Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Soothing Greens and Daydreams

Except for the neighbors incessant jack-hammering, and regular running of his Bobcat, it's absolutely soothing and green outdoors.

I'm sorry for mentioning the jack-hammer. But it's hard to dismiss.

I haven't made a vodka tincture of the mimosa. I wish I could remember what made me think of buying vodka at all. It was definitely for some kind of a homemade tincture, but the inspiration escapes me. And I don't think I even like vodka. It makes me think I am sipping a cool glass of medical lab work.

Sorry about that. Not a pleasant image, and maybe you like vodka. Sorry.

What the heck kind of mood am I in, anyway?

Now! Here is something. Green. Okay, but not necessarily "soothing." I was going to share these a few days ago, and ask the collective minds of the Internet, "Why is my potato growing tomatoes?" At least I knew to be wary of them. They grew from distinctly, and large, nightshade blossoms, and that makes them toxic. Last night I was visiting a new to me Instagram account, and lo! She's got potato tomatoes, too! Honestly, this is a favorite experience for me... finding answers organically, by chance, so this was great. She found an article that describes the phenomenon being as rare as a two headed calf. Wikipedia has more to say about these true fruits of the potato plant.

Okay. Enough with the toxic plants, two headed calves, and jack-hammers.

The soothing green of pumpkins on vines, beneath the shade of broad green leaves, and a true story...

A Pie Pumpkin, brought home last October, escaped notice all through the holidays. Somehow, it slipped quietly away from the entry display for Halloween. It sat, small, unnoticed through Thanksgiving. Sometime between Christmas and Ground Hog Day it moved under the guest bed, and fell sound asleep. Then came Spring, and all the stirrings to freshen home and garden... boxes to the attic, rubbish to the bin, raking, sweeping, and sorting, and that's when we spied Pie Pumpkin, again. At last, the little orange orb, still firm and bright, would fulfill a marvelous destiny. Pie Pumpkin is coming full circle, and the garden is full of her descendants; bright, firm orbs that are just beginning to speckle orange.

Maria baked a cake for her Dad, her "Cool, and really smart" Dad. I should remind her to add notes to the Vanilla Cake Pan recipe, which also happens to be vegan. She made some small substitutions, like using lemon extract, and adding strawberry lemonade and fresh strawberries to the frosting. It had such a bright, Spring flavor.

This tiny rose was a gift from Ruth, a few years ago. It would be so happy planted in the ground. I want to create something sturdy and tall for it to grow up. I am imagining a bower, loaded with these rosy, strawberry lemonade blossoms, and decorating Maria's cake with the flowers.

Ruth brought us a beautiful little orchid when she came to celebrate Max's commencement. I took it upstairs, thinking it would be happy with the other three plants that, miraculously, are living, even thriving! I kill house plants. I kill outside plants, too, but it's not as traumatizing, somehow. I am a go-with-the-flow gardener. Flowers go to seed, tomatoes pop up! The lawn is mostly well mowed weeds. I love hardy specimens, native plants, things we can eat, or fall in love with. Nothing too precious. Nothing manicured, or needy. My dear friend, Anna Banana, gave me the anthuriums. They're from a nursery we love, Barrels & Branches. I can't believe it still looks well. From the same nursery, I brought home African violets, which, given our family history, feels inevitable. African violets are what Velascos grow. When I see them, I see my tias, my Abuela, my tios, my primos, and their primos. Sooner or later, I was going to have them en casa, tambien. I am pleased, and greatly relieved that they are not only alive, but have actually grown.

I could grow. I could become an indoor plant lady, but I can't deny my nature, my easily distracted, forgetful tendencies, the terrible track record I have. But. I could try harder, I suppose. If I weren't so prone to lapses in effort, absent-minded spells when everyone had better know how to fend for themselves, lawn and fruit trees included, then I would be in a lush greenhouse home. Soothing, flourishing, with maybe an indoor fountain, something tiled, and trickling gently, surrounded by verdant specimens, trailing leaves, maybe birds, too. I satisfy these daydreams by following real Gardeners, capital G Gardeners, like Black Girls Gardening, and Gardeners that bother with things like soil ph, fertilizing, pruning, like Hilton Carter, creator of green interiors. I meditate on the pictures of greenhouse specimens from Barrels & Branches.

God. I hope I don't kill this little orchid.

I have a success story to share... I was seeing different adaptations for businesses to meet with clients, bring in customers, and still keep people safe from spreading viruses. I remembered that Geoff has made clear acrylic devices before, and I posed the question: Could we make some kind of sneeze guard, like a clear, table top voting booth set up? Then we could have close-up social distancing. Alex and Max talked about designs and configurations, and Geoff placed an order for acrylic sheets, then he and Alex heated, and shaped the clear plastic. It works! Max and Alex made a couple more, and then Max had his friend, Lucas, over. Table top gaming has returned to the Bird House! We have table top personal protective equipment, and its a game changer!

It's apple time, again. It's our tenth Apple Anniversary, actually. Last year we opened the gates, and invited everyone over for apple picking. I miss that. We will still share, but there won't be a potluck, or a garden full of friends. Summer adventures will be closer to home... much closer, like just at home. I'm so fortunate, so thankful... we have plenty, we have each other, and soothing green gardens, and cats, and memories, and all the stuff to make new memories. Picture this... next year, all of us under a bower of strawberry lemonade roses, and about to slice into Maria's pink frosted cake. It's a picnic, and everyone is invited. We are running around the garden, laughing, and making marvelous plans for summer. There is room for everyone, and plenty to share. Stay the night. We'll light campfires and watch a movie, then listen to the owls.


cindy said...

Natalie! Your wonderful posts are pulling me out of my "lurkiness"! I just had to comment about your recent writings . I find them wonderful and inspiring, really. You have a special way with words ( and I can see the big eye-roll you are doing right now). Anyway, thanks for taking the time to do this.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

LOL... ok, it was more *wide eyes,* but whoah, you do see me!
Come out of lurkiness more often, please! I need the company! Thank you, Cindy.

Sylvia said...

I agree with Cindy! Thank you for taking me outside (myself)!

Unknown said...

I learned something new today, reading your words. I had never heard of potato tomatoes! Thanks.

I wish you much luck with the African violet!

I like them, and remember my Grandma Ellie kept many - one room in her place housed 10 or more African violets - big, small, and in-between sizes, and at least 2 or 3 different flower colors. But I don't have any, as I have trouble keeping them alive for more than a few months. It's funny, someone happened to give me a nice African violet after Grandma Ellie died, along with a sympathy card, and that one lived for two or three years - the longest I'd ever had one survive. I like to think she was keeping an eye on me, for that time at least (maybe a bit silly, but...maybe not...).

Thanks for sharing!

--Jean Marie

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Sylvia. It's so nice to find comments, to connect... more than ever!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank goodness the potatoes are so delicious, and the flowers are beautiful, otherwise those potato-tomatoes are a little scary. I should probably snip them and dispose of them before they drop and seed!
Thank you for the good luck wish. I can picture your Grandma Ellies's African Violet room! At least, I can imagine it was like my Aunts', my Grandmother's, and my Mom keeps them, too. I've tried keeping them before, and like you, I was not successful with keeping them going. Your story resonates with me, absolutely! My Grandmother passed away three years ago, and it's still grieving me. Last December I brought home the two African Violets, because of how much I wanted to feel close to her, to share something she loved. As much as I loved them, I had a little dread that they wouldn't last, that life would distract me, and they'd be neglected. Instead, they are growing well, and I feel a happy, comforting reminder of her every time I see them. Maybe it's our Grandmother's in us, through experience, memory and love, that keeps *an eye on us,* helps us.