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So I’m in a little bit of a holding pattern right now. Waiting for the chickens to figure out that it’s really better to lay eggs in their nest boxes, as opposed to…anywhere else. Waiting for the tomato plants to get into full swing so I can start putting up tomato sauce. Waiting for the apples to finish off so I can…well, eat them! And last but not least (and really, not even last if you think about it) waiting to hear about my latest and greatest what-have-I-gotten-myself-into project: the Community Garden.

Let me say this: I love community gardens. I think they’re just about the neatest idea ever. I love the idea of people not just growing food, but growing an actual community. And as much as I appreciate the ability to tell my husband to go take a long walk off a short pier (or other, less G-rated things) without having to fear being thrown out into the street with nothing, to pursue the career of my choosing, to have money and property in my own name, and all those other good things brought to me by the women’s movement, I feel a little sad that women’s role as community builders has been, if not lost, then definitely put on the back burner.

But this is not a post about feminism, post-feminism, or anything like that. This is a post about how I. Am. A. Freakin’. Lunatic.

Because for years and years, I said to myself, “You know, this town needs a community garden.” And then one day, for no good reason, really, other than my kids were keeping the noise level down to a low din, and I could almost hear myself think for a second there, I heard my voice saying something: I Am That Someone. Of course, in retrospect, I might actually have been thinking I Want Some Gum. I’ll never know for sure, because by the time I realized I may have misheard what I was thinking, it was too late. I’d placed ads in various places, looking for others who think that community gardens are good, and I was off.

And after two meetings with the city Parks & Recreation Department (at one of which I was required to stand up in a public forum and *gasp* speak on behalf of our group in front of an audience — albeit a very small one) here I sit, waiting for the final yay or nay from the city, and all the while, what my mother calls my contingency chromosome is about to go critical. If the city approves, then I have plans to go ahead with fundraising and more outreach. If the city says no, I have a mental list of vacant lots scattered throughout town, and the phone number of the county assessor’s office to start doing title searches.

Gentle reader, you may be asking yourself how all this makes me a lunatic? All this makes me a lunatic because before I started this project I had, on average, 43.78 free seconds a day. And now, I have none. But I may end this up with more dirt to play in, a new set of skills, and a new set of words to define myself: community organizer. I can live with that.

But still, next time I can hear myself think, I’m just going to get a piece of gum, and see if the voices go away.

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The dog days of summer are here, and it’s not pretty. It’s not pretty at all. I’m persistently perspiring, and the co-pilot is about to melt. He’s really, really not happy with this current experiment I’m running: this year, despite the fact that we live in a desert area where the temperature frequently flirts with triple digits (and sometimes walks right up to them and gives them a big kiss), I decided that we’re not turning on the central air this year.

Instead, to keep the house livable in the heat, we’re relying on a window-mounted evaporative cooler that we bartered a TV and DVD player back in January. Which work great in our dry, desert climate, for about 20 hours of the day. Now, the other four hours…those are the tough ones. The ones where the livingroom temperature creeps up through the 80s, until around 7:30, when the outside temperature starts to drop, triggering a chain reaction of cooling that brings the temperature inside back down.

I can handle this. I was born in the tropics and raised in a desert that’s much hotter than this one. I’m good. The kids don’t seem to notice much one way or another, pretty much like I didn’t when I was a kid. The co-pilot, on the other hand? Well, like I said, he’s not happy. How could he be? He generally looks like he’s about to either melt or catch fire. Sometimes both, as improbable as that sounds.

And I sympathize. I really do. It’s hard enough to suffer for convictions when they’re yours. Suffering for someone else’s convictions, however, is pretty miserable. And yet he hasn’t broken. He hasn’t rebelled. He hasn’t shut the windows, and defiantly returned us to the glories of central air. He’s been a little grumpy, but he hasn’t flipped his lid, or the switch.

So here’s to you, dear co-pilot, builder of worm bins (and partial chicken coops), wrangler of chickens. Thanks for melting with me, and melting my heart.

Could it be?

There are signs of good things happening in the garden. And by good things, I mean: Stuff I Can Freakin’ Eat.

Okay, okay. These tomatoes are not my first produce of the season.    True, I got behind on planting (and picking!  I lost my first planting of corn by leaving it too long.  The chickens have been really enjoying it, though), so there’s been a bit of a dry spell.  However, I’ve had peas, lettuce, spinach — your basic winter crops.  I even grew some Hakurei turnips, which were a particular favorite of mine back when we had a membership to a CSA.

But still, I’m really excited about the tomatoes.   Not just for the “homegrown tomatoes are better than just about anything else on the planet” thing, but because I haven’t been able to successfully grow any quantity of them since…well, it was before my oldest daughter was born.  And she’s four now.  Now, that has been a long, discouraging dry spell.

Two years of gopher damage, one year of severe heat combined with being pregnant, and one year of the dread blossom end rot.  A rational person would have just given up by now, I think.

Good thing I’m not usually rational.

And to be honest, I don’t think most gardeners are.  Gardening, at its very heart, requires elevating irrationality to an art form, and mixing it with dirt.  What rational person would willingly spend their time fighting insects, wildlife, weather, soil deficiencies, drought — the list goes on and on — to produce what can be so cheaply bought?  How is continuing to plant tomatoes, year after year, defeat after defeat, not the epitome of irrational behavior?  There are a million reasons to not have a vegetable garden.   Sometimes I look out over my (normally) wreck of a garden, where I’m always behind, always struggling to catch up, and always getting my but whupped by something, and I ask myself why I keep trying.

There are all kinds of answers to that question.  There’s a desire to be as self sufficient as possible.  A desire to remove a link from the chemically-saturated, planet-destroying food chain.  There’s the desire for that rarest of jewels:  a homegrown tomato.    So maybe there are a million reasons to garden, as well.

My mother always says, “Little boys are nothing but noise wrapped in dirt.”   And maybe gardeners are optimism wrapped in dirt.  I think I’m okay with that.

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