Friday, June 09, 2017

Sixteen rows of cherry tomatoes, one beautiful Katie Joy Kreifels

I put it together by myself! My mobility scooter is ready to be ridden!! The hard styrofoam has left little bits of white stuff all around where I unpacked, then assembled it. It was just as easy to put together as the salesperson said. I bought it from a company in Florida because the company offers a five year warranty, including the battery!!

I thought I'd zip out the door as soon as I got it together and the packing debris put in my recycle/trash room but I am wiped out.

I'll take a nap, something I am able to do just about any time. I've always been a napper but lately, I get so fatigued, so totally drained of energy, that I nap more soundly than ever. Except when I was pregnant.

When pregnant with my daughter, who took took took and then shunned me (over sixteen years but who counts? the heartache increases . . )  I wallpapered two walls of her bedroom while pregnant, the two walls with windows, the walls one saw when one stood in the door facing into the room.  I thought papering all four walls might make the room seem small. It was a largish bedroom.

I covered those two walls with rainbows. In a couple spots, where I couldn't quite make the wallpaper match perfectly (I hang wallpaper like a master, truly I do), I cut out pieces of unused bits of that wallpaper and made the seams match. I poured my heart and soul into readying that room, that wallpaper, for my child.

And at the end of the day, I sat down on the floor of that room to behold my masterful work. Then I realized I felt more exhausted than I had ever felt in my life. So I just spread out on the floor on my back (hard to lie on a floor stomach down with a 7 month old fetus inside one's uterus!) and rested until her father came home so he could help me get off the floor.

He said nothing about the wallpaper. He yelled at me because he always insisted that I clean up from any chores I was doing while he was at work. Same when I painted the kitchen cabinets (harder than walls, for I used enamel and had to paint so carefully to avoid enamel drips) or wallpapered the kitchen, or wallpapered the front hall, etc. etc. etc. He insisted the house be in pristine conditon and would not listen to my explanations, which he heard as whining laziness, that it was a whole lot more work to clean up a job over and over instead of waiting until the project was over.

Hell, I bought a power drill so I could install the mini-blinds I custom ordered for my baby's room. and I installed the curtain rods with that drill for the new curtains in our living room.

He liked to brag to coworkers and friends that he had married a home improvement contractor. No one but me heard him hound me to have the house perfectly tidy even when I had spent the day painting and/or wallpapering or gardening (and maybe his family, he talked about every detail of our lives with his mom and sisters and if they voiced opprobrium about anything, he would demand that I abide by their preferences).  I refused to let his mom and sisters approve my wallpaper, wall colors and, and this was a very very big and neverending discussion, the color to paint the outside of our house.

I went with slate blue and cream trim instead of white. Each color seemed softer, more welcoming. He squawked and squawked about how his mom and sisters had never seen a blue house, never seen cream-toned trip. Sometimes, while still pregnant, I'd drive him around our suburban world and show him all the blue houses. True, most of the blue houses had white dream. I took the position that being just a little different distinguished our house. I did get my colors but they cost me.

And then, oh why oh why am I thinking of these unhappy times -- maybe needing the scooter is operating on a subliminal level and upsetting some aspect of my being that longs to be fully mobile on her own. Nope. I don't mind the scooter. What I mind is that I have heart failure, crippling arthritis and my only child doesn't give a damn.

While pregnant, I asked him to plow a patch of our backyard so I could plant a garden. I had imagined an 8x10' patch but his friend Dave, raised on a farm, went out and rented a rototiller and plowed up a sixteen by forty foot patch of sod. Then my ex informed me I better plant every inch of that patch.  When I pleaded that it was too big a garden for me to handle waddling around pregnant and in and out of the hospital several times during that pregnancy (I had a wicked hard pregnancy, I couldn't keep down water much less food so I was hospitalized for long stretches to be fed and given water intravenously. This was more for the baby than me. I lost almost 30 pounds while pregnant but my baby, born a couple weeks early, weighed six pounds eight and one half ounces. All these years later I still love that half ounce. I had never heard a newborn's weight noted up to the half ounce before. or have I heard such a thing since.  My baby was special!

Anyway, I bought a packet of seeds, because my husband forbid me to buy starter plants. In hard winter parts of the country, people don't buy starters to be lazy, as he opined. They buy them because the growing season is shortish.  I intended to have one row of cherry tomatoes and one row of tomatoes. I was going to sneak in tomato starts but I bought cherry tomato seeds. I put the whole packet of seeds in a row, intending to thin them out to have one row, maybe two rows at the absolute most.

Then I was hospitalized  for a week and Dave and my ex saved all those cherry tomatoes. Instead of having a large garden full of many things, I had sixteen rows eight plants per row of cherry tomatoes and only cherry tomatoes. We ended up with a cash crop. If I didn't have a newborn, with my daughter born in June, I joked, we could set up a tomato stand and sell cherry tomatoes. He thought that would be embarassing. I was kidding. We did live along our side yard, along a busy street. I likely would have sold those tomatoes. Or, at least, given them away.

I had no canning supplies and, with a new born by the time those tomatoes were ripe, no time or energy to learn how to can. My husband ordered me -- and his orders were always abusively issued -- to use every single one of those cherry tomatoes. He said it wouldn't go well for me if I wasted any. He forbid me from sharing them weigh neighbors and even forbid sharing them with his relatives.

And I had no other plants. I had asked if he and Dave could plant other things while I was serially hospitalized but he said the garden was full of those cursed cherry tomatoes.

So I simmer pot after pot of those cherry tomatoes, put them in cheap plastic containers, filled our freezer with those tomatoes. And we had a separate, gigantic freezer for his fantasy deer meat I filled that sucker with boiled cherry tomatoes, showed them to him. And, one by one, thawed them and threw them out.

I had a newborn. Cooking gourmet feasts was not on my list of priorities. And he did nothing to help me, not even mow the fucking lawn. He said the price I had to pay for staying with our baby was all the chores. so I would mow our huge lawn (double lot) in bits while my baby napped. I was perpetually mowing that lawn her first summer.

Her second summer, my Katie Joy liked to help me garden. I planted zinnias along our fence that faced the empty lot and could be seen from the passing cars. I planted those zinnias from seed, too, trying to be frugal to justify staying home with my baby. So a time came when I had to thin the zinnias. Luckily, no Dave came around to order me to use every single zinnia start once they got going.

Instead, I had the best helper in the world.  Katie loved pulled little plants out of the ground and throwing them in a pile. She pulled lots of perfectly good zinnias. I loved her so. I can see how beautiful she was, I can see the sunlight, I can see her lavendar Oshkosh by gosh overalls with the ruffles on her suspenders. I see the rose-sprigged sun hat on her head. I thanked her each time she pulled up a zinnia and, when she would not notice, I'd replant the good plants.

Back when Dave and my ex were saving all those cursed cherry tomato plants, I pleaded with my husband from my hospital bed to only save two rows. "If you want to go on working, plant beans, squash, lettuce, herbs". He said "You started these cherry tomatoes. It would be a sin to waste them."


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