MJ’s Musings: How Does My Garden Grow?

Yes, it is still February in upstate New York. Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Neither of those means I can’t start thinking about my 2019 garden.

Last year was the first year I had what I really wanted.  It has taken several years to reclaim my back yard from the above-ground swimming pool that was here when we purchased the house.  The pool was a great thing to have when the children were  younger. But eventually it turned into a time & money suck. I’d much rather have a yard.

In 2018, I decided to go with coleus for color. My husband is allergic to bee stings, so color without flowers is a concern. So in May, I purchased many plants, along with a sweet potato vine and Persian shield. The man who has been helping me reclaim the space planted my coleus along with chives, lemon balm, oregano, two kinds of parsley, spearmint, and peppermint.

For some reason, he planted the coleus in front of the herbs. In May it wasn’t a problem.

Even in June, I could manage.

July started to be challenging.

By August, the herbs were essentially unavailable, but the coleus was gorgeous.

So I clearly need to rethink 2019. I have a corner, down by the garage, that is deep and difficult to access. I think I will fill that with coleus.

And where the coleus grew with the herbs requires more herbs. Perennials such as thyme, rosemary, sage.  Maybe I should put in basil, too. My basil is usually in a container. I find I don’t use it as much as I used to. What I’d love to grow is cilantro, but I’ve never had success.

We do have cherry and grape tomatoes for my husband. I think green onions and spinach would be nice additions to plot of land.

MJ’s Musings: Rituals from My Childhood

My mom had Saturday night rituals for us that I haven’t thought about in years. I have no idea why I stopped doing these things. Maybe modern materials don’t require as much care as things did back in day. Maybe we took better care of our belongings because we had to make them last.

We polished, then buffed our shoes every Saturday night. There were three or four colors of shoe polish and/or paste on the upper shelf in the bathroom. My dad had a large shoe brush. According to Amazon, shoe brushes are still a thing.

The other thing we did every Saturday without fail was wash our combs and hairbrushes. I can still smell the Prell shampoo we used. My mom had a dedicated fingernail brush we used to get between the teeth on our combs.  I sometimes used a toothpick.

Yes, I still clean the hair from my brush, but my comb isn’t dirty. Is my scalp cleaner than it was when I was child because I wash my hair more often? 

Do you have childhood rituals you abandoned?


MJ’s Musings: “Do You Have Change for a Twenty?”

I dread having someone ask me this question.

People like me, who use ATMs, always have too many twenty dollar bills.  I’m fortunate that my bank’s ATM has an option with $5 increments, so when I withdraw cash, I make sure it’s $35 or $55 or $75 dollars. (If you take out $95, you get a $50, which sucks worse than a $20, especially since the McDonald’s next door will no longer accept $50 or $100 bills .)

So yeah, I usually do have change for a twenty in my wallet.

But if I make change for you, then I’m stuck with your $20, which defeats the purpose of my banking strategy.  And lately, it seems as if I’m asked if I can break a twenty a lot.

I need to start lying, and others need to change banks.

Pregnancy Dreams

Back when I was pregnant, my doctor didn’t believe in routine sonograms. If something was wrong–spotting, or a baby refusing to be born–that was different. Even if you did have a sono, the techs weren’t allowed to tell you the baby’s sex.

But each time, I knew what I was going to have. Yes, I had a friend who did the pencil, needle, and thread trick. I don’t remember if her predictions were right or not. Because I had dreams. Vivid dreams.

When I was pregnant for Y-Chromo, I still had my cat. My dream consisted of tying to put blue disposable diapers on my male cat, and failing. You see, a cat’s legs only go forward and backward. They do not splay the way human legs can. That was the first problem. The second problem was the fur. The adhesive tabs kept getting stuck in the cat’s fur.  I awoke from that dream exhausted and knowing my child would be a boy.

To this day, I still cannot think about or discuss the dream I had when I was pregnant for X-Chromo. Let it be enough to say I knew she would be female.

Something Else I Don’t Get

Several years ago, when X-Chromo was still in high school, I attended some sort of awards breakfast. I ended up sitting with a woman who lives around the corner from me, and with whom I had butted heads–in a very minor way–on several occasions when our daughters were in middle school. X and this woman’s daughter were not friends. They weren’t enemies, but they travelled in different circles with different priorities.

I had heard this mother was “never the same” after she suffered a head injury in an auto accident. Because of that, I always tried to be compassionate.  Even when our ideas about how to improve the schools were at odds, I tried. So maybe this head injury is behind the explanation of what I don’t get.

Back to the breakfast. “Jane” sat with me, probably because I was a familiar face. Like our daughters, we were not friends. She started chatting. That was good. I’m lousy at small talk. It’s a skill I’ve never learned. Somehow, a discussion of the school dress code came up. “Jane” started spouting off about, of all things, high heels. About how her daughter wanted to wear high heels and it just wasn’t right. And a ban against high heels needed to be added to the dress code. On several occasions, she’d caught her daughter trying to sneak out of the house wearing high heels and that was something young girls should not be wearing.

I happened to see her daughter on line at the buffet–wearing a spaghetti strapped tank top and shorts cut up to her hoo-ha (both violations of the dress code, but she was a jock so it was overlooked). And her mother was worried about high heels?

I don’t get it.