Happy the Man
Monday, July 18, 2022
The world is full of magic things,
waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
W B Yeats
Maybe it's the simple accumulation of years. Maybe it's the Covid fog that has blanketed our typical daily lives with the confusing and the unexpected. Maybe it's the new myopic focus that comes along with the occasional ache or pain.
I no longer feel the urge to travel. In fact, I am perfectly content to stay at home. But this is a big change for me. Sure, I can point to a myriad of excuses- too expensive to fly, drive, stay; Covid worries; schedule cancellations, delays, crowds, crazy travelers. Oh, and who will keep the cat?
We've ended up living in the place I consider my top vacation destination. I am retired from a job I loved, so I am able to putter around doing the job I loved on a very personal scale while having none of the hard, hot, cold, frustrating, exhausting, confining tasks that go along with running an actual business. My adorable husband has almost retired, too. At any rate, we do have much more "quality time" together.
I spend a lot of time these days enjoying the sky, the water, the sky on the water. I relish every sunset or moonrise. I love the way the colors change from minute to minute, and the way those colors play on the water and the land beyond.
I can spend time watching my plants grow, especially when I have managed to select another one the deer don't like. Between the salt air and those deer, growing plants here can be quite a challenge. But I have enjoyed both the mental and physical trials, and I am ending up with quite a lovely garden.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
We must not cease from exploration.
And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began
and to know the place for the first time.
T S Elliot
Saturday, March 12, 2022
by William Shakespeare
It is a cold drizzly day today, but there's no doubt that spring is emerging. I just took a walk down the street and heard the call of Osprey for the first time since last fall. Soon the returning pair will be nesting again on the top of the next door neighbor's boat lift, carrying sticks and brush and whole branches back and forth in front of our windows. Their calls will be joined by those of seagulls on the boat house roof of the neighbor on the other side. Unlike the graceful Osprey, seagulls gather in large raucous groups for mating, with earsplitting catcalls followed by acrobatic intercourse with the chosen one. The lewd sounds are just beginning today. They will get longer and louder by the day.
After the long COVID two year winter, I have finally gotten back into propagation. I love rooting cuttings and I have been quite successful with some of the Salvias, Hypericums, Cestrum, Buddleia, Loropetalum. The deer don't eat those. Last fall I was determined to make more Amsonia hubrictii,
which seems to survive deer and salt water. That plant needs to be divided, or grown from seed. So I picked and cleaned seed for weeks, hoping to figure out the key to reliable germination. I tried cold damp in refrigerator, cold dry in refrigerator, sown outside, sown and kept in a plastic carton outside. Bonanza!! This year it all worked! I have thousands of seedlings now, and my work cut out for me.
Along those same propagation lines, as spring approaches, I fondly remember my long days at the nursery. I spent many hours transplanting rooted cuttings into cell packs, cell packs into quart pots, quart pots into gallons, gallons into 3 gallon. It wasn't rocket science, but it developed a certain rhythm and efficiency of motion. Almost as an echo of that tempo, I used to love to listen to baseball. The game has a deliberate pace; a calm approach; a cadence of the play by play. I've tuned into Bulldogs Baseball a few days this month when I've been outside, and it has been like a reunion with old friends- the walk up music, the nicknames, the corny announcer jokes, the crack of the bat, the call "over the wall".
Today the classic season's tug of war will play out. It is gray, windy, 70 degrees. After the coming rain and thunderstorms, it will be clear, windy and 26 degrees; one of those "winters" the southeast is famous for.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
I've been trying to spend more time and energy writing. After months of this, I am now beginning to see that the algebraic formula for this is x < or = 0, when x is defined as creative writing.
I have excelled at all sorts of other creativities. I have cooked up some genuinely excellent meals, and shared them enthusiastically with friends. I've done some fun and satisfying watercolors recently
I'll stay up late, wake up early, lean out windows, hike high, kneel low to get the shot I want.
Sometimes, it turns out to be just right. All the while, I continue mulling over and not getting anywhere with my writing
I have also been gardening up a storm, and have gotten back into propagating in a big way. As always, the work is hard and hot, but the rewards are both instant and ongoing.
When writing my blogs, I like to find little pieces of everyday life that strike me as worthy of a few words. I can usually put together a piece without too much trouble, then edit and edit and edit once I have the main pieces of the puzzle in place. I have had just such an idea from real life in my head for over ten years, but I wanted to write it as a longer piece "when I had time". I hoped that as I worked on it, I would figure out how to maneuver the pieces into a picture that made sense. But I am now bound to say, I am stuck.
You see, the story is a series of facts that send the plot very clearly into one direction- all generous, warm, kind, nourishing. Then out of nowhere, without a hint, absent any clue, it crashes into a crushingly abrupt and sad end. I've spent hours, days, weeks researching the main topics- Catholicism, the mortuary business, depression, family loyalties, care giving, retirement. I've talked to others who know the story in case they can turn over a few rocks hiding something. I can't find that "Aha" moment that explains it all.
I like things that make sense. I have taken the facts and turned them inside out to look for connections. I have approached them as if the end were the beginning. I've even considered whether I could make this a sci-fi story, with everything turning out of bounds and unnatural. Could I invent all sorts of psychological details to cram in that could make the bare bones flesh out correctly; could I change the main character to fit the outcome? None of these options worked. I need the plot, the character, the setting to pave the way to the end. But it was the end, after all, I could not reconcile.
I suppose I can say that I have learned something about telling a story, even as it remains untold. I have explored exercises that one might employ in such a composition. I've done the research, I've made outlines, I've manipulated the various parts of the story, written brief sketches. Now I have to do the hardest part- I have to acknowledge that this is a real life story I can't change. Every day I struggle with trying to make it different is a day I can't mourn and move on. So, here I am, back on the blog, conceding my loss and liberating my imagination. If all goes well, I can start soon on my short story idea exercises with a little more abandon, and with a little less load.