The retreat I helped plan this past weekend was a great success. It started on Thursday evening, ended on Sunday morning, and was jam-packed with activities. We got up before sunrise and didn't go to bed until long after dark. The weather was beautiful. We were able to some of the activities outside, under sunny skies with a few puffy white clouds. During breaks, it wasn't uncommon to see women strolling the grounds.
The retreat center we were at used to be a school for men studying to be religious brothers. The dormitory building is old, with thick walls and beautifully-worn hardwood floors. Each bedroom was large enough to hold a single-sized bed, upholstered chair, small desk, and sink. There was a closet off to one side, and a radiator under the window. The communal shower and bathroom facilities (one for each floor) were clean, but the water pressure wasn't as strong as what I'm used to at home, and I had a hard time regulating the temperature of my showers. There were also quite a few other women that needed to use them in the morning, so all my showers were hurried affairs.
I had my phone turned off all weekend. When I turned it on Sunday morning, there was a message from my boss asking if I could work Monday afternoon (starting at 2:00) instead of my usual morning shift. I was thrilled, because that would allow me to sleep in after the busy weekend. When I woke up this morning, it was wonderful to use my own bathroom. I stood in the shower for quite some, letting the warm (not too hot, not too cold) water beat down on my back as I planned my day.
This morning I put the garden to bed for the year. Vegetables like the tomatoes and peppers I'm growing don't tolerate cold weather, and our warm temperatures are coming to an end. Yesterday we had most of the windows in the house open, and it was nice enough to wear shorts in the afternoon. Later in the week, the lows will be in the upper 30s. Tomorrow is trash day, and one of the trucks that come through the neighborhood picks up yard waste, so I could pull up the plants and immediately get rid of them. I carried the "green" trash can out to the back yard and got started.
This summer I planted three pepper plants and four tomato plants. Over the months, they'd grown and become intertwined and morphed into a tangled mass of plant, so I started by removing the larger stems from each plant, removing the fruit and putting it in a bucket. As each individual plant was revealed, I pulled it out and added it to the can.
Next, I removed the weeds that had sprouted underneath the tangle of plants and next to the chicken wire fence that protected the garden. They got tossed into the trash can, too. The last job was to pull out the stakes that held the chicken wire surrounding the small plot. I wound the wire around the stakes so it would be ready to use again next year, then carried everything to the garage.
When I came inside, I washed the vegetables and spread them on a towel to dry. The bruised or blemished fruits went into the "broth bag" I keep in the freezer that holds odds and ends I save to make broth. Everything else got poured into a five quart bowl (and filled it to the brim). The majority of the tomatoes were of the cherry and grape varieties, although there were a few standard-sized ones. There were also a half dozen sweet green peppers and an equal number of hot ones. I'll decide what to do with all my bounty tomorrow.