Tag Archives: Coping

Sunday Self-Care: Making the beds

As I mentioned several weeks ago, I don’t stop gardening in the winter. Time spent working in the sunshine is a necessity if I’m to keep seasonal depression at bay, and winter is an ideal time to work on a garden’s infrastructure. My focus this year has been adding raised beds. I had six last year, and my goal is to have a dozen by planting time this year — a task that should be accomplished easily enough, as we generally buy one every paycheck, and we’re still five checks away from Planting Day.

I think the bird's-nest concept takes up too much room to work in the garden itself, but it'll be cute around a raised bed in the front yard later on.
I think that bird’s-nest concept takes up too much room to work in the garden proper, but it’ll be cute around a flowerbed in the front yard later on.

I’ve been filling the beds with compostable materials, peat moss, and finished compost. A third of a bale of peat on the bottom provides filler as well as drainage and aeration, and three bags of compost on top will just about fill up the bed, for a total cost of about $8 per bed.

I can’t say enough good things about these beds, which are just plain old 36-inch fire rings. They run between $30 and $45 apiece, depending on where you buy them and whether you catch a sale, and they’re lightweight, easy to position (just roll them where you want them), and make planting and weeding very easy. I installed them out of necessity — the juglones from the neighbors’ black walnut and pecan trees have rendered the soil in my backyard worthless for growing most vegetables — but they’ve proven so advantageous in so many directions, I’m not sure I’d go back to traditional rows even if I had the option.

As you can see in the picture, I’ve also started mulching with cedar shavings in between beds. They look neat, discourage pests, and smell nice when I walk over them.

Emily

 

P.S.: The tin cans you see in one of the rings in the top picture are leftovers from last year’s plantings. Besides being a good way to start seeds, the cans help protect young plants from marauding squirrels, which love to dig through my raised beds in search of nuts. My tomato plants wouldn’t have survived without them last year.

Scaling back

Late Saturday night, I realized I’d spent nearly 10 straight hours doing blog-related stuff and STILL didn’t have a whole week’s worth of posts filed, and I ended up so tired and frustrated, it literally made me sick. It occurred to me that I’ve taken something I started for fun and made it stressful. That’s really screwed-up.

My New Year’s resolution was to do less, live more, and hopefully spend less time battling the stress-related health problems that plagued me for most of 2016. To that end, I’m making some changes around here:

Vegetarian Friday. When I started this feature in 2014, my goal was to try one new vegetarian recipe every week for a year in an effort to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet. Posting them was a way to keep myself honest. Three years later, a good 80 percent of the meals I cook are vegetarian, probably a fourth are vegan, and I’ve learned a lot about staging food photos. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I don’t like staging food photos. I see no point in doing something I don’t like if I’m not being paid for it, especially if other people are better at it. With that in mind, if you enjoyed Vegetarian Friday, I would encourage you to visit Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker. If I dream up something really exceptional, I’ll still share it like I always have, but it’s probably not going to be a weekly occurrence.

Eco-Saturday. I’m not getting rid of this, but I’m changing it. Like Vegetarian Friday, Eco-Saturday was supposed to run for a year. Three years later, I’ve gone about as far as I can where I am, so I’m going to focus more on reviews, recommendations, links, and daydreams about things I’d like to do someday. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, feel free to suggest it in the comments.

Make-It Monday and Tiny Tuesday. You’ll get one or the other each week, but probably not both, because they overlap a lot, and separating them out is starting to feel forced.

I hope that doesn’t disappoint anybody too terribly. At this point, trying to do too much is easily my worst habit, and I’m trying very hard to break it. Bear with me; down time is still an alien concept for me, and self-care isn’t really one of my strengths.

Emily

Sunday Self-Care: Unplug

I promised myself I’d unplug from social media after the election, because the campaign had me so tense, it literally made my face hurt, and there’s a limit to how much valerian tea I’m willing to drink in the name of sanity.

Then the election turned out to be such a trainwreck that I couldn’t stop looking at it, and I spent several days bouncing insensitive jerks from my life and commiserating with like-minded people who are as concerned about their black, Latino, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, and other non-cishet-male-WASP friends as I am.

On Friday, I unplugged for several hours while we spent the afternoon and evening in Southern Illinois, listening to Leonard Cohen on the car stereo, wandering through the Rainmaker garden in Makanda, sampling hyperlocal food and drinks at Scratch, driving along the Strip in Carbondale, and hanging out in my parents’ living room, where Dad offered some consolation in the form of references to long-ago presidents who’d risen above their questionable personal histories to become competent leaders.

On Saturday, I slept in late, spent time with the dogs, did a little housecleaning, and composed a handwritten note to Hillary Clinton, who I am fairly sure feels quite a bit worse than I do this week. I prefabbed a couple of blog entries. I played “Imagine” on the piano. I tuned my guitars and played folk-revival covers until my fingers were numb. I had a bowl of green-chile cheese grits for dinner. And then I lit a piece of charcoal, laid a pinon chip on top, and spent the balance of the evening with Miss Shirley in Coldwater, where she poured me a strong cup of Irish coffee, shook her head at my stress, and set me to work transcribing her story to take my mind off things as the wind wailed across Sangre Mesa.

I may not bother logging into social media again for a good long while. It’s peaceful here at the Tumbleweed, and I’d much rather sit here at Miss Shirley’s kitchen table, gazing into her otherworldly eyes and listening to her spellbinding stories, than waste my time fussing over a world I can’t control at all.

Emily

No recipe today.

I don’t have a Vegetarian Friday recipe for you this week, because frankly, I’ve felt like crap since Tuesday and didn’t eat much for a couple of days. Remember a few weeks ago, when my Eco-Saturday entry was about making your own TV dinners? Weeks like this are why I do it. I fed Ron one of those prefabbed meals on Wednesday because my stomach was touchy from staying up too late and my head was congested from too many tears and I just didn’t feel like cooking anything, much less eating it. I was grateful to have that tray of capellini ready to go; it kept Ron from having to go out for lunch, which would have cost us a day of our debt-retirement effort. (Related: We are now $809 from paying off that dead Subaru so we can get it out of our driveway and move on with our lives.)

We had toasted ravioli yesterday, which came out of a bag in the freezer. The ravioli wasn’t vegetarian, but the convenience of having it on hand reminded me that I haven’t done an entry on stocking the pantry and freezer for tough days. If I don’t come up with a good new recipe between now and next Friday, I might work up a list and some instructions for you. When I was vegging full-time, the hardest part was planning far enough ahead to keep from falling off the wagon when my schedule got hectic. Now that I’ve been cooking most of my meals at home for a year and a half, I could probably make the transition without a major effort. Maybe I will one day.

I need to write something about the loss of Leonard Cohen — which was a sucker-punch I didn’t need after leaning on “Anthem” and “Hallelujah” for two days while I tried to digest Tuesday’s election results and figure out the best way forward — and I’m working up a piece about Hillary Clinton and her influence on my life, but first I’m going to treat myself to an afternoon in Makanda, because I need it.

Emily

Sunday Self-Care: It’s a beautiful day

I never liked Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when I was little. I think it’s because I learned to read so early that by the time I was old enough to watch the show, I’d already outgrown it.

In fact, while most people my age talk about how soothing he was, how good he made them feel about themselves, or how much he helped assuage their fears about this or that, my earliest and most persistent memory of Fred Rogers involves a roughly 4-year-old me becoming irrationally angry about the fact I could make a much better construction-paper fish than the weird, angular shape he cut out and tried to pass off as a fish for some project he was doing on the show. I have vivid memories of shouting to my mom with barely suppressed rage: “I can do a better job than that, and I’M ONLY FOUR! He’s a grown man, getting paid for this, and that’s the best he can do?”

Mom gently explained that other little kids weren’t as coordinated as I was, and Mr. Rogers was screwing up his paper fish on purpose to make them feel better about their own work.

I was apoplectic.

“He’s a grownup, and he’s wasting paper ON PURPOSE?!!!?”

Preschoolers, as you may have surmised, possess neither a particularly nuanced worldview nor a great appreciation for the value of differentiated instruction.

I didn’t have much respect for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1979, but 37 years later, I think I’m ready to move there.

Nobody in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood is afraid of immigrants. Nobody in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood is making fun of people with disabilities. Nobody in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood is fat-shaming anybody or gossiping about anybody else’s sex life. And there jolly well isn’t any wall keeping anybody out of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, because everybody there understands that other people are SPECIAL JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.

A couple of weeks ago, a Twitter conversation prompted me to wonder: How much better off would we all be if we spent more time listening to Mr. Rogers and less time listening to people who prey on our insecurities and encourage our worst instincts? I decided an experiment was in order, so for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching old episodes of the show on YouTube and paying attention to the message.

I was too old for Mr. Rogers when I was little. But in my 40s, I’ve come to the conclusion that a daily trip to that peaceful, accepting neighborhood might be just what I need as I search for an antidote to the anger, frustration, and disappointment I battle every time someone tries to defend a sexist dogwhistle, a xenophobic policy proposal, or any of the other myriad forms of bigotry that have shown themselves during this election cycle.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Emily

The sun’ll come out …

We went and saw the remake of Annie last night when we got back from exchanging Christmas presents with my family. I tend not to be a fan of remakes, because you damn kids get off my lawn, but this new Annie was much better than I’d anticipated.

My only real complaints were the excessive use of electronic pitch correction — which I loathe — and the questionable decision to cast Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan. She wasn’t awful; she just wasn’t good enough to follow Carol Burnett (although admittedly, I’m not sure who would have been).

All that said, I thought it was an effective update on a classic, and Quvenzhane Wallis was cute and plucky and made a good foil for Jamie Foxx. Bonus points to whoever was responsible for casting the dog: This is the first Sandy in the entire history of the musical who’s actually resembled the red, pointy-eared dog from the comic strip.

Meanwhile …

Annie may be convinced the sun’ll come out tomorrow, but around here, we’ve been “stuck with a day that’s gray and lonely” so many times in a row that I finally gave up and shucked out 30 bucks for some fake sunshine today in the form of a light therapy lamp.

lightbox

We’ll see if it helps. It’s certainly bright. Rainy, misty days are kind of pretty, but too many of them in a row tend to drain my energy and leave me feeling pretty rough around the edges. About all I can say for this winter is that it hasn’t been too icy. After last winter, that’s a huge blessing, but I still could use a little more sunshine.

Ah, well. One way or the other, the sun’ll come out Feb. 19, because that’s the day the Phillies have their first spring training workout. I love ya, spring training. You’re only 57 days away.

In unrelated news, I finally got a hand free to take my guitar to Shivelbine’s and have the action lowered, which it desperately needed. It’s much easier to play now. The guy who worked on it was super nice and didn’t even charge me for it.

They had a 12-string Alvarez for sale. Don’t think I didn’t think about it. The main thing holding me back is laziness: I don’t like replacing strings on the guitar I have. I don’t even want to think about replacing twice as many. o_O

Emily