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October 31, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

The Day of the Dead

Really fun day today and it was brilliant sunshine all day.

Started with sleeping in, which is always good, and with the extra hour from Daylight savings, it was even better. The chocolate donuts from last night's raid on Bigg's was very good for breakfast, but they really, truly require coffee. John's coffee pot was empty though still steaming a bit, so I had to make my own. So I did what I did at work, I made myself two shots of decaf/caf espresso, added hot water and was well on my way. Sunday paper bits with chocolate donut and coffee. Nothing better.

The sunshine was exquisite, too, and a whole lot of it was coming in through the east facing kitchen windows. The chives were looking a bit odd in their planter, and the planter didn't really allow the door to open completely. John, in the meantime, said that he wanted to go to HomeDepot, so I said that I'd come along and we'd see if there wasn't something that could be done about the herb planter. It really can't stay inside the way it is, and the chives really wouldn't survive the winter outside in a planter, so something had to be done.

So we went to HomeDepot, which is one of those mega hardware stores with all you need for home improvements, or so they say.

It wasn't nearly as busy as it was in the beginning of the summer. I think it's just that there was far less to really do to anything to get ready for the season. So John meandered about getting his things, and I followed and shopped at random, sometimes just watching and listening and other times just looking at stuff. I wandered through the areas that had herbs and things during the spring, but most of the seeds were long-gone and will probably not be back until late winter.

John found most everything, and as we left, there was a hot dog stand out front that had real bratwursts, real hot links and good cheddar dogs that all looked really good. We got two sausages, some Fritos and a couple of canned drinks for less than I thought it should cost, about $6! That was a really good deal and he did a really good business while we were sitting there eating, so he must have really good volume on the really low prices. Or else Home Depot was paying for him and his stand. Either way, it was very nice to sit on a picnic table in the sunshine and eat very simple, very well made food. The guy had actually grilled all the dogs as well as heating them through, so they had a bit of caramelization on the outside. The buns were kept in a warmer with a bit of steam, so they were soft and fresh and all the pop was buried under ice. Care taken, even of simple ingredients, still shows.

Afterwards we went to Eagle, and I went to look for herb starters because I was thinking of filling the rest of the planter. But then John asked if I couldn't just move all the chives from the planter into pots, and on thinking about that, it would be the easier thing and I have a number of jade plants that are relatively old and unhappy and I didn't pinch them enough to get them to grow nicely. So I could just dump those and put herbs in the window box, where they'd get plenty of light.

I got sidetracked. By candles. Cheap ones that looked pretty well-made, and after a little experience with pillars, I really liked tapers much better. Quick burning, no worry about how far to the edge they burn and they can be lit and blown out whenever I like. So I got some tapers and then got drain plates for all the pots that were on the sill. There's presently old plates that we use under the pots, but overflow when the dirt is dry is really fast, so they keep overflowing better to have the high sided drains. There also weren't any herb seeds anywhere, but there were little peat pellets that could be reconstituted for planting. That would be really cool when I do get seeds.

Eventually we headed back out and back home and on getting home, I tackled all the replanting jobs first. Got all the jade plants out, but the little one I was cultivating correctly for once, and put them into a wheelbarrow along with a bucket of water and a shovel. I went into the back acre and dug good holes for them, chopped up the dirt, added the plants in their root bundles, and then watered the whole mass. I had to cut through dried up tumbleweed, nasty plants with stickers and the soil wasn't all that good, pretty clay heavy; but I thought I'd at least give them a chance. So I dug them in, watered them into their new homes and then trudged back with the pots.

It was sad to leave them out there, but better than just throwing them away, I guess.

The next job was digging the various types of chives from the planter box and putting them into the pots. I pulled out a strangely shaped tool that I'd bought from The Herb Farm many moons ago, when we were just driving from Seattle here to Boulder for the last time in the Passat. It's kinda like a spade but with a twist and the twist proved to be at exactly the angle where I could put the blade in and when I rotated the handle, the blade popped up a blade-sized piece of earth in exactly the direction I wanted it to go. Very nice. A whole chunk of chives came up very easily, slender roots short and white. I then put them into the pots with plenty of earth underneath and on the sides.

I had planted both chives and garlic chives in the planter, and thought that the next bunch I brought up were spaced far enough apart to be the garlic chives. When I brought up the next clump, however, I found out that the root system between the two types of plants were completely and totally different. That surprised me, but made it really easy to tell the two types apart. John stuck a big piece of masking tape on the chives when I pointed out which was which.

I sat out on the porch, feeling like a kid with mud pies, digging about in the planter box, pulling out plants and mud and dirt and getting completely and thoroughly dirty. Carefully covering all the little white roots very gently with dirt and then watering the loose stuff down to let it settle in and then piling a bit more on top and getting that to settle around the roots rather than pressing the roots down. Slow work, but satisfying. Eventually, I got all the various types of chives planted into pots along with a stem of scallion that I'd saved from the chopping block and just plopped into the dirt. I just cut the greens off and use them every once in a while and I found out that the roots of it didn't go that far, which is very cool because it means I can probably plant a bunch of them in the pot at once.

While I sat and rummaged about in the dirt and gently bedded the plants, I was pretty still and the warm sunshine crept around me slowly. I was just sitting there when I suddenly realized that there was the quick whir of wings all about me. Small, fast wings beating so hard it was a thrum through the air. The feeders were attracting the small birds, all the sparrows and stuff, and I had sat still long enough that they weren't bothered by me. So I just watched them for a while, listening and watching their swift motions, blurring through the air. When I went back to my plantings I could just hear the texture of their wings through the air. It reminded me of Gaiman's Death and it seemed appropriate to hear the sound of wings on this day.

After the chives, I went and did one wheelbarrow's worth of acidifier food for all the evergreens and then did four wheelbarrow's worth of MiracleGro for all the other trees. The other trees were bigger, so needed more, but it was probably one of the last feedings of the season. They wouldn't need much during the low-growth season. I should have probably fed them more during last spring. It was slow, simple work, splashing food on all the roots, and my hands and arms and shoulders ached by the time I was done. The wrists weren't too good after all that, but not too bad, either. Building muscles seems to help my wrists in the long run.

I showered after that, and it was dark by the time I was done with my shower. Took my sweet time of it, enjoying the steam and wetness after the dizzying day outside, but I'd brought a water bottle with me, so I wasn't too dehydrated. I now have to take the extra precautions and find that they're useful. To know where I am, what I'm doing and the things I need to keep it easy on my body. Reality is a good thing to work with.

John set out luminarias when I got out, just lunch sacks with dirt on the bottom and one of the old Christmas candles the ECC was going to throw away. In the bags no one would see them anyway, and they let a glowing path to the front door. In the old Hispanic tradition, on the Night of the Dead, the lunimarias are to show the spirits the way back home to comfort and warmth and protection from the cold on the one day they're out. And these provided a way to our house for all the trick or treaters that were out and down our stretch of road. It turned out to be about a dozen all together, more than we'd had in all the years we lived in the woods with Fezzik; but not an overwhelming number. We had plenty of snack-sizes Snickers left for ourselves as we watched football as we waited.

While we watched and waited, I finally stopped waiting on my coding stuff. I took out my Levenger note cards and proceeded to write on each card the things I needed to do to each class that existed in our setup in order to tackle the next stage of things in my code development. I ended up with changes on a dozen different cards as I thought through the sequences. Talk about complex. I was very, very glad of the cards when I was through, though, so that I could just run through each class, tomorrow, and just get things done. That was very heartening indeed and probably a good start on tomorrow.

A good thing to plan the next day when the previous one is nearly done.

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