Legit Temporary Fence

I need to adapt but I just don’t. I’m one of those people for whom winter is normal and summer is extreme. In winter, the best outside hours are between 11 and 3. In summer that’s a kind of hell.


During the heat of the day I was out there planting tomatoes and basil and setting up a fence. It’s ugly but it’s lightweight, recycled plastic and it will do the job this year. Next year, maybe, if this turns out to be a good location for gardens, I’ll get a real fence with a less industrial aesthetic.

Everything is in except some flower seeds I just got, Scabiosa or Pincushion flower. I’m just going to plant them with the vegetables to attract pollinators.

Between the fence and the beans I have planted a patch of grass seed and covered it with a burlap sack. If it works, I’ll carry on with that strategy over more parts of the yard. I don’t care if I grow a lawn in 3′ x 4′ sections and it takes all summer. Godnose I’m not going anywhere.

Sadly, there’s not room for all the tomatoes who shot up from seeds in great optimism. I hate that. As you might have guessed, my plants are, I don’t know how to describe it, but I just think it’s so cool that a tiny seed put in a grow thing WANTS to grow and feed me. I think I’d feel the same if I were a farmer, so I’m grateful that I’m not. I’m going to hang onto them for a while to see how the two I planted work in the real ground. Yesterday I was able to rehome 3 and I was happy for that. Every spring I resolve NOT to plant seeds and every spring I plant seeds and face the fact that some will have to go to the great garden in the sky.


Lone Wild Goose

Alone, the wild goose refuses food and drink,
his calls searching for his flock.

Who feels compassion for that single shadow,
vanishing in a thousand distant clouds?

You watch, even as it flies from sight,
its plaintive calls cutting through you.

The noisy crows ignore it,
the bickering, squabbling multitude.

Tu Fu

Yet Another Quotidian Update, this One Without Beans

Every summer I have to make this adjustment from going out with the dogs in the middle of the day and surrendering to going out in the evening. Last evening Teddy and I headed out to the Big Empty. Normally I’d just take the easy way and wander around the hood through the golf course, but it was Sunday meaning league golf. So, why not head out and see what our friends the geese, blackbirds, meadowlarks, mountains, sky and light were doing at 7:30 pm?

The Refuge was beautiful. Mt. Blanca was lit by the sun coming from the west, every valley and cornice visible and luminous. The little bit of remaining snow tinged golden in the late-day light. Teddy, of course, was very happy to get the chance to take his inventory of goose excrement. According to him, there was no new carnivore scat to report.

He really wanted to see the bunny again.

I’ve been communicating with the director of the Rio Grande County Museum and something she wrote made me feel the urge to get on with the project — Swiss Immigrants in the San Luis Valley. Sit down, sit down. I know you’re excited and can’t wait, but I have no idea when or if this will happen. I started writing my little talk and, as I did, I began to wonder if the community could endure a series on this topic because I think that would be epic (literally).

Most important, I became absorbed in what I was writing for the first time since the virus. I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff done in these two months but none of it was really interesting. Maybe this is a step in the evolution of living with this thing. Maybe this is a stage a lot of other people are reaching, maybe it’s (along with money) a reason for the strong urge to “open up” the country. Down here that’s a huge thing. Tourism and potatoes are the biggies in this economy and people down here — where most businesses are small businesses — are eager to get on with life. We’ve had a total of 75 identified cases and one death down here which, for me, is an argument AGAINST opening to tourism but…

I made my every-two-weeks trek for groceries yesterday, ski buff at the ready to pull up over my nose and mouth. As I waited in the parking lot, I saw that most people going in and out of the store were wearing masks. It hit me that IF people did not resist that small thing, the business of opening up might be OK.

In other news, Ancestry DNA has revealed yet another amazing trait: I like coffee. Don’t be fooled by “You said you have 1 to 2 caffeinated drinks a day.” It is one giant cup of espresso = 6 little espresso cups. 😀

Although I promised no beans, Tu Fu wanted to share this with you.

Night in a Room by the River

Evening rises toward the mountain trails.
as I climb up to my high chamber

Thin Clouds lodge along the cliffs.
A lonely moon rocks slowly on the waves.

A line of cranes flaps silently overhead,
and, far off, a howling pack of wolves.

Sleepless, memories of war betray me.
I am powerless against the world. ❤


About Plants

Teddy is sitting here looking at me with his supernatural, mind-reading, Australian shepherd, “I recognize the songs of three different birds!!!” intelligence and sending the telepathic message, “You EVER going to give me that coffee cup?” Ahead of me is a chore I’m dreading. I have to dig up a bunch of ground to plant a garden in which Li Bai, Tu Fu and Li Ho will repose for the summer along with some squash.

The baby tomatoes are jonesing for dirt, but they aren’t ready. I’ve talked to them and they are, you know, teenagers and they just say, “How do YOU know? YOU’RE not me!”

Adolescent tomato plants, what can you do? In their naïveté they expect one sunny day after another, a peaceful rosy-hued future of blooming and fruiting, but I know it could still get very, very, very cold — at least one more time.

Meanwhile, in the actual YARD, progress has slowed due to depleted funds. It doesn’t really matter. I’m the only one who lives here — well the dogs — and I don’t care that much. The dogs have adjusted well to the changes and I think the fact that I have had to do this a little at a time has helped with that.

I have yet to “enjoy” my deck, but that will happen once I plant the babies and the umbrella is erected. Meanwhile, the babies catch their daily sun from the top of the bistro table and conspire with the Genovese basil to overthrow my governance.

That’s plants for you. You carefully stick their little seeds into seed starters, nurture them with love and attention and then?

Evening After Rain
Tu Fu

Sudden winds brought rain this afternoon
to save my thirsty garden.

Now sunset steams the grass
and the river softly glistens.

Who’ll organize my scattered books?
Tonight I’ll fill and fill my glass.

I know they love to talk about me
But no one faults me for my reclusive life.


Christmas in May

Teddy and I headed out for the Refuge because it’s a cool, sunny day. You still can’t see much “spring” out there, though the five or six trees are leafing out. I was mildly (I think they know what they’re doing) concerned about “my” geese having vanished, but no, they’re still there and it would seem they have nests. They fascinate Teddy. He really DOES believe they are his job. I got to watch a red-tail hawk for a long time. Antics like that really mess with my miles per hour stats.

We really prefer going out at midday which is great 3 out of the 4 seasons, but not necessarily in summer…

When I got home, it was Christmas. There was an immense City of Monte Vista truck in my alley and two guys with chain saws cutting down the monster lilac hedge that lines my yard and the alley. I went over to talk to them and said, “Is this Christmas?” That hedge is a huge pain for me every year. I’m out there cutting it back from the alley with hand tools. It’s very hard work. Then there’s the problem of having the branches hauled away.

The two young guys with the 24 inch chain saws laughed and then kept cutting. Later I went out and saw two older guys with a huge tractor with a front shovel. They were picking up the branches and taking them to a truck parked on the street by the golf course.

Lilacs are beautiful and smell amazing, but once that’s over they are a menace to life on this planet. They REALLY like it here, too. It’s hard to tell them from weeds. They send their shoots out hoping to colonize the entire San Luis Valley starting with my yard…

Anyway, things are fine at the Refuge. We welcomed a car propelled by a grandpa with a kid in the back. More action than we’ve seen there in weeks. It was a little strange.

In plant news, the pumpkins are blooming which I think is very ill advised. The cherry tomatoes are growing and the Roma tomatoes are germinating. The Scarlet Emperor Beans are reaching sublimely to the sun. I’m going to have to plant this stuff soon.

Since, yesterday, I shared a poem by Tu Fu (for whom one of the beans is named), I’ll share a poem now by his good friend, Li Bai for whom another of the beans is named. These two friends were often separated by hundreds of miles and corresponded in poems. It’s one of my all time favorite poems and the partner to the poem I posted yesterday. Tomorrow I’ll share a poem by Li Ho, the last of the beans. He’s a little different and the poem I will share is my #1 favorite poem. 🙂

MEDITATION ON Ching-ting Mountain

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and I
until only the mountain remains.

Li Bai

Tu Fu’s answer (from yesterday’s post)


I can’t bear a journey to the village–
I’m too contented here
I call my son to close the wooden gate.

Thick wine drunk in quiet woods, green moss,
jade gray water under April winds–
and beyond, the simmering dusk of the wild.

Tu Fu

Tedious Quotidian Update 8.23.aii

I think we need a break from these extraordinary times. Maybe I just need a break. Maybe just a good night’s sleep. I don’t know about you, but my emotions are so close to the surface all the time. Every small lovely thing brings me to the brink of tears.

It seems like the lifestyle changes wrought by the virus bring out strong emotions in a lot of people — some wholesome and some not. Watching the “Liberate” people on the news, all I could think was that what they want to be liberated FROM is not the government. It’s a sub-microorganism. They’re striking out against oppression but the oppressor is not their governor or a “Closed Beach” sign.

Last evening I took Teddy out for a walk. He needs more of those, but that’s not the point. Stopped and talked (Teddy met) the young couple who live next door. He enjoyed meeting them and eating grass. They were courageously setting out squash plants, and I dunno. I don’t even know where I want to put mine, never mind the real possibility of more frost. Then we headed toward the golf course and there was a whole train of carts filled with girls. The high school girls’ golf team (which wins championships). I’ve been walking past the golf course and around the high school in summer since I moved here, and I sense I’ve become kind of a benign legend. So it was all, “Hi! How are you!” from them, their eyes twinkling in happiness.

“It’s nice to get to play again isn’t it!”

“YESSSS!!!” came resoundingly from the carts.

In any case, I’m going to have to take the dogs out later in the evening if I’m going to walk there. It IS a golf course, after all. At one point, just before twilight, Teddy and I found ourselves on a fairway in front of a couple of young players dragging their own cart. I don’t want to do that. I sincerely LOVE that golf course and I WANT people to play golf. I’m thinking that when the cool hours arrive, we’ll just go back to the Refuge. “Just.” Ha ha ha. Like that’s consolation not the entire big world. At sunset it should be amazing. Mosquitos, but probably the wind will be blowing.

In other tedious and marginally interesting news, the new method of buying groceries is great. I went into the Big City (Alamosa) yesterday and picked up my stuff. It had been 3 weeks since the last trip. That’s good. Instead of a two hour expedition it’s a one hour expedition. Then I come home and wash all the stuff I bought, wondering if I have a dish drainer or a food drainer. Yesterday I wondered if kids in the future will wash their groceries you know, like we put our cups and glasses up-side-down in the cupboard because our grandmothers lived through the dustbowl.

But seriously. All I have to do is pull into a parking space. Call the number on the sign. Some nice person comes out with my stuff and goes over what they don’t have and what they substituted (as if I cared, which I don’t). I say “Thank you!” and load my car. I open a new “cart” as soon as I think about something I need or will need in 3 or 4 weeks (my new goal) time and add to it as things occur to me. I’m spending less on groceries and definitely less on gas (which I need to drive to the Refuge).

It really cracked me up a few weeks ago when the Buffoon in the White House said, “Gas prices are down. That probably makes you happy!” I thought, “Uh, douchebag, we can’t GO anywhere.”

The featured photo is Tu Fu, Li Bai and Li Ho, my Scarlet Emperor Beans. They spend part of each day holding audiences in various gardens throughout the estate.


I can’t bear a journey to the village–
I’m too contented here.
I call my son to close the wooden gate.

Thick wine drunk in quiet woods, green moss,
Jade gray water under April winds–
and beyond, the shimmering dusk of the wild.

Tu Fu