Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Black Hand......

As in: The Green Thumb.

The Black Hand was the Serbian underground......the Slavic IRA....who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started WWI and the killing of a bunch of millions of young men a hundred years ago.

I am more the former than the latter. Millions of seeds have died at my hands....all in the spirit of anarchy. I am good at growing sorrel....and another herb that is not very legal and invites helicopters. Wait, borage loves me....and pineapple sage. Nasturtiums don't really hate me.....much.

Bergamot....not so much.

Trying vainly to focus on posting some 4,000 transactions from last year to keep My Government happy before Tuesday the 15th...I take breaks and sally into the garden.

My garden sucks. The sorrel is fine....and we seem to have a bumper crop of thistles. My Hungarian friends will be happy. My Hungarian friend......who is actually Czech. Nettle soup.

Oh, well.

We are trying to revive the Slow Food chapter in Carmel....and no greater proof of the existence of the diety need be produced than the day that Slow Food USA called from Brooklyn while I was working in the rain trying to protect the bergamot seedlings that had grumpily lived over the pilot lights on my household stove for six weeks.

We are talking Slow Fucking Food......

Hmmmm. Maybe we should start a counter movement......

Naaah....that would just attract aphids, and lawyers. I can spray for aphids.....but the whole lawyer thing is harder.....There is social opposition to automatic weapon fire.

I got a call today from a conference planner. She heard we are ''Green'' and wanted to schedule a "Team Building" experience for a corporation.

"Great! Bring them out! They can turn the compost! No better team building than that!"

Really. My crew has never been more unified than in their opposition and avoidance of anything remotely related to compost. Unifying my guys is like herding cats.....unless there is compost involved

Then.....We are a solid team.......

I work like dog in stinky conditions all year....and use the compost to grow sorrel, borage, pineapple sage and cardoons. When my friend Jamie at Serendipity could grow this stuff...... without trying a minute.

I am like the annoying client that wants to go over my recipe for margaritas for the wedding......six months out. To see if it matches his ideal that he makes for two friends twice a year. Dude. You can either do it or you can't.....If you can't, shut up and get out of the way......Let the pros deal with it.

I notice lots of other miserable Black Hand folk amongst my clients. Yesterday at an insanely gorgeous mansion.......sorry, mansion has negative connotations.....insanely gorgeous living space....smack dab in the middle of the Pebble Beach golf links.....I spied a baby greenhouse.

I instantly ran inside to check on the happs. The hostess and her assistant started blushing at the get-go: "Oh, we are just starting to work on that project......."

Believe me, I know.......

Inside the baby greenhouse were a squad of struggling orchids. Don't be embarrassed, ladies. I can kill anything that lives that isn't a pot plant or pineapple sage......

Orchids, though.....

Giving someone an orchid is an excercise in passive-aggression. Each week at the Monterey Farmer's Market I try to find some flowers to bring to my Mom and her landlady. Typically the choice runs to: a bunch of cut flowers for twenty bucks.....or a gorgeous, living orchid for eight bucks.

Do not buy the orchid, dummy. The fact that the orchid is living implies a responsibility for the recipient of your gift to keep the fucking thing alive. This means consulting The System of Tubes....buying acutal printed matter like books.....and special fertilizer, pH detectors, misters (mist-ers) and the like.

And the goddam things die anyway. Well, they don't die.....they just sit there and absorb attention, money and concern like a Carmel High cheerleader....and give you nothing in return....but maintenance.

I did have one huge success with orchids, though. My cranky friend Gerry married a crazy woman and hired us to do the wedding on his property. Gerry is into big machines and he created a gorgeous little piece of heaven beside the Carmel River for the festivities....two or three acres of flat grass with a pond and a fountain. People came in droves, and all had a great time. However, since it was not at an actual house....the wedding gifts piled up awkwardly. Also, there was some alcohol involved.

At the end of the night we tried to load the wedding gifts in Gerry's SUV, and there was this annoying orchid that would not fit without breaking. Gerry said: "You take the fucking thing....."

I carefully hid the orchid away....and got it home in one piece.

I checked out The System of Tubes....and bought two books, some fertilizer and some soil checking devices. I swore that by the soul of Blessed Oliver Plunkett....I was not going to kill this orchid.

It worked. For once in my ADD-HD life.....I was able to carry forward a plan over an extended period of time. The lush and luscious velvet purple flower of my orchid reigned supreme on the cutting table in the kitchen for months. I followed my routine, fed and watered.....did not over-water....fertilized, and did not over-fertilize. I felt on the verge of a husbandry breakthrough.

Six months out, Brendan came home with Chloe one night just as I was dealing with my orchid. Chloe is gorgeous, kind, and connected to that Earth Mother-y part of the world where fishes, kitties, puppies and orchids all thrive in her very presence. Not to mention the men-folk.

I was kind of chuffed to be showing off my orchid expertise in her presence: "My fucking orchid has a great big blossom....still! Take that, you hippy!"

Chloe watched me feeding my plant for a few moments while Brendan found her a glass of champagne.

"Michael....what are you doing?"

"Huh?" (I am demonstrating my positive mastery of that whole Earth-Mother Gaia thing, you dummy!)

"Why are you feeding that plastic plant?"

Dammit, Jim.

Who knew. Those crafty Chinese, anyway. Thing thing even had plastic roots! And plastic soil!

At least I didn't kill it....

Unlike the bergamot.


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