Saturday, August 11, 2012

easy target

Sometimes I wonder if my life was written by the Greeks. An ironic tragedy yet to come to it`s pinnacle of ultimate demise. Other days I think they`ve painted me a comedy for their own amusement.

Either way, at least I`m entertaining.

I haven`t done research on this, no in-depth studies, not even a poll but I think I that on average with the general populous I have been a victim of theft at an unnaturally high [nigh unfathomably high] rate. This past week I went to take my recycling out to the back curb and upon opening the garage door find a gaping empty space where I had left two bikes and MEC trailer the day before. I have been met with this scene of life before. Different picture but similar theme. It always seems to happen when you're just going about your life, you walk into a home, a workplace, a parking spot or [as in this case] a garage and are greeted with that sinking sickening feeling that something`s not right. Then your brain puts the pieces together. Before you can think to yourself that having your stuff stolen is unfortunate but perhaps not on the level with Grecians sense of drama I should expand upon the circumstances.

We don't make a lot of money. I'm ok with that. We also have a lot of student debts which I'm not so excited about. It wouldn't be far off to say we're poor. If fact we are by the very definition in poverty. However,with money gifted to us we bought a $400 stroller/bike trailer. The one thing I heard from experienced mothers trying to get by on a tight budget was that they wished they had just put out money for a good stroller right at the beginning because in the end they spent just as much or more on a multiple of strollers that not only broke but didn't work well while in use. So we bought a good stroller and we bought it brand new so that we would be covered by a warranty [too bad warranties don't cover theft]. So we had done our due diligence and bought invested wisely. When summer was coming we began dreaming of getting bikes and being able to tow Kalam around the city in our versatile stroller/trailer getting exercise fresh air and adventure. Money was tight so we were stuck with searching Kijiji for used items. Again, I'm ok with that. It took a little time but we got a bike for me that worked well and a few weeks later we got a bike for free for Nolan. The trailer was on and I took Kalam out for the first time. With my phone in my pocket. In my shallow little summer shorts pocket [though they weren't hoochie mama or anything it's just that shorts pockets aren't really very deep]. We had biked a lazy indirect course for the splash park and sometime later I went to check the time [on my phone... I lost too many watches. hmph.] The phone of course was lost and despite my best efforts to retrace my route I could not find it. I wasn't terribly upset, I hated that piece of junk. It was a cheap pay-as-you go type phone Rogers gave me because it was the only free option that wouldn't extend my contract after I broke my last phone [also hmph...]. Someone at Rogers told Nolan just a few days before that that I was eligible to replace my phone. So no big deal maybe I'll even be able get something fancy. Except Rogers got it mixed up. Nolan was eligible, and his phone is on the fritz [so he needs it]. I would have to pay $160 to replace my phone. To replace my crappy bottom of the heap junk phone. My c'est la vie attitude was quickly dissipating. The real kicker is however that while I was busy looking for my phone I forgot to flip the latches that lock our garage door. So later on the lovely neighbourhood kids who frequent the back alley just rolled open the garage door [because they just walk around checking to see who might have forgot to lock up] and took our bikes and trailer.

Since Nolan and I have come to Winnipeg  five years ago we have been the victims of theft once per year. We've had our car broken into twice, broken into and stolen on another occasion, our home broken into and now our garage. The first few times people who are acquainted with our ministry in Winnipeg tell us that we must be doing something very good for the kingdom of God to make Satan mad enough to try and hurt us. Lately it just feels like Satan thinks I'm an easy target. Like those bullies  on the bus who told me I was fat everyday of my life because they knew it would make me cry.

At first I was angry just because this just keeps happening to us. It just seemed so dammed unfair that despite all your best efforts you're shafted at every opportunity. Then you start to wonder if it's not just annomaly, maybe there's something that makes you an easy target. It's not like I have loads more than other people or that what I have is better. Most of what we have is hand outs and second hand. Perhaps there's just an aura around our belongings that says 'These people are suckers. Take their crap'.

Then there's the guilt.
The guilt that I left the door unlocked.
The guilt that I insisted on buying new instead of used
[not that I would have any extra money to buy another trailer if we had though].
Guilt that losing material objects can make you so very upset. 
At a certain point all the emotions and thoughts cripple you and leave you with a kind of defeat that makes you cry out like David. Wondering why if this is what you are supposed to be doing why doesn't God just give you a little relief.

Nolan had driven around the neighbourhood for a long time looking for some indication of where our things might have gone and talked to people who usually are keenly aware of happenings in the area, but he didn't find anything. Some people never know what happened. And I felt like that would be the case for us. However, when I drove to the grocery store later that day that I noticed a group of kids hanging around on bikes by the little convenience store a few doors down.  On an off chance I drove slowly by scanning each bike and picked out one we had just bought for me second hand. Sans the trailer. I raced around the block, ran to the house to get my big intimidating husband and sent him off down the street. We found the kid who took our things and when he took off on my bike we still had his friends and witnesses. The convenience store owner knew where he lived, one of the kids told us his name. We went to his house and spoke to his mother. Pleaded with her to help us. We found the other missing bike but nothing else. Some days later we fond the other bike just laying around the yard, but it wasn't until  weeks later that the mother stopped Nolan on the street to tell him what happened to the trailer. The boy had taken it to the sister's house where her boyfriend took it to the pawn shop. We're hoping it will still be returned. A detective is following up and hopes that since we won't press charges we just want our trailer that they will be more willing to return it to us. Either that or we figure out the guys name and go to the pawn shop ourselves. Every pawn shop takes detailed information with everything they buy for situations just as these. If we know who brought our trailer in the Pawn Shop will have to return it to us [I guess after that it is up to them to persecute the person for the losses]. Also we've been told by his friends that the boy is feeling remorseful. I hope the feeling lasts long enough to have a favourable outcome.

And in the midst of the aftermath a friend called me up to say that a Rogers store called them up to tell them they had my phone and could they get me to call them. My crappy bottom of the heap junk phone somehow made it to a very different part of the city with barely any scratches.

I feel like there might have been a point to all this. There usually is with Greek tragedies. I can't put a finger on the moral of this story. Then again morals are usually meant for the audience.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

grow op in the ghetto


Well I'm not rich enough to afford a hyrdoponic setup in my basement, but I also don't need to hide my greenage from the cops. For the first spring in five years I have a place to have a garden even if it's not like a traditional garden. You know the kind, in the ground. forest Since we didn't have time to landscape before winter hit and then we were gone until spring was well under way our yard looks like a jungle [well maybe to a mouse]. I decided that the only way I was going to get a garden this year was if I did a little container gardening. In the last five years we haven't had a yard, no balcony, not even a fire escape. I had tried to fill the green spot in my heart with plants on the window sill but climate control was always a difficulty since we had 80 year old radiators controlled by someone else. Sure, blame radiators you think, perhaps you just don't have a green thumb. Perhaps it is the desperate reasoning of a girl who misses the contryside. My husband has been teasing me about all the plants I have tried to grow and have withered to their death and I had been puzzled by it. I descend from farmers, avid gardeners and dutchmen. Well, a farmer who was a dutch man, and my mother who was a very good gardner. I used to grow things. I used to grow them when I lived in Ontario. But perhaps it is as a friend from the praries used to decry; maybe Ontario is the promised land with milk and honey flowing and my plants grew of their own accord. However I think the farmers would argue that point. So would my mother [who managed to grow her garden with hard work in thick clay soil]. Whatever the case, I am forging forward once again and this time I'm documenting my success. Or lack there of.

Peppers, parsley, basil, mint, sage, tomatoes.
Also added a cucumber plant to the mix but it didn't make it into the photo shoot.

Now that I have the space to garden I have discovered, and I have not missed the irony of it, that I could have been growing a garden on my contertop with little risk of death. This past winter I finally gave in to doing my own sprouting [growing bean sprouts, alfalfa and the like at home with none of the nasty chemical fertilizers]. I had committed halfheartedly a few times in the past. I bought a packet of various sprouts here and there and grew them at home. And then didn't eat them. One kind I tried was a spicy blend and I have discovered there's just something unnatural about my green leafy salad having punch to it. Ikept thinking that I shold just try it on a sandwich, but I don't eat that many sandwiches so it was thrown out before the spicy blend was given a second chance. Also my bean sprouts turned out rather green and very untasty. But rather than give up, I do what I do best. Obsess and analyze until I have figured the problem out. Or to put it more kindly, I researched. I discovered lots of great tips [such as Mung beans need to be grown in the dark to prevent a bitter taste], sprouting equipment and companies that sold higher quality seeds, but none of them sourced in Canada. This meant that either they wouldn't ship to me or they would for more money than this penniless housewife feels is worth paying. Then my mother pointed out Mumm's sprouting; a Canadian based, organic sprouting seed company, with a [these words are always music to my ears] free shipping offer.

Mung Beans and Alfalfa sprouts

As I was reading theirs and other websites I came across micro greens. One of those terms I've heard here and there but didn't stop to look into. Turns out I'd had already had experience with growing micro greens and wasn't aware. When I was in highschool and for a few summers through college I worked in a hydroponic greenhouse. For the most part we grew lettuce. Rows and rows of lettuce. There were times I couldn't eat salad because I was sick of looking at lettuce. However we also grew Argula and Cress and I also remember experimenting with Corn shoots. They taste just like kernels of corn. In any case I think we just called them garnishes which is maybe why I wouldn't have thought to grow them at home. They don't take up a lot of space [unless you want to grow a lot of them], they don't take long to grow [most crops are done in a week]. The greatest thing about micro greens, however,  is that you don't need a lot to grow them. From the websites that I read and youtube videos I watched I saw different ways of doing it, [sprouting was easy, the standard method everyone does is that you need a jar, some netting and an elastic] some demonstrated with supplies specific to growing micro greens, others used other more generic equipment but the supplies were still specific to the gardening world and not often found at home. I really wanted to boil the process down to a bare minimum. Some people showed using sprouting trays [which look so nice and handy, maybe if I keep this up I someday splurge on], others 'just' use the common seeding tray. At the basic level what you need is a tray with drainage holes, and the one thing that most people have at home that fit this description is those plastic clam shells. You know the ones that berries come in. 
The other supply you need [besides the essential seeds] is a growing medium, the more humble of tutorials will tell you to use dirt. So why use the fancy terminology? Because fancy micro gardeners don't like the mess. There are several dirt-less options on the market, a type of growing mat that you cut to size and just plop into your tray. Dirt was out of the question. Having to pull out the potting soil every week to week and half [if I did this on a regular basis] spilling it on the counter and floor in the process just to have little trays of loose dirt sitting around. I'd knock it over in a minute, I'm a target for disaster. Add in that I have a toddler and there's no way those micro greens are living to see their first leaves. However I don't feel like investing in a whole roll of 'Baby Blanket' if this turns out to be a bad idea. A thought sprouted in my brain as I investigated,  why not just a layer of paper towel? The seeds really just need something to keep them hydrated. Since the plants are only alive for a week they don't need the space that a plant in a pot needs and they're also not alive long enough to need nutrients from the soil. So I scouted and 'googled' trying to find someone who had tried it out and I finally found a tiny little tidbit in the midst of a larger article [although if I hadn't found it I probably would've just tried it out], commenting that really you could just use a piece of paper towel. So there it is down to the everyman's level. Clamshell packaging and paper towel. That and a corner of counter space or a window sill is all I needed all these years.

speckled peas, black snflowers, and corn

And now some growing pictures: