Sunday, January 22, 2012


This week we have been working every day at the Center, about 8-5.  Ermin has been building the benches in the new gazebo, and Alex and I have been helping.  “Helping” is sometimes a loose term because he has such a clear picture of what he wants to do in his mind that he just goes and does it, and he’s so proficient that he does it very quickly.  Throughout the week I would pick up something and help if I were able to anticipate it or if it looked like he needed help, but most of the time Alex and I have just been watching.  I stayed most of the time with Ermin just in case he needed something, and Alex often went to go prepare for classes.  I figured that, if one of us were to stay, it should be me because I have already taught once, and he would need more time to get ready.
However, it was still a little frustrating because I would have liked more time to prepare if I wasn’t going to be doing anything.  Although, it has been good to learn from Ermin by watching, and the last day and a half we were able to do a lot more, which included nailing the small back pieces onto the benches and coating them with sealant.  It will be nice to have done something that will last and be so useful.

Saturday, in contrast, was a very productive day.  First thing in the morning we headed out to the farm, where we worked on covering the top of one of the greenhouses with plastic.  Between the three of us, a couple of guys from a volunteer group that’s here this week, and a few of the workers at the farm, we got three big sections done, now there’s only one more to do.  After that section is finished, the sides will be covered with a more breathable cloth type material, and then it will be ready to use.  Last year Chris worked a lot on the greenhouses, and was worried that it would just kind of falter and stop, but it looks like the momentum has kept going, considering the three farm workers who were there were doing it on their own time, just to help out.
That morning was enjoyable because it was something I had wished I could have been more involved with, and because it gave me the chance to climb the greenhouse poles like a grownup playground, or as Doris said, like a mono (monkey).
Then, after fixing my bike, we started digging up a part of the yard to plant a small garden.  It’s something we always said we would like to do last year, but it was just impossible with the dogs we had.  We don’t have that problem anymore, which is a long story involving rat poison that was put out the day before we arrived.
But, the garden is looking really nice.  The hardest part was breaking ground because, between the thick grass roots and the hard soil, it was like chipping away at rock.  After all that, however, I made three beds, each about ten feet long, putting some of the compost from the farm in the middle.  A little later on today, I’m going to plant some pepper, cabbage and watermelon plants that our neighbor across the street gave us, as well as the aloe, mint, cilantro and oregano plants that we have in pots.  Hopefully we can get some basil soon, and then in a little bit we’ll plant some tomatoes.  After those plants run through their seasons, we can try to plant some corn and beans, and maybe cucumbers, onions and carrots.  All organic, of course.
Gardens are different here because the concept of “gardening” doesn’t really exist.  It’s planting for sustenance or for sale, usually not for relaxation or for making your yard look nice, which may be motives when gardening at home.  Also, like I said, the soil here is hard, and not that fertile, so it makes sustaining projects difficult.  One of my other worries is that, when it rains or when we water the garden, water will pool there and breed mosquitos.  Right now I don’t really have an irrigation system dug in, but I may have to make that if it becomes a problem.
Alexandra helping out

Our garden prepared and ready for planting when it cools off a little

I have found, from daily life as well as from working on the farm, that I like working with my hands, no matter how much whining we may have done as kids.  I guess some of what I did when I was younger must have stuck at some point, so thanks to my parents for putting up with me.  Well, I should mention that right now I am procrastinating from sweeping the house, so I guess I still might not like doing the obligatory chores. 

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