Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

yard work

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I got on my scooter yesterday, hunting for marked-down Easter candy. No luck. I did find some towels for the kitchen cheap; they don't look like easter, but were labeled that way and so marked down.

I went to our local pet store. In the past, they had colored chicks during Easter. I was hoping they might have some marked down. Nope.

Well, I got really brave, screwed up my courage, and took off down Isleta Blvd, deep into the south valley, all the way past Rio Bravo, to a bait and feed store I know. I got two Pekin ducklings, colored pink. I also got a Polish mop chick.

On the way back, chicks in a paper sack with holes punched that I put in the plastic bag hanging from my handlebars, my chain popped off. Pretty scary: I thought it was broken, at first. I fixed it, worrying about the babies who might be too cold or thirsty.

I made it home, driving hell bent for leather: faster than I normally do. The bumps and vibrations hurt my feet and lower legs something awful.

I got the chicks in. They live in a wooden crate, lined with sheet plastic and an old dog blanket. I have a water bed heating pad on the bottom, covered with metal grates. I rested a plastic box over this, sprinkled shredded paper, added food and water. It was a bit too warm, at first. But I finally got the temp. below ninty five degrees and all are well.

I take them out so they can nuzzle me and imprint on me. The ducks bite my lips, ears and eyelids. The chick just snuggles. She's only a couple of days old; the ducks are a week, today. They're stronger than she.

Antonio, our neighbor across the street, got a new drier. His old one's timer is broken. Since his kids do the laundry, they often forget to shut it off. Ma and I dragged it over here last night. I'm removing a table and stuff I had sitting next to my washer on the back porch. I'll put the drier there.

I'm also looking through the crates and bottles of seeds I was storing under the table. That's this year's garden, if I can remember what everything is. I probably won't. Often, I sew seeds with no idea what they might be. I'm always pleasantly surprised by what takes off.

I gather seeds while I'm out walking or scooting. I bring them home in my purse, wrapped in whatever works. Often, I have seeds all over my back packs, fanny packs and other bags. I tuck them in the crates with the other seeds all winter. By spring, I have no recollection of what I got and from where.

I'm working on the part of the yard I've enclosed in chicken wire, an attempt to keep Grace from throwing rocks at any of my cats which might go in her yard. It's gotten cluttered and disorganized over winter, as I just set things outside, but found it too cold or wet to really do anything beyond the basics. So, things need straightening. It's a nice space, when it's not disorganized. I'm finding the damage minimal. I should have it together in a day or two.

Of course, I just heard wind howling outside. The sky's dark now. It could rain. That would mess up my plans.

As long as the drier's in, out of sight, and I rake up some dog poop and bring in some laundry on the line, I'll have a good start. There's laundry in the machine to do. Ma's running out of work clothes and is wearing the oddest outfits. I'll have to take care of that. I'm the only one who can work our stubborn, beat up washer.

Ducklings are peeping; they're awake now.

I'm tired and hurting from the rototiller still. But, in a few weeks everything will be ready for planting. It already is, but I'm waiting til after April 15, when the danger of frost is, presumably, over. I'll sew some frost resistant stuff sooner, of course.

It'll be nice, having a drier for bad weather days when the clothesline is a problem. And it'll help with lint on towels and blankets. Other than that, I could continue living without it. Seems stupid, having a clothes drier in New Mexico. There is NO humidity, most of the time. Clothes can dry in minutes in the sun.

Well, Ma will be up soon. There'll be breakfast to make. And I need to lug the drier in as soon as she wakes. Don't want to wake her now.

If the sun comes out this afternoon, I'll let the ducks and chick come outside for awhile. I turn a laundry basket over them in the yard. They can paddle in the pet drinking bowl, chase bugs, nibble grass, eat gravel. It's good for them, in small doses. Ducklings can drown as long as they still have down. They get water logged and sink. But the pet drinking thing has rocks in the bottom; they can touch their feet to them, stand and hop out.

It'll be nice, having a duck pond, when the little varments are feathery enough to swim unattended....

Monday, March 28, 2005

glorious morning

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Well, sunrise was marked by a fat, waning moon which drifted through a turquoise sky and tangerine mists.

The whole yard's dug up with the rototiller. I have a "truck" garden patch that's about twenty five feet square, at the back, west corner of the property. I have a triangle, apx. 12 feet, on the opposite corner, for ornamentals. Ma dug my pond. It's horseshoe shaped, apx ten feet long, three feet wide and about two to three feet deep.

We dug flowerbeds along the driveway: against the house, to shade it from summer sun and against the neighbor's wall, because it freaks me out to see her staring through her blinds at me when I'm sitting on the porch, smoking a cigarette. So, I'll be planting sunflowers, gourds, morning glory vines and anything else tall enough to block the view from her windows.

I also dug along her fence, in the front driveway. Her devil grass has taken over almost half the driveway there. I'll rake it out as best I can and cover it with sheet plastic, weighted down with lumber and tubs of plants.

We worked in spitting snow, hail and rain Saturday. Paul came by for a couple of hours. I fed him steak and baked potato. We were mostly done by then; we had little to do yesterday. Paul and Ma dug flowerbeds in the front yard, too, plus two pumpkin/squash mounds. I want to cover the rocks out there with umbrella leaves. The rocks heat quickly, and all day. The heat transfers to the living room wall and makes it uncomfortable all night. We're either planting bamboo or sunflowers against that wall, to shade its southern exposure.

My neighbor, Robert, gave me three sour cherry seedlings that volunteered in his yard. They're just about ready to bloom. I've planted them around the front yard, too.

I'm sore and tired, of course. Wrestling a rototiller around that hard, rock infested mess was a real job. But, I figure: two days of intense pain is worth not having to hand till and weed that mess all summer.

I got drunk yesterday afternoon. I got a deal on Corona beer; we had limes from the marguritas I made for the writer and his wife. I even threw back two shots of Cuervo. Ick!

I put on my witch's hat, with the grey wig, and sat on the porch in my satin night gown and red, terry bathrobe. Ma thought I was quite amusing. I'll try to find the jpeg and post it here.

Stu's talking about coming next weekend, with plant starts and some compost, to help me plant. I'm going ahead with the "spite fence" this week. Sunflowers can stand frost. I'll go ahead and plant them, the amaranth and a few, other things.

We started the day with a scooter and bicycle trip to Rowland's Nursery. I got some pansies, some lobelia, and a pretty, lavender daisy-like thing Ma liked. We also got heirloom yellow pear tomato seeds and some interestingly-shaped radish.

We moved on to Walgreen's for Ma's vitamins and a brace for her wrist; she pretty much hurt herself with the tiller, and it's hard for her to ride her bike without wrist braces.

Then, we hit the cheap grocery by the river. I got some real, rib eye steaks for supper.

We came home and started digging. I loaned the tiller to the next door neighbors when I finished. They've been really nice to us, as has the guy across the street. He helped pick up and will drop off the tiller.

I served just the steaks for supper, with horseradish and sour cream. Just perfect!

I collapsed into bed early and slept fitfully. The muscle and joint soreness was, of course, exascerbated by the oxygen deprivation from alcohol. Middle of the night, I finally got up to hunt down b-complex and some asprins.

Now, I'm fine. Tender, weak but fine.

All the weeds are gone. The rocks are in piles in the yard and will decorate the pond. We still need to scrape out the loose dirt there with the hoe and shovels.

I'll have the pond ready before the ducklings lose their down and can safely swim in it. And my gold fish will be thrilled...if you can thrill a gold fish...

Very satisfying, all in all. Shows you how secure and safe I feel: I could let down my guard and get snockered, for the first time in a long time. I really got to celebrate our home, the spring, our relationship, the hopefulness of planning our lives together...

All my planters have flowers in them now. It is already looking quite lovely out there.

Here's the jpeg. As you can see, that front tooth finally fell out.


Friday, March 25, 2005


You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Well, if it just drizzles for a few hours this morning, then quits, I should be OK with the rototiller. 'course, if the back yard turns to mud soup, it'll be challenging...

It's 4:30am. Porky and I have been out on the front porch already, having a cigarette and coffee. It's a gentle rain, barely wetting the concrete on the porch step.

All the weeds are chopped. Ma and I did it by hand, using the neighbor's hoe as a scythe. I've raked most up and have them drying in the driveway, so I can seperate out the large rocks for landscaping around the pond I'm building.

Some parts of the yard can't be tilled: there are just too many large rocks. But these areas are small. One is a slight mound. I'll put a table and chairs out there, facing the pond. There are natural paths, too.

So, I'll work with the land as it is, rather than try to force it to be as I want. Wherever grasses and weeds have grown well, I'll plant. Barren ground will stay that way.

I was laughing: as I chopped weeds yesterday, I heard neighbors' weed eaters in other yards. All that wasted gasoline and electricity! And, later, they'd be complaining that they never have time to go to the gym to work out.

Now, don't get me wrong: it's hard work and my arms are sore. But it's meditative work. It's wholesome. Weed eaters are so loud and obnoxious, they're more like an assault than a garden chore. You can't think! Your arms buzz and your head rattles. A hoe just whispers and swishes through the weeds, occasionally chiming against a rock.

Even with all their lawn equipment, my neighbor's yards are, for the most part, more overgrown than ours. Interesting.

I'm starting to get excited now. I can visualize the corn over there and the gourds in that tree and the ducks in that tall grass and marigolds.

It'll be fun to have dinner guests sitting out there. And the cats will love having a shady jungle; they'll never want to hop the fence to poop in Grace's funeral home yard.

I can imagine the bees and wasps and lady bugs and mantis.....

There's a sense of real satisfaction from being self sufficient. It's a pleasure to gather eggs in the yard. Feels good to take a load of sweet smelling cloths off the line.

I have a juicer, I found in someone's garbage. Ma drinks fruit juices every day. It's nice to make it for her. I use the pulps in other cooking, too.

Ma had some guests over the other day. He wrote a play she's working on and his wife is a retired teacher, as is he. I made "Navajo" tacos. I made everything from scratch. Since Ma isn't supposed to eat wheat, I made the fry bread with reduced wheat (you need only enough gluten for it to swell like a balloon in hot oil) and spelt flour. I cooked a cheap chuck roast, marinated in beer, cumin and cilantro. We made pico de gallo (a form of raw salsa, made of tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime juice, jalepeno peppers and cilantro) and guacamole (basically the same, but with avacado). I made a bastardized tortilla soup/posole (pork/hominy stew).

I even made flan, Mexican almond custard, covered in caramel sauce. I accented it with dried: rose petals, lavendar, safflower and sprinkled it with almonds. Now, THAT was GOOD!

Those guests are STILL raving about the "feast" they had here! I even served marguritas. Oh, they were tickled! They said it was the best meal they had while they were here.

I almost killed Ma as I made the meal: she's slower than I am at chores. She's a bit clumsy. And her head is so full of details about her job, she can't retain new details about preparing a dinner party. I began to understand why Martha Stewart is characterized as a perfectionistic bitch. It has to be done RIGHT! And one has to be able to count on one's staff to do their jobs...

Well, although we left each other that morning, exasperated and grumpy, by the time Ma brought the guests home on the bus and I met them in the street, the meal was fabulous and waiting cheerfully for them.

I, of course, was tired. Yet, I charmed the pants off of them, even Ma. And, after they all left, I even put the food away and washed all the dishes.

I just wanted everything RIGHT, y'know? I burned a steak and a roast and made 2 experimental flans that came out horrible in the process, but that's just extra pet food in a situation like that...

The writer asked me how many days it had taken to prepare it. I replied honestly: it had taken 3 days. He said, if I do this on an ordinary occasion, what on earth do I do for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I grinned.

Even though I spent them alone here this year, I still cooked a spread. I go all out, when good foods are marked cheap during the holidays.

Well, it's almost 5am. I want more coffee and another cigarette. Should be light soon. Hope the rain slacks off. I still have weeds and rocks to rake up; it'd be easier if they weren't wet.

My arms are sore....

Thursday, March 24, 2005

hello again

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I can't explain why I haven't been writing. Oh, sure: there have been lots of distractions, other priorities, chores and projects. But there always are, and I never let it keep me from writing before.

I think it's a combination of factors. A couple of people -- one, in particular -- at KUNM read my blogs and I've let their abusiveness and bitterness silence me in certain areas. I don't want them to know what is going on in my life. Also, there's this huge elephant in the living room that I can't write about in any blogs with my name on them. I have a "dummy" name for a blog on the subject. But the subject affects most aspects of my life, and I find it difficult to ghettoize one facet of my experience. But it's not "my secret;" it's someone else's. So I can't integrate that factor into my regular writing, lest I expose that person.

Makes it kinda fractured, y'know?

Anyway, spring's here. For the first time since she died, I didn't plant something on my daughter's birthday on the Vernal Equinox. Felt kinda bad about it. Ma pointed out all the gardening I've already done: I've sewn wild flower seeds in the front yard, planted three cherry trees, made a bulb bed....

We're supposed to rent a rototiller this weekend. Ma took the weekend off. I'm supposed to pick it up after 3:30pm tomorrow and bring it back before 9am on Monday, for sixty bucks. That's nearly three days for the one-day price.

But I'm having difficulty, finding someone to help me pick it up and bring it back. I'm afraid I'll have to haul it home on my scooter trailer. I hauled home a ten-foot tetherball pole, with concrete attached, one day. I'm not afraid of the weight. But it's someone else's property, y'know?

Anyway, a couple of guy friends are talking about coming over this weekend to take a turn on the tiller. I've promised them steaks and baked taters for helping. Might even buy some beer.

We have a HUGE yard: plenty of room for the duck pond I'm digging, lots of vegies, and still have dog yard, chicken yard and human hang out.

I've ordered poultry from a hatchery. I'm getting Japanese silkies, my favorite bantam chickens. And I'm getting some ornamental, "oriental" chickens. Even ordered a beautiful rooster. And I'm getting frizzle chickens and mops. Ought to be quite a wild flock of birds.

Ari, my araconda, is laying green eggs, daily. Stubs had a bad infestation of poultry lice. They drove her so crazy, she lost weight and stopped laying. I finally examined her and found her literally crawling with thousands of the little bastards. So, I got out my boric acid and sprinkled it where they take dust bathes. A week later, she doesn't have a louse on her! And I ordered some diatomaceous earth which just arrived. That'll keep any cooties off my birds.

OH! I've ordered 2 ducklings! Just white, Pekin ducks: nothing fancy.

The poultry should arrive around April 22.

My health's tolerable, but not good. My right, front tooth is slowly falling out. It flaps and wiggles and pinches and itches and I can't stop fussing with it.

I'm thinking of learning a way to make myself some dentures, to hide the cosmetic damage. I may even make something for the molars, so I can chew again.

Dental care costs me twenty five dollars per visit. It's just too much money, with a mouth full of rotten teeth.

There's more. Obviously. I see I really need to recommit myself to my blogs. There's a lot more.

But, it's five thirty in the morning. It's warm enough I can pad around in sweats. The yard's full of rocks which must be gathered to keep them out of the tiller blades. I still have weeds to chop, so I can see the rocks....

With first light, I'll be out there, I'm thinking.

I'm sorry I let my loyal readers down, by not posting for about a month! That's the longest I've ever gone, not writing in this....