NBA (Nail Biters’ Anonymous)

So basically I bite my nails. Its a terrible habit of mine, along with very bad posture. Lately I have been biting my nails a lot, (though I usually tell myself I’m not biting my nails but just trying to clean up the uneven parts). Basically each of my fingers has been nibbled down to its quick, but I could also say that as a keyboard player, I can’t really have nails. And actually that is true, but they don’t have to be quite this short. Now the other night I was assessing each finger and got to my right hand thumb. I was surprised to find that I’d actually still had a normal nail there and I wondered to myself: “Why?” and “How?” I was so filled with surprise and a nominal amount of pride over this nail, that I left it untouched. “Grow on, my friend,” I thought to myself as I drifted into sleep. The next day I was in the back garden weeding and deadheading the cosmos, when I realised why I had inadvertently left my thumb nail: without it I could never break a stem, pop off a shrivelled flower head, or gather herbs from the garden. I had left it for a purpose…though I bet you a million dollars that in about four or five days I will have bitten that last nail off, too.

Early Conservationist

I’ve come across an interesting conundrum: teaching my daughter conservationism from an early age. If Neptune had it her way, she would hang out in the bathroom and “wash her hands” with the water running, and her just touching the water, maybe getting some soap to make bubbles. Then she would most likely leave the water running and move to the toilet, where she likes to put tiny scraps of toilet paper into the bowl, then flush it and say: “All gone.” She enjoys flushing the toilet a lot. But she is never left in the bathroom to just hang about. I take her to wash her hands after playing outside. She turns on the water, and I tell her to turn it off when she is done. Then, if I’m feeling generous, I let her put her scrap of TP in the toilet and give it a flush. But I tell her: “Just once, baby. Don’t be wasteful.” And that’s the phrase that I wonder about: did our parents worry about wastefulness in the 80’s? It really wasn’t in style. I know my sister flushed my uncle’s watch down the toilet when she was little, and I would imagine that might have taken a few flushes.

I teach Neptune to be gentle with plants, how to smell flowers and not to kill bugs. Now when we are walking on a path she will stop dead and fall to her hands and knees, focusing intently on a tiny ant. She doesn’t touch it, she just follows it with her eyes. Will she respect the environment more than we do? She almost has to, that our predecessors have forced this situation. Hopefully by the time she can get her license, the world’s oil reserves will have been depleted and the hydrogen car is on the streets.

P.S. Isabelle I tought of you when I wrote this!

Simple, Rustic, Honest Food

So Murray and I have been working a lot on our kitchen and it is nearly done. Sometimes it’s strange to reconcile real life inside our home, and real life outside our home. I love getting domestic, gardening and growing my own food, sewing and just tidying up. But for a second today I was getting a little tour-sick…every now and again I miss being on tour, I look forward to going to England, going to Pret and Muji. Like who is really me: tour Natalia or home Natalia? We are definite beings, her and I.

I am really fond of TV chef, Gordon Ramsay. Hell’s Kitchen is entertaining enough for a reality show, but Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares really gives a lot more. I have a lot of respect for Chef Ramsay: he’s a hardass and doesn’t take any bullshit. I like his style. I’m finding it inspiring in an everyday sense, that being nice will only go so far. I watched an episode tonight where the owner of the restaurant was too nice to fire his useless chef, so his business was crumbling. And Chef Ramsay was kicking his ass to do something about it. Anyway, the restaurant has probably gone down in flames since the show aired. But Chef Ramsay, I salute you! Shrewd on the business side, and totally pragmatic on the food side, he’s a proper genius.

Jamie At Home is pretty good too, but he’s a bit too fussy. Like yeah right I could grow letttuce between the stones in my backyard, or have enough time to groom, feed and water a complete herb garden. Its a bit bougey. He means well, and totally gave his show this indie-rock vibe. It’s pretty hilarious. Anyhow Jamie Oliver’s show probably contributed to my UK-homesickness: there’s no way gardening could happen that easily in Montreal. We have like a two-month growing season. I could get into the temperate climate in the UK: they’ve got giant rosemary and lavender over there.


Thursday in the Garden

I have taken on an adversary larger than myself. It looks unassuming now, a short, yellow cornflower-like weed. A fluffy line of them, cute against the stone of the house. But its been growing unchecked for years now. Its growing underneath rocks, hugging the foundation, hiding in the armpits of other plants. I don’t even know its name, but it is shameless. In a few weeks it will sprout with tiny leaves, which will grow and grow into 4-inch, pubescent webbed leaves. It will then spend the summer growing and growing into an undefined, front-garden’s worth of boring leaves. My baby cedar trees standing over it, rolling their eyes and how lame their feet look. So when the lovely weather kicked in on Thursday, after our ridiculous, post-Easter snowstorm (sooo Montreal), I tackled it. I thought about buying a hand tiller (I thought the spiky wheels would eat through the roots like a carnivore), but, as any good vegetarian would, decided to try first with the following tools: pitchfork, hand rake, gardening trowel, hand claw thing and work gloves. Unfortunately for me, I was the most useful tool, alongside work of a back-breaking calibre. Two words describe the menace: tap roots. An unrelenting underground network of soft, thin arteries, linked to other plants, the next clump of flowers, woven into the soil by tiny veins, adored by worms. I must have chopped a dozen worms in half while hacking at uprooted clumps to shake off the soil. But cut worms just grow back into two new worms, (right?) so I was doing everyone a favour. After an hour of investigative extractions, they appeared to be all gone. I’ll give it a few days and see what’s left, wether or not they stay down or try to make a comeback. We will see wether or not more drastic measures are required. For now my garden is a block of overturned dirt, three little cedar trees and a handful of struggling crocuses.