Thursday, February 1, 2007

Mine eyes have felt the glory of the Chloropicrin burn...

I was going to try to make a whooooole parody off of that, but I have not the power, today. So I'm just going to lay it out. Have patience: this will be long.

So, I have been gone for a few/several days, now. Dress rehearsal, concert, and then leaving the place because they were fumigating it (against our wills, I will remind). The place we stayed at, through the deep kindness of a friend of Chris's on campus, kept us warm and dry and allowed us to cook for ourselves, watch Babylon 5, and keep the cat in a safe, friendly, larger-than-his-office place while we were waiting for the fumes to leave our house, on the last day (had we been at a motel, we'd have been screwed--check out at 11, and hope they let us in before 5--charming!). It did not, however, have a phone, phone line, or internet--someone nearby had an unprotected network that we were able to catch for the first morning, but we suspect they were the ones who we saw move out that afternoon, leaving us internetless. Thus, my radio silence/near silence.

On to the fumes we had to wait on to clear:

So, apparently the company subcontracted to by Clark (Clark was the company who had actually sent someone to talk to us, who had seemed competent and sensitive, who was available for questioning, etc), which was not Clark at all (but Your Way Fumigation), gave the all clear around noon, tested the levels of the sulfuryl flouride (trade name: Vikane!™) and they were fine, etc. So, we were glad--we found out around 3, so we booked it over there, cleaned up the place we'd been staying at (forgot the frozen vanilla vodka and corn--but we'll go back for them), settled back in at home. I didn't feel comfortable about possible gas levels, yet, so I opened everything up again, to let more air blow through.

This is when I went out to check on my garden.

The representative from Clark had given me a warning of "one foot from the house." Because they'd need room for the sandbags. So, I moved my potted plants, my seeds, my potting soil, my gravel, my pots, everything, about a foot and a half to two feet from the house. I stretched the house away (couldn't get it unhooked) and set the mass of it some three feet from the house. Everything was away. I'd transplanted what I could from my garden that was that close to the house, and put up some of my garden stakes to give the rest of it a little border, as protection against stray feet, tent, etc. I moved the racks away from the house and fence, and tucked them at the edge of the patio. I left the grass clear, because this complex has people come through most Tuesdays to mow, and I thought they might still. I watered the dirt near the house within an inch of its life, because the gentleman from Clark had said that that should keep much of the Vikane™ from penetrating the soil, as it's not water soluble. (The big problem would be the sandbags, if there was vegetation in the way, he said. Not to worry too much, he said.)

So, imagine my compliant surprise when I came out to fine my nice away-from-the-house square separated, shoved out in two different directions. With most of the plants towards the house--and the dirt, the seeds, the pots, and the rocks--and the other half outside of it, the patio furniture on the lawn, and the hose disconnected. See, the house makes an inverted corner there, and rather than go in along the corner, they cut the diagonal across my patio. With most of my outdoor potted plants under the tent. With the gas that will kill bugs, mammals, plants, etc, and penetrate . . . everything, really, inclusive of medicinals and food, so it all had to be protected or moved out. Verily, a miracle technology, meant to be able to get into the pores of the wood to kill the poor buggy bastards (which I'd like to remind you, we had no signs of--it was one or two of the other units connected to us).

Well, apparently I'd watered most of it pretty well, because some of the wildflower brush survived (but the Columbines and chervil sharing a pot with them were dead as little whispy doornails). The (Corrected:)lisianthus (Echo Blue strain!) sort of made it, though it's looking a little. . . well, beige. A little of the cilantro looks okay. The snow pea plants were okay, though they looked funny. The shallots look all right. . . But the mint was a crispy brown dead brush.

. . . Now, hey: did you notice a theme to most of the plants that wound up under the tent?

Could it be "food"?

Well, the peas haven't grown on the plant, yet, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. But the cilantro? The shallots?

They poisoned my fucking food plants. And have put pesticides into my dirt. Though, Vikane™ is supposed to dissipate completely! Maybe it'll be okay!


All right, all right, you say. it's just a some cilantro and shallots and mint you're really losing. At least the garden's okay, right? The veggies? The mums?

Except that when they disconnected the hose, they threw it onto my fragile little vegetable plants. Not onto either of the spaces of open dirt next to it. Not onto the patio. Not onto the lawn. Onto my little rows of vegetable plants. All 20 feet and several pounds of hose. And they took more than a foot, with the sandbags, so there went more of the carrots and cilantro. And some of it was under a boot print. The little stakes were knocked over and crushed down so far that they were buried inside the dirt. And they apparently had some reason to heave another shovelful or so of dirt onto the little transplants (three feet away) that I'd tried to save from near the wall, because they were, little tops and all, completely buried. Oh: and they had to throw my mop bucket and more dirt at my just-barely-planted mums, too. And completely sever the one plant. And crush another of the others.

In short, my rosemary is unpoisoned. And the pot of snow peas that was fifteen feet from the house, and a little parsley (and some still more cilantro and a shallot.) Some more flower plants and one of the cacti seem to be relatively okay, and a few of the hardier clumps of mums.

But of all the food plants. Of all the root vegetables in the ground, and the herbs, I've got some leggy parsley and half of the peas I started with unscathed.

My kohl rabi is mangled probably beyond repair, but I suppose there's a chance for one of the heads. The chard is snapped and mashed. The tiny little carrots are crushed (maybe a few will make it..?). Maybe the mangled greens and lettuces will seed, maybe they won't.

But in even shorter short, they destroyed my garden. They destroyed my fucking garden. My localest of local food. My formerly pesticide free, home grown with love in season, food.

But it gets better! Really!

Remember the heading to this monster?

Well, we finally closed everything up, after we'd done various things and I'd called my mother to sniffle and bitch about my garden. We went to pick up Chinese food and sat down with the movie Capote. We turned on the heat, because it was 55˚F inside, from the windows being open and the wind blowing through.

After the movie ended, I reported conversationally to Chris (though it had been bothering me for about an hour): "Wow, my eyes really hurt."

". . . Mine, too," he says, suspiciously. ("Oh, really," I think.)

"Thinking what I'm thinking?" I say.

"I thought it was just the hot" (spicy) "food. . . " he says.

"I didn't have the spicy food, and mine are really angry," I says.

So we open back up the windows, and let the fan for the heat keep blowing. And as I look at the informational materials Clark gave us, and the paper Your Way Fumigation taped to our door, I see mention of the "Warning Agent"--Vikane™ is odorless/colorless/etc, you see, and will kill you horribly and instantly if you get a big lungful, so it's important to have something more immediately unpleasant to alert you to its presence, in case you get near it.

The warning agent in this case is chloropicrin. A tear gas. That is, a caustic agent that will make your eyes burn, and follow with your sinuses, upper respiratory system, and finally (with enough of it), your gastrointestinal system. So we look up chloropicrin, and find that it is also a pesticide. And that it IS water soluble. And that it is mostly a soil fimugant. So even if the sulfuryl flouride isn't in my dirt, the chloropicrin is. And the fuckers SAID NOTHING ABOUT THIS.

But more importantly, for the moment, the fucking chloropicrin is in my fucking eyes.

Our theory runs like this: As they opened up the place to air it out but didn't turn on the fan for the AC/heat, and as this stuff penetrates everything, some of it was left in the ducts. When we closed the place up and turned on the heat, the last vestiges of it were pushed out into the air with us. Hopefully it was just the tear gas poison rather than the swift and terrible death poison. And the tear gas poison will cause eye burning at terribly low levels--that is, levels at which it won't do you lasting damage, or cause your respiratory system to collapse, or cause vomiting and diarrhea and so forth. And at such low levels that if the swift and terrible death poison won't cause you a swift and terrible death. The early warning signs on the other are difficulty breathing and lightheadedness and strain of that sort, which--of course--I was experiencing, but I suspect that was just being so fucking stressed and so fucking upset and SO FUCKING READY FOR THIS TO BE OVER.

So. My eyes are still burning on and off, the next morning. Especially when the heat has just come on, and when I've gone more than an hour without flushing them out with water and putting drops in them.

I bet irritability is a sign of these things, too, just because irritability is a sign for everything. But it's also a sign for PMS (I hope that's part of this, anyway) and being fucking pissed off.

So. I will probably not be around today. We have no food, pretty much, so we need to go out for Big Market trip, so it's going to be the Big Modesto Trip, to hit Trader Joe's and BevMo and whatall. And I wouldn't be good company, anyway. Because my food plants, my babies (and I'm not going to hear any more criticism over being emotionally attached to them, okay? Please?), have been mangled and I have got poisons in my system and my eyes still fucking hurt.

P.S. I don't want to hear about me being neglectful, either. At least not today. Good natured razzing can resume next week.

UPDATE: Manager (sweet Candie) gave our number to the guy from Clark, who called us and was very nice, but.. confirmed that, yes: the tear gas can hang around. His advice: air it out some more. Aaaaaagh. He also wanted to set up an appointment for me with someone from the other company, so that they could go "look into" the damage, and asked about a dollar amount.

I'm like, ". . . ? I grew it all from seeds, it didn't hardly cost me anything, it's just. . ." . . . Gah, I don't want to have someone tromping back through it again. And I don't actually want any money. And I want to get it back together and heal it, not have to sit there with it. I've already started in on undoing this damage, what of it I can. I want to get my garden back together. I want them to be a little more fucking careful, in future. That's all.

Also, the Clark guy says to toss the food plants and seeds for food plants that were inside the tent. All of them. So. It's off to OSH, tomorrow.

I suppose I'll start clean. I feel officially defeated, so, it's up from here, eh? Feeling much better since the trip out and about. No longer irritated wth Every Human Being. Love to all.

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