Funny little strawberries

Funny little strawberries

That’s what I grow in my garden – funny little strawberries. They aren’t much to look at, not like the huge store ones, but they have 10x the flavour. A lot of soil up here in BC is pretty acid because of all the conifers around, I suppose. Our yard is full of moss and surrounded by conifers, so it’s no surprise the strawberries grow well. They like acid soil and have crawled all over the place. They’d take over the entire apartment lot if I would let them.

This year, I found a way to keep them off the dirt without buying straw or other mulch. I just used pinecones. There are plenty of them everywhere around here, because of the conifers – pines – that are on the property. And it works! A couple of baskets of pinecones fixed my strawberry plot.

When I leave, my neighbours will eat the berries. One neighbour, in particular, I expect, who cleaned up that plot and ate the berries when I was away for a year.  The other gardener.

Which reminds me of another gardener, or so I thought. These people moved in next to me and I noticed they had a lot of plants on their balcony. Almost like a hedge, a privacy screen. When I saw them arriving home one day, I said a friendly “Hi” and “We’re gardeners, too.” I didn’t see much of them over the years, though.

Then something weird happened. I had a run-in with someone. She was blocking the door to the freezer room where the kind landlord has allowed people to keep freezers and in my case allowed me to use his extra freezer. Nice! Is this because he’s a nice guy or because I’m responsible? I guess a bit of both. I took over the garden when someone else who was supposed to didn’t get to it and weed it.

So, anyway, this person blocked the freezer room door open with her cart.  I said something like, “Hi – I’d like to come in.” But I didn’t want to move her cart, so I waited. I said something just to fill the time. Suddenly she snapped and accused me of saying something wrong, basically told me to shut up. “You made another comment.” Damn right – this ain’t a Russian firing squad. She was so hostile. She said, “You’re always so rude.” WTF? I donno. I called her a bad name.

Then I went and told the manager that I did that and that I was confused why this happened. He said I probably did nothing because this person basically did the same to him. She is the one who’s always rude, she said. She was trying to blame him for something. I’m sorry, he’s a pretty decent guy, and he is also the manager so there is no point trying to blame him. He’s just doing his job.  Cut him some slack. He doesn’t create the policies, man. I’m probably biased because I got a free freezer and two free gardens, but even so doesn’t that make it seem like he’s a decent and kind guy?

Oh, yeah, and he lent me a battery charger and found a neighbour to help me charge my crappy old truck. More about that on another day. I need to sell that damn thing.

The kicker – I said I didn’t know her, but the manager pointed out, based on my description, that she lived right next to us. Oh, yeah, she does vaguely match the dimension and coloration and age of my neighbour. Thing is, I wear glasses and if you aren’t within a metre of me, I might not recognize you. Apparently, then, I don’t acknowledge people, and that’s rude. Why don’t people assume I’m semi-blind, distracted, autistic, or a ditz and say, “Hi – I’m your neighbour, we’ve met.” But they don’t. They’re passive til they blow up like a psycho and say, “You’re rude.” Okay, lady – but that’s not the female word I called her, though.

I have no one to talk to, I’m lonely as hell, I still want to be friends with my crazy ex even though he divorced me, and I am going to be moving to a new area soon. Hopefully, I can make some real friends one day. Actually, I have a few friends up in the Okanagan. People who are actually happy to see me and are kind to me. It’s too bad they’re all religious. We atheists aren’t all nasty like the freezer-room-lady. No idea if she believes in anything, either, except that everyone else is the problem.

Friends

Friends

Over the past year or so, I started to make the friends I should have been making during my ill-fated marriage. We had no other friends. I wanted to, but he was so clingy it was nearly impossible. I accepted that as a temporary state. I didn’t realize the marriage was also temporary.  Imagine growling sounds here.

So I have various friends. And I have also started to cultivate connections with people in my field. The dreaded “networking.” Or as I learned from a course on Lynda.com by Lauren Bacon, “building community and connecting with others” rather than “networking.” It’s about meeting different people, not just people like oneself. But it’s about being authentic, real, genuine. Of course the conferences I went to probably had some facade-ish aspects to them – or my behaviour did. But I’m gonna keep trying. My networking is turbo-charged and it’s gonna be a lifelong habit. No more will I rely on who or what I have, not like I stupidly did in my marriage.

But in some ways, a facade is needed even in friendships. One in particular is a relatively new friend that seems to really like me, or so she has said more than once in the few months she’s known me. She wants me to come to her place, she says. I have been twice. I’m not crazy about going there or being there, even though she has a cat, and I love cats. I liked our conversations at first, when they were kind of intense, but now she’s relaxed into prattling about mundane things that are of no interest to me, and she doesn’t see that. I mention things of interest to me, and she never ever delves into them. She moves on to another mundane thing. What does one do in this situation? I don’t know! The facade is needed because I donno what to do with my frustration when that happens. It’s a mismatch.

I realized it was a mismatch one time when I really needed someone to talk to and my truth got too intense for  her. I’m sorry, but I have lived a dark life and I can’t say “Yeehah!” to your platitudes. Basically the implication is to hide the darkness, don’t acknowledge it, so she can prattle on about how wonderful all the mundane things are, like typical landscaping and so on. She’s told me more than once to lower my standards, as she has. That is not my way.

This is going nowhere, because we are going in different directions. I want a new career and she just wants to enjoy her retirement as much as possible. Her brain has slowed down, and I am honing mine to compete in a new career, in a job market full of mostly younger people. Or maybe really it’s nowhere because I don’t want to listen to what she wants to talk about and she apparently is the same way about what I want to talk about.

We are taking a dance class together. I’m not crazy about the dance class. The teacher is a bit disorganized. She gives instructions and then doesn’t follow what she said, so we can’t follow here. And when she’s winging it, she doesn’t have a method that allows you to follow. I liked the other dance teacher, the Latin one, much more high energy. An actual workout. This one is bellydance, and she spends way too long on one isolation, and I tend to feel cramped in whatever area we’re working on. Twenty minutes or a third of the class on one isolation is too much. More than 10 sets of 8 beats of just chest slides or hip drops is too much. Especially when followed by another 10.

This friend has another friend with a hobby farm, something I would dearly love to have, at least half an acre, preferably four acres. And this friend gave my friend some composted manure, and she offered it to me, since I’m a rabid gardener.  I appreciate it very much. Very thoughtful and apropos to my interests. I feel like a bit of a jerk that I don’t want to go to her place and that I am bored of her, but I accepted her gift. I don’t like playing board games unless there is really good conversation to go along with it.

And I really don’t like the smell of spilled wine gone mouldy and cat pee. I guess she can’t smell it, but I can. The compost had no particular smell, but she was suspicious about it, as if it was dirty. “It hasn’t been processed” and “I don’t really know what composting is.” Well, JFGI. There were worms living in it. It was basically very broken down and soil-like, with some bits of straw or grass fibres left.

I hope her health problems work out for the best and she enjoys her retirement, but she’s too low energy and unthinking for me to really connect with. How to ease out of it without burning bridges.

Beets are up at last

Beets are my favourite. Fresh greens good in a salad or boiled like spinach. They don’t keep so you gotta eat em when they’re fresh. Nothing like it in the grocery store. Then so many rich red dirty-tasting beets. Good in a veggie bake. Good boiled and served with salt or butter or both. And good over wintered in pickled form.

And, finally, their firm little seed leaves have come out of the ground. High point of my day. By next week I suppose I’ll be thinning them. No other common garden seeds are like beet seeds – a gnarly little ball with multiple seeds clustered together. That’s why they have to be thinned. You never need to plant two beets in one area, unlike with other seeds. You’re going to get several out of one of those rough little balls called seed clusters.

Gardening

Went out to plant a few more seeds and noticed the lettuce came up overnight along with some brassicas that I planted so long ago I can’t remember exactly what they were. Possibly kale or some other broccoli-ish thing. Seeds must have been there more than two weeks already. It’s been a long cool spring with not much sunshine.

Seeing those fat little teardrop shapes on the ground was pretty much the high point of my day. Certainly the most exciting. The garden’s finally going. Those fresh little leaves, kinda brownish looking because they are going to grow into being quite red.

Just a low-energy kind of day of rest and catching up with some cleaning.

Sunshine Paradox

Sunshine Paradox

Easter: Lots of random people wandering about here and there with either potted white lilies that remind me of funerals or glorious bunches of colourful flowers.

As for me, I saw sunshine out the window, so I made a point to get some. Sat outside to eat, read, and do a bit of gardening. Moved some of those seedlings that were too tightly clustered. Hand-watered them with the flower pot.

Oh, that flower pot has a number painted on each side, because we had adjacent community garden plots. My number is mostly eroded away, but his remains bright and shiny, blaring with the celebratory mood we had shared in our relationship and in our garden. Or, I thought we did. After all, I’m the one who painted this pot, and I’m the one who kept all the photos of our activities. I know he didn’t keep them. He didn’t make collages of our trips.

And in that last summer, gardening together wasn’t that much fun. He wandered up and down the paths a lot, on his own. My friend was with us one day and noticed he was distant. I figured it was a phase, a temporary sidetrack from our irrevocably intertwined lives. I introduced him to gardening. He loves it, but not as much as me. I gave up my plot and went away in shame, could never show my face there again. He kept his plot.

Back to today, I did a little bit of gardening, yes. Some day again I want property with my own land. A big garden. One where no one wanders in and no one neglects their adjacent plot, bringing me pests and diseases.

But I contacted him to ask for some stuff he still had of mine. I was afraid to, because his reactions are often out of left field. Besides, the context is now one of no contact without a promise of some extreme absolute condition forever. But no matter! Today I was called awesome, because I offered some fresh garlic chives from my herb garden. He gave back my stuff, and he offered to do a favour he knew I needed. And he answered my questions about his current situation. No problem!

This non-battling response gives me ease. The fact that there has been contact gives me ease. And it all relates back to what I decided a couple days ago, in order to get ease. I reframed our situation as this: It’s possible we could be friends again one day. Even though the whole relationship was a mistake. Even though I can’t bear his crazy rules, and he can’t bear my need to actually deal with conflict rather than look away from issues. The slight positive in this reframing gives me quite a bit of ease, compared with the horror of shutting the door between us. The door to my heart is open to him and probably always will be.

So, yeah, that’s one of my internal conflicts. Kind of like the one where I couldn’t possibly be vegetarian because it doesn’t feel good in my body. I know that because I tried to be one, for ethical reasons. One, factory farming horrifies me generally for reasons of animal cruelty and lack of well-being.  Two, I know meat is not the most efficient calorie source, in terms of environmental costs. And three, though hunting solves much of the first issue, I could never do it. I don’t think I could even fish. I would have to be desperate. It’s not my culture. Conflicts internal and external seem to be my lot.

Glorious sunny days

I’m not getting work done, because the sun is out. The first shirt-sleeve warm and pleasant day after an unusually long and cold winter. We had numerous snowfalls, into March, even. Usually we get maybe one significant snowfall where the one or two inches of snow brings traffic to a standstill. Summer tires.

I walked out to my errands, luxuriating in the warmth on my skin. Even now, I used the heavy-duty sunscreen on my hands and face. Even in winter I’ll often use it. But my arms and all can afford exposure, and I love it. Popped into several dollar stores and eventually found some red lettuce seeds at the new Walmart. No other place had red lettuce, and it seems crazy to drive half an hour each way to go to the good garden shop for just a few seeds. I wanted to plant in the warmth, and threw in some lettuce as well as onion sets for green onions. Tastes so much better than any store product.

I live in an apartment, and I’m lucky to have a garden plot freely given by the building manager. There are only three plots. How did I get one? I’m not even sure. I didn’t pay. I guess it’s just that I’m a good gardener, and very responsible. Not with crying, but with weeding and cleaning up so the plot isn’t unsightly. (Unlike crying. Clearly unsightly. Lost a friend over it, even.)

I’m lucky to have this garden plot because it is a place to be in the sun. It’s not as good as my own yard, not as likely to be smoke-free, but it’s better than public parks and seating areas. “But aren’t New Westminster parks smoke free? They are in Vancouver,” asked my friend from Vancouver last week. Well, yeah, there are “This area is smoke free” signs all over the time, but 80 percent of the time those signs lie. So I infer 80 percent of smokers are jerks, give or take.

And even if there is no sight of any smoker, quite often the litter of butts is enough to ruin the seating area. There’s a lovely sunny one right outside our library. I’ve never sat there. I gag, just walking by. Reminds me of Paul McCartney in an ashtray, in the movie, “Help!” Help, indeed! When I saw that movie as a kid, it was funny the way he started scrubbing and bathing once some liquid flew into the ashtray, but of course that wasn’t Smell-o-vision, unlike when I worked as a busser after highschool. Big trays full of food, spilled coffee, and cigarette butts. Not somewhere I want to sit, even on a sunny day. It’s foul.