Spring cleaning

It was bound to happen, what with me home all the time. I start to notice things.

First, water update: after a week of figuring out showers, we have water! The leak was in fact underneath the sidewalk. We replaced the cracked pipe altogether, since it was about time. It was slightly alarming sitting in the house as they drilled right into it. Amazingly, they did not have to touch the front yard (they went underneath!), so our plants survived. An expensive pipe, but altogether not too bad for our first ever home repair.

Tired of the same old, I gave the guest/TV room a slight makeover. The name “TV” room is a little deceiving since, yeah, physically we have a TV… but with no channels (rabbit ears got us the Olympics and New Year’s Eve). It was used to watch movies until it broke, and now we use an old projector donated from a friend. Finally, the TV, really just a prop stand for the projector, was removed, once and for all!

Slow Boy and I failed in our attempts to make bold, spontaneous decisions for the bedroom. We are now debating on flying his mom out here, handing her a credit card, and telling her to have at it. The desk, after being assembled, turned out to be too big; the modern shelf that we really like doesn’t quite fit — physically and style-wise — anywhere in the house. But damnit, we’re keeping it! After a lot of heavy lifting and whatabouthere and moveitoveranotherinch, the shelf is laying on it’s side. It’s grown on me.

Feeling thankful about the front yard, I spent a lot of time with the plants. Now don’t let that you believe I have a green thumb; it’s more yellow. They don’t die; they usually even bear flowers and fruit. But I don’t have the touch or dedication like my grandmother, who spent half her day squatting in front of her garden. Or my mom, who has a huge collection of orchids and a robust vegetable garden, and gets giddy whenever new buds arrive (which is all the time). My cousins would tease their mom how the only way to get fed was to be an orchid.

But we do have plants. Mostly thanks to my mom and friends here in Portland. Often when I fly home (to Maryland), I come back with something my mom dug up from her garden, and when she visits me, I acquire another orchid. Our good friend (Natural Talent) has the gift, and going to her house will inspire you to put plants in every room. It gives such life! She’s given me many, many cuttings from her healthy plants, like jades, a ficus, and this purple leaf one (I don’t know much about botany either). My coworker is one of those obsessed orchid collectors who built his own super-fancy green house, and goes to orchid fairs where he’ll spend hundreds on a single, rare flower. He gave me an orchid that he said even I couldn’t kill — and I haven’t! But it has only bloomed twice…

Luckily, Slow boy has a green thumb and is the gardener of the house. A lot of his botany knowledge came from his parents, who can identify pretty much any flower or plant — it’s a whole new experience going hiking with them. Gardening suits him: he’s obsessive, careful, and delicate.

Anyway, despite my clumsy touch, I enjoy caring for them, so I took all the indoor plants to the “spa”. Everyone got a misty shower and wipe down, a few got a hair cuts, and others were exfoliated (removed all the dead stuff). I also planted tomato seeds that we had dried from our very fruitful tomato plants last year (see picture below).

And that’s how I spent my last week of vacation. I leave you with portraits of a few our plants from last spring (thanks to Chippy).


Meet Curly. Curly was accidentally rescued by my mom. When we first moved in, we hunted for free wood on Craigslist, hoping to save money by heating the house with fires and because there are three fireplaces, so why not? An elderly woman on the east side had her curly willow cut down, and when Slow Boy went to pick up some wood, he grabbed the branches too. Those are like $13 a bunch! We decorated with a few, and the rest went in the garage. A month later, my mom came to visit in February during the lunar new year (Tet). One of the traditions for Tet is to have lots of flowers, so my mom bought beautiful yellow ones (again, sorry, not a botanist), put them in water, and added some curly willow. After she left, when we went to throw out the dead flowers, we noticed the curly willow branches had started to grow green leaves and roots! So, with care, Curly has been very healthy for two winters now.


Vinny -- My mom's favorite tea is a French one called verveine de menthe, which is a herbal, lemony tea with mint. At my sister's wedding in the south of France, we found out people grow the verveine leaf. For my birthday last year, Ben got me a verveine plant and it did great. But it's a tropical plant from Chili, so we weren't sure how it'd survive the winter. It began to lose all it's leaves and for months it looked like a bunch of sticks. Fortunately, it turns out it was dormant, because this past month, green leaves started to come out. Unfortunately, this week at a the "spa", I discovered aphids -- tons and tons of them -- eating the new, baby leaves. Grrrrr. I plucked them off with a toothpick and have been checking Vinny religiously.

We planted ground cover

For our wedding,we planted ground cover for the table centerpieces, and put them in the yard after. We're not quite sure what went wrong, but not many survived the winter. But there are three still in their original pots and thriving, and it makes me smile to see them.

Seuss -- It really looks like something right out of Dr. Seuss. Many people stop by and ask "what is that?" It is in fact a fig tree that produces hundreds of figs, all within one week, and more than we could ever want. We can't even keep up with picking them and many fall to the ground. Neither of us is really into figs (I really don't like how they look inside), so we bag them and have people come by and pick up a share. Maybe Ben will try making fig newtons this year.

Our fruitful tomato plants

Our fruitful tomato plants, that fed us homemade pasta sauce from June to November.

Lucky is an appartement warming present from my mom, when I first moved to Portland seven years ago. Glad to see he still likes it here!

Lucky, an appartement warming present from my mom, when I first moved to Portland seven years ago. It was much smaller back then, and glad to see it's enjoying it here.

Meet Bambam (on the left) and Booboo. Both are from a family wedding. Bambam seems to be doing really well by the kitchen window sink. Booboo had an accident and lost one of its branches (which I saved and rooted).

Meet Bambam (on the left) and Booboo. Both are from a family wedding, grown within the family. Bambam seems to be doing really well by the kitchen window sink. Booboo had an accident and lost one of its branches (which I saved and rooted).


One comment

  1. i want a garden!! it sounds like fun.

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