Sunday, July 28, 2013

Perfectionism and Adventures in Gardening

My perfectionism sometimes gets in the way of me actually accomplishing anything.  Lucky for me, hubby is far from a perfectionist.  While I will agonize over how exactly to do a project and scrutinize every detail, he will just grab some stuff and slap it together.  Case in point:  our garden.  We've been talking about making a vegetable garden for...oh, I don't know, years.  Several years ago, we attempted one at our old house, but it was quickly gobbled up by the groundhog that lived in the woods behind our house (he came into our yard so much, we even gave him a name:  "Pucker").  Eventually we decided it wasn't worth the effort to try to grow vegetables to feed Pucker.  So that was the last of the gardening at our old house.

Our current garden, mid-July

Last summer was the first summer at our new house, and it was then that we discovered that half our lawn was dead.  We thought it might be a good place to put a garden in, but decided to wait and see what would happen with the lawn over the summer (weeds...the answer is weeds would happen).  This spring we again discussed putting a garden in.  I, of course, wanted to plan out all of the details:  decide on the exact size and shape, get just the right boards to build raised beds, figure out precisely when to plant which seeds, etc.  Then one day hubby said, "I think I'll go outside and put together a garden bed."  I'll admit my first thought was "I don't think so."  You see, he isn't exactly the handiest of guys, and besides that, what about all my garden plans (you know...the ones I had yet to make)??  However, despite my hesitation, I agreed to it.  So, he found some boards under our deck (thank you, previous owners!), and voila - a garden bed.  It may not have been perfect, but it was done, and that's more than I can say for my garden bed (which was still entirely in my head).  We were even able to make a second one with more boards the previous owners had left.

Seed packets, purchased from PTA fundraiser

In mid April, we sowed our first seeds:  peas and carrots.  We also planted potatoes, I think around the same time, but my memory is a little fuzzy.  Hopefully this blog post will at least give me something to look back on so I can remember what we did when next spring rolls around.  (First note to self:  take more notes!)  The peas were the first to sprout up and it quickly became evident they needed something to climb.  In an effort to be resourceful, we found some large sticks in the yard, shoved them in the soil at the edges of the rows of peas, and tied twine between them.  For the most part, this worked fairly well.  However, once they got taller it seemed like they could use more support, especially after getting drenched from the many rain showers we've had this summer.  (Note #2:  peas need more support!)  The carrots took a lot longer to sprout up, but they're doing good now.  At least I think they're doing good now (how can you tell with carrots??)  And the potatoes seem to be doing good as well.  Oh, and hubby found a strawberry plant growing elsewhere in the yard and moved it to the garden.  No sign of strawberries yet, but it is still alive at least.  We also had a few random tomato plants pop up, which we moved to the garden as well.  Cherry tomatoes were the one and only thing we grew last year - apparently they reseed themselves (bonus!).  So that's garden bed #1.

Garden bed #1

In garden bed #2, we planted green beans and cucumbers, probably in mid-May, but I can't recall for sure.  We also threw in a couple more volunteer tomato plants we found.  The green beans are doing great.  The cucumbers took a bit longer to get going, but now the vines are really starting to grow, and there's not much room for them.  Which means we're scrambling being resourceful and looking around the yard to find something for them to climb.  (Note #3:  cucumbers need something to climb, or room to sprawl!)

Garden bed #2

First garden-fresh peas!

The first week of July, we tasted our first peas, and man were they delicious!  We've been eagerly gobbling them up over the past couple weeks.  In fact, only about half of them actually make it into the house.  (Note #4:  plant more peas!)  I think it was about a week later when we got our first green beans, which were super tasty, too.  Then we were gone for 4 days, and returned to a partially wilted garden, but an excellent little harvest!

First big harvest from our garden - yippeee!

Fortunately after a good soaking, everything that was wilted snapped back.  And since I started composing this blog post a week ago, we dug up the rest of the potatoes (which were super delicious!) and picked our first cucumber (which was yummy too!).  All in all, I'm super pleased with the results of our garden so far this year, and definitely want to do even more next year!

In summary, my notes for next year:
1. Take more notes, and photos, right from the beginning.
2. Get or make something better for the peas to climb.
3. Get or make something better for the cucumbers to climb, or give them more room to sprawl.
4. Make at least one more garden bed, so we can grow lots more veggies - definitely plant more peas and potatoes!
5. Try something new - maybe broccoli??
6. And don't worry about making the garden perfect, because...
7. Everything tastes better when it's homegrown, and...
8. Even if they're not perfect, gardens are way better than lawns!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

There's no Someday Like Today...

Countless times in my life, I have said "someday".  Someday, I'll make more art again.  Someday, I'll check out that new place I've been meaning to go.  Someday, I'll finish that project (like the makeshift curtains in our living room that are still in their jerry-rigged state a year and a half after moving...ugh!).  Someday, I'll get back to doing yoga.  Someday, I'll finally write and illustrate the children's books that I've had ideas for foreverSomeday, I'll start blogging again (it's been almost a year since my last post...).  You get the idea.

Recently my life had become so full of these "somedays", that they started to become overwhelming.  Everywhere I looked, it seemed there was a reminder of something I wanted to do, but had put off until "someday".  I became stuck.  I had all these things to do someday, but what about today?  My entire life felt like it was on hold, waiting to happen.  And what kind of life is that??

Of course, with little ones in the house, it's often difficult to find the time for everything you want to do.  (Love them as I do, they sure are time-suckers!)  But I've come to realize how important it is to carve out time for yourself.  And how important it is to prioritize your life.  And to make changes so that you can do the things that really matter to you.  You know that saying, 'If mom's not happy, no one is'?  Yeah, that.

When Little G (who's not so little now) started Kindergarten last fall, I started thinking more about my job and how it wasn't really working for me anymore.  While there were aspects of working at a florist that I enjoyed (and still do, on occasion), others...not so much.  Like being tied to retail hours and being expected to work extra hours for every holiday.  That was really starting to get to me.  I wanted to be home with G before and after school.  I wanted the flexibility to be able to volunteer in the classroom.  I wanted to enjoy our holidays instead of being stressed out working overtime.  I wanted more say in what I did with my time.

So I made a change.  It wasn't easy.  I had been at the same job for nearly 10 years.  But when I found a job working from home doing something I love to do anyway, I knew I had to take a chance and seize the opportunity.  I admit the transition to a new job has been rocky, but several months in, I have no regrets.  True, there has been more of learning curve than I anticipated.  True, it has been a struggle to manage my time efficiently and get enough work done.  True, we've had to make sacrifices because my income is lower now.  But has it all been worth it?  Absolutely!  When I look back at the school year and think about all of the things that I was able to do that just wouldn't have been possible had I not made this change, it has been undoubtedly worth it.  Am I still struggling to adjust to the new job?  Yes.  But I'm trying to keep a positive outlook and have faith that it will work out, given time.  And if it doesn't...well, at least it was a step in the right direction.  That I know for certain!

Over the course of the past year, all this job transition stuff has taken a lot of my time and energy.  The "somedays" started piling up again.  But that was bound to happen...after all, this wasn't simply a change of job, it was a complete change of career.  A complete change of the way I spend my time, and the way I live my life.  And the past few months haven't exactly been typical either.  This spring, just as I was starting to get in a good rhythm with work/life balance, something unexpected happened:  my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and less than 2 months later, he was gone.  Seeing someone close to you die is a surefire reminder for you to live.  And not just to complacently go through your days, but to actually live your life to the fullest.  To do all of the things you want to do.  To experience new and exciting things, but also to savor the quiet little moments too.  It's not always easy, but I'm doing my best to keep all this in mind as I heal and move forward.  Baby steps, I keep reminding myself.  And as for all those "somedays"?  Well, now I say there's no someday like today.