Final resting place of the Garden Bed

In my last post, I had promised you, my loyal and non-existent readers, that I would start working on planting some of the veggie seeds. That did not happen. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to lie to you. I did some research on when and where to plant the veggies, and every source I read gave me different information. So I’m forced to just learn through my own experiences and hope for the best. Once again, I see that the more I learn the less I know.

So I’ve decided just to wait for the last frost to pass and direct seed everything outside. In order to do this, I will need to have everything in place and ready once that last frost happens. So this past weekend I just kept working on the garden bed itself. This whole process has left me feeling a bit nervous. I knew that my chances of having a successful garden bed in my first season were not great, but I thought that if I invested enough time into the research I could figure it out and make it work. After doing said research, I now know that nobody knows how to do this. So I’m just going to wing it. I figure that the worst that can happen is that my garden will fail, my wife will recognize me for the incompetent worker that I am, take my son and my dog and find a real man.  Leaving me and my dead garden to look at each other and wonder where we went wrong.

Putting my intense paranoia aside, I dug the holes for the corner posts and placed the bed in it’s final resting place (morbid, I know).

BY LateAfternoon

As you can see, my wife, son and dog all decided they needed to be in the photo. You can also see that at this point in the day, around 5:30pm, the area will be in the shade. That should be perfect for me to get home after work and be able to put some work in, in the nice cool shade, after the garden has gotten about 8 hours of sunlight during the day.

Next, I started working on tilling the ground beneath the bed. As I understand it, this is done in order to get proper irrigation from the garden. The ground beneath the garden is fairly soft and easy to till. Still, I only got about 1/3 of the work done before dinner time/ beer time/ motivation evaporation.

Tilling

The weather this coming week looks a bit more like the Colorado weather I know and love. We are expecting snow storms on Thursday and maybe Friday, but I will continue to till throughout the week after the workday and hopefully have it all done by next weekend (ha!).

As always, I am The Man Who Bites Off More Than He Can Chew and I bid thee well.

Building the Raised Garden Bed

It is mid-March here in Colorado, and we have been graced with a couple days of beautiful weather. So I decided this was a good opportunity to get some of the outdoor work done while I had the chance. I measured out how much of the yard I was willing to sacrifice to this gardening experiment and found a location that has good sun exposure.

I decided I would build an 8X8 garden bed. If anyone is taking notes, that is significantly less ambitious than my original plan of having three raised beds, but plans change. So I went to Home Depot and got some untreated Dougas Fir. I have read varying reports on whether to use treated or untreated wood, based on the chemicals from the treatment getting into the soil and then into your veggies/food. Supposedly the treated wood is now safe to use for garden beds but I didn’t want to take the risk and got untreated. The Douglas Fir planks are 2X6’s. And I got a 4X4 of untreated cedar for where the corners meet.

20150324_090246

There it is. 8X8 with two 2X6’s, to make it taller. The corners are put together with the cedar 4X4. It is upside down in the picture, with the corner posts sticking up. I will dig about 4 inches down to plant those corner posts in the ground and the actual placement of the garden will be further back and in the corner of the yard. My project for this day was just to build the raised bed.

As you can see in the picture, the corner where I will be putting it is exposed to lots of sunlight. The entire fence in the background is exposed to the southern light. The photo above was taken at about 9am, so that spot will get plenty of sunlight early in the day.

2015032595141644 (1)

The above photo was taken at about 2:30pm. You can see that the weather has turned but that back corner is still getting a good amount of sun exposure. In addition to the exposure, that area of the yard gets hit by the sprinkler system and that 8X8 section won’t be covering up any existing sprinkler heads.

This coming weekend I will be starting to do the indoor planting for the veggies that need to grow inside a bit before they get transplanted into the soil. I know nothing about this so I will go into more depth as I learn more.

I’m Going To Start A Garden. Another Brilliant Idea. . .

Even saying it makes me nervous. Allow me give a little history. I have never successfully grown anything. Which is quite different from saying that I have never tried. Because I have. For two years in a row during my college years I decided it would be fun to grow a pumpkin patch in my back yard and then throw a big pumpkin carving party/ Halloween party once they were big and ready to carve. Obviously that didn’t happen. Not one of my pumpkins lived. I’m a murderer.

So here I am, kicking a dead horse, or maybe a dead pumpkin. Planning and dreaming. The thought of walking out into the backyard and plucking some fresh fruits and veggies from my own yard, the literal fruits of my own labor, and eating them down before they even know they have been plucked. The reward seems so great. The labor seems so great. And now that I have a blog, the possibility (probability?) of humiliation seems so great.

I’m sitting at the drawing board, the project is a blank slate sitting in front of me. It’s exciting and nerve racking. My dreams are big, hopefully my watermelons will be too. Already my wife tells me my plans are too large. But I’m a stubborn one. That kind of talk will only fuel the fire. She should know better by now.

So here is a rough sketch of my over-ambition: I will be building three raised garden beds. Two large beds and a small one. And a pot that will grow watermelons. I plan to grow ten total edibles (fruits and vegetables). Muskmelons. Lettuce. Garlic. Broccoli. Strawberries. Blackberries. Onions. Radishes. Squash. Tomatoes. Watermelons. Yea! . . . as I proofread this, I realize that my wife might have a point. Whatever the case, as of today, March 20, 2015, that is my plan. Oh, and I plan to revive a grape vine that I mostly destroyed last summer while replacing my fence.

My plans for this blog are to record my doings. Maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. Maybe someone can anticipate my errors and help me overcome them. Or maybe I will just entertain someone. I will be posting updates with every significant effort I make on the project and I will be posting pictures of my humble yard. This is a shameless project that probably no one will benefit from, but I am too stubborn to turn back now.

My efforts will begin this weekend when I’ll build the structures of the raised garden beds. Much to your chagrin, I will keep you posted. Until then, I am the Man Who Bites Off More Than He Can Chew, and I bid thee well.

I. Earned Sleep

This is a fictional story that I am currently writing. I will publish it piece by piece, roughly chapter by chapter. Though, I think this will be more of a short story than a novel with chapters. I have no title for it yet. Obviously, this is a work in progress. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it.

I. Earned Sleep

Earned sleep is experienced when an individual has been tried, has passed these trials and is feeling exhausted and content with the actions that have allowed for such a rest.  This is not the sleep that Kevin was enjoying on that morning, or night, or whenever it was.  Neither of them knew because neither of them had a watch, or a cell phone, or any other sort of digital device to tell them what time it was.  They had seen no clock on the bus  and by the time they had been picked up hitching they were both too drunk to think to look at the clock.  Kevin’s only gauge of time now was in how cold and dark the air was.  He could not see his breath, but he blamed that on the darkness rather than the lack of cold in the air.  The stars were almost fully screened beneath what Kevin assumed to be mostly pollution.  He heard cars passing by above, some shook the bridge more than others.  He wondered how many of them were police cars on their way to throw these two American college students into a Mexican prison.  Or maybe they were banditos coming to rob the foolish gringos.  If they showed up at the same time, maybe the cops and the banditos would have to fight each other for the spoils of whatever belongings Kevin and Dave might have.  Strangely, the thought of getting robbed comforted Kevin.  Not the thought of having a knife or a gun in his face, but the thought of the robber’s face as he went through their bags and realized what he had stolen.  Between the two of them, Dave and Kevin had four pairs of shorts, three T-shirts, two and a half pairs of sandals, a fishing line attached to a block of wood, a pot, a pan, a backpacking stove, enough rice to survive for the next two days, four bottles of cheap tequila, a pathetic excuse for a bag of weed, a piece of moist cardboard containing two partially soaked rolling papers, a sleeve of matches and two passports.  That was all.  So Kevin felt comforted knowing that they could set up camp wherever they wanted, no one will want to steal from them because they had nothing to steal.  And it was thinking of the robber’s face that comforted Kevin’s eyes shut.

No, this was not earned sleep.  Kevin and Dave had been tried, had failed these trials and as a result Kevin was feeling discontent in his rest.  It is not that lying on a beach is uncomfortable.  In fact the opposite is true, especially on a beach such as this one.  It held the type of sand that rolls through the toes with ease but still seemed to be thick just with its sheer volume.  The problem was that they were sleeping on a beach directly beneath a highway.  The more direct concern was that sleeping on beaches in Mexico is illegal, especially when those sleeping appear to have money.  The Cabo San Lucas Police Department seemed eager to bust young and rebellious American youths such as Kevin and Dave.  While Dave breathed directly into the sand with long and deep air, Kevin had realized how obvious their situation would be as soon as an officer even attempted at a conversation.  Kevin’s mind worked over how the conversation would transpire.

Something in Spanish”, the officer would say.

“Hola” Kevin would respond with a deliberate effort to not enunciate the harsh “h” sound.

“?Spanish being spoken very quickly? ?Something about a van?”

A long void would fill this point in the conversation until, finally, the only word that fell from Kevin’s mouth would be, “Hola”.

The officer would be forced into seeing that these were two American boys who had obviously wandered off with a roll of mommy and daddy’s stack.

A deeper, less friendly sounding tone of Spanish” he would say as he reaches toward Kevin.

“?Hola?”

But it was not a police officer who awoke Kevin that morning.  When the police wake a criminal, it is with a probe or a swat, not with a lick and a sniff.  Still, Kevin was certain that it was the K-9 unit that had tracked them across the Baja peninsula and had finally brought them to justice on this beach somewhere between Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas.

My worst moment in Korea

I have been in Korea for almost 9 months now and I have mostly had positive experiences. Recently, however, I had a serious moment of hating this country.

I was walking around downtown Daegu with my girlfriend. I was in a bad mood because I have been trying to drink less coffee so I was kind of in a funk without my crack, I mean caffeine. I reached my moment of weakness, though, when we passed my favorite coffee-stand lady and I remembered that my coffee punch card was full and it was my turn to get a free cup of joe. This was a big mistake. Because you see I had eaten dalk-galbi the night before. Dalk-galbi is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it has certain effects on my bathroom activities, if you catch my drift. In essence, I’d had  a massive oil line in my belly (dalk-galbi) and had sent down a massive spark (coffee).

I did not get a warning. No, my body did not give me the courteous and gentle warning it usually does when it says to me, “um, excuse me? No rush or anything but you should find a toilet in the next hour or two”. No the message I received from my body on that day was, “YOU HAVE 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. . . You are now not crapping your pants on borrowed time”. At this point my girlfriend and I were still just wandering around the downtown area with no destination in mind. Which is a  horrible thing if you are sweating because of the load you are carrying around inside you. You know those cold sweats that make you feel as helpless and uncomfortable as a snail covered in salt.

So I became frantic. For you see, in Korea it is rare for a restroom to provide toilet paper. Here, you have to bring your own and I didn’t have any. Another thing you should understand about Korean restrooms is the squatter. Squatters are generally more common than “sitters”, especially in public restrooms. Being from the US, I am not used to this. I have been forced to squat a time or two and I will tell you that I am not a natural. So my options were looking bleak. For a moment, it appeared as though I would have to squat without toilet paper. Thankfully my girlfriend was still thinking clearly and reminded me that we were only a few blocks from Kyobo, a bookstore. Not just any bookstore, but one with toilet paper and seated toilets! Huzzah!

I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything was going to be OK, so I thought. I had to be careful not to run because it seems like the bouncing from running always escalates the level of poopy-mergency. So I took long strides while still being careful not to create any sort of bouncing effect at all. I looked like a weirdo slinking around like some kind of a cartoon character but desperate times call for desperate measures and walking like a weirdo far outweighed the alternative. I finally reached Kyobo and as I ascended the few stairs to get to the doorway I realized that I had the chills. It was 87 degrees that day.

I rushed around the corner and threw open the door of the restroom to see my worst nightmare. A wall of Korean men just staring at themselves in the mirror. Koreans are notorious for this, men and women. They see a mirror and freeze. Occasionally they will gently push a piece of hair or two but all they are really doing is staring. Of course this is an over generalization but most of them really do this. There must have been ten of them and none of them were moving. They were directly in between me and my much-needed toilet. Another important note about Koreans is the lack of personal space. So when I say they were standing as a wall, they were. They were shoulder to shoulder, unmoving and unmovable. So they thought. I dove right in. Throwing shoulders, elbows, clawing and hissing (okay not really), but I got pretty nasty in there. And I got through. I thought, “This is it! I made it!” Huzzah!

And then I got hit with the scent of cigarettes. I knew I was in trouble. This is another aspect of Korean culture I need to explain. For some reason that I do not understand, many Korean men go and sit on the toilet to smoke instead of going outside or sitting right at the table to smoke. They aren’t pooping, I’ve listened, they are just smoking and usually on the phone. While I will admit that most of my best thinking gets done on the shitter, I strongly subscribe to the theory of, “either shit or get off the toilet”. Even more than this, in Korea you can still smoke almost everywhere, so I will never understand why they do this but it is a fact and an unpleasant one when you are in the situation I was in that day.

So there I was, staring at a bunch of stalls with smoke billowing out of the top. All occupied. You know how the poop inside you always seems to know when you have entered a bathroom and it becomes restless? Those few moments before you actually plop onto the seat are always the most brutal, right? Well those moments were being drawn out painfully slowly for me. Meanwhile the storm in my belly has brewed to produce sounds comparable to a moose getting eaten alive by a grizzly. I went over and violently shook every door three or four times. I would hear the man inside mumble something and I couldn’t say, “Get the fuck out before I spray paint my boxers!”, because no one would understand me. So I turned around to check out the urinals. Yes, I was considering doing it in the urinals. Like I said, desperate times. . .

                                               I would have rather squatted.

And just then, like the gates of heaven, a stall door opened. The man inside must have sensed my urgency from the way I was running around and probably crying (at this point I was near blacked out). I flew inside the stall and. . .

. . . it was glorious! And painfully loud. I sat there a moment thinking about the fact that I had made such a scene just moments before when I had shoved so rudely through people, then shook all the doors, then started unbuckling and backing into a urinal only to climax with that incredible and unignorable explosion. I stopped to think about the walk of shame I was about to endure.

Honestly, I thought it would bother me more than it did. I really didn’t care. All that I cared about was the fact that I had released the monster that was inside me. It was gone! I thought, “Ya, so I shoved a few of you and I may have cut someone’s cigarette break a bit short but you all got a pretty good story out of it”. And so did I.

And I forgave Korea immediately. I forgave the dalk-galbi for planting that nasty seed inside me. I forgave the public toilets for the lack of tissue and squatter tendencies. I forgave the men who stare at themselves and the ones who needlessly occupy much-needed stalls for a smoke break. I forgave them all because, in the end, all that matters is that I didn’t crap my pants.

Clingers

Ah yes, the dreaded clinger. They come in many shapes and forms. The most common is the boyfriend/ girlfriend clinger. Then there is the random hook-up clinger, the friend clinger, the friend of a friend clinger, the co-worker clinger and the always awkward random person clinger.

Allow me to break these categories down for you:

The boyfriend girlfriend clinger is some  one with whom you are romantically involved that considers your relationship to be much more serious than you do. This brand of clinger has been known to stick around for a very long time. Breaking up does not always mean that the relationship is over and you need to be very clear, sometimes multiple times, that the relationship is OVER.

The random hook-up clinger is a guy or a girl that you met once and had a good time with. It was meant to be one good time but the other party is unable to read your subtleties and a dangerous situation ensues.This is a situation that needs to be handled very delicately.

                                                                    or else. . .

The friend clinger is usually someone who you have known for at least a few months. You have had this person over for dinner and drinks. You have told this person stories about your friends and your family. This person has even met some of your friends and family. And then things get weird. The clinger starts doing the no-call pop-ins for no apparent reason other than just to “hang”. The clinger starts expecting things from you that you never agreed upon.

The friend of a friend clinger is someone who you have met once or twice at a party or at a dinner with some friends. For whatever reason, this person becomes convinced that the two of you are meant to be soul mates and every time said clinger comes anywhere near you, you can kiss the next two hours of your life goodbye. In my experience, the friend of a friend clinger is the most awkward of clinging situations. Once you have recognized the clinger and the urgency to get of the clinger, you cannot simply burn the bridge. Your mutual friends are still involved. You still have to maintain a good relationship with your friend while making the clinger realise that they are smothering more than George Lucas gets smothered at a Star Wars convention.

                                                        like I said, awkward.

The co-worker clinger can be a very painful situation. You are working with someone who has an unhealthy obsession with you. You try to get away, but since you are at work you cannot go far and you actually have a job to do. A job which, of course, becomes impaired by the presence of your adherent co-worker. This is a situation you need to take care of immediately. When it comes to work, take no risks and make it very clear to your co-worker, and maybe even to your boss, that this person needs to leave you alone.

The random person clinger is a strange situation indeed. Someone that you don’t even know has latched on to you. It could be your pleasant aroma, the lovely shape of your head, the way you snore a little when you space out. The point is you don’t know why but this person has taken a liking to you. My advise, contact the authorities.

                                                                     or else. . .

Many movies have tackled the touchy subject of clingers. But in my opinion the only one actually worth talking about in this post is Wedding Crashers. I think Wedding Crashers is a hilarious movie, but it fails on an epic scale in one very important way. The failure is this; Vince Vaughn’s character (spoiler alert) MARRIES THE CLINGER! Holy crap! That is the single worst thing you can do with a clinger! That only reinforces the clinger’s belief that smothering someone until they have nothing left is a succesful way of dealing with people. Readers, we need to unite and stand in arms agains clingers and promise to each other that we will never marry a clinger. We must break up with them, burn the bridges with them and even send them to prison if necessary. We must do this until they heal from their clinger ways. Until then, the world is not a safe place.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with a clinger is that you need to take action immediately.

                                                                      or else. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cPrQ-GqpjU

My Dearest Adjumas,

South Korea has exposed me to a number of new things. One aspect of Korean life that has utterly baffled me from day one is the presence the adjumas. Adjumas are middle-aged korean women. In the Korean hierarchy, power comes with age and adjumas are power-hungry. This is a letter I composed to them. . .

My Dearest Adjumas,

I am new to this, your land. For you see, I have only been here six months and everything still seems so new and fresh to me. The reason I write this letter to you, my adjumas, is because I still have not figured out what it is that makes you tick. I see you selling food, toys and socks on the street. I see you cooking in every restaurant. I see you sweeping sidewalks. I see you everywhere but I still have a hard time understanding you.

For example, your street food can be delicious. But I can feed myself. I do not need you to be feeding me by hand and sticking your fingers into my mouth. You never do that to the Koreans that frequent your stands, only to me. And it leaves a bitter aftertaste of salt and humiliation to your previously tasty dukboki. To the adjumas who sell fruits, I thank you. My hat is truly off to you because I’m not sure what that thing is that is shaped like an apple and tastes kind of like a crunchy pear, but it is the most amazingly succulent thing I have ever put into my mouth.

This is not me. No, this fellow was lucky enough to find a sweet ajuma with chopsticks!

I will not claim to speak Korean but I have heard a great deal of Koreans speak it. Yet somehow it is only you, sweet old adjumas, only you who I hear making a distinct noise with the back of your throat whilst you speak it. Is this something I should be concerned about? And why do you always seem to direct your mouth towards me when you do it? Why is it that you take a pause, seemingly mid-word, to clear yo(gggghhhhhhhhhhuuuuu)ur throat? Do you require assistance? Perhaps some Binacha?

Where, oh sweetest of sweet adjumas, where do you get your clothes? Is there an Adjuma Unlimited somewhere that only sells leopard print spandex, flower printed flannel jackets, frumpy sweaters, face masks, umbrellas and enormous, clear visors? Do they give discounts on perms there?

Adjumas, I refuse to believe that sitting on the heels of your feet all day is the most comfortable position you can find. Please allow me to introduce you to the Crazy Creek. It will change your life.

And what are you doing with that cart? It appears to be a hybrid of a shopping cart and a baby stroller. Yet it contains neither groceries nor babies. It is killing me, adjumas! What is in those carts!?!?

Adjumas, I beg of you, please tone down the aggression. Please? Just a little? I wouldn’t say anything but you always seem to steer towards me when we pass each other on the street. I feel as though I have a magnet on me that only attracts you! I give you more than enough space and still, little adjumas, still you steer directly at me. And just last night my girlfriend swore to me that one of you growled at her as she passed. Growled! Why is this? Is it the way I smell? Do my odors offend you? Or perhaps it’s my small face. That’s it, isn’t it? You hate my small face and you want to get a closer view of its hideousness!

And on the bus, dear adjumas, on the bus the way you shove me and deliberately throw elbows into me; that hurts me. It hurts me inside and out. It makes me think, “why is she doing this to me? I was just standing here! Not even in her way! She went out of her way to come in and elbow me in the ribs! She hates me!”

But I don’t want you to think that I hate you. Rather, it is the opposite. I love you. I love the way you are always so concerned that I will enjoy your food. How entertained you become when you realize that I can use chopsticks. The way you shuffle, moving so fast yet never actually lifting your feet from the ground. And, finally, I love how you always have the best hiking gear, complete with hiking poles, even when you are in the supermarket. It always makes me think you will summit Everest as soon as you find your way out of the dairy aisle.

Thank you, adjumas! Thank you all!

Love always,

Your curious foreign friend.

Somewhat unrelated but completely irresistable!