Weed-ing

Last weekend I set the 3’s goals again, and promised myself I would wash the garage door and get the weeding done. Small beds wouldn’t take long.

About the garage door, yeah, I know most people don’t spend their weekend washing theirs, but this was another didn’t-do that had been bugging me for a while. A deep layer of dirt and last year’s fall leaves held on in blotches, despite summer’s multiple downpours.

Each time the door went up long sticky strands of debris floated up with it. I was tired of dodging grossness to retrieve groceries.

It was a messy job. Cobwebs and dead bugs, sticky leaves and grass clippings finally gave way. About an hour and a half later, I set out for the other side confident I could do what I had to do quickly and painlessly. I knew what a weed looked like, thanks to years of reluctant experience.

Sometimes, the things our parents made us do were truly for our own good, a boon to our life-coping skills. Sometimes, it was just cheap, get-the-kids-out-of-the-house –labor. I’m still undecided which role weeds played in the development of my character.

Armed with gloves and a paper grocery sack, I took a look and started to form a new impression. It was all weeds, which was actually a good thing. Indiscriminately yanking up shallow rooted plants required no gentleness, and no particular order.

Easy; for about 3 minutes, until one large-fisted grab allowed a million prickers to penetrate my Arbor Brewing Company cloth gloves. Provided for immediate and personal continued use during One Brick Detroit’s tree planting in The Greening of Detroit, the gloves were tremendously helpful and suitable for tree planting; not so much for thorn-bush removal.

I regrouped with a good hand washing, a mug of iced tea, and re-armed with thick silicone painting-stripping protective gloves. I wasn’t about to let weeding become a challenge. The more I picked around the barbs, the more I came to realize, I was probably looking at an ill-kept (as in never pruned) rose-bush of some sort. Also hidden within this bed, were two short, sort-of roundish, stubby evergreen shrubs.

I kept at it, though, eventually losing track of real-time. Finishing the first bed felt good, kind of. I’d been leaning over, imaginably unattractively in my too big bright blue plaid and mega-large diamond-rhinestone capris. A Friday night BBQ got going on across the courtyard. I decided to ignore it, and ripped on.

Working from the back to the front was one of my better non-ideas, as in, I really didn’t have a plan. I’d just walked in and went at it. By the time I got out of (by getting rid of) the deep, I pretty much had to kneel to give my entire-body-lifting thigh muscles a break. When I finally stepped back, I felt I had come close enough to conquering that little bit of mayhem to move on: to the bigger bed.

My make-shift “I surely won’t need something larger than this” Whole Foods re-used refuse (old paper shopping) bag was about 2/3 full. I refused to go back inside to get another one, mostly because I know myself and was pretty sure it would be the hard to talk myself into finishing up tomorrow.

Nope, whatever I was going to pull was going to have to fit.

Quote for the Week:

2015 09 01 Determination and Ingenuity jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Glove Deep: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/the-best-gardening-gloves/

Serious: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/09/best-garden-gloves-from-consumer-reports/index.htm

Visually: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+store+garden+gloves&sa=X&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS483US483&espv=2&biw=1777&bih=861&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0CCUQsARqFQoTCLXHoLeD18cCFQV6PgodEo0Bzg&dpr=0.9

 

Grafted (3 Chicks with Sticks)

We double tooled and took a short trek to Chapel Street.

The explanation and demonstration made sense. Using the tools on-hand made sense.

I like sense. I like adaptation, too.

Teams spread down the sidewalks searching for X marks and O marks, and root-bagged trees that weren’t rejectedly rolled into the street.

There we were; three chicks with sticks staring at an off-center X over a shallow-welled median with a spade and a square, a spade and a rake, a spade and a pick-ax, a tree and a plan.

Fresh from a mini tutorial, feeling feisty, we set about it.

We measured and consulted, measured some more, got a rhythm going.

After a while, there two piles of dirt, a pile of skimmed grass, and a hole.

The hole wasn’t exactly round. We fixed that.

The hole was a little too deep. We fixed that.

The ball was a little too heavy for advised two rollers, so we used three to get it going and in.

We eyeball straightened our charge (assumed a tulip tree by the botanical tag “tulipifera”) from three directions.

Lacking a knife to break the binds, we waited, short-shoveling handfuls of soft soil in and around to perfect stance while assuring our homeowner we were enjoying ourselves, and it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.

Root bag ripped, unrecyclables corralled, wires de-bent, we ran into a problem. Everything was fine, until exposure. Then, suddenly, it might be all wrong, or it might still be right.

Lopsided, rooted more heavily on one side than the other, not knowing which three-fingers-below measure was true.

There were two knuckles; one previously hidden in burlap garb, angled slight degrees from the one we had been focused on.

Stem straight, angled roots uneven in a way that wouldn’t promote stability. Rocking the sapling in favor of rooting, the stem was oddly askew.

That’s when we learned something new. The tree and the root were established together post graft. Combining the best of both, strong roots, tall tree, for immediate success and future longevity.

Consultants called. Though our true root was a slight inch higher than preferred, no retraction was required. Adaptation meant lightly packed stability soil up a little higher, and cautiously tamping air-pocket caverns where water could possibly pool and encourage rot.

We raised our berm a little higher, for better protection, and watered away from the roots. When we were finished, it passed muster, earning a blue sleeve of advertorial protection.

And that was it; about three hours later, including stand-up breakfast pastries and coffee, finding the right Zone assignment, name tags, gift bags, tool toting, street scouring, instruction, demonstration and the command to go to it. We’d done what we’d set out to do, added our imprint as one group of three in a group of One Brick Volunteers planting one tree among 120 goaled.

My best guess is that it took nearly 200 people from many different community groups, instructors teaching, volunteers planting, and forestry-minded reviewing to reach that goal.

While that might seem impressive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 500,000 trees lost during a three decade Dutch Elm blight from 1950-1980.

Since 1989, The Greening of Detroit has orchestrated placement and replacement of 85,000 trees. Mathematically, that’s still a significant environmental shortage.

There are still at least dozen upcoming The Greening of Detroit events, and there’s room for you, too.

It all adds up. Make a difference in Detroit.

Quote for the Week:

It doesn’t have to be one or the other  04 14 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links: 

The Greening of Detroit: http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/get-involved/volunteer/

Urban Forests: https://www.americanforests.org/conservation-programs/urban-forests/

Top 22 benefits of trees: https://www.treepeople.org/resources/tree-benefits

On Twitter:

#OneBrickDetroit    @GreeningDetroit    #SocialForestry

Amazon Platform

I may have mentioned this once or twice, or a few times more than that.

That’s how it goes when I get excited, entrenched, enthusiastic. I’ve found an organization that needs me, even when I can’t get to many of the many events scheduled during the dark months of Michigan winter.

Activated in October 2011, One Brick Detroit is part of a larger, nation-wide 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. In June 2014, I made a long-term commitment to an organization that doesn’t require one.

Listing over 229 calendar events since 2011, One Brick Detroit has been successfully serving Detroit and the Metropolitan Area by scheduling an average of 6 events per month.

One Brick provides support to local non-profit and community organizations by creating a unique, social and flexible volunteer environment for those interested in making a concrete difference in the community. We enable people to get involved, have an impact and have fun, without the requirements of individual long-term commitments.

‘Commitment-free volunteering’ allows One Brick members to choose when to volunteer, rather than having to make commitments for a certain number of volunteer hours, or agreeing to be available every week at a specific time.

We create a friendly and social atmosphere around volunteering, and after each volunteer event — which typically lasts only 3 to 4 hours — we invite volunteers to gather at a local restaurant or café where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting.

One Brick chapters are 100% volunteer-run! We have no employees…we don’t even maintain offices! But we do have a lot of dedicated volunteers who make it all happen. We’re very proud of that and thankful for the wonderful, caring individuals who arrive at each One Brick Detroit event ready to step-up to whatever tasks are needed.

Having been given the creative freedom to be the representative voice behind the One Brick Detroit weekly newsletter, a contributor to the One Brick Detroit Facebook page, and as Marketing and Publicity Director for One Brick Detroit, I’d like to point out the one little thing that makes what I am going to suggest matter.

Southeastern Michigan is not much different than the rest of the country. We’ve had hard times, we’ve had large needs. The thing is, need is always there. Before the holidays, during the holidays, after the holidays, One Brick Detroit will be helping.

As we enter the giving season, giving thanks and gifts, there is simple way to help us do what we love to do: volunteer, help others, meet like-minded people, and make our little corner of the world a friendlier place.

So, here it is: my first blog platform pitch:

Amazon Loves One Brick!  When you shop using our special link Amazon donates 7% of the total to support our work.

Please bookmark this link: onebrick.org/amazon, and use it each time you shop.

Click here for more details.

_________________________________________________________________

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Visit my chapter, and see for yourself what’s so awesome about One Brick and One Brick Detroit:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Brick-Detroit/108983815861413?fref=photo

Website: http://detroit.onebrick.org/

If you don’t usually shop Amazon on line, there is another easy donation avenue open: http://www.onebrick.org/IL1B

Quote for the Week:

It’s so much easier to commit 11 25 2014

Micro Snowball

I have “The List.” People laugh at it, accidentally. I never show it to anyone, on purpose.

When you’re me, or anyone else who has to do it all by themselves, you’ve had plenty of experience wondering where the time goes. You also know exactly how long each chore should take. “Should” is one of those operative words; an ugly estimate based on past experience or those methodological time-saving articles in magazines that scream at you from every newsstand or browser launching pad insisting whatever-it-is really shouldn’t take that long.

So, on Friday afternoons the listing starts. Actually, it’s perpetual, but I get down to the real nitty-gritty when the weekend looms. Dedicated intervals for rising, grooming, eating, cleaning, showering, chore-ing, bringing down laundry, bringing up the paper towels, kitty maintenance, cooking, walking, mail clutter, advert clutter, email clutter, garbaging, bill paying, budget monitoring, gassing up, shopping, volunteering, all seem doable. Weekdays, I’m a Generalist. Generally, I should empty the dishwasher that cycled on Sunday.

I would, but Monday nights are reserved for creating and accidentally deleting the weekly One Brick Detroit Newsletter. In my opinion, it’s quite a bad design to have the Preview button located three hairs away from the Start Over button. It’s also a bit of a flaw having the Get HTML button located in the near same spot on a different tab.

Tuesdays are devoted to Knabble. It’s rare that I haven’t already formulated an idea, jotted notes or pre-written a rant that needs a kindness modification. It can be crazily comforting to bang out epitaphs, outright curses and words that my feminist, religious, karma-enlightened or easily offended acquaintances would balk at for lesser language. The most time-consuming part of Tuesday nights is the creation of those art slides. The art isn’t that hard; finding something intelligent to say, quoting myself without pretentiousness is a labor. That and making sure the words are in the most appropriate font, on the most appealing angle, and the most firm color.

I took up Chiropractic Wednesdays in July 2013. Nothing feels better after an adjustment than an additional pamper. To me, taking time to read three email accounts, click-through the My Points links, opening every inspiring forward and “just checking” to see if what’s is on sale is on sale enough for me to consider considering its value. I am learning to question everything and calculate if it will or will not add deep lasting value to my place in this world. I can easily pass up flannel nightgowns, mail-order chocolates and trendy clothing. I’m still working on the chicken thing.

Thursday is “Gee its Thursday Already?” day. I walk on Thursdays; and Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes twice. Occasionally, Wednesdays, but there’s no guarantee. Maybe on a Friday; maybe.

Fridays are a true 50/50. Mostly because I am already conjuring up my micro list and knowing there’s only a snowball’s chance in hell that I will accomplish 10 fifteen-minute tasks that evening. The goal is to get through the little stuff. The little stuff always snowballs. Sweep the kitchen floor leads to mop the kitchen floor, but only after clear and wipe down all the counters and the stove and the microwave for any stray stuff my weekday wipes may have missed, and only after dinner because I’m going to make more mess. Dinner has to wait until the ceremonial purge of overripe produce, limpy vegetables and whatever I made a lot of and am now tired of eating. The vacuum sealer sucks because it no longer sucks. It does seal, but that defeats the purpose, which is to remove the air and avoid freezer burn crystals.

In all likelihood, the sweep and mop will roll over into Saturday, after Dance Walk, after the Post Office, after the market, after restocking and after lunch. Vacuuming and laundry are 80/20’s. There isn’t much that keeps me from those, unless a card needs to be made or a volunteer event calls or it’s the one Saturday a month when my body demands a catch-up for late or sleepless nights.

Saturday’s leftover list slides into Sunday. Sunday always includes prepping produce and baking proteins to last the week; running the dishwasher post. It’s also the day I look at The List and realize I have not managed to do those things that I wanted to do after my self-obligations have been met. My grand visions for fun future become dreamy-futuristic next-weekend hopes.

Responsibility is a good thing. I need to hold myself accountable. I need to make a better effort to tackle 1 or 2 little things each evening. “Start somewhere,” isn’t as easy as it sounds. I dislike half-finished anything – chores or crafts or commitments are full-on experiences for me. Ordering – a back-track to a logical start – squeezes me out of time every time. The reality is there are no little things, just a back-log continuum that thrives on relation .

I recognize it’s self-sabotaging to refuse to begin because there’s no predictable conclusion. I also know a snowball when I see one.

Quote for the Week:

planning is easy 10 14 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

A List I Could Live With: http://www.home-ec101.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Home-Ec-101-Chore-Chart-Take-3.pdf

Tip Abundance: http://www.pinterest.com/jeepmaiden/cleaning-tips-tricks/

At Least Cut the Clutter: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/the-simple-guide-to-a-clutter-free-home/

 

Taming of the Selfie

“Head Shot – needed for profile.”

I hadn’t heard that phrase flung my way in quite a while; a 25 year while.

Never liked the things. Never expected to need another one. Ever.

_______________________________________________________

Dear Friends,

Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a selfie?

Two hours and fifteen minutes. Uh, huh. I’ve been explaining for a while, that although my pictures reflect near complete baldness, I do in fact actually have hair. Very fine hair, but there’s enough of it to get messed up in the wind so it counts.

One hour and twenty  minutes into the how-hard-can-this-be selfie suffering, I stopped worrying about my hair (or lack thereof) and starting hoping for just one missing an expression of possession. I mean seriously strange eyes.  Dually a victim of circumstance and admitted over-eying, I’m absolutely confident that I have (pictures-taken percentage wise,) surpassed Sir Harley of Perpetual Surprise with my wide-eyed level of shock at absolutely nothing.  I was truly just attempting to avoid the blink.

I must either be an older model of form or an anomaly possessing disproportionate arms. Bottom line: mine are simply not long enough evidenced by missing chins and the removal of that pitifully fine hairline that barely show up, anyway. I trial-and-error landed on a revelation regarding above head poses. Appropriate but still semi-distorted, the elbowed angle determines a corresponding head tilt.

Still, like the last hold-out microwave kernel of corn, more problems popped. How do you keep your elbow from elbowing in or a shoulder crease from announcing obvious buff-less biceps? I suspect some sort of cheat is involved in the process. There has to be a third hand launching the click. Otherwise, everyone would have sprained fingers and tight gripping claw hand residue.

Let me also mention the whole mirror, backwards, go left to go right thing? Yeah, that wasn’t a cake walk, either. The rapid neck-lash routine left me slightly more off balance than usual. At this point I decided to sit for safety, and continued the ego shattering shuttering.

Meanly, cartoon mode isn’t available for selfies. Undeterred, I retry all of the above approaches. All I achieve are arm cramps and a few faintly-fine, low-grade Warhol-ish, but won’t be mistaken for one, images. Due to twist and burn, I’m counting the arm stretches as exercise. It’s also possible that I’ve just invented Photo-Yoga. Momentarily distracted by the possibilities of funky feline portraits, I’m a little bummed to find the cats come out better; especially when annoyed. Raised hackles and alert ears create great contrast and light-play differentiations

Click, click, click. I supposed I could de-sound the clicker. It can already be classified as gone past starting to annoy me. Not even close to the  musically enhanced rapid fire intro of Duran Duran’s Girls on Film, my sounds are more guttural. Click, grumble, click, soft-explicative, click, whoops dropped the phone, click, for goodness sake, click, click, click.

The clicking seems to be getting to Miss Freddie, too. She seems a little “I’m plotting something” more than normal. I’m familiar with her squint of slotted eyes and thin lip fang reveal. It turns out I can smile scary, too. In embarrassing desperation, I conjured up laughter as if I was laughing at a joke. My eyes were no longer staring wide. They disappeared entirely. As added insult, my mouth takes on a dreadful twist. I re-file that wonderful idea under woeful fail, and sigh. Ok. Good to know. I’m pretty sure it’s a little late to outgrow that.

Shooting below while looking down ended up producing a completely creepy cautioning I was about to charge and possibly maul with (as of yet) still hidden horns, probably, because I was feeling that way. In a flashbulb moment, I imagined a charge and mall situation where I might possibly convince JC Penney to let me use one of those kid portrait deals.

107 poses later, two pairs of glasses, above the head, below the head, lying down (disaster), over the shoulder, giving up… the giving up one is actually cute, but not at all “Head Shot” material. I think about that and get my grump on.

There are sparse and scattered I-would-have-liked-that poses, except for the exceptional flaws. Oddly, they add artistically fierce fascination. Left ear left out of the shot, micro-movement fuzz effects, irreparable background noise, shiny nose, eyeglass reflection, crooked smiles, mis-angling into distorted chins, chipmunk cheeks or Churchill noses. I nod to the memory of Poppy Selin’s WC Fields-ish nose. His was due to a welter-weight boxing championship. Mine is merely repetitive lack-of-grace breakage.

I’ve chased the late afternoon and early evening light from room to room. I’m either chiseled like a cartoon fiend, or seamless like porcelain. The stark lights are not kind. The soft lights blanks into expression-less-ism. There are a couple of “take the damn picture” glares and I wonder who I’m trying to intimidate the phone or my fingers?

The good news is I don’t need a zoom loop to identify the absolutely nots . Delete, delete, delete.  I pause at one awkward affected 1980 style “looking off into the future” pondering gaze.” Starry and unfocused, if it was the 80’s… it could be a contender.

I should just scan my senior high school picture. It seemed so ridiculous at the time, and even more off-base now. I’m peeking out from behind some tree. It’s got more bark than I do, literally. There’s more of the tree than me. Perhaps a New York photo or the Tennessee head shot which to this day I can’t believe is me. I mean I recognize the clothes, but the young person who I thought was old at 30 looks 20 now to me. Plus, there’s hair. 85% of the people I know now have never seen me with hair; at least, not that much, comparatively.

Eight. I’ve narrowed it down to eight. I think. I’m tempted to take more, but am holding off for tomorrow. Maybe there’ll be better light and a flattering head shot tilt in the Earth’s rotation.

Some of the better one’s have debris in the background. Doesn’t that figure? Photoshop is on my to-own list. I’ve learned I need more than just an ability to “get the red out” of my eerie orbs.  Trying to posit natural eyes isn’t natural. Naturally, I look surprised, skeptical, cross-eyed, lazy-eyed, one-eyed, and tired.

Out of the corner of one of those same self-portrait  wandering eyes, I spy my very reasonable Friday night to-do list that was feasible at 4:15 PM. At 7:48 PM, I haven’t eaten dinner, yet, which might account for some of my shrew-ness. Prior to this marathon of discovery, I prepped cucumbers and zucchini for that “Zucchini Cold Noodle” recipe everyone’s been talking about. Julienne the squash; omitting seeds. Matchstick cucumbers, carrot, peppers, broccoli, radishes, onions, anything really, add red wine vinegar, celery seed, a little sugar, chill and let set and you’ve got it made.

It looks pretty good. I think I’ll plate it. Plop some in a chicken bowl, take a picture, and send it off with a note:

Sorry, no headshot available. Please accept this Bowl Shot as a consolation prize.

Or, maybe I should just take a picture of my smiley face Joe Boxer watch I once used for a staff id photo. Don’t see why it wouldn’t fly now. Wish I’d thought of that, hours ago. 🙂

 

Quote for the Week:

if i couldnt laugh at myself

Here is my collage of I honestly thought these would come out better pictures.  All were attempts to be natural; none were staged.

One has to be used for my One Brick Detroit profile. Positive opinions welcome.

selfies semi selected

None of these will be used, however, since I described them above…

selfies unselected