We found that house! Still, I will miss the oldness of my old house. So that’s why, on a whim and a search, I found a great blog www.reclaimingdetroit.org
Not only can those old glass doorknobs and beautiful old hardwoods be found here, lovingly rescued from crumbling buildings, but the organization provides much needed jobs and training to Detroit’s population.
I’m putting this on my list of places to check out just as soon as the last box is unpacked:
This is going to be a weird spring.
For 13 winters something has been growing in my basement.
Now don’t be frightened, especially if you are a potential buyer of my house.
The things that grew were my seedlings. All through the winter. Under grow lights set under timers.
Trays and trays of seedlings growing in plantable peat pots.
Annuals. Perennials. And Herbs.
All legal herbs, that is.
From the tiny seedlings grew the fully grown plants that populated my garden each year.
But this spring, the spring of transition, the only thing I’ve planted has been this:
The only gardening I’ve done is the kind where you weed while kneeling on a gardening pad and watch the bulbs you’ve planted from previous years emerge from the ground.
So, this gardener without a garden needs your help.
Won’t you write to me with your gardening plans – especially if you live in my current town of Rochester, or better yet, if you live in Detroit, tell me what the gardening scene is like in the motor city. Write to me where you find my contact information and I will feature you as a guest blogger right here.
So, get your green thumbs out of the dirt and onto that keyboard and write me!
Last night, in a frenzied attempt to make me fall in love with a house he saw in Michigan, my husband tried to email me a video of a property he walked through yesterday.
He wants me to fall in love with this house, because by the time I get to Michigan next week to begin our house hunting in earnest, this house, with the right square footage in the right neighborhood in the right school district, may already be sold.
After the video failed to arrive in my email inbox, and our Skype call kept freezing because of a poor connection, we gave up and said good-night.
I shut my laptop. As I tried to get to sleep alone again, against my yoga teacher’s teachings, some thoughts entered my head.
I have to use up the flour in my cabinet before Passover.
I also have to use up that jar of tomato sauce so making Pizza for tomorrow night’s dinner would be the perfect way to use up both flour and sauce.
But that means I will have to mess up the perfect feng shui of my empty kitchen counters.
Kitchen counters usually littered with – appliances like toasters and electric can openers, of all things, and a FRUIT BOWL.
And now I want to clutter the pristine emptiness of my vast kitchen counter space with a
of all things?
I mean, who keeps things on their kitchen counters?
Everyone, unless you are selling your house.
Who makes their beds each an every single morning??
No one! Unless you are trying to sell your house.
(And my mom.)
Today, if the sun stays behind the clouds, as it does on most Rochester days, my realtor is coming to take photos for the listing.
But, after the National Public Radio report I heard this morning – the first thing that entered my ears after waking from my fitful sleep — I’m wondering how hard we really have to work at this house selling thing after all.
To sum up the report – houses are selling insanely fast. So fast that if you want to find that house, you may find yourself checking your Zillow alerts at 2 a.m.
Guilty as charged.
Oh yeah, spring has sprung today and that means it is the very beginning of house hunting season. This year, the spring house buying/selling frenzy started weeks before the calender heralded the March 21 arrival of spring, even as the snow keeps falling.
I write this as I wait for my realtor to come take those fantastic photos of my house that has floor-to-ceiling 1920′s charm.
I write this as I wonder if I am going to find a house in Detroit that will speak to me, that will make me fall in love with it hook line and sinker as I did with the house I am dwelling in right now.
Or, am I going to have to settle. Because it is in the right school district. Because it was all that was on the market. Because, unlike the casual looker who is looking for a bigger house in their same town, we HAVE to move.
Tonight, I am going to try my hardest to listen to the sage advice of my yoga teacher and let my breath be louder than my thoughts.
This week is my husband’s final week in town. Next week begins his new beginning in Detroit but the beginning of my family’s long drawn out departure from Rochester as we yet again become transplants.
The sentence I have repeated hundreds of times to well-meaning family, friends, and acquaintances is finally here:
“Craig moves in March, I stay through June.” ’
March is tomorrow.
As the move to Detroit moves closer, uncertainty clogs my brain and there are daily reminders that we are leaving Rochester. We know what we have here, we don’t know what we are getting there. It’s that simple.
But then my nine-year-old taught me a valuable lesson. However small, finding one certainty, one thing that will be a known each day might make this whole transplant thing a bit easier.
On a drive to school the other day, my youngest declared he did not like his current room. It was boring.
And he might be right on this one. His room was never intended to be a kids’ bedroom but a spare guest bedroom. It remains the same since we moved in 13 years ago, way before he was a glimmer in our eye.
It is beige. It is very plain.
But (AND PAY ATTENTION POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS) it is brightly lit, private, and has its own bathroom and a huge closet.
He continued to petition his case for a more exciting room in our future unknown home from the back seat.
“My room is really boring, mom, so I am excited to get a new room when we move that is NOT beige. And I want my room to be blue.”
“But there are so many kinds of blues, how will you know which one to pick?” I asked from the front seat.
“I don’t want aquamarine, or turquoise, or teal. Just original, plain blue. Like the blue in a Crayola box, the kind with only 8 crayons.”
And there you have it. One bit of certainty in this very uncertain time.
My son’s new room in our new house in our new town
The news from Staten Island, it’s not all bad.
For the most part, everything seems – SEEMS – like it’s back to normal after Sandy, the worst storm in Staten Island’s 300-year history.
The stores are hopping with Christmas shoppers.
The streets are typically jammed with traffic.
The noisy holiday revelry in local restaurants with present opening, reindeer antler wearing patrons lay on an extra surreal layer to this island that everything is okay.
Last night, my husband and I ate at Euro-trendy Alor Cafe. As we dined on crepes and roasted Barramundi and sipped our Riesling and Merlot, we listened to a trio of flamenco guitarists:
All this normalcy takes place above “the Boulevard.”
Drive below the Boulevard, in the neighborhood where I grew up and my parents still live, things get strange.
Everywhere, there are subtle and not so subtle reminders of how Sandy reaffirmed for many Staten Islanders why the Island’s South Shore has the dubious distinction for being named ”Zone A.”
First, you notice the inspection postings that dot a front window on nearly every residence:
Then, there are the police cars that are out on nearly every corner. All day and all night:
And on the other side of the field, some more harsh evidence of Sandy:
On the other side of my childhood neighborhood are the eclectic bungalow-lined streets of Cedar Grove. Though I didn’t know anyone who lived here, I am thankful for the peacefulness these streets offered me in my teen years. These are the streets where I felt safe riding my bicycle. Many of these streets now have RED inspection stickers which mean that most of these houses are no longer safe to inhabit.
Even the neighborhoods makeshift 9/11 memorial had been destroyed by the storm surge:
As I walked these streets in the low December sun, I thought to myself: Am I a disaster tourist? Am I just a gawker?
No. No I’m not.
I couldn’t bring myself to take photos of the most badly damaged homes. The ones reduced to rubble. I felt by taking photos of these homes, I would be just be further violating the homeowner’s dignity. FOX news and CNN took photos of the worst, only to chase the next big news story and forget about this place just weeks later.
In this tucked-away corner of Staten Island, I’m not a tourist, though I no longer live here. I want to show the world these secret streets, to show them in their continued state of misery. Even though the media has moved on.
Don’t forget this strong and dignified neighborhood, however modest their homes.
Still there are signs of hope. This beautiful Spanish-mission styled church still stands:
Outside of a makeshift relief center where residents can get food, drinks and even Christmas gifts, there is this tree, with a sign of hope and resilience:
Brace yourselves, my dear blog devotees (mom, you already know)
but this blog is about to get a whole lot darker.
And that’s not even because Halloween is coming.
The universe has thrown my family a curve ball and the research facility where my husband works, the whole reason why we were plunked down in Rochester, is closing.
Once again, we are faced with the possibility of becoming
The next few days and weeks will be hard. Getting transplanted has many implications, big and small, on almost every facet of one’s life.
Take my passion for gardening, for example.
For nearly 13 years, I have continually worked in the gardens around my house. I’ve battled invasive creeping ivy; clearing it out to create a shade garden of hosta and ferns and Solomon Seal in my back garden.
I had yews removed to create a perennial garden in one of the only truly sunny spots on our property. Over the years, I’ve planted peony, roses, lavender, and countless other varieties.
After over a decade, the garden is finally looking established.
And now, I guess I’ll have to leave it all behind.
So, faced with the very real possibility of moving. what do I do now with the crocus and tulip bulbs I bought
Before we got the news that has pulled the rug out from my family’s feet?
Do I plant bulbs this fall that I may not get to see bloom in the spring?
I know that as my family faces the monumental “ifs” of moving, the subject of some stupid bulbs may seem – stupid. But at this point of the transplanting game, it’s about all I can handle.
About 11 years ago, in another event that changed EVERYONE’s lives forever, I had similar thoughts about bulbs.
We were all still reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In October, the War on Terror had begun with strikes in Afghanistan. There were reports of anthrax being spread through the mail. Remember how everyone was stocking up on bottled water and duct tape in case of a dirty bomb? Or a bio weapon of mass destruction?
No one knew what was coming next.
That fall, I watched and listened to way too many grim reports from the media. It left me in a serious blue funk.
So, I planted bulbs. They gave me hope, they gave me some sense of control of what I could be certain of for the following spring.
So now, in this one miniscule detail in the mountain of details one faces on the prospect of moving, I’ve got two bags of bulbs.
I can plant them for either me, if we stay here, or the new owners of my house.
Or, I can give them away to friends for them to enjoy.
If you knew you wouldn’t be around the same town to see your garden in the spring, what would you do?
Like any venture in farming or gardening, my garden this year had its successes and failures.
My eggplant plants never made it past seedlings, their leaves turned into lace work by pests.
My cucumbers suffered the same fate, not before offering a few vegetables to pick.
But, there are some vegetables that made it through.
Many people think of October as time for picking pumpkins, but don’t tell that to these two fine specimens:
As I picked them out of my garden, a fellow gardener in a neighboring plot said: Wow, look at that pumpkin! Isn’t it EARLY for pumpkins?
Maybe. Maybe these orange orbs are a bit early to the party, but don’t tell them that, you’ll hurt their feelings.
Then, there are the tomatoes:
Now, I have some mozzarella in my working refrigerator, and some basil in my garden. I’m off to get another loaf of bread so I can make another sandwich.
What are your favorite recipes this time of year? Send them my way and you can guest post on my blog.
This week’s photo challenge was an easy one.
These are sunflowers in my spot in the Brighton Community Garden. Just 10 weeks ago, they were seeds in a packet.
Hiding in all this growth is my youngest child, my baby. I know every parent says this, but I can’t believe how much he’s grown, and how much he will grow and change after his first summer at sleep-away camp.
It’s been more than a few weeks since I’ve written about my garden. I’ve had to pack the kids for camp. I was away visiting family and friends in New York City. There are several writing deadlines I must complete before the end of next week. And the family is in a bit of transition. More on that in a later post.
But, at the beginning of the summer, I said I would post about my garden, and I’ve got to get back on track.
Since early May I have been tending a 10 x 10 foot plot in my town’s community garden. I have been watering diligently
through this very dry summer.
When I was away, I left my garden in the care of some friends who have a plot adjacent to mine. They have a garden that is not only well cared for but is sealed like a fortress against any critters that may want to feast on their crops.
After a week of being away, I was tempted to drive out to the garden the night we arrived home. But there were kids and suitcases to unpack and get into the house. The garden would have to wait.
No one can tell me that there isn’t a time difference between New York City and Rochester.
Maybe its just the pace of time that moves faster “downstate” because when we returned from our week away in good ‘ol NYC, I was exhausted and slept until after 8 that morning.
I tried to push some energy into my voice when the phone rang and woke me at 8:15.
It was my gardening friend.
“Have you been over to the garden? I didn’t wake you? Did I?”
No, of course you didn’t wake me, I said, faking a wide awake tone into my voice. But, considering I just got home at nine the night before, and my garden would not be visible in the darkness.
I thought, is she mad? I’m still in downstate jet lag…why don’t Rochesterians get that there exists jetlag when returning from New York City? And you don’t even need to fly to get it!
“Well, you should get over there soon. Your garden is becoming known as the Garden that Ate the Community Garden!”
Indeed. In just one week’s time, my garden had exploded.
Now, compare my community garden at its humble beginnings back in May:
I cleared it and planted tiny seeds:
Sunflowers have grown taller than my tallest child.
Both the sunflowers – and the children
Pumpkin vines are creeping everywhere. I’ve actually received gentle reminders from my garden neighbors to please retrain my vines back into my garden plot and out of the common garden paths.
And, unlike a sun deprived pumpkin vine, not only am I getting blossoms that have been host to a number of pollen-intoxicated bees, but I actually have 5-10 pumpkins taking shape. I’ll need to make a lot of pumpkin pie this fall.
Not to mention a lot of tomato sauce:
The full sun of the garden has produced such strong leaves on my tomato plants, it looks like they’ve been going to the gym.
There have been some failures, of course every garden has them. My eggplant plants were eaten first by beetles and then strangled and overgrown by the invasive pumpkin vines.
The basil seeds I sprinkled never made it in this dry summer without a good daily watering.
But so far, this experiment in community gardening is paying off. Harvested my first crop of purple beans for dinner last night:
This will be the year.
This is the year when I, as a gardener, who has lived for over a decade trying to eek out a ripe tomato or a proper cucumber vine in the dappled sunlight of my backyard, will finally understand what full sun means.
This is the year that this gardener becomes a farmer.
For $25, I signed on to care for a 10′x10′ foot plot of earth in The Town of Brighton’s Community Garden. I’m hoping not only to reap some great crops of vegetables and flowers for bouquets all summer, I’m also looking forward to the people I’m going to meet and the stories I will learn from them.
But when I made my first visit to the community garden, located along Westfall Road in Brighton, I wondered what I’ve gotten myself into.
This is the third or fourth season at the garden and many of the plots have been cared for by some pretty seasoned green thumbs. There are plots adorned and accessorized with fencing systems to keep out critters,
neatly divided quadrants, and well-built support systems to grow climbing bean and pea vines. There are plots that have strawberry plants and leeks sprouting up that were planted from the year before:
Some caring gardeners have even designed a scarecrow:
Then, I located my plot. Plot D-4:
Weedy. Messy. Nothing much to look at. But, hey, I signed on to this, and this little plot of land was mine for the season so I got to work.
It took little effort to pull out the weeds from the soft, loamy soil. The most delicious feeling soil I have ever worked compared to the clay-laden soil in my backyard garden. Did I mention that my neighborhood was built on a former brick making quarry. ‘Nuf said about the quality of the soil.
But out here: The Brighton Community Garden sits on a former cow pasture that was home to a century’s worth of dairy cows. You guess it, this soil is blessed by 100 years of blessed cow poop.
I weeded and I tilled, the only sounds I heard were the swallows and red-winged blackbirds that swooped and sang overhead.
I did bring along my iPod for company and listened to music on its tiny speakers. And, even though I was alone in this sunny field, I still kept looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was going to run off with it. There are some habits from New York City that don’t die.
After a few hours, my plot looked like this:
Not bad for a first day’s work.
Next up: I’ll install a fence and start planting some seeds.