discarded and decayed

It’s been a bit of an odd day. I was going to write about something quite different, but the way the day has turned out has got me feeling like writing about it.

About a month ago, I got a flat tyre on my bike. It had happened before, and DL helped me replace the inner tube, and it was all good for several rides before it went flat again. It was a bit unusual because I had cycled in to work with no problems. I locked my bike up in the allocated cage in the car park, and didn’t notice anything amiss. Yet, when I returned to my bike later that day, the front tyre was completely flat, and couldn’t be inflated.

Annoying, yes, but not a major problem. I caught the train home that day, and figured I could replace the inner tube again — perhaps there was a tiny rock or bit of glass lodged inside the rim, and it would be a simple fix. However, week-end after week-end passed, and it was either raining (I don’t have enough space in the garage to do work on the bike inside), or I was too busy/tired (or both). So I put it off, and ignored it, and thought about it, but didn’t do anything.

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much to do

Not feeling much like writing this week because of being busy with life. Not overly busy, but just doing things. Here’s a run down:

I’ve been continuing with trying to learn Russian, but now I’ve decided to use two different websites instead of relying on just one. The one I’ve added (Memrise) has the benefit of having recordings of actual people saying the words and phrases, which you’d hope is more accurate and true to real Russian.

If I try to do even just a little bit of learning every day, I’m hoping I can get decent level in a few years or so. I have a book of Russian stories I’d like to be able to read one day, but I know that day is quite far away (unless I really dedicate a significant amount of time to learning).

As for other reading, after realising that I haven’t been sticking to my own advice to someone else about reading a little bit every day, I’ve been trying to make sure I read a bit whenever I can. Sure, it’s not quite back to a daily habit yet, but I think I’m making more progress with War and Peace than I was, say, a month or two ago.

Speaking of War and Peace, I’ve discovered that I’m more engaged with the book in the parts about the relationships between people, and their lives in Russia. On the other hand, my brain seems to tire more quickly from reading about battles and warfare. Only when there is some description of the individual human experience in the war, do I become more captivated. I think perhaps it’s just harder for me to picture the landscapes and battalion manoeuvres and whatnot than to picture a bunch of people sitting around a drawing room or dining table. 

Either way, I’m still enjoying the book overall, and am far enough along that I can start to have delusions of possibly finishing the book by the end of the year. Only thing I want to add is that I read in the introduction or blurb or somewhere that Pierre is the character most like Tolstoy himself. However, I’ve so far found Pierre to be one of the least likeable characters, which I think is confusing my brain because in Anna Karenina, Levin was the most autobiographical character, and he was my favourite.

Writing this post, I’ve really come to realise that I’ve given myself a lot of things to do that require consistent and frequent effort. The next on the list is piano. I’m very aware that I need to practise piano a lot more than I have been if I want to ever get any good at it, and be able to play the kind of music that I want to play. Of course, in this I have no delusions, as I seem to spend more time on learning Russian and reading books, which seem a lot easier.

Perhaps another area that has been a bit neglected is the garden. After all this rain, the plants are flourishing, but so are the weeds. And I think too much rain builds that complacency of “we don’t need to worry about watering the garden today”, and it quietly slips from the daily routine.

But the clouds have dispersed for now, and the sun has come out. It is the start of the week-end, and there is much to do!

from compost to fruit

Somewhere toward the end of last year — perhaps in October — we buried some pith and seeds in the compost heap, not expecting it to do anything other than decompose and rot like everything else in there (apart from the pumpkin seeds, which really don’t need much encouraging at all in order to sprout and grow).

Weeks passed, and we added more food scraps to the heap, forgetting with every addition what was already in there. But then, in the second half of November, something sprouted near the edge of the heap — something that didn’t seem like a weed (or at least not like the weeds we were familiar with). We left it there, sprouting out of the compost heap, to see what it would become.

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more lessons from the garden

Back in October, I wrote about some tomato plants I had, and how good they were for making analogies for life lessons. In the intervening time, I’ve eaten plenty of cherry tomatoes, and given many away, but must now sadly report that the tomato plants are almost all wiped out. Well, I was sad and distressed at first, but I think I’ve come to terms with it now.

I think it started to go downhill when I went away for a week to attend a cousin’s wedding interstate. There was a fair bit of rain forecast for that week, so I wasn’t too worried. Besides, I knew my uncle would pop by now and then to check up on everything. When I returned, however, I could tell the plants were struggling: they weren’t as green and leafy as when I left, and there weren’t many viable tomatoes on the vines. Continue reading

lessons from tomatoes

I’ve been thinking a lot about gardens lately. Somewhere in Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott uses gardening as a metaphor for life: you plant some things, you look after them, they grow, some of them die, you learn, and then you plant more (or other) things. Gardening is a good metaphor for life because gardens are full of life (hopefully).

A few months ago, a couple of friends of mine went on a road trip. They would be gone for about three weeks, so they needed someone to look after their cherry tomato plants. I seemed the most suitable/reliable candidate, so one week-end they brought two large pots, each with several little tomato plants, over to my place. The only instructions they left with me were to water them every day, and make sure they got lots of sunlight.  Continue reading

a quiet discovery

I’m not a very good gardener. I’m not even a mediocre gardener. Amateur-ish at best (?) It’s not a huge passion of mine, but I have an appreciation for gardening and the value of having plants and trees around. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere void of greenery, but I will admit to plants not surviving my neglect and general ignorance of how to care for them.

Still, some do alright. Some even thrive.  Continue reading