It is time

I found this story in Harper's magazine a few years ago, and I clipped it and stuck it on my refrigerator, where it's been hanging ever since. I only read it once in a while, but every time I do, I find new meaning in it and appreciate it more and more. Luckily, the author, Benjamin Rosenbaum has it published on his web site with a Creative Commons license that allows me to post it here just because I love it so darned much. Read and enjoy!

The Orange
by Benjamin Rosenbaum

An orange ruled the world.

It was an unexpected thing, the temporary abdication of Heavenly Providence, entrusting the whole matter to a simple orange.

The orange, in a grove in Florida, humbly accepted the honor. The other oranges, the birds, and the men in their tractors wept with joy; the tractors' motors rumbled hymns of praise.

Airplane pilots passing over would circle the grove and tell their passengers, "Below us is the grove where the orange who rules the world grows on a simple branch." And the passengers would be silent with awe.

The governor of Florida declared every day a holiday. On summer afternoons the Dalai Lama would come to the grove and sit with the orange, and talk about life.

When the time came for the orange to be picked, none of the migrant workers would do it: they went on strike. The foremen wept. The other oranges swore they would turn sour. But the orange who ruled the world said, "No, my friends; it is time."

Finally a man from Chicago, with a heart as windy and cold as Lake Michigan in wintertime, was brought in. He put down his briefcase, climbed up on a ladder, and picked the orange. The birds were silent and the clouds had gone away. The orange thanked the man from Chicago.

They say that when the orange went through the national produce processing and distribution system, certain machines turned to gold, truck drivers had epiphanies, aging rural store managers called their estranged lesbian daughters on Wall Street and all was forgiven.

I bought the orange who ruled the world for 39 cents at Safeway three days ago, and for three days he sat in my fruit basket and was my teacher. Today, he told me, "it is time," and I ate him.

Now we are on our own again.


Boob alert!

This Sunday I'm walking in the Race for the Cure on a team sponsored by Feel Your Boobies, a site started by my friend Sharon's friend Leigh. The name just makes me laugh so I had to join up, plus her story is compelling to me: She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 after finding a lump in her breast. Everyone always says young women have such a low risk, but it can happen and we should all be aware, as Leigh says on her site:
Right now, mammograms are targeted only for the over 40 population. For women under 40, feeling your boobies is one of the primary ways to ensure early detection. Somehow telling young women the importance of "self-breast exams" doesn't quite have the same punch as saying "feel your boobies." So you might laugh at the slogan, but hopefully you'll take it seriously and do it... and so will those who see your t-shirt.

Also, the site is built with Homestead, a product I helped build back in the early days of the Internet boom! Anyway, I'm not asking for sponsorship for the walk because there's really not much time until the race (though tax-deductible donations can be made at the SFKomen web site linked above). You can also buy awareness-raising shirts directly from the Feel Your Boobies store.


Dirty Laundry

People who know me are aware of my laundry issues; I've made sure to bellyache about them frequently. I'm a renter who wants to be a homeowner, and my apartment doesn't have in-unit laundry. Our building has a washer and dryer, but they're down two flights of stairs in a cold, dark, and dirty little room in our garage just past the garbage (mmm...garbage). We share our one washer and dryer with two other apartments in the building. A full load requires eight quarters, 105 minutes, and the good luck of not having any of your seemingly few but annoyingly concomitant* neighbors come and dump your wet clothes out in between the washing and the drying.

But I've been patient. I know the time will come when my laundry problem is solved. I don't know exactly how it will happen, but I know it will. In the meantime, I've accepted my current reality. I've stopped bellyaching about it. I've started doing laundry as frequently as possible, so there are only one or two--and not 12--loads to do at any given moment. I've begun diligently trudging over to the bank at lunchtime every couple of weeks to withdraw $50 or $100 worth of quarters at a time. Hell, I've even declared Wednesday laundry night. Fun! I've started looking on the bright side: Running up and down those stairs is exercise! Yaaaaaay! OK, I don't really feel that chipper about it, but sometimes a forced enthusiasm is key to accepting one's current reality. "Happiness takes strength!" cheers Tutu

The dryer stopped working about a week ago. Now, after one properly loaded and totally not overstuffed cycle, my clothes come out damp. Now, a full load requires eight quarters, good luck with the neighbors, 105 minutes in the machines, and overnight drying on a rack in my bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and wherever else I can hang the damn stuff. My apartment is now covered in wet rags. Have I mentioned our landlord hates to replace broken stuff and often insists on "fixing" things. Over and over again. Until you just stop complaining.


Right...that was forced.

Yup...still forced.

Happiness takes strength!

* This word just sounded right. I don't think it's used properly. But I'm guessing you catch my drift.


Urban Garden Update

It's been an eventful couple of months for my little garden on a deck here in San Francisco. July and August had unusually cold weather, on which I was very conveniently blaming certain of my failures in the garden. Looking back, however, I realize that my ignorance and impatience probably played the biggest role. We should start with the story of my favorite garden project, the Improved Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree that I bought back in March on a rainy day from Sloat Gardens.

In my last update, you'll remember the tree was full of blossoms, and its future looked very bright indeed. There were a few little green lemons, whose evolution I was jealously monitoring. Weeks passed, blossoms bloomed, and the little green lemons stayed little and green. Then many blossoms withered (which my cousin had prepared me for) while some grew into more fruit, yet the little green lemons still stayed little and green. And then most of the little green lemons started to wither and die.

This is when I started to really worry. I wondered if maybe our foggy summer was too much for the little tree (after all, aren't the famed citrus-growing regions of the world places like Florida and Orange County?). I decided to pull the tree into my kitchen and let it sit inside during the coldest days. Instinctively, this felt like the wrong thing to do, but I had to experiment. Nothing changed, except that I was worrying a lot more about the tree. I eventually went over to the Floorcraft garden store on Bayshore to browse the plants and ponder. I noticed that their Meyer Lemon trees sit in much a microclimate very similar to my own deck--windy, foggy, and on a street filled with loud traffic--and yet their trees had scrumptious medium-sized lemons (green like mine, but much bigger and healthier-looking).

So I had to ask Abby, who's very friendly and helpful in case you ever need some garden advice. First, I told her I'd brought the tree inside. She shook her head and said that was no good, mentioning something about photosynthesis and a plant's formidable will to survive. OK, I noted. But her next question was the most enlightening: "How many years have you had the tree?" I immediately realized that the life of a tree is measured not in weeks or months, but years. When she heard I'd only had my tree since March, she just laughed. "You won't see real fruit for the first year, and the first lemons your tree produces will be little and shriveled. But the next year..."

She didn't need to go on. I know exactly what happens the next year, and I'm really looking forward to it. So I invite you all over for lemonade, in the summer of 2007! For now, I give you two pictures of my little green lemons, which I expect to stay little, green, and utterly healthy for some time.

The other big garden lesson I had is that I'm nowhere near experienced enough to grow anything from seed. Remember how I planted nasturtiums, morning glories, daisies, alyssum, basil, and cilantro? Here's what I have now:

Notice you see geraniums, marigolds, lavender, and a tea rose plant? All plants I bought from professional gardeners to replace my seed-based plants that all pretty much much died. This is what my sad little herb garden looks like today:

I do have alyssum (seen below) that was also bought pre-grown from Abby:

Alas, I've started growing things from branches cut off of other healthy plants (like the geraniums and jade below):

But I know you're all really dying to know what's happening with the tomato plants! I won't picture them here, because it's really too sad. I'll just say that even in the middle of the city, aphids will find a way. We did harvest a couple salads worth of tomatos, though, and they were really tasty. Maybe next year we'll get one of those jars of ladybugs when we start the tomato plants.

In closing, I have my favorite assortment of all--the succulent Desert Delight. Now these are hardy plants: