Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rainy Summer Sunday for the Great Nasturtium Planting

It's pouring here.  A big dark sky and rain.  Rain we can't even see until we look at surface of the pond to see how hard it is. 

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain.  Then it was raining until late morning(?), when I ducked out and celebrated the Great Nasturtium Planting of 2015.  I planted six varieties (about 25 seeds each) in a border:  Tall Trailing Mix and Jewel Mix in the back, where I figure I'll put trellises; Empress of India in tufts where there's really nothing; and Peach Melba, Vesuvius, and Ladybird Nasturtium all in little tufts in the front, because these are the small bushy kind instead of the long lanky vines like the ones in the back.  Since it's raining right now, I guess I really didn't need to soak the seeds overnight.  I hope they all pop right up.  I love nasturtiums and don't get to see them around here. 

Around 5, we all finally went outside, and I cut the spent mesclun mix and the arugula and put them in the composter.  A neat idea:  give Absurdist Child an allowance for turning the composter, which he can easily do, on a daily basis?  Because he's a collector of (Pixar) cars, (Thomas) trains, and (Disney) Planes, he's always chomping at the bit for money or toys, and for the last couple months has been trying to stay up to wish on a star and then wanting to impress the wishing star by doing good deeds (occasionally).  Of course, right now he goes to bed before the sun does, so the whole wishing star thing is pretty tough, not that he goes to sleep.  He's always had a tough time going to sleep, and so far this summer is worse.  Even with blackout curtains, it's hard for him to go to sleep.  Anyway, should I have turning the composter on a daily basis as a chore that he can do to earn money?  I don't like giving kids money for things they should do anyway, and I think everyone should contribute to the "team," but turning the composter seems like something extra enough that he should be able to earn something for it.  What do you think?

Anyway, I got rid of the mesclun mix and the arugula and the sad excuse for radishes and put all that extra soil into the potato barrels.  It was so, so muggy.

It blows my mind how fecund everything is.  You plant a seed, and it comes up.  Yes, I've screwed up some plants, but mostly, they grow.  And grow and grow and grow.  It's amazing.  Where I grew up, it was basically chaparral, almost but not quite a desert.  Scrubby.  And of course near the ocean where some people really had gardens appropriate to the area, you could see how few nutrients got trapped there in that sandy soil, everything moving through it all the time.  Nasturtiums love that.  Here, in the bed, it's packed clay.  In other places, probably near the pond, maybe it's sandy.  But this is not chaparral with the gray-green and brown-green.  Here we have yellow green, spring green, a green so bright it takes you aback, a real pulsing straight green.  It's very different planting in a cleared forest than irrigated chaparral.  It's so easy.  Except, maybe, for the nasturtiums.  We'll see how they do.  They did very well in pots on the balcony at the apartment.  We'll see how they do in this clay.

I did also do some work.  Instead of being able to turn in my Report-I-Always-Turn-In-Late after the quarter is over, I had to get it done a bit earlier because they moved up the date.  But mostly I've been lazy on the work front.  I've gotten student emails and responded to a few, but mostly I need a day off.  And this is it.   

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Gardening End to a Frenetic Week

My week was insane.  I was on campus every day, often long hours.  I also had a couple meetings that generated discussions I found myself embroiled in, in email, text, and face-to-face with others and very much in my own head.  At some points, I was fuming and cursing, luckily to the right person.  I was thinking about these discussions and arguments most of the time, writing about them, etc.  By the end of the week I was in a better place, having realized that I was actually very interested in all this, and I'd like to do some research and get some training so I might as well accept the leadership position in it that I was trying to avoid (because I'm insanely busy already -- if my job were full-time service, okay, but this is ridiculous -- though obviously I love it, love trying to make things better).  The good part about getting really into something that people mostly find annoying is that if you present a good argument you mostly get your way.  

Today I slept in.  I mean I tried.  The menfolk got up (yes, Absurdist Child still comes into our bed most every night), and I tried to sleep beyond that, but it was already 10.  And by 2 or so, I was outside.  Today I cut the peas completely down.  I know it's June and soon they would flower (thought I planted them pretty late), but if I don't get the corn in the ground, I can kiss the three sisters plantings goodbye.   I felt bad doing it but I cut them all down and put some compost on top and planted in one bed the popcorn variety "Smoke Signals" and in the other, the sweet corn standby Golden Bantam Improved.  When they get bigger, I'm to plant the beans and squash around them.  So that's in the works.

I prepared the area and planted the milkweed and butterfly garden seeds as our contribution to monarchs, who we love.  We'll see how that fares.  I am thinking of getting a buddleia butterfly bush at the local nursery, which I haven't been to yet.  And I weeded the flower bed in preparation for tomorrow's nasturtium planting extravaganza.  I have six types I'm going to plant so I found myself loving reading this terrific rundown of different varieties.  Six.  Six different varieties.  Well, this is the same flower bed that had the spectacular surprise red tulips come up and the gorgeous daffodils and dwarf irises and the couple tall irises and gorgeous mounds of muscari.  Lilies are growing and stretching out their buds, but giving nothing away.  Some gorgeous purplish-red callas are coming up, but mostly the place is full of dying-back irises and straggles of this and that and of course it gets mounds of weeds, some that are really neat looking.  Anyway, I want to fill that with nasturtiums.  So they'll be lilies, callas, and nasturtiums.  Not many lilies and not many callas, but a total overload of nasturtiums, which always looks gorgeous anyway with them tumbling around, and I think I'm going to put a trellis behind it so that the Tall Trailing and Empress of India varieties can lounge around on a trellis being gorgeous.  For next year I'll have to think about what to plant for this late spring-early summer time so it won't look so empty and terrible.  Maybe I could plant nasturtiums earlier (officially according to my Zone 5B area only three weeks ago) or plant some other late spring bulb.  I do love my bulbs.

Anyway, I took the day off grading, which of course I still have plenty of.  But the craziness abates for about a week, and then finals come in and everything is madder than ever.  Which means it's almost done too.  I won't be in the classroom again for months!  Three weeks from now, the grading will be gone.  I'm giddy with all that.  Tomorrow:  nasturtium planting and maybe some grading.   

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Working and Overwork: What Is Good and What Is Bad?

So I've been incredibly good about grading lately.  Yesterday I managed to get right to work and do all sorts of things -- not finishing anything, but making very good headway.  Today?  I can't make myself do crap.  I'm super-behind on one facet of my grading, and so I've been trying to just get it done this weekend before I see those students again on Tuesday.  Yesterday, I got four done, which doesn't sound impressive unless I tell you how long I've been putting it off, which, if I did tell you, you'd wonder how I haven't lost my job by now.  Yes, that long.  Today, I've managed two.  And I'm doing a really great job of whining and moaning and bitching about it.

Which leads me to say this:  we reward people for over-work, for insane lacks of work-life balance.  At my institution there is a professor who is lauded because he hasn't taken his regular time off in eons.  A while back we had some leader of something-or-other who came and gave a talk, and he admitted that his success depended on his disengaging with his family.  (It's funny because there is a wonderful piece about how not being grounded by family and friends leads many successful business leaders into thinking they can engage in unethical acts without being noticed.  No one told that leader guy invited to campus, evidently.)  I've been writing about lack of work-life balance for a long time.  Here is a piece I wrote about that ages ago.  And here is my classic piece on the subject, up on my soapbox.    

So here's something important that I need to file away for the future:  working every day is not "being good."  It's denying my students and my work the perspective that comes from being away.  It's more ethical for everyone to take time off (take that guy who doesn't take time off!).  It's also not great for my family or me or the work for me to be sitting here bitching and moaning because I've screwed things up to a point where I have to work everyday.  Bad.  Very bad. 

So, what am I going to do?  I'm going to drink this Earl Grey (second caffeinated beverage of the day:  I'm desperate), and I'm going to work on these 12 more pieces I have, hopefully finishing them but at least getting 6 more done, then I'm going to do some calculations I have to do (gotta love quantitative assessment!  yes, I am kidding) in front of the TV while the sky rains down the buckets we're expecting in a few hours.

Do I have to say that I have not yet been able to schedule the glaucoma tests?  I have an insane week with meetings, classes, committees every day.  But there are only two weeks left.  Then a week of grading.  I.can't.wait.