Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Oleanders in Chacala

This is Marta, owner of Tres Mars restaurant in Chacala.
Usually she is smiling and laughing, but the minute the camera comes out
most Chacaleans become somber, instantly.

I love to peruse Garden Voices . It's the first thing I look at on the internet after I deal with my email. Today one gardener wrote about her struggles with her Oleander plant, and I thought, "How lucky I am, living in this climate." I have three small Oleander plants, originally bought from the vivero as one plant, but easily separated into three. And several starts (in water at the moment) from various Oleander plants around town.

This photo is of one of the Oleander bushes at the home of Aurora, my first landlady in Chacala, and a dear friend. The building behind the Oleander is called a bodega, or storage room. Orginally it was the home of Aurora, her husband Alberto, and there three small children. But now they have a new home and four rental units on that lot. And this building is now is the storehouse, and where the washing machine and laundry sink are located.

I love looking at the Oleander. The leaves remind me of olive tree leaves and those of bay leaves, although I doubt if they are related. And probably no one else sees any similarity. And, of course, these ones leave poisonous. Maybe that's what draws me to them.

Ten minutes later:
A couple of minutes ago I heard someone on the front patio. I quietly pulled back the bandana I have covering a small window next to where I compute. A stranger, a worker, was looking closely at one of the beautiful pink blossoms on one of the plants (maybe an azeala, but I don't think so). In fact, he was sniffing it.

I decided a guy smelling plant fragrances couldn't be too bad, and went around and opened the door and went outside. I live in a somewhat isolated house, and it would be hard for someone to hear me yell from the front patio if I was in trouble.

My anti-bad guy strategy is to lock the door behind me as I go outside to talk with strangers. Unless they look too scary. Then I either don't answer the door, or talk to whoever through the window screen and steel bars. That's actually only happened once. He turned out to be a Jehovah's Witness. At least that's what he told my neighbor, who also didn't open the door. Then, I say, "Un momento Juan, yo regresso" so the stranger will figure some guy is in the house.

It turned out this guy is a friend of Juan's, my neighbor in the bamboo stickhouse. He wanted to sell his two lots up in the hills behind this house. Way behind. I explained I wasn't the home owner, and didn't have any money. Of course, he didn't believe I don't have nay money, but he did leave.
Anyway. Yesterday I actually fertilized all the potted plants. I never have been a fertilizing person before, except with compost, but with pots I think it's hard to keep the soil fertile. Oh well.

I have been trying to "feed" the plants about once a month. I think it helps the plants who are in solitary confinement in their little pot prisons. I went outside this morning, expecting to see new blossoms everywhere, (just kidding) but everything looked the same, except for a gorgeous new Bird of Paradise. It doesn't look so gorgeous in this photo, but I still like it.

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