I have declared war on crepe myrtles. I know they probably don’t deserve it, but I have this thing about plants that everybody has. And down here, everybody has
crepe myrtles. It’s like monoculture landscaping, and it can’t be
good for the bees. Anyway, the thing about crepe myrtles is that
if they are sufficiently ignored for long enough, they will create many,
many volunteer trees, most of them in places they have no business
growing. And the other thing about crepe myrtles is that many
people regard them as bushes and plant them accordingly, smack up next
to the house in the front flower bed. But the crepe myrtle is a tree, and if you ignore it (sufficiently), it will turn into a tree,
and there goes your gutter. Our neighbor has a gorgeous, huge
crepe myrtle in her front yard, but most crepe myrtles are never given
that amount of space or time. Instead, they’re planted in the
wrong places and then cruelly topped. All of which is to say that I
spent a beautiful late summer day wielding a pair of giant pruning
shears against dozens of juvenile crepe myrtles growing in every single
landscaped bed we have. I even bravely made a start on the two
trees in the front of the house that make eerie, creaky noises against
the gutters when the wind blows. Those, I’m afraid, will require a
I’m working on crepe myrtles because my garden is defunct. When
we came home from visiting my parents Labor Day weekend, one of my bean
towers was blown over and the other was leaning drunkenly. It’s
not like I got a lot of beans out of them anyway. Time now to get
another load of dirt for the raised beds and plant some fall crops, like
lettuce and kale.
The blackberry bushes are bearing nicely, especially considering that
this is their first year. I love blackberries. I often
wonder about our big blackberry bush in the garden in New York.
Hurricane Irene devestated Schoharie County,
but our old house was not in the way of the worst floodwaters.
Still, I wonder, did all the water coming down that hill demolish the
orchard? What about the blackberry bush?
This is the risk of planting things. A piece of you stays in the ground, too.
Which is to say, we have been horrified by the news coming out of
upstate New York. Some of Andy’s coworkers lost their homes.
The towns that formed the place we called home for 5 years are some of
them completely obliterated. It’s all very surreal when you’re
this far away and friends send you photos and videos. You just
thank God that there was no loss of human life.
Because I am a worrier, I wondered what Tropical Storm Lee would do
if it dumped 10 inches of rain on my parents’ house. If the power
went out, would we have enough food to feed our big family? Was there
enough Chunky Soup in the pantry?
These are the things that will keep you up at 3 AM when you’re trying
to sleep in the 6 inches of space left on the bed beside the baby.
Fortunately for us, the rain and wind weren’t that bad, although it
was cold for the second week in September — unheard of cold! 60 degrees
and raining! — and a dead tree did fall across the sidewalk. Of course
they had to evacuate again in upstate New York.
On our way home, we drove out of the rain into sunshine. The
rain gauge in our front flower bed held less than a half inch of
rain. The azaelas in back look wilty and parched in spite of the
And the wildfires in Texas… good night. My dad says this is how
they make averages: floods and droughts cancel each other out.
Well, this didn’t start out as the natural disaster Seven Quick
Takes, but I guess it’s been on my mind. I went to Costco the day
after we got back and stocked up on some things we were out of, or
almost out of: canned salmon, olive oil, paprika. (I guess
sometimes I use a lot of paprika.) They had tortellini, which I
should have bought more of in case they don’t have any when I go back,
and I also saw organic strawberry spread, which I haven’t seen in a
year. So I bought 3 jars. If we were to have to eat out of
the pantry now, our meals would consist of nut and seed butters, salmon,
canned beans, tomatoes, pineapple, Goldfish crackers, and strawberry
In case you’re wondering, I am still eating grain-free as much as
possible. In a little over a year, I’ve lost about 50
pounds. 20 pounds was cheating because it was baby weight, but 30
pounds was baby weight x the 6 previous babies. I am getting to
the point where I have been forced to buy new clothes. I miss
bread and my corn allergy annoys the heck out of me because I can’t eat
corn on the cob or Chinese food at a restaurant because there’s
cornstarch in the sauces, but otherwise, I’m ok eating this way.
My kids, however, are not. Having enough meat on hand to fill them
up with a grain-free dinner is a real problem, especially considering
that my 14 month old has begun eating the same amount as the 4 year old
or the 5 year olds. That said, I saw a lot of benefits to the kids
with grain-reduced eating, and I want to reduce the grains they’re
eating again, but I can’t seem to stop feeding them toast for breakfast.