Seed Sharing Gone Bad

From our local paper today (not sure what accounts for the several-week delay on this news being reported; perhaps there was an attempted hush-up):

A spring party intended to be an opportunity for friends to exchange seeds landed one woman in the hospital after she ate some of the seeds.

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies were called at 12:10 a.m. March 22 to the 9300 block of East Woodview Drive. The 30-year-old homeowner told police she was hosting a spring solstice party where about 15 people got together to exchange seeds for planting in their gardens. The hostess said numerous types of seeds were in a party-style bag which each guest received.

As the partygoers socialized, someone noticed the 34-year-old victim take a handful of seeds out of her bag and swallow them. Police said others began telling the woman that it wasn’t a good idea to do that since some seeds are toxic. Other partygoers were able to learn that the woman had swallowed purple moonflower seeds. After a few minutes, the woman became intoxicated and began to fall unconscious.

When the deputy arrived, she found the victim was lying on the bathroom floor. According to the report, the woman appeared extremely intoxicated, was incoherent and appeared to be having hallucinations.

The best part:

Police said the woman kept picking at things on her shirt, the deputy’s clothing and out of the air that were not there. She was taken to Bloomington Hospital where she was treated and released.

According to the report, purple moonflower seeds are very toxic and can lead to coma or death.

This is hilarious b/c Sarah has actually been involved in some seed-sharing parties… Little did I suspect what kinds of danger and bad behavior can be involved in such illicit gatherings.  That “party-style bag” should’ve been a tip-off.

Recycling the World of Interiors


Sarah was coveting Matt and Miranda’s subscription to The World of Interiors.  This is a high-end, expensive (at least $100 for the year’s subscription) British design/decoration/architecture magazine.  The photography is beautiful and they somehow seem to avoid the typical design-porn cliches — it’s not just a sequence of rich person after rich person’s predictable homes.

Some articles:

His studio a fisherman’s carrelet on a jetty by the Aquitaine coast, artist Richard Texier draws inspiration from the ceaseless roll of the ocean. Catherine de Montalembert reports

The Spanish legation once used mirrors to signal the mainland from this Tangerine dream house now owned by a bohemian design duo. Marie-France Boyer enters their prism

Combining architectural salvage with subtle erotic details – from carnal curtain rails to titillating toile – Sam Roddick’s Hampstead home sins with originality

Sixteen scruffy sketchbooks filled with keenly observed watercolours of Indian life shed light on a widowed Edwardian adventurer – and the colonial mindset, say Annabel Freyberg

The magazine seems to take its name seriously in that it really does focus on “interiors,” rather broadly understood, including quirky spaces like the artist’s houseboat-studio.  Not really my thing, but I can appreciate it to a degree.  Anyway, the reason I’m blogging about it is Sarah’s innovatively thrifty means of consuming it.  Miranda mailed her the entire 2008 run, all twelve issues.  She allowed herself to read January and put the rest of the top of a high shelf.  On Feb. 1 she took down February 2008.  So, barring weakness of will, she’ll go through the year like that.  Pretty clever, although these magazines are heavy so it was probably somewhat expensive for Miranda to mail them (but hey, that was on her dime — just kidding, Miranda, we appreciate it).

Of course, Sarah’s design schemes for our house will be a year out of date, but I suspect that for us that would be a big step up.

New Wall Project

Sarah is working on a major project — rebuilding the wall adjoining our front driveway. It looked very picturesque, covered with ivy, but sagging & bulging all over.  When we pulled the ivy off we realized that it was in mid-collapse.  This is a classic D.I.Y./ My Wife Does it Herself project in that I have had very little to do with it.  Depending on her mood, Sarah is resigned or mildly irritated about this.  I did carry some heavy stones on several occasions, I’ll say in my defense.

Sarah did a lot of research on the mechanics and hydraulics, etc., of supporting walls in preparation, but she is not truly doing it herself — she now has Jack and his assistant Hunter on the project, but she has so far worked side by side with them the entire time.  They spent all day Wednesday on it and one other afternoon.  Sarah pressed them to set a dollar amount on the value of her labor.  “Admit it, would I be the $10 per hour guy?” she asked and they assured her, “no, no, you’d be the $12/hour guy.”  She felt OK about that — still on the bottom of the pay scale, but respectable.

The one thing Sarah is regretting so far is that she realized too late that they had probably already destroyed the chipmunk home.  We have this chipmunk Chippy who is hanging out in the driveway 75% of the time and had some kind of lair in the rock wall which has now obviously been obliterated.  But we are hoping that he’ll have time this Fall to figure out some new arrangement.


We are practicing Hugelkultur — we are hugerkulturists. Our garden is hugelkultural. Actually I don’t know much about it, it’s Sarah’s doing. Hugelkultur is a kind of ‘permaculture’ (‘agro-ecological design theory’) that is basically all about using wood as compost. So, as I quipped, someday our descendents will enjoy rich, fertile soil. No, apparently it can work relatively quickly.

Sarah’s explanation: “you make a pile of sticks and dump dirt on top of it, and plant on that. The twigs rot and release nutrients. Also, the area with the twigs acts as a big sponge.” Our whole back yard can become somewhat sponge-like (see previous post about the flood) so moisture-management is important.

You can also see that we made a stone barrier for our vegetable garden — these were stones we found buried in the ground, presumably left over from some older garden. This is where I came in, doing some garden-golem labor. The beans have started to come up.

One effect of our hugelkultural mindset: Sarah now is always looking for promising sticks to steal from peoples’ front yards. She’s previously done this with bags of leaves — in our old neighborhood she used to drive around filling the van with peoples’ bags of yard waste to use as compost. But now sticks too have emerged as valuable garden fodder. Hugelkultur is, according to Wikipedia, also called ‘Magic’ Mound Composting.

That’s Iris with a wiffle-ball bat in the hugelkultur area. Celie took the middle photo.

Cleaning gutters

We cleaned our gutters for the first time ever. We never did it in the house we lived in from 2001-2007, and I’m a bit unclear on whether there was some reason we didn’t have to. We’ve been here for almost a year, since June, and had never done it here either. The gutters were packed full with thick, sludgy, stinky composty leaves. You had to dig in and pull the gunk out by the handful. How many of our family does it take to clean the gutters? Four: one to climb the ladder and pull out the leaves, one to hold the ladder and lift up the bucket, and two four-year-olds on Bucket Brigade to run the bucket to one of our several garden-waste enclosures around the yard. The Bucket Brigade was initially enthusiastic, then Iris’s interest flagged (she started delegating to Celie more than working), and Celie’s soon after.

Sarah climbed on the roof but it was too scary to get onto the top level. She wants to ask Jack to install a little handle thing to facilitate safe climbing onto the top.

It rained all the next day and it was satisfying to hear the exotic sound of water flowing down the gutters.