things I do buy mean more. And the rest of the time I have more money, more time, and less things to dust or wash. Win/win/win.

I loved how you said that! "With a sense of freedom and abundance..." That is exactly how I feel. I know a lot of people thought I lost my damn mind when I made my declaration to stop buying nonessentials for the rest of the year but it is really working for me. That day at our four-friends-yard-sale I just had a moment of clarity in which I saw that I was truly acting like an insane person. This is my life? I work long hours and commute long hours and work harder and more and better so I can afford to go out and buy stuff because deep down I'm searching for happiness but it's too hard to make all these changes I need to get to real happiness all at one time, so I shop for things and buy stuff and consume and eventually these things I work hard for and spend money on end up ... where? In yet another yard sale? Is that the craziest thing or what?

It was just so all-the-sudden clear that I needed to check myself befo' I wreck myself. Also, hello bad eighties slang, I missed you! Yo!

All this thinking about my consumerist habits has really started noodling with me, too. Last night I was in my kitchen making dinner and I got out a plate. The same plate I have been using since I moved in ... it's the one on top of the big stack of plates in my cupboard. I accidentally chipped it in the sink once but I use it all the time anyway and after I eat dinner I wash the plate and dry it and put it back on top of the stack.

Last night it dawned on me in a new way: I use the same plate every day. Wash, rinse, repeat. I used the one chipped plate, too -- not one of the 11 other unchipped plates. And the kicker is that I don't even like these plates! After my ex-husband moved out I got rid of our plates because they had some bad mojo. I needed dishes so I found these plates at Ikea and they were cheap enough for me to afford 12 settings which for some completely unknown reason I thought was the amount of plates normal ladies had to own. God forbid we only have four plates. Four plates never even occurred to me. If plates were being purchased ... they came in stacks of 12 or not at all.

I am thirty-six-almost-thirty-seven years of age and until last night it had never dawned on me that I don't NEED to own 12 plates. I never use all 12 plates at one time. In fact, if I have that many people over and plates are called for, we use paper plates (don't judge -- I have no dishwasher. I know I am horrible. Move past it.) The point is, there is no law saying you go to Bad Homemaker Jail if you have less than 12 plates. Or bowls or serving spoons or whatever. I could VERY easily live a long and happy and productive and healthy life with say, four plates. Four plates I really like looking at.

Then I had an even noodlier thought: I bet you I could have bought four really pretty plates that I love looking at for a fraction of the cost of that big stack of 12 ugly plates. It's not all about scrounging and making potholders out of blue jeans, it's about re-thinking my autopilot consumer habits.

At my next big Goodwill purge or yard sale I'm going to release that stack of dishes I don't even like and let someone who needs and wants them go home happy. I want my home and my life to have just what I need and love. It's Goldilocks over here in Growthyville -- not too much, not too little ... just the right amount of the right stuff.

I understand that my little flashes of enlightenment are mundane -- plates, gardening, reading instead of window shopping. I guess you just start where you are, and anyway a lot of my life is pretty ordinary. Sometimes the most exciting thing that happens to me all day is finding a parking spot at the commuter park 'n ride lot.

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OK, that turned into perhaps more rambly doodads than I intended!

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Finally, Bob started his day by perching atop Mount Pajama Leg and chirping so I would scratch his head and under his chin. He doesn't meow, he chirps. One of my friends was telling me the other day she wasn't sure if her dog loved her or just acted like he loved her because she fed him. That's one of the best things about Bob ... I know he loves me because even though the housesitter feeds him if I'm out of town, he just hides under the covers until she leaves. She said she was pretty sure he hid under the covers a whole week last time.

Bob loves me. I am officially the only human he sits on ... and not very often. I was almost late for work this morning because I waited for him to get up instead of making him leave. I love him back.


Posted by laurie at June 13, 2008 8:42 AM