Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Garden Week #4

I have excitement from the ol' garden!

First and foremost, MY POTATOES ARE GROWING! (Yes, caps were necessary.)

Aren't they beauteous? I need to plunge my hand in there to figure out how big they're getting. The plants are sure looking sturdy.

There hasn't been much change with the blueberry plant, so no picture.

The trough-like container is flourishing, for the most part. My poor little basil is not enjoying the insane, gale-force winds we've been experiencing. I'm hoping he'll rebound. The mint and parsley are doing well. The arugula is crazy. I've eaten from it twice, and look how bushy it is.

My cilantro seeds are adorable sprouts:

As are my spinach seeds:

And look at my first two snapdragon blossoms! Apparently this plant makes white flowers.

Here's the whole patio area in the way I've rearranged it.

I also bought some marigolds and two tomato plants (Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes and brandywine, an heirloom slicing variety) to put in the other trough. I plan to put them in this week and then add another tomato plant that I will purchase from Herb Day on Brookside, coming up on April 10.

I still need to plant a couple of squashes (I'm thinking zucchini and pattypan) and my carrots, but I fear I may need to acquire another container. Methinks another trip to Atwoods is in order.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My crazy grandfather

When I talk about my crazy grandmother and my crazy grandfather, I mean two very different things. The former, my mom’s mom, is eccentric. She is a product of her generation, location and experiences. She started out life on her grandmother’s farm before moving in with her mother and stepfather at age 5, relocating often, eventually marrying young and then becoming a widowed mother of three children at age 36. Her often tragic life has morphed her into the off-beat, bird-loving old woman who can’t pass up a deal or throw anything away. This woman is the grandmother who recently broke her leg after hip-replacement surgery and is currently (but – fingers crossed – temporarily) in a skilled nursing facility.

My crazy grandfather, on the other hand, is actually crazy. My dad’s father is a World War II vet of the U.S. Navy. Sometime in his life, he developed an addiction to some kind of medicine. I think it was a pain killer, but it might have been some kind of antidepressant. A quack doctor kept him on it for years – decades – longer than he should have, and when another finally took him off the drug, he had a break with reality. When I was six, he and my grandmother divorced. (Incidentally, this grandmother – whom I often dub my “nice grandmother” – is the one who was in the hospital last year with heart problems.) He spent quite a while wandering around, including stints in Malaysia and Singapore, trying to escape people who probably were never looking for him. For years, he has had certain bills sent to my father’s house out of his bizarre paranoia. I received sporadic birthday and Christmas cards from him briefly – usually with my named misspelled – and then nothing for years. He stayed somewhat connected to my aunt and father while he relocated frequently within this country. Maybe about three years ago, he settled back down in the town where he and my grandmother had married. I’ve seen him twice, I believe, in the past 20 years. As a teenager, I determined it was impossible for me to maintain a relationship with him, and ever since I tend to forget he even exists. I know how awful that must sound, but it’s the truth. My mom’s dad died 14 years before I was born, and this one has never been present, so in my mind, I have two grandmothers and no grandfathers.

My crazy grandfather is 83 years old. As my two grandmothers descend into predictable patterns of ill health associated with aging, he, too, has begun to deteriorate. He has actually taken remarkably good care of himself for years, remembering to test his blood sugar and not falling victim to any diabetes-related complications the lonely and elderly often do. Recently, however, he has grown more and more forgetful. Last week, my dad received unpleasant news: my grandfather – whom I called Pa Paw in the days before – is declining. A recent illness kept him from his regular visits to the VA to get his pills organized and, as a result, he hasn’t taken them in days. He also doesn’t remember to eat all the time. He lives alone in a town an hour away from the rest of us, so tending to his needs is no easy task. My aunt and father are trying to figure out the best way to take care of him, but it isn’t as easy as having someone drop in to check on him. Though in most ways his mental condition is leaps and bounds above what it once was, he remains an old man with a bad memory and a looming paranoia that makes him distrust many people and entities that are designed to help him. My dad and resourceful aunt are making calls in an attempt to get him some help (from the VA, Adult Social Services, Meals On Wheels, etc.), so hopefully things will stabilize soon.

I suppose I’m lucky to have made it to 25 before my grandparents began declining. It’s unfortunate it should happen to all of them at once, but that’s life. Right now, I’m trying to figure out the best way to be useful. I’m happy to drop in on my grandmothers, but I cannot do that with my crazy grandfather. I doubt he would recognize me or let me in the house, and I honestly don’t want to see him. There isn’t a way for me to send money except for well-concealed cash, which doesn’t sound like a good idea. My dad asked me to make myself available to do some sibling wrangling in case he or his girlfriend need to pay a call on my grandfather. You never have to twist my arm to spend time with the kids, especially if it helps my dad take care of his own father. I guess that can be my contribution until I figure out something more proactive. I want to be a good granddaughter – did I mention I’m the oldest, but the one in which he’s shown the least interest? – but it’s hard to be dutiful to someone you hardly remember.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garden Week #3

Gee, Brigid, your garden is looking a bit . . . funny . . .

Well, the first day of spring brought a very special gift of snow and sleet, so I had to move my tender baby plants indoors to shield them from the sub-freezing temperatures. Please try to ignore my apartment's terrible lighting and focus on the lush greenery of my container garden!

I can't believe how much my arugula has taken off! Refer to this post for comparison. And wait, what is that I see?

Tiny spinach sprouts! It'll be salad time before I know it. There's still no considerable change with the taters or the bloobs, but my fingers are still crossed.

I hope you're all keeping warm this weekend! The hideous weather, which came in on the tails of the year's most glorious 70-degree day, rescheduled Saturday's UnBirthday Party for Friday night instead. Mark your calendars, because it's still going to rock your world!

Poll results

Thanks to everyone who took my poll! I was actually very surprised by the results. Almost unanimously, you all love recipes best, followed by daily eats, crafting, giveaways and gardening. I had assumed my readers were not interested in my food posts, so I was going to move those elsewhere. I guess that would be a mistake! Instead, everything will stay right here. If I start feeling industrious, I may open a second blog anyway, but I won't remove any of the content you like the best.

So stay tuned for a very special gardening post coming your way shortly.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New poll

Hey friends!

When you get a chance, please pop over to the upper right side of my blog to vote in my poll. I'm considering starting a second blog to focus this one more on art, crafting and things of that nature. But first, I wanted to see what my readers like about my current blog so I don't relocate content you enjoy. The poll closes on Friday, so if you could give me your opinion this week, I'd greatly appreciate it. Please check all answers that apply.

Thanks for your help!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Very Merry UnBirthday

Hey fellow Wonderland lovers! This Saturday, prepare to fall through the rabbit hole into ArtBeat Magazine's totally amazing UnBirthday Party.

It is a celebration of art of all kinds. Alice-inspired works in a variety of media will adorn the walls, and the evening will be full of sponatenous performance pieces. You won't want to miss it! Need one more reason? I'll be there in a silly costume. :) I've been one of the volunteers since the beginning of the year, and I can't wait to watch it take shape.
Come for the art, stay for the company. There will be DJs, dancers, freaks, weirdos, and sweet little ladies like AudreyEclectic. If you're interested in volunteering, just let me know! We need help the Friday before and the day of to set up and get everything movin' and groovin'. Put together a fabulous costume, and hang out with us. Visit ArtBeat's web site for all the details.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Watching my garden grow

A week ago yesterday, I planted Phase 1 of my container garden. I've decided to take pictures every week to monitor how she's doing. Check out what I've done so far:

Here is my complete "garden" on Day 1. The container nearest the blue chair is empty but will be filled with tomatoes and peppers when the weather warms up. Here it is at the end of Week 1:
OK, so it pretty much looks exactly the same. Let's take a closer look.

This container is the most fun so far. On the far left you see arugula. It is already yummy. Next to it is pineapple mint, which I couldn't resist buying. I've read that I should probably grow it in its own container, but, well, clearly I am not. In the center is a snapdragon plant that will begin flowering soon, I hope. In the empty space above will grow spinach, and below will be cilantro. The seeds are in, so it's just a waiting game now. The darker greenery to the right is half a dozen small strawberry plants. I've been dutifully removing the flowers as the instructions said. Below it is a little basil plant. And on the far right is curly parsley. Here's the same container a week later:

Not much has changed, but there is a little growth.

Here is my blueberry plant. I couldn't find the little bushes recommended to me, so I decided just to go for it with the larger plant. As you can see, it's leaning kinda crazy, so I need to work on that. It came that way, but I think I can fix it. A week later, we have:

It's subtle, but can you see the little red pre-berries (yes, clearly that's a technical term)? I know my taller half will enjoy this dude.

Lastly is my totally unimpressive potato container. No, you can't see anything on Day 1...

Or at the end of Week 1. However, you will all be mightily impressed when I am able to consume purple and russet new potatoes. Bwah ha ha!

So that's my garden so far. I will post more pictures throughout the process.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Brigid Does Tulsa

Hey folks! Head on over to Tasha Does Tulsa's fabulous blog to see my guest post. Yep, it's about clay, but it's fun, I promise! Here's a sneak preview:

At 5’3”, I’m almost too diminutive for the pottery wheel. My arms aren’t quite strong enough to overpower a large mound of clay, and my hands are a bit delicate to endure the scraping of the metal wheel as I attempt to transform a two-pound, wet mass of earth into a mug for my morning tea.

Now click here to read the rest!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My sister

Most people do not get phone calls from their father’s girlfriend telling them that their little sister is in the emergency room for eating toothpaste and a blood pressure patch. Most people do not have sisters with autism.

My sister does some bizarre things. In the past, she has eaten entire packages of uncooked hotdogs, her own feces, a balloon, and probably a whole host of other things I don’t want to know about. The older she gets, the more noticeable her autism is. As a five-year-old, it was easy to think she was just a goofy kindergartener with some speech delays. Now at 11, she just isn’t like other kids her age. She stands out, and not only because of her height and big grey eyes.

It is hard to relate to Sarah. She doesn’t pay much attention to others, at least not in a typical way. It’s hard to tell if she’s heard what you said or is just mindlessly repeating something she’s memorized. I struggle to get more than one-word answers out of her, unless the question is something that interests her (dinner being the major thing). She still sucks her thumb whenever she isn’t instructed not to. If she isn’t watched carefully, she will eat anything – absolutely anything. She is also curious, loving, and hilarious. Her imagination is boundless. She knows how to coyly deflect or offer criticism with a little smile and a funny comment. (She once asked our dad, who had just woken up from a nap, “What are you doing with your hair, Dad?” Another time, when Dad asked if Sarah had taken his glasses, she retorted, “The case of the missing glasses, by Sarah Vance.”)

It’s easy to write off autistic kids as slow. However, the truth is most have above-average intelligence. Sarah fell far behind in school because special ed teachers let her. I’m usually the last to criticize educators, because I know how hard they work with so little. In my sister’s case, though, their failure was un-ignorable. They decided that her outward disabilities indicated a lack of cognitive skills and development. They told my parents repeatedly that Sarah would never be able to do grade-level work or behave well enough to be in a “normal” classroom. She takes after her big sister in her ability and desire to prove people wrong. It’s been slow going to ease her into a “normal” fifth-grade classroom, but that is where she spends her days. At the end of the first semester of the current school year – the first in which she has spent whole days in her own grade save kindergarten – she received all B’s. My sister who cannot read (“she memorizes and repeats”), do basic math, or understand story construction received above-average grades doing a full semester of work meant for “normal” kids of her own age. Straight B’s would be enough to make many parents proud, but mine in particular should beam. Sarah has proven them all wrong, catching up almost completely on the four years of education stolen from her and shown everyone how smart she is.

None of this is to say that she is “normal.” My baby sister is far from a typical kid. She experiences life through a lens that most of us do not. She cannot stand loud noises. She has impulse control problems. She gets stressed out very easily by things most people do not notice. But she offers me these amazing moments of humor and insight that are indescribable to anyone who has never loved someone with autism. She is warm and friendly. She has a beautiful smile and the funniest laugh I’ve ever heard. It is hard to call her my friend the way our brother is, but she is something special to me. She’s my goober. She’s my ray of sunshine. She’s my little sister.

About Me

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Tulsa, OK, United States
Hello! Welcome to my blog, which I run in conjunction with my Etsy shop, Here, I'll track things I'm working on, do reviews and interviews, and offer advice and information. Thanks for stopping by!

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