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April, 2012:

Exploring a New Place

In my secret life Day Job, they recently moved us to downtown San Jose, CA. We’ve been here a couple of weeks now, and I’m starting to get out and explore in different directions on my afternoon walks.

At our old building, I had a nice creek trail that I could walk for about as far as I could walk, either upstream or down. And we were close enough to the Bay that we got to see tides in the creek. We were a bit short on manmade amenities though.

Now I’m right next to the San Jose Convention Center, which means I’m near lots of restaurants, hotels, and major corporate offices. It’s a big change.

I’m learning, or rediscovering, some things about my fellow humans in the process of learning my way around.

Today I went north along the Guadalupe River, which involved crossing the river twice and choosing from a network of trails – no more “just walk along the levee as far as you can go.” All of the signage talks about how proud they are of having maintained some of the “natural” state of the river. If you consider concrete webwork on the river bottom “natural,” anyway. They say that animals and fish can still use it, at any rate. Nature adapts, and so do people.

I came back on surface streets, just for something different. I passed a huge condo skyscraper, which boasted of selling “a lifestyle.” I’m not sure what they were selling, but it’s obviously a lifestyle that allows people to exist for long periods of time without interacting with the rest of the world, if they so choose, in a huge, sterile-looking building with parking garage, exercise room, and I have no clue what else. I didn’t bother going in to check.

Coming back, everything was traffic signals and walk lights, making the flow work for cars and interrupting it for humans. Once out of the river corridor, the only greenery was manicured lawns and street trees.

And of course there were those who’ve fallen off the economic ladder, some with their sleeping bags and everything they own in a shopping cart, hoping for a quiet place to crash and a few bucks for food. There but for the grace of God(dess) go all of us – I know quite a few people who are no more than a few paychecks away from the street. And it’s not a great time to be looking for work, no matter how experienced you are. I’m thankful for the Day Job, even as I write songs to poke fun at that life.

Is it any wonder people either go crazy or feel a need to escape? It might be a “lifestyle,” but it sure doesn’t feel like a life.

On the plus side, while I haven’t used them yet there are at least two bars within a block of here. Some night when the commute traffic between here and home looks hopeless, I expect I’ll hunker down for a round or two.

And it *is* a pretty creek in a lot of places, and a beautiful day to be out walking along it.

Gardening – My Other Escape

Ah, springtime! When mens’ fancies turn to…digging in the dirt? Growing food?

Well, mine do, anyway. With my various other projects – rebuilding the edge of my deck, working on songs for the new album, dialing for gigs – I’ve been a bit delayed and distracted from my usual spring planting.

It looks like this will be the weekend when that changes for me. I was out first (or second) thing this morning, to collect my semi-annual three bags of compost from our municipal waste folks. Our arrangement is that I give them all the greenwaste that I don’t compost myself every week, and several times a year, they give me shit right back. 🙂 Three bags of it, all ready to help little things to grow. 🙂

After that, I got back in the car and headed down to Orchard Supply (OSH), to see what they had by way of vegetables. They must have seen me coming – they had a mini-garden center set up in the parking lot:

They were ready for me!

Of course, my hands were full of vegies and a roll of weed mat before I went into the store!

By the time all was said and done, I’d accumulated the following goodies:

  • Orchid food, for the free orchid I got back after the holidays at work
  • A six-pack of bush beans
  • Three different heirloom tomatoes – Mortgage Lifter, which I’ve been hearing about for years, Russian Orange (new to me), and Sweet 100 (because I like cherry tomatoes)
  • Three full-grown strawberry plants in a pot – to fill in around my fruit trees where I have spaces
  • An Ancho Poblano pepper, so I can do salsa later in the summer
  • A pair of Mud gloves. These are like kitchen gloves on steroids – hardy enough to stand up to digging in the dirt, but hopefully sensitive enough for those planting and weeding tasks I’d previously been doing bare-handed, because the leather work gloves I already have are way too coarse, and I can’t feel a thing through them.

So now I have all these plants, that I need to find homes for and take care of. It’s sort of like puppies in that way – I can’t just let them sit around the house until they die of neglect. As it’s now noonish, I’ll leave them where they are until around 4 and plant them then – it’s better not to expose them to the harsh noonday sun right when you transplant.

Several of them are in a new biodegradable type of pot, similar to peat. The roots are growing right through the walls. I figure I’ll just slash the sides of the pots and put them in whole; that way the roots will have more ways out and I won’t have to disturb the roots on those plants to put them in.

And then I get to figure out what I can do with them when they grow up.