The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Building Rome Week 30 – Accepting Feedback

todoBuilding Rome is a weekly mini-challenge hosted by  Bradley Corbett over at Green Embers. The goal is to come up with some small, achievable goals for the week and work toward them. Each week has a theme: this week it’s Accepting Feedback. Make a goal this week to get honest feedback about some aspect of your life, work, hobby, or what have you!

How to participate: Make a post with your goals for the week and how well you did with the previous week’s goals! Link back to the challenge page. Visit other people who have linked or commented and cheer them on. 

I have to say that I’m lovin’ this accountability thing. I’m getting stuff done (sort of) and feeling good about it (more or less) and what’s not to love about that?

In the excuses department, I have been sleep deprived pretty much all week since the full moon triggered another bout of insomnia. Can’t blame the weather since it was nice and cool. As for number 8 below, I hate my vacuum cleaner.

My list of goals for last week:

  1. Transplant the cactus babies.
Aloe polyphylla - click through for Wikipedia

Aloe polyphylla – click through for Wikipedia

A couple of years ago, I was playing on Pinterest and came across this image of an aloe plant. Smitten, I was. Driven, I was, to click on through and lo and behold, I landed on an eBay site. Before I knew it, I had purchased some seeds. If I had known then what I know now, that is, the species is at risk due to over-harvesting, I might have thought twice.

I really did not think. I am not a houseplant sort of gal. Besides, adequate indoor lighting conditions are scarce in our house AND there’s Oscar. He has a taste for aloe.



The seeds arrived in short order. About half of the seeds germinated and grew to what you see here. Two are clearly more robust than the third, but given the rarity of the species, the little one remains in my so-called care.

They are now about two years old. As you can see, moss is growing on the surface of the soil. Plus the outside leaves are self-pruning due to contact with the pot and the cloche. The plants have been in this state for several months.

As you recall from last week’s exciting episode of Building Rome, I made an effort to locate potting soil in the back shed. Two words: mouse poop. So, I needed new soil. Which I ordered. I walked downtown to pick it up Thursday but I will advise you, that was a mistake. Unless you like to walk home carrying an extra five pounds of dead weight.

The spiraling habit is barely noticeable. The moss and dying leaves, however, are clearly evident.

The spiraling habit is barely noticeable. The moss and dying leaves, however, are clearly evident.

  1. Walk every day. This will remain a weekly BR goal.  I missed Monday and Friday and Sunday, but otherwise got in about 2 km the other days. This I want to improve upon.

  2. Eat home-made food. Eat out no more than twice.

  3. Wash the remaining windows in the kitchen. hahahahahahah yeah, no.
  4. Blog every day. I’m going to take this from the list, and hope it doesn’t backfire. It’s gone for a couple/three reasons. I’ve decided that it’s OK to not blog every single day. This is a hobby/nice to do thing for me. Not a job. Also, with the new gig as volunteer social media maven at FWIC, I need to allow time with that project. Besides, I’m too engaged with my blog and my friends here to worry about fading away. If my posting here drops off to less than 3 times a week, I’ll relist it as a “to do” item.
  5. Harvest thyme and oregano
Oregano in bloom

Oregano in bloom

Oregano Blossoms

Oregano Blossoms

I actually ran out of dried oregano over the winter. I had a lunch baggie full, and still used it up by March. This year, I want to make sure that doesn’t happen. One would think, judging from the number of deliberately planted and volunteer plants in every corner of the yard, I’d have an abundance of the stuff. You’d think. But a bug has been prospering just as vigorously as the oregano plants and leaving its mark. You can see the dark dots on the leaves in the photo above. It’s a challenge to find untouched or barely touched foliage. I refuse to use chemicals, but instead, I handpick insects – if I see them. But I’ve never laid eyes on the culprits. The same critter has decimated the hot pepper plants. Rather discouraging, but it comes with the territory. I think the hard winter might have killed off the creature higher up the food chain that would have otherwise kept this pest under control.

Update from my gardening pal in Elgin County – the red spots on the leaves of the oregano look an awful lot a fungus. She sent me a link to a very comprehensive document. It states Origanum plants are susceptible to a variety of fungal diseases. Rust fungi (Pucinnia sp.) causes circular spots on the leaves. So, there is STILL a fungus amoung us!

Voilà! Fait accompli.

Voilà! Fait accompli.

  1. Weed the interlocking brick patio
  2. Clean up the attic. More raucous laughter.
  3. Meditate daily on the Metta Prayer, focusing especially on the “May you love yourself completely” part. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing this when I walk. So if I don’t walk, I don’t think about it. This, too, shall remain a weekly goal.

My list of goals for this week:

  1. Walk every day.
  2. Eat home-made food. Eat well when travelling on the weekend.
  3. Meditate daily on the Metta Prayer, focusing especially on the “May you love yourself completely” part.
  4. Feeback: For the upcoming weekend trip… be aware of knee-jerk response to relationship issues.

Categories: Blog Blog Blog, Personal Growth

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27 replies

  1. Great stuff, Maggie: Amusing, thoughtful, lively and well-supported by excellent photos. xxx


  2. Thanks for #4 – that’s a good one for me to remember while we are travelling 🙂
    I need to remind myself to stop and think before I react!!


  3. Good work, Maggie! And it’s good to see you being kind to yourself, letting a few go and keeping things realistic. I like your aloe but it took TWO YEARS to get to that point?? Crikey.


    • Yes, thanks for noting that. I did cut way back on the list. The windows and the attic – who am I kidding? I’m not going to tackle them, so why even bother?

      Yes, it took two years for the aloes to reach this stage. It took something like 6 weeks for the seed to germinate! In it’s native land, the plant grows in humid and cool conditions in high elevations. Here, usually if it’s humid in Ontario, it’s also warm. If it’s cool, it’s dry. The aloes have been handicapped, I think. Funny enough, I just notice this morning that it is the smallest plant that best displays the spiral effect. Go figure.


  4. What beautiful aloe plants! I’m glad to hear you are being sensible about blogging. Sounds a good idea, making lists and ticking off. You always make your posts amusing. Thanks! 😀


  5. Well you are getting lots of stuff done! We need to buddy up on the exercise thing I think. (I will get that done today, I will). You reminded me, I need to go copy that prayer and memorize it. I keep forgetting to do that.


    • I’m getting stuff done, but you will note the list is considerably shorter this week. I’m cutting myself some slack! That said, I took myself out for my walk before it got too warm, so I broke the Monday curse!

      Go for it, Bradley! You can, I know it!


  6. You go girl! Glad to see things being crossed off your list. Stick to it. And don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. 😉


  7. My neighbor has a garden with pest problems. This year she tried something new and so far is thrilled. The plants are vigorous and the bugs are few. If I remember correctly, it’s one cup fish emulsion, one cup epson salts and one cup Miracle Gro, all mixed in 35 gallons of water. Let sit for two days till it stinks to high heavens and sprinkle your plants. We haven’t tried it yet, but we also haven’t had problems with bugs—YET!


    • Thanks, Pam – I may give that a try. Might. The high heavens part leaves me a bit tentative.

      My friend suggested that the issue may not be a bug but a fungus. I suppose I should get to work and actually ID the culprit.


  8. ‘hahahahah yeah no’ and ‘more raucous laughter’–this is why I miss you when you don’t post. No pressure, though. Seriously. I just read ’em again! Crack me up, Maggie. Oooh, you posted twice today! 🙂 🙂


    • LOL. I’m delighted you get me. Even the second time!

      You know, I don’t have cable, nor NetFlix. I might get to a movie once every couple of years. I am not exposed to cultural references. That is, none beyond the memes I see flying around on Pinterest and Facebook. So tell me, this “yeah, no” thing… where is it from? I did not invent it, but I’ll be darned if I can tell you how it came to be part of my vocabulary.


  9. If it rings your chimes, terrific ! – lists of things I must do has always terrified me, as I know perfectly well i will not (and probably never) complete ’em.
    You seem to be doing OK, Maggie – my compliments !


  10. I know nothing of cacti. My daughter has one, though. She waters it 5ml a month. Living and thriving since October. It’s called “Rosette.” I dunno. So when we put Rosette in a bigger pot, does she need that cactus soil?
    I’m glad I’m not involved in Building Rome. I’ve barely kept up with my life the last week, lol! Mine would be Fail, Fail, Fail!


    • Yeah, some weeks are best spent just keeping your head above water, yes?

      You know, I’m probably the wrong person to ask about house plants, but since you asked, here’s my take:

      Initially, I suspected that cactus soil is a marketing ploy to get me to pay extra for a “premium” blend. So I poo-poo’d the necessity of buying it. That and the fact that the local stores don’t keep it on the shelf. I made my own blend of standard potting soil and sand (for good drainage).

      That potting soil was rather old and had been exposed to mice, too. The pots were stored in the same shed – also exposed to the elements. In other words, not sterile. Probably why the moss grew on the surface of the soil.

      This time, I decided not to take any chances and forked over the $5.00 for a 5 litre bag o’ dirt. Special cactus dirt.

      So, if Rosette hold a special place in your daughter’s heart, I’d buy the special soil and put it in a sterile pot.


  11. I have some oregano, basil and tarragon in my herb garden – but I don’t know the first thing about harvesting them and saving them for the winter. As this is a handy skill to have for when the apocalypse hits, I would appreciate your advice.


    • Apparently the prime time to harvest herbs is just before the plant blossoms. In the morning is best since the volatile oils will not have evaporated. But me? I harvest when I remember to do it.

      Oregano I have first hand experience: snip the stems near the ground. Gather in a bunch and secure with an elastic or twist tie or what-have-you. Hang to dry. 3 – 4 weeks, give or take. They will be crispy when ready. Try to keep the herbs away from sunlight and damp. So this means away from windows and stove tops.

      Mine hang in the kitchen. I’ve been known to season batches of pasta sauce by holding the pan under the herbs and crumbling off what I need. But this is me being lazy. It makes a mess since as much hits the floor as hits the pan. Also, if you leave the herbs hanging as long as I do, dust and cat hair will gather.

      When the herb is good and crackling dry, remove the elastic or twist tie and separate the stems. You want to work on a clean smooth surface, maybe over newspaper. Gently crush the leaves, stripping them from the stems. Store the crumbled herb in a spice jar, or like me, in a baggie. Don’t forget to label.

      Basil I have not grown before this year. I intend to dry some similarly to oregano. That is, hang to dry then crumble. I think it can be frozen, too. I’ve done this with parsley, another “fleshy” herb. I collect the leaves then stuff ’em in a freezer bag, and I do mean stuff. Squeeze out any air that you can, and seal. Freeze. When it comes time to use, take your scissors and snip off the amount you need and return the bag to the freezer.

      I am not at all familiar with tarragon, but my guess is that it resembles oregano in habit, yes? Woody rather than fleshy like basil? So, I would hang to dry, etc.

      If hanging space is not an option, you can spread the herbs on a sheet on a floor or table top, but the risk here is of uneven drying. You will need to turn the bunches halfway through the drying process, I assume.



  1. Share Your World – 2014 Week 29 | The Zombies Ate My Brains

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