Grow Your Own

Baby 'maters.

Baby 'maters.

I’m pretty ticked that I have baby tomatoes on the plant I haven’t killed yet. I’m also concerned that I only have two.

I tried veggie gardening about fifteen years ago and it was Not Successful. Flowers are easy; vegetables not so much. There was also the problem of Bambi and Cohorts. [Note: I did get some amazing radishes out of the deal and I don’t understand why I don’t grow radishes every year – talk about easy.]

Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

My dad keeps a fairly large garden and I’ve always relied on him for home grown tomatoes. In recent years he’s gotten stingy about them. After a couple years of denial that my father could be so cruel, this cute little tomato plant at the nursery (complete with Grow Your Own Tomato sign) insisted on coming home with me.

It was in a fairly large pot and I decided that perhaps, given my soil, growing tomatoes in a pot might be more fruitful. After peering at the provided pot, I decided it was too small for a mature root system which I hoped would form. I purchased a dandy tomato-growing pot. I don’t think it was specifically designed to grow tomatoes, but it looked like it would do the trick and was attractive. I’m all about aesthetics in the garden this year.  I’m also all about self-reliance and, if dad is going to be stingy, I’m going. . .

Potted Tomato

Potted Tomato

For the curious, my tomato plant is a Better Boy. The name appealed to me – who wouldn’t want a Better Boy? When I brought him home, he was about a foot high. Now over two feet tall, he’s sporting two green lobes and nary another bloom anywhere that I can see. This is in keeping with my vegetable woes – I buy a supposedly idiot proof tomato plant and get a whopping two lobes of fruit.

If the past predicts the future, one of my tomatoes will develop blossom end rot and the other one will get eaten by varmints. Unless, I can persuade Dad to be more generous with his bounty, I’m going to be tomato-less again. Maybe.  I feel kind of good about my tomato plant.  It looks really healthy and happy.  Maybe my two ‘maters are just overachievers and the other laggards.  Hmmm. . .I think that’s it.

Last year a co-worker took pity on me and gave me tomatoes. She and her husband plant all sorts of varieties and I was particularly fond of the yellow ones. When the tomato plants at the nursery were hollering Pick Me, Pick Me, none of them bore a sign that said Grow Your Own Yellow Tomato.

Yellow tomatoes are particularly good if chunked (along with a red tomato), mixed with cubed avocado and sprinkled with sea salt and coarse ground pepper. The taste is spectacular and, if presented in a vivid blue bowl – quite the eye candy (had you taken the picture after you learned about the macro setting on the camera 🙂 ). Any tomato is good with cucumbers and onions. Then there’s just quartering them and eating them standing over the kitchen sink. That’s good too.  Sliced thickly and liberally sprinkled with fresh ground pepper is a lunch time favorite.  Diced finely and put on a bed of fresh spinach with a nice viniagrette is yummy.

Yellow and red tomatoes with avocado.

Yellow and red tomatoes with avocado.

And then there’s the BLT sandwich. There’s no point in such if you don’t have home grown tomatoes. If you do, toast some thick cut sourdough or whole wheat bread, spread with mayonaise, heap a ton of crisp bacon on the mayonaise and top with thick sliced tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. [Note: Tacos and BLTs are the only reason iceberg lettuce exists and it’s a must for these two.]

In short, except for making ketchup, there’s not much you can do to a home grown tomato to ruin it other than pick it too soon.

One never ever not ever under any circumstances refrigerates real, i.e. home grown, tomatoes.  Never.  Such abuse of innocent ‘maters should be punishable by large fines and short jail terms. It won’t ruin them completely, but it will sorely compromise their wonderfulness.

I’m very hopeful that Better Boy will come through for me and keep me in tomatoes at least for a week or two after which I will go groveling to Dad and co-workers.  In the interests of self-respect and self-reliance, I’ll take any tomato-growing hints y’all might want to offer.

The Inverse of No. 10

Connie has the tools and understands the process, but still can't do it.

Connie has the tools and understands the process, but still can't do it.

For years, I did not know who wrote You are wrong because…    Now that I do, it seems obvious.  However, it seems like there should be something in this list about committees and group projects.  To wit:  you are wrong because you assumed a group of people followed through to the logical conclusion.

I do not understand how it is that we can design a jack that allows wimpy me to lift my car partially off the ground and, thoughtfully, to provide that marvel of engineering with the twinky spare tire, but fail to provide a means of getting the lug nuts off that isn’t reliant on brute strength.   In short, because I am not a big lug, I cannot de-lug.  How hard could it be has felled me again.  When I rule the world, things will be different.

Whine in ’09


I’m thinking that maybe if I have a major, no-holds-barred, massive whine fest, I can find one more hand-hold on the cement block wall that is my life these days and, um, get-a-grip.

Or not.

But in any case, I’m going to rant and rave and more than likely delete 90% of it before rock-and-rolling through this house like the avenging angel of housecleaning. OK, I’m going to commence cleaning after I finish this and after I deal with the flat tire.

It’s always been true that when my life is at its most chaotic, I slow boil on the sofa for a day or two and then get up and do something not particularly helpful to the crisis at hand – something like putting new shelf paper in the pantry or alphabetizing the spices. There’s a peace of sorts in doing something that creates a sense of order, no matter how trivial, but also does no harm. There’s not anything I can do to stop the onslaught of chaos, but I can put clean sheets on the bed. I can wreak genocide on dust bunnies. I can clean out the junk drawer. It’s live-action metaphor that will make me feel empowered to effect some sort of change.

But really. I can’t take one more damn thing.

Way back when, in another geologic era of my life, I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for my appointment and perusing a months-out-of-date copy of Redbook. In the issue was a stress test which I decided to take as it was now well past my appointment and my stress levels were rising as I considered all the things I wasn’t getting done while I waited.

The quiz had things like:

  • If you got married or divorced in the past year, give yourself 4 points.
  • If you moved in the past year, give yourself 2 points, 4 if it was a move of more than 100 miles.
  • If you had a baby in the past year, give yourself 4 points.
  • If you changed jobs in the past year, give yourself 1 point.
  • If you experienced the death of a loved-one, give yourself 3 points, 4 if it was someone in your immediate family.

And so on.

The only questions I didn’t get the maximum points on were the death of a loved one, bankruptcy, legal problems, and life-threatening illness. When I tallied my points, I was in the category of “honey, give it up, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just check into the nearest asylum and get fitted for a straight jacket.”

In retrospect, those were the good old days.

I cannot take one more damn thing.

And yet, every time I utter those words, one more damn thing happens. Some of it is my failure to adequately plan and/or putting my faith and trust in the wrong people. Some of it had nothing to do with me, but affects me nonetheless, and a great deal of it is in the nibbled to death by ducks category.

The past couple of years have been horrific. Really. I can’t take one more damn thing.

Nibbled to death by ducks is an expression I was introduced to about ten years ago. I think it’s British, though I’m not sure. As I understand it, it’s that state of stress brought on by a series – a series that feels eternal –  of minor catastrophes and inconveniences that goes on and on and on. And on. Endlessly on. Pointless, meandering, irritating. Like this paragraph.

I think my life shows that I can handle the big stuff – the really catastrophic oh-my-God shit. While I’d like to do it with more grace and style than I do, I do, some how, time and again, seem to get through it with my sense of humor intact.

To be fair to myself (although it could just be that I’m too stressed to see the trees for the forest), I seem to have more than my share of big stuff. I’ve quit trying to find some meaning in that. OK, mostly quit. These days when I do find myself veering in that direction, I’m most often reminded of the biblical book of Job. If you know your Bible, you know that Job didn’t do a damn thing to deserve any of the stuff inflicted on him – it was all some bizarre pissing contest between Jehovah and Lucifer. Job reacted in such a way that Jehovah won the bet and thus was rewarded in the end.

Now I’m not nearly as blameless as Job and I’m not about to thank Jehovah or any other idea of god for the endless shit that keeps whirling about me. It’s my fervent belief that if there is a sentient creator, he/she/it is not so petty. All this crap is not going to result in a reward in the afterlife or make me a better person or build character.  If that were true, I’d be the second-coming of Mother Teresa already.

Right now, I’m working feverishly to keep my sense of humor. (It’s not for nothing that the Dalai Lama is a fan of the Three Stooges.)  For the first time ever, I really do feel like I’m in danger of losing it. To not be able to laugh is my vision of hell. That’s rock bottom – the point of no return. I think we all have one and yours might be something different, but mine is the ability to laugh. I’m the person who usually doesn’t need a couple of years to find the humor in some catastrophe – those “someday we’ll laugh about this” events. I’m usually the one, often inappropriately, laughing in the middle of it.

The irony of the flat tire I was greeted with yesterday is so in-your-face that if I read it in a piece of fiction, I would roll my eyes at the heavy-handedness of the writer. Yet, it wasn’t until just an hour or so ago that I realized the dark humor of it. I still haven’t had the belly-laugh-until-you-cry moment, but hopefully it’s on the horizon. It is pretty damn funny when you think about it.

No. I’m not going to explain the irony of the tire. It would take too long and require even more whining. But, trust me. It’s pretty funny and I will laugh about it. I will. Even if I have to fake it.

Afterword:  Self-reliant tire-ing is not going well. The rain isn’t helping.  And I’ve yet to begin cleaning which will, perversely, make me feel better even though I hate cleaning with every fiber of my being.