Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When in Doubt, Dig Compost

So much going on in the world right now and I am doing my darndest to ignore it all.  If it weren't for Arun, the World Cup wouldn't even be a blip on my radar.  If it weren't for Art, I would know nothing about Sarko's latest travails. And if it weren't for James, I wouldn't have a ticket to go see Garrison Keillor (The Prairie Home Companion) at the American Church in Paris this fall.  My thanks to all these fine gentlemen for keeping me moderately well-informed.

So what have I been doing?  Last week I had houseguests from Oregon Country and we went to my favorite place in Versailles, le Potager du Roi (The King's Kitchen Garden).  I go several times a year because whenever I get confused about how to prune my espaliered fruit trees, I head over there, take pictures and then just do what they did.

After the houseguests left, I moped around the house a bit and then summoned up enough energy to go out into the garden and start hacking away.  And when I hit the back perennial bed I realized that I could close my eyes, follow my nose, and find my compost pile.  A little too much kitchen waste, not enough twigs and other "brown" items, and I couldn't remember when I had last aerated it. So the pile had turned into an odiferous mountain of slimy waste.

Now the compost bin was a freebie from the city of Versailles and I only got it after I went to compost class and then signed in blood swearing on my firstborn that I would dutifully follow correct composting procedure lest the compost cops come and take my bin away.  From the odor I was definitely non-compliant with the rules and regs and it seemed like a fine project for a lazy summer morning.  So I grabbed my shovel and my gloves and happily spread half-finished compost around my flower beds.  (Not around the veggies, mind you, because that's a good way to make you and your entire household very very sick.)  It was so bad that when I finished I had to soak my gloves in bleach.

It was a very satisfying project, however.  Nothing like letting something get very bad and then marching in and making it right.  Makes one feel positively heroic.  I'm sure there is a life lesson in there but not one I think anyone should emulate.  And I really should know better, too.

After getting that done (and feeling mighty virtuous, I assure you) I deliberately ignored the ongoing Flophouse painting project (it's coming along and winter is months away, right?) and instead decided to grab some titles from my to-read list.

As always, it's a completely undisclipined mish-mash of this and that.  The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman was quite good.  It's a bodice-ripper but it's a really good one and I liked it so much that I picked up another that she wrote under a pen name called The Mistress of the Art of Death - a mystery set in 12th century England.   I finally got around to cracking open a very popular Urban Fantasy series called The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  It's a Harry Potter meets [insert favorite fictional private investigator here] mystery series.  It's a hoot.  His fans on Goodreads often quote this bit of dialogue and I offer it to you here to give you a taste of his style:
"We are not going to die."
Butters stared up at me, pale, his eyes terrified. "We're not?"
"No. And do you know why?" He shook his head. "Because Thomas is too pretty to die. And because I'm too stubborn to die." I hauled on the shirt even harder. "And most of all because tomorrow is Oktoberfest, Butters, and polka will never die."
On the non-fiction side I managed to get all the way through Ken Devos' Factors Influencing Individual Taxpayer Compliance Behaviour.  Not a scintillating read but it has a damn fine bibliography and summaries of different studies in different eras - many from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).  Interesting to note that some of the research suggests a positive correlation between religiosity and tax compliance. So maybe the Tax Justice people should invite all the tax evaders to a "Come to [insert preferred deity here]" meeting.  Just a thought and it's not any wackier then some of the ideas I've heard lately.

I've saved the best for last -  Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot.  I went through this one in my e-reader and I was highlighting and taking notes the entire time.  Really fine book.  It's on my "to re-read" list but before I crack it open again, I am going to dig deeper into the history of Haiti - something I realized I know nothing about which kind of confirms part of his thesis, doesn't it?  Reminds me of what an acquaintance told me about Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging).  It's not the just the flowers, he said.  It's the spaces between the leaves.

I need to get washed up - I still have compost under my nails and how it got there in spite of the gloves, I cannot say -  and head over to church so I will stop here and leave you with one (just one) quotation from Mr. Trouillot:
Hard facts are no more frightening than darkness. You can play with them if you are with friends. They are scary only if you read them alone.

4 comments:

Blaze said...


“The ground's generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty! Try to be more like the ground.”

-Rumi (Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. 1207-1273)

Catherine said...

That polka quote is great. Sounds like another book for my library list :)

Ellen said...

They didn't offer a compost class in Nogent. They should have. I'm definitely not a good composter. Like you, not enough dry matter.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Blaze, Great quotation!

@Catherine, It's a fun series but I'm slowing down at book #7. Another I recommend is The Sunne in Splendor by Penman. Long but worth it. Really beautiful book.

@Ellen, Here's something I'm trying: paper and cardboard. Supposedly that's perfectly good "brown". I'm also trying something called sheet or lasagne composting for the excess kitchen waste. It goes directly into the bed you are trying to improve and it uses layers of "green" stuff and newspaper. I'm trying it on some flower beds I have that are so stony and depleted that I figure it couldn't possibly hurt and might do some good. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/layer-compost-lasagna-style-no-till-gardening