Thursday, August 27, 2009

Buttercup's Back!

The kid came back last night. She was excited and clung to me when I met them at the door. I can hardly express how good it made me feel. I've spent weeks now trying to find balance in all aspects of my life, accentuating the positives and thinking about how the future can be even better. So when her face lit up, it made all of the thinking all of the pondering seem all that much better.

I'm glad she had a good couple of weeks with her mom and her mom's family. I'm also glad she was excited to be back. thankfully I had enough distractions that I didn't fall too far into my usual melancholy when she was gone. In fact, it was only at a couple moments this weekend when L caught me watching other kids that she said, "It's okay. She'll be back soon."

And now she is. Soon school will start. We'll buy school supplies. We'll make a trip to IKEA to upgrade her room from little girl space to big kid space. Plans for the near and medium future will (hopefully) continue to form and take shape. Life will be good. It just takes a smile and a laugh — and remembering to smile and laugh yourself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

catching up — the garden

My garden experiment this year was a failure by all accounts. We began by intending to plant a full raised bed and scaled back to a limited container garden when I realized that the sun in the back yard wasn't going to sustain a full garden — the neighbors' trees had grown up too much in the past couple of years.

The next blow was the rain in June. I seeded my tomatoes, beans, peppers and basil early enough. Unfortunately, the surfeit of rain in June meant tons of water and little sun. The poor plants had to catch up in July and barely had a few beans, one pepper, one small tomato, and one decent batch of basil to show for the first couple months of summer. They were wonderful little starts, but the start never really evolved into a bigger harvest.

The rains continued in July, and the lack of sun become a serious detriment. The tomato plants I'd seeded still haven't grown enough and begun producing. The yellow pear tomato plant never flowered — which may be mollified by the fact that the yellow pear tomatoes never materialized at any vendor at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park either.

The current situation is dire. The pepper plant is promising one more pepper. There are several promising tomato blossoms and green tomatoes on the plans, but with August coming to an end and September approaching, it's hard to believe they'll amount to much. The basil is hanging on, and L has convinced me to move it into the kitchen for the rest of the year. With any luck, we'll be able to keep it going. We managed another couple of beans, but hardly enough to do anything with. The cucumber plant I started never even got going and is an utter failure.

I blame the weather and sun conditions, but I also blame time. Rather than finding the best solutions, I just tried to do a half-assed job. Next year, the goal will be to plant appropriate plants, or perhaps to share a community garden plot. Perhaps we will also have moved into a better spot for gardening by then. Who knows.

One other improvement I know I can make is to engage Buttercup more in the process. She enjoys planting and watering. She enjoys watching the plants produce. A little more attention from all of us and I think we'll have a better shot at success.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Touring Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

A little over a month ago, Jonah Holland was kind enough to invite me and Sarah of Roaming Virginia for a private tour of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. I brought Buttercup along, figuring it would be a good chance for her to get the inside scoop on one of her favorite places around town.

I'd been in touch with Jonah via Twitter, and we have a slew of mutual friends in Richmond. Given how many of us have kids and are loosely or directly involved in creative professions, sometimes it seems like a little thirty/forty-something parent mafia, all slightly interconnected. In any case, after meeting Jonah, she took us out for our first stop at the community garden.

Ginter received a grant this year to grow 10,000 pounds of vegetables for the local food bank. It was/is an ambitious task driven by volunteer support and community contributions. When we visited, they had already harvested nearly 2,000 pounds of vegetables and received a few hundred more from personal donations — people with gardens more successful than mine.
We had a chance to speak with the associate director, who explained that they'd opted to go with conventional rather than organic methods out of expediency and cost — they'd been offered a substantial supply of mulch. Still, they weren't treating the plants and sought more organic or natural methods of pest control. Regardless, it was clear that the program was proving to be a success — after all, affluence shouldn't determine whether a person can afford fresh, local produce.

Next up was a stop at the Butterflies Live! exhibit. Here Buttercup was able to show off her stellar knowledge of butterflies and moths. There were some truly remarkable specimens, including one with a wingspan of nearly a foot. The butterflies and moths flit freely around, and you're cautioned before entering not to touch them if they happen to land on you. The brilliant part is that you can visit repeatedly and be assured of seeing different varieties of butterflies and moths.

After a bit more wandering around, we landed in the children's garden. Buttercup knows the place well, but it was still a pleasant surprise to come across blackberry bushes bursting with berries and fairy houses. It was a further reminder that it would be grand to see a bigger cross-section of Richmond using and taking advantage of the gardens... butterflies, squash and all.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Coming back slowly

There are few things more perfect than a bowl of amazing mussels on a small island off the coast of Maine...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

More adventures

More things to write about... family, goats and their cheese, islands... but for now, there's this:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Way Life Should Be...

I'm still pondering the next steps here and trying to decide whether "Impolitic Eye" really speaks to the foodie and parenting directions I want to take this little endeavor. But for now, there's this...