Shmuel’s birthday was…

Shmuel's birthday was yesterday! Meep! Happy belated birthday, Shmuel!

I meant to eat something healthy for breakfast. Really I did. I made a yummy chicken curry last night; I could have had some of that with rice or bread, and while it might seem strange to Americans, it would have been yummy and reasonably good for me. I also considered a scrambled egg and toast; again, not too bad. But what did I see when I opened the door to get milk for my tea? A tupperware container labelled "Free for All". I knew I shouldn't open it. I did. But what did I do?

I opened it. (You probably guessed that part). And therein I discovered several slices of pizza. And not just any pizza. Sausage pizza. Which I never order, because I don't like it hot and greasy. But cold. Ah. The very essence of cold pizza for breakfast may be sausage pizza. Broccoli and mushroom pizza just isn't the same. Too healthy. Not decadent enough. Cold sausage pizza, probably with extra cheese. It was too much for a poor, overworked, stressed-out, broken-down girl to resist...

(Karen: I've decided guilt isn't cheating on your boyfriend or disobeying your mother. Guilt is eating a slice of cold sausage pizza right after you've done your sit-ups. Trust me.)

I talked to the community college in Salt Lake City yesterday. They're interested. They're sending me an application. They might have a class for me starting in mid-June. Maybe more than one. Now I'm thinking about how much adjuncts get paid (average of $2000 a class, I think -- no health benefits, etc.), and whether I can really get by on that. Will I be able to find supplemental work in Salt Lake? Am I nuts to go out there for a summer?

I'll be hopefully talking to the English department at University of Utah today. We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Now I will furtively finish my pizza, and send out the CS newsletter (if I decide that it officially goes out 'before the next issue goes up', does that mean I won't be late with it anymore?) and go to work. I'm really enjoying the new tech writing gig, btw. For a day job, it ain't half bad. Respect of my boss, relaxed environment, privacy to do my work. Hmm...

1:00 p.m. Lunch break.

I wanted to log back in this morning and tell you about my garden, but I had to rush for the bus, so there wasn't time. The garden is starting to look really splendid. Ellie bought lots of flowers for the upper bed, and the foxglove are especially nice. White and lavendar and lilac, tall stems with the wide bells hanging off them, looking so sweet and innocent as they wave in the breeze and you'd never guess that they were used for poison. Foxglove is another name for digitalis, staple of murder mysteries; it is, of course, also the source of digitalin, potent heart medicine. It all depends on how you use it -- we mostly use it for looking real purty-like.

She's scattered all sorts of other flowers there, that I don't know the names of. Some others have survived from last year, including the alyssum (a small white groundcover), and some California poppies that just started blooming a few days ago (gloriously golden), and the Sweet William. That last is a variety of pink, actually -- there are many different kinds of pinks, and most of them are pink, but this one is red, a deep red blossom with small white splashes. I love the Sweet William, and had planned to plant more, but haven't been able to find them. Do you know the old song about Sweet William? I don't know if the flower took its name from the song, though I wouldn't be surprised. It's called "Barbara Allen"...

In Scarlet Town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling
Made many a youth cry well a day
Her name was Barbara Allen

It was in the merry month of May
When green buds they were swelling
Sweet William came from the west country
And he courted Barbara Allen

He sent his servant unto her
To the place where she was dwelling
Said my master's sick, bids me call for you
If your name be Barbara Allen

Well, slowly, slowly got she up
And slowly went she nigh him
But all she said as she passed his bed
Young man I think you're dying

Then lightly tripped she down the stairs
She heard those church bells tolling
And each bell seemed to say as it tolled
Hard hearted Barbara Allen

O, mother, mother go make my bed
And make it long and narrow
Sweet William died for me today
I'll die for him tomorrow

They buried Barbara in the old church yard
They buried Sweet William beside her
Out of his grave grew a red, red rose
And out of hers a briar

They grew and grew up the old church wall
Till they could grow no higher
And at the top twined a lover's knot
The red rose and the briar

Our roses are truly resplendent these days; they hang heavy from the climbing vine, and if we don't soon get a new trellis for them, they'll be dragging along the ground. For Mothers' Day I made up a posy of roses and took them to Lydia; her girls are far away right now. We have four different kinds of roses at our house -- the dark red ones which are most beautiful, but have no scent; the small orangey tea roses which grow on little bushes under the kitchen window; the heavy red ones tinged with violet which droop over the overgrown driveway (and perhaps those really belong to our neighbors, but they don't mind us picking them now and then), and the tiny pink ones, which grow at the far back of the garden, almost overwhelmed by the hedge and not very pretty as roses go...but they have the sweetest scent by far.

There are lilacs on our windowsill. El brought them from Ian's mother's house; hanging heavy and full from a tall cylinder of glass, they remind me of my parents' home. Outside my window growing up were two trees -- one a large and spreading oak whose branches tapped against my window (though none of those were strong enough to risk climbing out on, sadly), and the other a spreading lilac bush. In the spring I'd open my window wide and sit on the sill with my legs hanging out, half-hidden behind the oak branches, drowning in the scent of lilacs. They're Kirsten's favorite flower, and if you drive with her in spring, don't be surprised if she stops the car by the side of the road to gather huge heaping armfuls of lilacs.

I have fallen in love with my garden. The flowers are mostly Ellie's domain, though I am very protective of the small bougainvillea planted under the kitchen window, beside the tea roses. I hope that it will grow, so that when you stand in the kitchen washing dishes, you see not just the brilliant yellow and deep green framed in the window (the kitchen windows are edged in blue), but also the crimson leaves of the bougainvillea on one side, ruffling in the wind. The houses in Sri Lanka are covered in bougainvillea -- and not just one color either! Crimson and pink and white and purple and gold and orange and a simple deep red. I don't often wish to live in Sri Lanka, but if I did, I'd live up in the hill country, in a house with walls of bougainvillea.

The best part of the garden is the herbs, I think. The poor herb bed is growing crowded. I can almost name them all from memory. From right to left: Marjoram (a tiny sprig from Arthur's garden), rosemary (growing tall), corn mache (a salad green that doesn't really belong with the herbs but which I haven't had the heart to move, since it seems so happy there), purple sage, potted peppermint, spreading oregano, enormous parsley, a fragile bit of English thyme, two regular basil plants and one opal basil (with rich purple leaves), stevia (three times as sweet as sugar, according to the pamphlet at the nursery, and safe for diabetics), a space that still waits for the Thai basil I am hunting for, Vietnamese coriander (amazing scent and unusual pale yellow-green leaves, quite beautiful and healthy), dill, and regular coriander (also known as cilantro).

I know I am forgetting one or two. There's rue up on the windowsill in a little pot, and valerian (which makes a sleepy tea, I hear) and borage (good for salad, I think?) in the little plot by the tomatoes. Oh, and lavender, grey-green with the little purple flowers just appearing. The thyme garden is also doing well, and Ellie has added reiter's thyme to the medley -- I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out why she chose that one...

I'll leave the vegetables for another day, hopefully a happier one -- right now, they are getting sadly munched, I suspect by snails. I baited the garden this morning. I'm not sure what to do about the yellowed, wilting lettuce, though... At least the tomatoes seem content, and have gotten a little taller since I planted them, I think. In a few weeks, if they survive, some salad greens will be ready for plucking.

How did I manage for so many years without even a little bit of garden? Some mint and basil on a windowsill? What was I thinking?

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