Sunday, March 10, 2019

Seedlings and More Cactus Flowers

This is a year of firsts in our household! In addition to our little round cactus with its yellow blossom, our bird's-foot cactus has also put out flowers. I've only seen this happen once before that I can remember -- about 20 years ago, when the parent plant of this one bloomed. (Remember, I grew this from a cutting taken from my plant in Florida.) It may have bloomed more often and I just never noticed -- the flowers are somewhat inconspicuous -- but still, it's exciting!

Hopefully some of that horticultural magic will extend to our seeds, which I finally got planted yesterday. It took much longer than I expected -- at least an hour and a half. To make things more interesting, the sun disappeared behind clouds and occasional gusts of wind whipped across the patio, where I was working at the table. By the end I was shivering and I'd probably lost a few seeds, but oh well.

I planted commercial packages of dahlia and lavender, as well as zinnia, foxglove, burdock, hollyhock, honesty and hogweed that I collected myself. I have no idea whether any of those self-collected seeds are even viable, so this is all a big science experiment. The seed trays are in the dining room on the windowsill, where they get full morning sun. I'll keep you posted!

Then, as Olga and I set out on a walk, I noticed that our recycling bin was almost completely full. This was curious, because our trash was just collected on Friday. I looked at the bags and they were full of garbage, not recycling. A closer look produced envelopes addressed to -- you guessed it -- our neighbor Mrs. Kravitz. She's at it again, throwing her trash in our bins.

I was so angry I saw red. I upended our bin into one of hers, then marched up to her front door and told her husband that this had to stop. He was very contrite. But I seriously think we're going to have to padlock our rubbish bins. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I don't know how else to keep her out of them. If she fills our recycling bin with her garbage on a Saturday, we'll have nowhere to put our own recycling all week. Or am I being overly controlling?

Fortunately, my long walk with Olga helped me calm down, although I'm sure I was muttering to myself like a crazy person the whole way. First we walked along the Grand Union Canal, where Olga was very curious about this whimsically furnished houseboat -- she sniffed and sniffed. Maybe they have a cat?

Then we got to the Scrubs, which are beautiful at this time of year with lots of this white-blooming shrub. I have no idea what it is.

We had a good long, and occasionally muddy, walk around the Scrubs and then took the Overground home. Olga always gets peculiar looks on the train ride back because by that time she's filthy. I feel like I should hang a sign around her neck that says, "This is a temporary condition. I'm about to get a bath."

Last night Dave and I went to a party at a colleague's house, for which Dave made fabulous espresso brownies. Parties can be a drag for him -- he can't drink because of his Crohn's, and being in a room full of people who are all sociably drinking has got to be frustrating. But he stuck it out, bless him.


  1. Do you have sticky numbers on your bins to make it clear that they are yours? Perhaps Mrs Kravitz is simply careless and bold numbers would give her attention a bit of a jolt.

  2. Yes, they are labeled with our house number and there's also a low fence between our bins and hers. This cannot be a case of mistaken identity.

  3. When we lived in Tennessee, after putting our trash at the curb, people would pull our trash out to put theirs in. You were fined $2 a bag for each bag not in the can, so every week was a call to police to avoid the fines. They would take pictures and haul the other person's trash away to go through it to look for names. Those people would get hefty fines. A headache for everyone involved.

  4. If she had room in her own bin, why on earth did she use yours? That is so strange. I've never noticed this kind of thing happening here but, for the most part I've lived in places with community bins located in alleys. It will be interesting to see how your seeds do. It's been a very long time since I've ever tried to grow anything from seeds.

  5. A wave of loveliness hit me when your post opened as my gaze met the first photo. Thank you. Best of luck with your plantings. Dahlias are my favorite flower so I am looking forward to your blooms! That is atrocious and stupid behavior on the part of your neighbor. I can empathize somewhat as I live in a large condo building and it is astounding to me that some owners throw their trash in the recycling bins despite large print in-your-face signs explaining what can and cannot go into the recycling. It has become so distressing that now there are rumblings of installing video cameras to catch the culprits. Good grief! I am so glad you were able to see some whimsey and beauty after your encounter. That houseboat is a curious delight for sure.

  6. I would be livid if I found somebody dumping garbage in my recycle bin...particularly if I knew who it was.

  7. Is it possible that Mrs. Kravitz is developing dementia? Or perhaps has something else going on that would make her do such a bizarre and unnecessary thing? Or is she simply crazy? She knew you would know whose trash that was.
    I love your baby cactus flowers! Obviously you have exactly the right spot for your succulents and have given them just the right care. They are happy!
    I used to start my own seedlings but it IS a lot of work, isn't it? Far more than you'd think.
    I want a houseboat. Maybe not to live on full time but wouldn't that make a sweet little vacation home away from home?

  8. Padlocks? Does that mean you will have to unlock the bins on collection day?
    I think the Krawitz's have it in for you. They do this on purpose.

    Lovely seedling parade, I hope it all works out!

    The white blossoming shrub could be a blackthorne.

  9. What everyone else said about your neighbor. She's a bitch, and deserves to be called out. Next time, dump her garbage on her front stoop.

    Oh definitely, there's a cat on that house boat. Because a houseboat without a cat is like... is like a regular house without a cat (sad).

  10. no I don't think you overreacted. if it happens again I would not put her trash in her bin but would set it firmly on her doorstep.

    I have one of those bird's foot cactus and have never seen it bloom but them mine's outside and I don't look at it every day. I'll have to keep better watch on it.

  11. Your neighbor seems strange with her dumping her garbage in your recycling bin. Is she doing it on purpose or is she unaware? I think you handled the situation as good as you could. Glad you went for a walk afterwards.

  12. Maybe she’s pulling your strings. I think Ms Moon maybe on to something. How old is Mrs Krawitz?

    It’s funny, something like that will annoy the hell out of me and my husband will just shrug it off. Good luck with the seeds. We buy plants for instant gratification.

  13. Those tiny blossoms are delightful! Good luck with all those seeds, except - burdock?? Is it the same as our burdock, a plant with little velcro balls that catch on your socks and on pet fur? Are you growing it as a medicinal plant? I've just looked it up on wikipedia and it says in England birds are becoming entangled in the burrs and dying:

    I was going to mention dementia re Mrs K also, because my mom is starting to behave in weird ways as her cognition decreases. But I think this has already been suggested and you may have said it's not a factor. Very frustrating! Good thing you've got Olga to help you walk out the stress.

    It IS hard being in a room full of people who are feeling a little (or a lot) tight. It's fascinating how even one drink can reduce people's ability to have an interesting conversation. I've been the non-drinker in a group of drinkers, and it's a long night.

  14. Best of luck with the seeds....if you're like me you'll start too many (I always doubt very many will germinate and my lack of faith is always rewarded with multitudes of sprouts) and won't know what to do with the excess. I will say, though, that lavender started from seed will take foreeeeeeever to reach any kind of useful size. I usually buy small plants of perennial herbs like lavender and rosemary for that very reason.

    Mrs. Kravitz is just....bizarre. It's good to know that we're not the only ones with crazy neighbors.

  15. I hope your seeds come up well. Can your neighbor not get an extra bin for garbage? It seems rude and underhanded of her to use your recycling containers, especially without asking.

  16. Best of luck with your garbage issue. I vote for dementia also, or possibly mental illness. Especially if you have called her on it before.

  17. Lenalee: Wow, what a nightmare that must have been! That situation would have driven me crazy. I am very particular about keeping the trash collection neat and orderly.

    Sharon: And what's weird is, she's criticized us in the past for having TOO MANY bins. (We have one more than her, which makes sense because we are two households at this address, our flat and upstairs.) I think she doesn't want to fill hers up so she just uses ours.

    Joanne: I'm glad you like the photos! I've considered putting cameras on our bins, but locks would be cheaper. :)

    Red: I WAS livid! My voice was shaking when I talked to the husband, I was so angry.

    Ms Moon: I know my nickname for her suggests an older lady, but Mrs. Kravitz is in fact younger than I am. I just call her that because she's such a pain and she's always in our business. So no, I don't think she has dementia.

    Sabine: Yeah, the upstairs neighbors and I would have to keep keys to put our trash in the bins, and then I'd have to remove the locks on collection day. It would be a pain but it might be worth it, honestly. That tree DOES look like blackthorn, now that I look it up -- I've never seen fruit on them, though. (Maybe birds eat it.)

    Vivian: Right? I think it's a requirement that every houseboat have at least one cat!

    Ellen: I bet it's bloomed and you've never noticed. The flowers really are very inconspicuous. Take a look!

    Catalyst: Because of the way the bins are organized, it could not be an accident. I think she just doesn't want to fill up her own bins. Her household also produces huge quantities of trash. I don't know what those people do but they throw things away with abandon.

    John: Yeah, Dave pretty much shrugs it off, too, but it makes me INSANE. To me there's something inherently insulting about it. She's not old enough to be demented -- at least not from age!

    Jenny-O: Yes, that burdock! In the UK it's a native plant and I think they're pretty cool -- very big plants with flowers that bees and butterflies love. I hadn't heard of the bird thing, but I notice that Wikipedia info is sourced from a blog based in Montana, where people are trying to remove it because it's an invasive exotic plant. I guess it's another plant (like loosestrife) that's not a problem here but is in North America. Anyway, I'll keep an eye on the velcro and make sure it doesn't ensnare any birds. We can always remove the seed pods.

    Jennifer: Yeah, I start too many, too -- but we usually lose a certain percentage of them to squirrels and slugs and other critters once they get planted outside. I overplant to make sure some reach maturity! The lavender came (bizarrely) as a bonus gift with some clothing we bought. I don't really care whether it ever grows. I just planted it because we have it!

    E: It IS rude and underhanded! When we first moved in here, she kept her trash bins in our alley. I allowed it but when the neighbors moved in upstairs they called a halt to it, and she's been annoyed about it ever since. She doesn't want her trash on her property. She's too good for her own trash. Don't get me started!

    Sue: She's too young to have age-related dementia. She might have mental illness. It's anybody's guess.

  18. Dave is a champion! I like to be invited to parties but rarely go, find them stressful. That is the best shot of boat and Olga! It looks like she fancies the red float. You Girds foot plant- we call it walking bones, I have had mine for nearly half a century, it has bloomed once! The day my mother died.

  19. You are definitely not being overly controlling. I admire that you confronted the problem head on. The gall of putting her garbage in your cans! And Dave is a mensch.