Everyday is the End of the World as We Know It

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Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 in the morning to worry. Not on purpose of course. It’s probably that I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking a few cups of coffee in the afternoon AND having a glass of wine when I’m cooking dinner at night. This is not good for me. Coffee and wine mess with my sleep but sadly, I’m not always on my best behavior and sometimes these vices, disguised as treats, sneak in. Sometimes might be all the time.

Super early yesterday morning, after ruminating in the dark for what seemed like hours, I finally just got up and decided to walk the dogs at dawn. I love doing this because there are less people out and lately it seems like there are people everywhere. Running into people with three not-so-well-behaved dogs (I still have my mom’s dog, Spreckles) AND navigating social distancing etiquette is challenging. I’m always finding myself taking weird routes I had no intention of taking just to avoid people. Hello, stranger. I guess I’ll just take a right turn here to avoid you!  Doesn’t it seem like everyone is always out these days? Not that I blame anyone. I’m sick of my house too and sunshine and space are all that’s keeping us sane these days.

I often listen to books on Audible while I walk. I also listen to podcasts and I call my dad regularly. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The books I’m reading are often stories about social injustice and while they are super educational and meaningful, they often make my habit of over-worrying even worse. Podcasts are great too but the health and wellness spectrum that I often find myself in also tends to make me over-worry. And even though I love my dad to pieces, sometimes talking to him and absorbing his problems ALSO makes me worry too much. I am just the worriest worry wart there ever was.

This worrying tendency makes me think of my grandma who passed away forever ago. She was known as the worry wart of the family. I miss her so much. I wish we could talk about this worrying habit. But maybe it’s good she’s not around today to see all the things that are going down. It is not a good time to be a worrier.

The other day, I walked out into the orange light of mid day (due to all the fires burning in California) and there on the wall of our entryway was the biggest green bug I have ever seen. I looked it up and I think it’s a green Katydid. I’ve seen small bugs like this a lot. Small finger-nail sized versions but this thing was HUGE! It was as big as my palm. And then later I walked out into the backyard and there in the track of our sliding glass door was the hugest slug I have ever seen. All I could think was, it’s the end of the world! Giant bugs, heat waves, weird orange light, pandemics, crazy political scenes, the country on the brink of a civil war… I just wanted to hide like Chicken Little.

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I decided books and podcasts and phone calls were just too much for my poor stressed-out brain. (I know. Eye-roll-worthy.)  I often walk without listening to anything but I decided to turn on my favorite “chill” playlist and a Moby song came on.  I don’t know why I don’t use music to calm myself more often. I don’t remember which song it was but as the softly repeating base line echoed around the inside of my head, I felt my cortisol levels lower. I gazed up at the trees that line the sidewalk path and I started to notice how they were pruned.

Every tree was pruned differently. I know a lot of this is dependent on the tree and how it grows but the more I examined the branches of each tree, the more I thought they looked like individual works of art! Some were trimmed to flay out symmetrically in all directions. Other trees were pruned to turn in on themselves in spirals. Some were weirdly pruned to grow over the sidewalk…It got me to thinking about who pruned them.  I bet there is a tree-trimmer on our neighborhood route who decided to create his own masterpieces on every tree he comes across! How cool is that?!

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I’ve always thought our neighborhood was a little over-aggressive with their gardening (seriously, it seems like every day is a new and different very loud gardening task: blowing, edging, trimming, mowing…) but today I actually appreciated it. In a community where everything looks the same, I thought, how cool that it actually isn’t!

Then I started to imagine the cool animated graphic I would create with long willowy purple trunks and branches spiraling around each other to pretty music and wished I was an animator with 3d graphics skills. But that’s just a typical Brenda rabbit hole to fall down.

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But let me tell you, it’s a whole lot better than all the other worry rabbit holes I’ve been falling down lately! A whole lot better than worrying about civil war!!!

Merry Mary, How Does Your Garden Grow

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I’ll tell you how my garden grows: it thrives! Really, I have no other news going on to talk about. Maybe a little. I got a late start blogging today because I was setting up payroll for my baby corporation. Did you know I incorporated? Yes, I am now Secret Agent Josephine Inc. It sounds very official and feels very grown-up though I am floundering like a typical newbie who can’t do accounting to save her life. It’s funny that I’m still saying I feel like a grown-up and I’m only two years away from 50. Isn’t 50 when people start becoming grandparents? What can I say, I’ve always been a young foolish soul, a little late to everything.

So the garden! Today in pandemic news we have some developments:

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My watermelon seedlings have taken over the back patio chair. I didn’t want to put them on the ground thinking the dogs would eat them but you can see that’s not really a problem. I feel like I should name this guy. He’s made himself quite at home. I don’t even like watermelon but I am quite excited to grow one in a box and have my own square watermelon. I’m also thinking it will be fun to give them away and make watermelon drinks.

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On the squirrel/mouse/rat vs Brenda front I can say that my ingenious plastic strawberry containers are superior to the nylon mesh bags I bought off amazon. Good to know, right? Recycling for the win! The rat has managed to gnaw at the tomato through the mesh bag and bruise it pretty badly. It kind of reminds me of how Bug used to eat fruit through these things. No way, I say. I am not feeding the local rat population tomato pops. It’s not a problem though. I have four big fat tomatoes ripening safely in my plastic strawberry containers. I can spare one measly one.

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Further down in the garden we have a pumpkin sighting! I am soooo excited to grow pumpkins. The poor plant might be a little lacking in the fertilizing game though because I only have one pumpkin plant so far. I’ve got some seeds in pots to grow more but they haven’t come up yet. I do think I have one baby pumpkin though (or is it a squash? I did mix up my seeds so it could be something else) so maybe it cross-pollenated with the watermelon plant. Who knows, who cares! I think a watermelon pumpkin Frankenstein would be perfect for Halloween! I shall keep you posted.

Do you like my blue shutter plant table? It’s called Make-It-Work. I just use what I have. My handyman is currently out on broken-neck-leave so I am pottering together whatever I have. I bought that shutter ages ago to do a blog post for toriavey.com. I was going to make it into a book rack (kind of like those magazine racks at barber shops where you open the magazine and flop them over a rod) but it never panned out so shelf it is! It actually works really well because it drains well with all those slots. And I kind of like the color. I know it’s a bit shanty-town but I’m not afraid of my roots.

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And speaking of shanty-town, I am very excited to make that melted Coleman ice chest into a plater! Kinda of cool, right? I’m thinking the new pumpkin seedlings will go there when they finally pop their heads up.  Thankfully, not very many people come into my garden now that we have a pandemic going on so nobody really judges me on my landscaping skills. I mean, besides you guys of course but you come here for the whacky-ness anyway.

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In other news ,Whiskey’s super strong dog urine is slowly degrading our pergola. It’s taken about two years but this thing is slowly crumbling from the bottom up. Good job, Whiskey. When I first moved in, the pergola had a sun-weathered canvas tent over it. I took that down and used the skeleton to hang lights. We don’t use it to eat out there, as it smells pretty bad of dog pee, but it is kind of a cool little focal point for the rest of the yard. I dream of entertaining back here but the dogs, man. They ruin it for everyone. Its not always that bad and a good hosing can get things cleaned up but it’s not always that good either.

Moving along to my other problem area: the powder mildew fight. It’s a daily battle. The baking soda spray does work but I have to spray it every day and I’ve knocked down my “bombastic” squash plant by two thirds just hacking off all the moldy leaves. I’m surprised it’s still producing squash. But I won’t throw it out until it really kicks the dust so I keep spraying every morning. It’s good therapy. I love gardening so it’s a nice little zen routine. Squirt, squirt, squirt..

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I also have a little grape vine. Bug and I bought his at a discount grocery market. Why not, I figured. It was only seven bucks and it has really pretty leaves. I’m not in a hurry to grow grapes since we are all watching our sugar in this house but I do love the plant. And I love the GROW rock that we made from that alphamom kindness rock craft.

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I’m also on my second round of growing cat grass for Kady. It’s a little spindly because she ate the last batch down to nubs and I don’t have any more seeds. But this is poking along and in a bit I’ll take it back in the house to let her eat down to nubs again.

Also here are some watermelon flowers. Aren’t they pretty? I had no idea they were yellow. I thought they’d be pink or red like the watermelon fruit but nope. Yellow, it is.

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The Atrium is thriving as well. When we went camping I asked my friend Maria to watch over it and she watered diligently everyday so all the plants are very happy and the maidenhair fern is STILL ALIVE! It’s huge actually. I kind of want to grow a whole wall of them. Wouldn’t that be something?

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Bug bought some lettuce the last time we visited a nursery and I think she should be able to harvest quite a salad one of these days. Everything is doing pretty well here. Except Joon’s Bob Ross chia pet. I think I might have to re-do that for her because Bob’s fro is looking pretty gross.

That’s all folks! Pretty exciting, no?

See you tomorrow for chapters from my fridge! Just kidding.