I’ve had to remount the epiphyte garden because it got too big for the original mounting. I’ve added some new Tillandsia bromeliads, and the original ones and the staghorn fern have grown a lot. I love the piece of reclaimed barn wood that I mounted them on. I think it has a lot more character than the one I used before. I was having problems with the plants wanting to droop too far forward from their own weight and also with the back of the staghorn fern drying out too fast. I cut holes in the wood for each of the plants to they could nestle more snugly into the mounting and I put a piece of plastic that I salvaged from one of my husband’s TV dinners on the back to keep any of the mounting material or plants from falling out the back. So far so good. The staghorn fern is putting out some vigorous new growth. It’s pretty exciting to watch.
My husband cleared out some space from the jungle behind the wood shop shed and we’re turning it into a sitting spot. It’s the only part of our property that has shade for a large part of the day during the summer. I’ve moved all of my potted outdoor plants there and I’ve decided to grow some container tomatoes and cucumbers. The big challenge with tomatoes here in the part of the world where Spanish moss grows is mildews, rots, and viruses that the plants succumb to because of their leaves being too wet much of the time, and the intensity of the sun. And of course the leaf footed bugs, glassy winged sharpshooters, and armyworms.
My proposed solutions for the problems of the air moisture and the bug life are plastic sheeting covering the plants at night, and netting covering them all the time. The shade addresses the problem of too much sun along with this year’s garden being essentially a fall garden.
The big challenges with cucumbers here are the worms that bore into the cucumbers and the heat causing them to become bitter. Netting will address the first problem. Shade and being a fall garden will address the second.
I have ordered a packet of Black Sea Man tomato seeds. Black Sea Man are the only determinate heirloom black type tomatoes that I could find, and I’ve had success growing them in pots before. I’ve also ordered a packet of Spacemaster cucumber seeds which, according to the blurb in the seed catalog, can be grown in hanging baskets.
I have been longing for a beautiful spot outside that I could use as an outdoor living room with complete privacy and where I could allow nature to heal and nurture me. All of the other parts of the yard are either too sunny or not private or both. I typed most of this blog post in the sitting spot. This weekend I’ll be hanging some LED lights so I can use it after dark, and adding a table so I can use it as my writing spot as well (weather permitting). This is how I define luxury, and I get to have an outdoor garden again for the first time since 2014. Yay
Pictures to come…
I’m not outside much any more. Which of course causes me to feel a little sad and disconnected from nature. But every once in a while I am outside and I see something that I need to take a picture of and celebrate. I took these in 2015.
It’s been many years since I was able to have an indoor garden. I learned several years ago that I am allergic to the kinds of organisms that live in the soil of potted plants. So no houseplants for me. Or so I thought for a long time.
A few months ago I spotted some tillandsia bromeliads in a store, and had a light bulb moment. Houseplants that did not need soil! I bought one on the spot and since then I have added a few to the first. I also figured that I could probably handle a staghorn fern since that is also an epiphyte and requires almost no soil. It’s so nice to have houseplants again after having no plant life in the house for so long. Here is my indoor garden. This was taken a few months ago. The plants have grown since then, and I now have two of the taller tillandsias. The garden is mounted on a piece of old reclaimed barn wood. It was a scrap left over from making a top for one of my tables. So… indoor garden! Yay!
I didn’t anticipate that one of my gardens would be a muggle job. But I have the job. And so why shouldn’t it be a garden? To be honest, it’s not what I would prefer to be doing with my time. I would much prefer to be making things and growing things. That is my natural milieu. But here I am. I have a job. There is energy in that, too. So if I’m going to have to do it, it deserves to be a garden, and it deserves to have the best energy I can put into it.
I do customer service over the phone. I am fortunate in that I can do this from my home. But even doing it from home, it’s still pretty much like any other job, and it has most of the same stresses that go with any other job. I can’t control very many of the variables in my virtual working environment. Our work is measured in seconds spent doing this or that, and how many of the required elements we successfully complete during each call. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember to verify someone’s email address when they’re being short tempered and cranky. But you do your best, and you hope that everything evens out in the end.
Fortunately for me, as someone who has a natural inclination to want to help, the helpfulness and friendliness that we exhibit is considered one of the most important elements of the call. I would not be happy in a job where the call handle time was considered by my employers to be more important than helping people and making them feel happy they called. My job satisfaction comes from helping people get their problems solved and making them feel welcome and special during the course of working on their problems.
So that is the fertilizer and the water for the muggle job garden: helping to bring a little bit more light into my caller’s day whenever it is possible for me to do so. And the bounty of the garden is the way that makes me feel, which is really where my job satisfaction comes from.
There is also inner work for me with having the muggle garden. Working on and clearing out old patterns relating to concepts of failure and giving up and never thinking what I do is good enough. I still feel that way a lot – like nobody will like the work I do – because that was a message I got a lot in earlier parts of my life. It’s tough to clear out those kinds of inner messages. But I get a lot of great feedback from my callers, and I am almost always ranked among the top 6 and usually in the top three in metrics in the program I work for. I even was ranked in first place in February. My team lead says I’m one of her top agents. It’s funny how all of the external messages one gets in a current context can still be overridden by the inner messages that are habitual thought patterns that we develop over the course of a lifetime. I sensed, at times when I was feeling very discouraged on the job, that this was just a part of my process of clearing out old stuff, and that I had to ignore the feeling and just plow through it, and that once I had manifested enough success for long enough, my inner patterns would change from a failure mentality to a success mentality. I’m part way there, anyway.
I wonder how many gardens I have now?
Still trying to get back into the workshop to continue work on the tables. But the muggle job and the extra amount of time I have to spend on food preparation because of my problems swallowing have prevented me from doing that. So I have found a solution that gets around that problem. I’ve started making baskets. I can work on the baskets in between calls at work and while relaxing after work in the evenings. It’s a good compromise for the time being. I’m just getting started, but I’m making some headway. Here are some of the baskets I’ve made so far. They are fabric-wrapped, coiled baskets. All of the stitching is done by hand using an invisible stitch technique. More colors coming soon.
Making the baskets feels like good work to me. It feels as much like what I’m supposed to be doing as building furniture does. I no longer have any outdoor garden to speak of, other than a few potted plants, but this basket garden is good.
It’s been a few months since I have been able to do any work on the furniture. I had to take on a regular paying job in order to keep things going until the tables start selling. The learning curve has been steep and it’s been a long process getting my methods perfected.
I have three table bases built, and the tops and shelves for all three are ready to be attached. I put paint on one of the bases and then had to store it in the greenhouse while I worked on the others. It’s good I did that because I learned something important about milk paint that will allow me to make a better product in the long run. I discovered that if milk paint is applied over wood filler and is then exposed to a lot of heat and humidity, it will peel. This is an easy fix because the company that makes the milk paint also makes a product that will seal the wood and the wood filler, which I will apply before the milk paint. Problem solved.
I’m also glad the paint on the one table peeled, because I decided after putting it on that I want that one to be a different color. So that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I was finally able to spend a few hours in the wood shop today, which felt great. I spent it sanding down the table base that had the peeling milk paint on it. In couple of weeks, I should be putting in fewer hours at the muggle job, which will free up a lot more time for working on the tables. I’m looking forward to getting this process moving again.