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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Been a while

Apparently my perfectionism gets in the way of my blogging. Uploading photos takes a while and it annoys me. So I figured just start writing and if I get around to it I'll upload pictures. Well, it's been since January, so let me catch you up. I started college again after a 30 year gap, just one class, but still a big deal. I'm taking a class on plant tissue culture, the micro-propagation of plants in test tubes. It was great fun, but did take a lot of time, got an 'A', but two more classes to go to get a certification from the college. It's the first time I've lived in a city where there's a 4 year university with a degree in horticulture, San Diego has none. Just recently went over my transcripts with my adviser, still good from 1982, and everything went through, and it looks like it will take about 3 full time semesters to graduate and get a B.S. I'm considering full time school and doing it, but it is costly, way more than in 1983. Still I'd like to do it for me. Drugs and alcohol really did a number on me back then, (even so had a 3.9 and was on the dean's list), but I've been clean and sober since 1987, so it does kind of feel like a circle that would be nice to complete. I know it won't make a difference in my pay or even knowledge really, 30 plus years of experience goes a long way. I feel like I could teach a lot of these courses, and maybe I will after I graduate.
I also turned 50 in March, and that strangely was a bigger deal than I was expecting. Fifty just doesn't fit with my brain, I guess I just had a different idea of what fifty would be, but given the unconventional choices I've made in my life, where else would I be.
Sadly my oldest dog (only 9) Thai died very suddenly a week before my birthday, he had a run in with one of the very poisonous buffo or cane toads common here in Hawaii, it happened overnight, and there's no 24 hr vet on this side of the island. The symptoms weren't very clear at first and by the time it progressed it was too late. I held him in my arms all night but his heart stopped 3 hours before the vet opened the next day. Andy and I felt very helpless, and I was mad with myself for not realizing just how toxic the toads were, I'm now an expert. The poison can be fatal for animals 20 lbs and under, and rat terriers are particularly sensitive. If there had been a vet available, I think we might have saved him, but I just don't know. We buried him out in the garden under a special tree. I still think of him everyday and miss him a lot, he was a really good dog. Tallow, the rat terrier left, is surprising better as a solo dog, he had lots of attention issues and now he's the center of attention and completely spoiled. Having his unconditional love made this much easier for us to get through. It's really made me aware of just how fragile life is, and how we should always make the most out of every day.
Basically we've both been working a lot, Andy with two part time jobs, and me landscaping and selling plants. This spring I didn't propagate much, I was so busy working and going to school, then this summer I really made an effort to get the certified mail order nursery going. It was a lot of work and cost, I had to clear an area, grade it, top dress it with lots and lots of base material, like 32 tons worth. Then, I built the tables, a separate mist area and potting area, all conforming to the regulations required by the state of Hawaii. No plants can be in the area for the initial inspection. We got our inspection, passed, but now had to grow the plants to sell. With very specific guidelines, I am doing just that, many many plants.
So the next thing was to get the website up and running. I have three, one for me with my name, my old one www.tompiergrossi.com, my landscape one www.kalolilandscape.com and the nursery www.vintagegreenfarms.com. So this summer I taught myself Dreamweaver a web design program, to learn how to do this myself, my friend Kurt did my old site. I finally got www.tompiergrossi.com up and running with my new content, it's very simple but is a good start. It basically acts as a pointer to the other sites, and I'll eventually add more to it, I just uploaded a list of all the plants we're growing here, over 1,000 taxa.
The landscape site I did on the mac with iweb, I also had to learn that, I really like that site, it has lots of info and pictures of jobs. Now I'm working on the store, adding plants to the availability, time consuming but exciting because this I really want to work. The basic site for Vintage Green Farms was done on the mac, but I'm going to build a new one with dreamweaver, it will work better for what I want to do. The store itself is in shopify, an online template program, they deal with the shopping cart and all that stuff I don't want to deal with. I want to focus on plants of course. I'll add a link from the VGF site soon, when I have more plants uploaded.
I've added another farmers market to my schedule, so now in addition to selling plants at the Maku'u Farmers Market on Sundays, I'm doing the Waimea Town Market on Sundays, it's quite a drive, an hour and a half, but the people are great, and they buy a lot of plants. It also feels good to be cool for a change, it's at 2,500 ft, although it's also really windy.
I'm still getting used to being warm all the time, but it is great for the plants. Andy ordered some different salvia seeds to try, most have done well, a few definitely don't like the heat, but that's how you learn. I'm more surprised by the number of non-tropical plant that are growing great here.