Half-planted flat of tomato and basil seedlings--the wicking mat waters the roots from underneath.

At home and in the garden

Half-planted flat of tomato and basil seedlings--the wicking mat waters the roots from underneath. Half-planted flat of tomato and basil seedlings–the wicking mat waters the roots from underneath.

I’m struggling a little as I attempt to balance crafting my new memoir with other writing projects, plus finish carpentry, preparing for my first Write & Retreat workshop, and getting organized to break ground on my new little house.

Late one afternoon this week, I took a garden-break. I headed out to the garage and dug out a seed-starting tray and organic potting soil, and selected packets of tomato and basil seeds from a shelf in the utility room.

And then spent the next hour happily kneeling on the floor of my bedroom  “greenhouse” area, the sunny patch by the 8-foot-wide sliding glass door,  filling pots with rich soil, and pressing seeds into each. When I finished planting, I watered the wicking mat in the tray under the pots, and plugged in the heat-mat that sits under the tray to warm the soil and jump-start germination.

The tomato and basil flat, ready to germinate. The tomato and basil flat, ready to germinate.

Before going back to writing, I straightened up (a mite creakily) and stood smiling foolishly at my summer-garden-to-be. Which will include eight varieties of heritage tomatoes: yellow pear and silvery fir (both small and best eaten fresh), stupice (rich-flavored, delicious in soup), persimmon (brilliant orange and sweet), black krim (a beefsteak-type with a dark-green top), Pompeii roma (prolific and great for cooking), Cherokee purple (not prolific in this climate, but oh, the flavor!), and marvel stripe (huge and red with yellow marbling). Plus pesto basil. (Six of the tomato varieties and the basil come from my all-time favorite garden seed supplier, Renee’s Garden; the Cherokee purple and silvery fir come from Colorado’s own Botanical Interests.)

I planted one seedling flat, 40 pots in all. Five are devoted to basil (three seeds per pot potentially equals 15 basil plants–can you have too much basil?), which leaves 35 pots for tomatoes. At 2 seeds per pot, that’s 70 plants. I need one plant of each variety for my garden (actually, eight tomato plants is about six more than one of me needs, but as with basil…). Yup, I got a little carried away. Fortunately, my friends appreciate my tomato plants.

The shower/tub area in the unfinished master bath. The half-wall conceals the shower-tub area.

On the house-finishing front, today was another work day with my wonderfully generous friends Maggie and Tony. Tony got me started on what is to me the most demanding of my projects: finishing the complicated shower and tub area in the master bathroom. We got two of the wall areas sheathed), and Tony tacked up the black rubber waterproofing membrane from under the shower area floor. So we’re ready for the next step, about which more in another post.

The tub is usable, but the walls around it need finishing; the shower plumbing is in the wall to the left. The tub is usable, but the walls around it need finishing; the shower plumbing is in the wall to the left.

Maggie took on the project of varnishing the sliding doors for the master bedroom closets, which Tony had taught me how to hang on a previous work day. I have just two more doors to finish, and only one more piece of trim to nail in. I may someday live without an air compressor and pneumatic nailer in my back hall….

Another friend, farrier and art blacksmith Harry Hansen, came over with his son Ethan, bearing the hand-curved metal arches that will trim out the kitchen and entry doorways, the last two unfinished doorways in the house. Like the master bathroom tub and shower area, those arching doorways were my biggest creative challenge. I wanted to finish them in a way that would honor Richard’s love of industrial materials used as themselves, without making too big a project out of it (read: making it too expensive).

The front hall entryway with its curved steel arch and galvanized sheet in place. The front hall entryway with its curved steel arch and galvanized sheet in place.

My solution was to use galvanized steel sheeting to line the jambs and to commission Harry to hand-beat curving steel edging into arches that would hold the sheets in place. Two of the four steel arches (there are two per opening, one on either side of the doorway) are now in place, and they look stunning.

After today’s frenzy of project-completing, I think I’ll take it easier tomorrow. Although I do have some drywall to screw in, and that last piece of door trim to nail up…. Both of which, of course, will keep.

What’s most important, I remind myself frequently, is not how quickly I finish any individual project or piece of a project. It’s doing the work with love. That I learned from Richard.

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