Friday, August 17, 2012

A welcome lull

Thursday is my "nursery day", as in the only day I work at Talini's these days. During summer, the nursery is extremely busy, often sprouting a line of Radio Flyer wagon-toting customers out the back door. We are fully staffed during that time, so it's manageable. Ish.

Heading into midsummer, there's an expected lull and we pare down staff. It's not a fun transition for me because it takes awhile for staffing to match the lull. Meanwhile, I run around like a chicken with its head cut off, which for me is not a pleasant sensation. Especially when it's 106 degrees F.

Phones go unanswered... plants wilt (No, not at Talini's!) ... And I don't get to enjoy the more tranquil and creative aspects of nursery work. Just when it starts to get to me, the lull truly arrives and I can squeeze in more of what I feel like doing instead of what must be done.

Yesterday was the first of those days for me this season.

I admired our new chicken coop.

And our new shipment of Mexican metal art.

And this darling bamboo birdhouse.

And wondered about the new Irish employee.

And enjoyed the ongoing festive feeling I get from the (Balinese?) umbrellas.

But the truest sign of a mellower pace... I got to make a couple basket planters. Ahhhhh....

Life, which is so much about balance, is good again, even if just for a day. It's so much easier to achieve balance with your head firmly attached to the rest of your body.

In these moments, I can finally stand still long enough to appreciate the gentle push of a Delta breeze, hinting at milder weather and quieter moments ahead.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bloom whether you are planted or not.

As a person who learned early on that "putting down roots" can be a rather nebulous concept and inevitably leads to the painful task of yanking those roots, staying in a house long enough to plant things in the ground has taken on exaggerated importance for me. I thought I'd be afforded some degree of stability in my current house in East Sacramento, to which I moved three years ago. Three years isn't bad, but plans changed.

The divorce that brought me to this house as a middle aged woman was soon followed not by 10 cats, but the boyfriend. Who knew?!!! The boyfriend soon became the fiance. Still is! My one and his two kids are grown or nearly so, so we could make this little 2 br/1 ba 744 sq. ft. "dollhouse" work for the two of us. Except we are not dolls. And we've grown accustomed to things like cupboards... and dining rooms. By Manhattan apartment standards, I suppose this place is huge, but one of the benefits of living in Sacramento is affordability and spaciousness of housing. That game room and exercise room we've talked about is not just crazy talk to a Sacramentan.

I was initially very excited about the prospect of tending every square inch of this little urban property, but when my initial euphoria wore off and circumstances steered me toward remaining a renter instead of buying the place like I'd planned, I found myself not wanting to garden here. At all. Goodbye garden mojo.

When you don't know how long you'll be in a home but want to garden, the notion of growing everything in pots becomes the next logical coping mechanism. Having done the pot thing before in this hot-summer climate where containers often require water twice a day from July-September... I ended up on a gardening strike instead.

The strike felt right for this home & garden limbo state I'd found myself floating around in. The problem is, I'd get swept up in a momentary urge to plant, but it often came at the wrong time. Like last spring, when I wasn't going to plant a summer veggie garden. Then did. Too late. I got nada for my efforts.

Thinking I'd be in my "real home" by now, I almost didn't plant a summer garden this year. But the seasonal urge struck at the right time, and I was realizing that I might be in this house longer than I'd anticipated since my man and I had several logistical hurdles to jump before we'd be able to start house hunting. I'm happy to report I got my tomatoes in. Tomatoes were followed by 'Gold Rush' zucchini,  a few peppers, and most recently, cucumbers and Chinese long beans. I know! Root city, right?! I'm done planting veggies, as far as I know today.

My 2012 tomato line-up

My first little 'Indigo Apple' is already coloring up!

Being a renter also means I can't prune or... God forbid... cut down the giant sycamore raining twigs and pollen on my morning-light-robbed backyard. So I garden where I can. Even if it's also where I park my car.

Nor can I get rid of the ankle-breaking chunky bark surrounding the backyard tree. And there will be no tearing up the patch of driveway preventing me from screening my backyard from the neighbor whose windows peer into my yard.

Szechuan Green Bean Recipe


  • 1 pound Chinese longbeans (also called yardlong beans or just longbeans)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 2 scallions (spring onions, green onions), white parts only
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Pepper to taste, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil for stir-frying, or as needed


Wash the longbeans, drain thoroughly, and trim the tops and bottoms.
Cut the longbeans on the diagonal into slices approximately 2 inches long.
Chop the garlic, ginger and white part of the scallions.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the longbeans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel or "pucker" and turn brown (5 - 7 minutes). Remove the long beans and drain in a colander or on paper towels.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the wok on high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chili paste and stir-fry for a few more seconds until aromatic. Add the longbeans and the remaining ingredients. Mix together and serve.

So, damn it, if I'm going to be in this house a bit longer, I might as well be a bit more securely tethered to the earth here.