Saturday, March 21, 2009


Michelle Obama broke ground on the new South Lawn kitchen garden yesterday, accompanied by a class of 5th graders from a D.C. public school. I'm not sure why she chose a school that already has a garden of its own -- maybe it's the closest one to the White House? No, I just looked it up, it's nowhere near the WH. But whatever, the fact of the garden is fabulous even if they didn't bring schoolkids into it. They're going to have honeybees, too! I want honeybees! I should have gone to the course that was just offered by the county beekeepers association, but I missed it. I've got a great yard for them, big and sunny, and I could face the entrance back toward the train tracks to make it even less likely that anyone would get stung.

I feel like I'm hopelessly behind on my own garden, but if they're not going to plant early seedlings at the WH for another two weeks, I guess I'll be OK. I'll just have to put out money on some seedlings, unfortunately, because I didn't start my own. Time to start tomatoes & peppers etc. NOW. Got to go buy a bag of sterile seed-starting soil mix -- I totally forgot I was out. Well, it's below freezing now but supposed to be 50 and sunny today. Good day to start seeds out on the picnic table, as long as it doesn't get too breezy (blowing seeds away!). It's too messy a job to do indoors, dirt gets everywhere.

Got to finish removing the cinder blocks (Lord, that's a heavy job -- working on my Michelle Obama arms!), so I can till. I had cinder block-edged raised beds for 3 seasons, but the bermuda grass has taken over and it's impossible to get it out of the holes, so I decided just to till the whole area, and put mulch over newspaper or cardboard for the paths. The blocks are packed very tight with dirt and roots, so they are very, very heavy. Probably 50 lbs each, or close. My reference point is a 50-lb bag of chicken feed. In the past, when I had money, I would have hired some day laborers to do the heavy lifting, but it's better this way. I'm capable of it, I just have to pace myself. This way I get stronger and I get the satisfaction of having done the work myself.

I just saw that U.S. News & World Report has put out "10 Easy-Grow Veggies for Your Kids' Obama White House Garden". Yes! The trend begins! How exciting! The BEST thing the Obamas can do for this fundamentally screwed up economy is to encourage frugality and self-reliance at the household and community levels. If all us out of work people would start our own little micro-businesses, we could support each other, without the skimmed-off overhead of obscenely overpaid executives. Jobs are overrated! (she says, scanning the want ads ... SIGH).

One of the other oblates at the St. Benedict's feast last night said I could be a "life coach" -- now I don't know about that, given how confused I am about the direction of my own life. But spiritual direction maybe, yes. I LOVED doing RCIA, which is basically group spiritual direction. And I definitely think I have something to offer. But how and where does one put out a shingle for that? Maybe I should introduce myself to the pastors of my closest parishes, and invite them to refer people to me. It's not something I'd feel right about charging for, but I could ask for donations (reminding directees that their contribution could cover not only their own time, but that of someone else who can't pay). Or, I could set a price but make it optional to pay. Something like that ... I wouldn't want to turn away someone who's broke like me, and really in need of some support for that very reason. Anyway, I'm going to try to corner that oblate tomorrow after Mass and chat with him about the idea. Yeah ... I may end up a hermit after all (no more office jobs! anyway, not more than on a temp basis)


  1. Hi Regina,

    I just wanted to stop by and say hi. Hi!

    I've been meaning to start a garden for the last 2 years, and haven't even broken ground yet. It's nice to know that someone is treating it seriously.

    I've been thinking about you a lot. Has there been any progress on finding a job or handling the mortgage?

  2. Hi there, Michael. I thought maybe all my esoteric Catholic stuff was a little too much for my regulars! (all 2 of you) Glad to hear from you.

    No, no real progress on job or mortgage. Lowered the price on the house, made some contacts in a field I could enjoy working in, contacted some temp agencies. Asking around for paid church cantoring jobs (only a few pay), and other little ways to bring in a few bucks. I'll be doing a little secretarial work for the Prior at the Abbey, it's not much but it'll help.

    It's good to know you've thought of me. I can use all the prayers (or "white light", my mom would say) I can get. Thanks.

  3. Hi Regina,

    Isn't that wonderful news about the garden in the White House? I read that they are planning to grow 55 kinds and organic too.

    My dad has had an organic garden since I was a kid and it was always nice to see how it grew from little seeds to these lush plants. I still get a kick out of it.

    We would love to do the same but we are living in a rental community so we cannot have a garden. However, we are holding on to the dream!

    Hope you have a wonderful Sunday and you are still in my prayers! Keep the faith...all will work out somehow and someway. It always does.

  4. Hi, Nadia. Room to garden is pretty much a non-negotiable criterion for me for a place to live. At a couple of places it was just boxes on a balcony -- but I made sure to get an apartment on the sunny side of the building!

    Have you looked at community gardens? You can search for one near you here:
    Even though I have a yard for my own garden, I have volunteered at the community garden in my town, and made some nice like-minded friends.

  5. Hi Regina,

    Thanks for the link. I will definitely check it out.

    My dad also told me about putting boxes on the window sill. We have a bit of space at the entrance to our place. However, my concern is that the landscapers may spray chemicals and it will get on my plants.

    Can you share any advice? We get a lot of sun at our place so it may work. :)

  6. Nadia, can you ask them not to spray around your plants?

    There are two issues with spraying: one is herbicide drift that can kill your plants, and the other is nasty stuff on the parts of the plants you eat. As for the first, I don't know if maybe some plants are more sensitive than others, but ideally they would just be aware that you've planted something that shouldn't be sprayed around.

    As for the second, some plants and plant parts will pass on more bad stuff to you, the eater, but I'm afraid I don't know which is which. I know that some plants take up a lot of heavy metals and toxins from the soil -- especially anything in the mustard greens family, as I recall -- so you might want to plant in containers or raised beds, with new, clean soil.

    Check out, it's a really great forum with many sub-topics.


  7. Hi again, Regina,

    LOL. No you didn't run me off. I've been busy with work. One contract is coming to a close and another is just starting.

    I'm glad to hear you're making contacts in a field you could enjoy working in, and that you found a little work, even if it's not much.

    I will definitely be keeping you in my prayers.