Poor Air Quality. Eek.

Last night I was supposed to meet a neighbor so I could dig up some of her flowers, but the meet didn’t surprise me that it didn’t happen — that’s simply how the entire day had gone.

I’d waited all morning for my mechanic to call to let me know he was on the way to pick up my car to fix the brakes. (Neither of us want me to be driving without brakes.) He finally called in the afternoon to tell me he had an emergency and would have to reschedule.

I’d waited for the appliance repair people to call me back about fixing my refrigerator, and they still haven’t. I talked to a woman who has been waiting for weeks for those same people to fix her stove, so I don’t expect my refrigerator to be fixed any time soon. I do have a couple of other numbers to call, but they are from way out of the area, so a service call would be prohibitively expensive, assuming they’d come at all. Since it looks as if this will be a long term wait, as is anything that needs to be done in this area, I’m working on clearing out my refrigerator. Even though most of the food left should be okay in 50 degrees (such as salad ingredients and duck eggs), I’d still like to make it as easy as possible if a repair person ever shows up. And to make it easy for me this summer if no one shows up. (The refrigerator works fine in the winter for some reason.)

And now I’m waiting for my gazebo to be finished, though who knows on that one. As I said, it’s very difficult getting anything done around here.

So, that’s why I wasn’t surprised my date with the neighbor’s plants didn’t materialize. It was just one of those days. To be honest, I’m okay with that. Yesterday was a terrible day to be outside with three different weather advisories going at the same time. Two were for wind and fire danger. One was for poor air quality. And yikes, was the air bad!

The accompanying photo was taken on what was actually a cloudless afternoon. Those muddy-looking clouds are smoke from the New Mexico fire being driven through here by the wind. Luckily, the air quality today isn’t nearly as bad, it so I was able to spend some time outside. And to give my lungs a rest.

The wind, unfortunately, was still terrible.

Tomorrow should be an even better day for air quality, so I’m planning on planting seeds. I’d already planted some, but with the wind and the low humidity (single digits) we’ve been having lately, it’s been almost impossible to keep the ground moist enough for seeds to sprout. Still, I figure if I do a small enough area, I should be able to keep it watered until the seedlings come up. Assuming, of course, the air remains clear enough for me to be outside, and the winds don’t blow away the seeds and their soil covering.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

To Seed or Not to Seed

Every Tuesday, for the past several weeks, has held the promise of more work done on my garage, and tomorrow is no different. The garage door is supposed to be delivered and the electricians are supposed to come to wire the garage as well as the contractor and his helpers to do more work on the trim. Perhaps they will all come as planned. Perhaps it will be just another Tuesday like all the rest.

Meantime, I’m left with the seeds of ideas about what to do with the yard once it is mine. For now, the yard is strewn with materials and piles of lumber scraps as well as the defunct carport, so there’s no use in doing anything such as planting seeds until it is all cleared out. Besides, once the garage is finished and the sidewalk from the back door of the house to the pedestrian door of the garage is built, many loads of dirt will need to be hauled in to even the ground from the house to the garage and all around the garage, especially where the old building used to be.

Then, of course, I will have decisions to make. To plant a ground cover or leave it as dirt is one such decision. I considered a clover yard because it’s a favorite of bees or maybe even a California poppy field, but I have noticed recently how much birds seem to like the bare ground. There must be insects or old seeds or something for them to eat that might not be available to them with a ground cover.

Another decision is what to do with all the old seeds I have — dozens and dozens of packets. I would have thought that seeds wouldn’t go bad — after all, corn has been grown from maize discovered in ancient pueblos — but so far, any of these seeds I have planted have turned out to be moribund. So now I wonder if I should take a risk and sow the seeds in the new earth when it arrives in case they decide to grow, but if they aren’t viable, all I will do is awaken whatever weeds might be in the dirt. I also can’t help thinking that as long as I don’t plant the seeds, there’s always the dream of someday having flowers, but if I plant the seeds, and they are dead, then there won’t be any flowers. And anyway, I’m not sure I want to waste the water on some sort of large-scale planting just yet.

So, to seed or not to seed? Such a conundrum!

But there’s no real need to decide just yet because, so far, Tuesday never seems to come.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.