This is the first day in more than a month that I haven't needed to turn on the AC. On Thursday, the kids go back to school. Hooray! The past couple of months seemed to have stretched on, even though the weeks feel very short (i.e. it's laundry day again). I know that this summer has been long -- at least, for me -- because we didn't really go anywhere or do anything. That is, for the first time in years, we didn't need to go on any sports-related trips. We didn't go on any trips, period. When I am at home with the kids, that's no vacation for me! Also, the heat was something else this year, with the loss of those ficus trees that once shaded our apartment and the record-breaking heatwave and those record-breaking wildfires. ("IN YOUR FACE!" said climate change.) Anyway, I am thankful that the weather is pleasant today, and that in two days, I'll have the weekdays to myself again.


small city, big city

Some photos from the South Pas Arts Crawl and dinner at PYT in downtown LA. diamond ave. water color by p. morris communal arts crawl posterpop-up shops meridian & mission davey donaldson performer balloons jasmine vines roasted beets outside pyt dtla street



My daily online reading consists primarily of Remodelista and Jacobin. This pretty much sums up my frame of mind throughout the day, wherein I vacillate between wishful aesthete and helpless socialist. I find that the more I focus on "beautifying" my immediate surroundings, the busier I get, the more content I feel, and the more I blog. And then just as my mind starts to feel numb, I turn to more serious reading, and I feel ridiculous and agitated and guilty. To which I have to respond by diving right back into care work lest I lose my mind. And so forth. Writing this blog always makes me feel simultaneously relieved and uncomfortable. It serves mainly as a record of my days (fleeting, repetitive), and as therapy (antidote to the mundane), and also performance ("I may be a housewife, but I have IMPORTANT THOUGHTS"). I wish I weren't always so conflicted about the way I present my reality. It must be nice to flaunt (OR FAKE) one's privilege without having any qualms about it.

Or not.

I think I would rather be painfully conflicted than have no class consciousness at all.


Here is something worth reading.

I follow Bernie Sanders on Instagram, and sometimes, just to punish myself, I read through the comments to his posts, and would come across people who say, "Why do you hate rich people so much?" like that was the problem and not greedy capitalists making billions in profits off the backs of starving workers.

a monday morning

I woke up late. Imo left me some coffee (kept hot in an insulated bottle), as he does most mornings. I poured myself a cup and brought it outside to drink. The air was cool. My outdoor rug is new and clean.

string lights in the morningcoffee new outdoor ruglavender bloom


thirteen #2

Asha turned thirteen and I now have two teenagers in the house! Yeah! (Seriously though, in my experience, thirteen is a relief after the emotional/hormonal turmoil of twelve.) She invited some friends over for dinner (grilled chicken and caprese pasta salad) and cake (carrot, by request, with mascarpone cream cheese frosting) and an outdoor movie (Titanic) and impromptu s'mores-making in the middle of the movie (right before all the sinking action -- sorry, spoilers, LOL). I enjoyed throwing this party because Asha and her friends are a crazy bunch -- I could barely keep from laughing as they shrieked and giggled at Jack and Rose's most romantic scenes then shushed each other during the "Draw me like one of your French girls, Jack" scene. For the record, this was the third time Asha saw Titanic -- and it was what got her started on a Leonardo DiCaprio movie-watching spree earlier this year. (I believe she's gone through his entire filmography. She's now moved on to River Phoenix.)

dinner keeping those candles litthe breeze blew them out
There was a breeze in the patio and the candles wouldn't stay lit, so we had to move the birthday cake festivities indoors.
singing happy birthday happy birthday, asha!yay!!! hugs!huuugggsss The kids settled in for the movie in the back patio. We were equipped with spray-on mosquito repellant! (One of my great ideas that evening, to make up for the fact that I momentarily forgot how to focus a camera.) about to watch Titanic s'mores breakmaking s'mores The carrot cake was delicious, by the way. Birthday girl had the last slices to herself the next day.
what's left of the carrot cakewhat's left of the carrot cake

Many, many happy returns, my fiercely independent, always original, funny, brilliant Ate Asha!


gardening in the patio

When I posted about my patio garden in the spring, that was the last time it looked good in that form. I had planned on some simple upkeep, but as the weather got warmer, it became clear that the potato vine, along with a few other plants (mostly herbs that I've had for a few years in little pots), was in serious decline. What was once a lush backdrop to our small outdoor area had turned into a dry, shedding, tangled mess. I tried to save that vine and felt distraught, until I decided to just cut it down completely.

patio, dusk
(The potato vine during better days. September 2017.)

And thus began my month-long work in the patios -- repotting old plants, planting new ones, taking & rooting & planting cuttings, moving things around in and between front and back patios, organizing the potting bench -- that culminated in Imo building an awesome 7-foot-long wooden planter for me to grow plants in to fill the void the potato vine had left behind.

new plants!

It took three days to finish. Imo built it out of an old IKEA shelf (the GORM, discontinued) and some new lumber we bought at the hardware store. I sprayed it with Thompson's clear water seal inside and out, let it dry overnight, then lined it with landscaping fabric, and filled it with EIGHT big bags of potting soil. I was originally going to plant euonymus green spire in it (a narrow-growing evergreen traditionally used for hedges) but I'm glad I changed my mind and opted for a variety of plants with low water needs.

new planter!new plants & planter box made by imo! new plants!
L-R: azure bush germander, sensation cordyline, dwarf olive, black canna, narrow-leaf chalk sticks, spanish lavender

I love it so much! And even though some of the new plants suffered heat damage last week, I am hopeful that they will recuperate. The black canna has already bloomed, in fact. I also recently added solar lights to illuminate the plants in the evening. I anticipate that this planter will get overcrowded in time, but I am prepared to do the maintenance work (or salvaging, whatever the case may be).

solar lights for the patio
(The smaller wood planter to the left used to be home to the potato vine. I moved it, refreshed the soil that was in it, and transplanted some rosemary in there. I hope they grow into a bush!)

Here's more of what's new in my little garden:

purslane, succulents, cone bush plants after the heatwavesun-loving purslane
That's a "safari red" conebush in the corner, and purslane (with yellow flowers) in the railing planter, plus some new herbs and repotted succulents.

I moved the philodendron to the back patio where I now have a little tropical garden going on, with ferns, elephant ears, sampaguita, vinca, and lantana. The aeonium in the steel trough got badly scorched in the triple-digit heat, but I think it will be okay (fingers crossed); the lavender is very thirsty these days, but it is flowering!

philodendron & elephant earssampaguita lavender blooming

A garden is so much work, and an apartment container garden has its special challenges, but caring for one makes me so happy. Who knew. I used to be utterly terrible at this but now I'm not so bad. I am learning a lot from trial and error (and the internet). I am glad for the daily exercise in paying attention. I am thankful for the lessons in diligence and patience.


where to begin

We are very slowly recovering from a terrible heatwave. (Which is more than I can say metaphorically for this country because it is still in flames.) I have been keeping a close eye on my plants, a number of which, though drought tolerant, suffered from the 111°F weather last weekend. I turn my attention to the care of my garden (and my home, and my loves, including the furry one) because it pains me to have so little control over everything else. We made no travel plans for this summer, and I am okay with that. We have roughly a month more to spend hunkered down at home for the most part on the weekdays, turning on the AC at noon, playing musical chairs with the fans to circulate the cold air in the apartment. I am hardly ever home alone these days, so right now it's a treat to sit here and type in relative silence while Yumi is at gymnastics and Asha is at the farmer's market and Nacho is on his way out the door to play soccer. I have at most an hour to myself before it's time to get up and make dinner. (Although, now, that awareness is making me panic slightly.)

Anyway, here are some things we have done so far this summer:

Lit fires and drank bourbon and roasted marshmallows in the patio when it was still cool in the evenings.

Saw Nacho's band play their first gig at our local Irish pub.

Took a day trip to Temecula and went wine-tasting, thanks to Lille and Adam! Also, old town Temecula was a pleasant surprise.

Saw a three-hour-long play at The Wallis (Eugene O'Neill's "A Long Day's Journey into Night" with Jeremy Irons in it), thanks to Don, who also bought Imo and me drinks afterwards. Yasss.

Went to this year's first Summer Happenings at the Broad with Nyan & Ben & Lille & Adam sans kids, then got sushi at midnight.

Hosted an awesome 4th of July barbecue (and took pictures this time).

Learned to play mah jong c/o Don.

Watched Hereditary at Arclight where one can drink wine inside the theater! Hereditary was WTF.

Went with everyone to Zuma beach where it was hot, which meant that the water was perfectly cold. Attempted to boogie-board; caught one good wave.

Watched Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale. Absolutely harrowing. (Like reading the news.)

plants after the heatwavenew plants & planter box string lightsmore firelight imoate's girl DSC_3391.jpgDSC_3378.jpg the kids, vineyardimo & yumi a&ihere comes a wave