Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"Mommy's so sad."

No kidding. I've been feeling isolated for weeks. About a month ago, C had emergency surgery, which meant he couldn't bike in to work for a couple weeks, the consequence of which being that I was stuck home without a car unless I cared to waste an hour between two round trips of carpooling. Only a couple days after he resumed biking, he got a flat tire. Eliza and I walked the bike to the shop that day to have it fixed. Just two days after that, he crashed his bike into a parked car, mangling the front fork. "Didn't I just see you?" the bike shop employee asked. Unfortunately, this wasn't as easily fixed as a popped tire. I just got word that the special-ordered part would take a couple weeks to arrive.

For now, I have the car since C is out of town on business this week. I would much rather have him around than the car, but it's going to be hard being housebound these next two weeks. I guess I had better take advantage of having the car until he comes home.

Maybe we'll go to the Thursday playgroup tomorrow. I really miss them, but they're meeting so far from my house this week, and I'd feel like a shlub burning up that much gas. But since I haven't been in a month now, and our next opportunity won't be until after Pesach, I just might do it.

As if the bike/car woes weren't enough, this afternoon Miss Eliza thought my cell phone needed a bath. I sent an e-mail to C, who told me to take out the battery and let it dry overnight before trying to use the phone (I don't hold out much hope).

So next week, we're home alone with no car and no phone. When it rains it pours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

early spring in the garden

After ten days, the oregano is still alive. Barely. It's actual several oregano plants. The one on the right looks like it's going to make it, but the wilted sad-sack on the left . . . probably not. On a lark, I sprinkled what little Rescue Remedy I had left near the roots on the right side of the plant. Coincidence?

The neighbors' nanny informs me they're hiring someone to completely redo their patio garden in anticipation of putting up the house for sale and plan to completely uproot the large, thriving rosemary bush. The nanny told them she had a feeling I would be thrilled to give it a home. She asked if I had room. "I'll make room." I have a single bare patch of soil that might be large enough; it will be the Eliyahu HaNavi seat of the garden.

Speaking of herbs, I bought two organic seed packets from the co-op: thyme and sweet basil. I managed to keep half an oregano planting alive for ten days - who's cocky now? My brown thumb has managed to kill these same plants before. But the way I see it at the moment, what have I to lose besides the four bucks it cost to buy the seeds? My botanical ego is already so bruised from years of failures it couldn't get any worse. I have a game plan this time. I'm going to wait another month until the weather really warms up, and I'm going to put a copper ring around the seedlings to keep the snails away.

I'm so ready for spring. It's a wee bit chilly today with blustering winds, but once it settles into spring for good, Eliza and I will resume our afternoon tea tradition at the patio garden table (the dining room table inside doesn't have the same charm).

Finally, my hybrid tea roses have buds! As much as I swoon over roses in bloom, there's something so perfect about tender crimson leaves. I've been thinking for weeks now that the jasmine would beat the roses to bloom, but now I'm not so sure. I have a soft spot for jasmine. What's not to love about a plant that grows lushly despite the fact that I never touch it (aha, maybe that's its secret to success). I don't even water it - it's on a drip irrigation system that delivers water next to the roots at night to converse water. I wish the roses were that easy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

sissy mama

I'm afraid of snails. There - I've said it. They're not as scary as horses, but still. The buggers have been noshing on the lowest rose leaves, and still I can't bring myself to relocate them to the palm tree because one might accidentally touch me. *gasp*

Yesterday, we spent more than an hour weeding our little garden. I decided the clover needed to go. The pretty yellow flowers and okra-shaped pods were adorable, but alas, the cause of their spreading like wildfire. Eliza is a most enthusiastic weed puller! Finally, she has a positive outlet for her destructive tendencies. I have to go back to tease out the roots, of course, but I'm glad she was entertained.

Much to my relief, she will ask if a patch of something is a weed before pulling it. She pointed to my newly-planted oregano:

E: That's a weed?
S: No, sweetie, that's oregano.
E: We make the tea wit' owegano?
S: Those aren't tea leaves. We use those for cooking.

That's my girl! Already she has her priorities right: proper tea is from loose leaves, not bags. I can't say oregano tea sounds appetizing, but Chris thought it probably looked to her like my Emerald Lily green tea (pre-rolling).

Friday, March 16, 2007

brown thumb

I just planted it, and already the oregano's days are numbered. Not one single plant I've put in the ground has lived longer than a few weeks. My humble patio garden contains a half dozen hybrid tea rose bushes, a "tree" in each corner (oleander and bird-of-paradise), inviting jasmine, and a wall of lush creeping fig. All of those were here when we moved in almost three years ago. The sweet alyssa I used as a groundcover between the roses died within a few weeks (I know it's just an annual - but come on - a few months would have been nice). The Mediterranean herbs I planted in a cedar box died before they even reached six inches tall. The coleus was eaten by snails. The heliotrope was scorched soon after planting by 100+ degree head one horrendous April day. You know you're in trouble when a sun-loving plant dies from too much sun.

But hope springs eternal in the human breast, or so Alexander Pope tells me. We were visiting next door today, and the neighbors' nanny and I got to talking about gardening. Oregano, rosemary, and spearmint were thriving (in fact, the spearmint was thriving a bit too much, but I guess they never heard the recommendation to pot it separately because of its invasiveness). Then I find out the neighbors never use any herbs from their patio garden. They rip out oregano when it starts to get out of control, then drive down the street to buy oregano at the supermarket! The nanny proceeded to rip out some oregano and throw it over my fence, telling me to plant it as soon as I get home. Well, what else was I supposed to do? I could compost it or plant it - either way it will end up as organic fertilizer.

I had never tried to plant anything in that stretch of dirt. Chris had ripped out a thriving fennel plant when we first moved in (although I can't recall why), but perhaps he wouldn't have done that if he'd have known about the curse of the brown thumb. Anyway, I must have hauled away at least 20 pounds of clay and roots. I suspect the thin roots are from the uninvited clover that has been growing in my garden. I let it be because it was making dainty yellow flowers, and finally, I had ground cover between my roses. I filled in the space with the last of my organic soil, moistened it thoroughly, and crossed my fingers I'd have better luck with this plant.

Little does it know it just met its doom.