Category Archives: Metaphysical Musings

On Wasting Time

Scroll to the bottom for a brief bio of Ira Aldridge, black Shakespearean actor in the first half of the 19th Century.

Ripening tomatoes

One night a couple of weeks ago it seemed briefly possible that I might get almost enough sleep. By ten-thirty I was upstairs, preparing for bed. Then, toothbrush in hand (in mouth, actually) I wandered over to my two potted tomato plants by the upstairs south window, and the jig was up.

Tom It seems sometimes that plants exert a gravitational force entirely out of proportion to their mass, and my winter tomatoes are the worst. If I get within range, I can orbit for an hour, peering at the undersides of leaves, squashing the occasional aphid, gnat or white fly; snipping off ragged leaves; checking for new growth; flicking blossoms to ensure that they pollinate despite the windless indoor conditions; deciding which suckers to pinch, which to welcome, and where to allow just the first leaf to grow, a policy that helps (I hope) to combat the attrition that gradually claims the older leaves.

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Transforming Black Friday

Jdimytai Damour NYT 11:29:08
Jdimytai Damour
NYT 11/29/08

There's been a lot of activity in the blogosphere in reaction to Jdimytai Damour's terrible death on Black Friday. Damour had been working at the Long-Island Wal-Mart for only a week or so when he was trampled to death by out-of-control shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. Amongst garden bloggers, Bamboo Geek, for instance, suggested that we “Dump the "Black Friday" Tradition." I wish we could, but that's probably too much to hope for, so here's a distant second best.

Imagine this: people outside big shopping outlets carrying signs that say, "Remember Jdimytai Damour" on Black Friday next year–and the year after—and the next. We could hand out black armbands to remind people to remember that man and to be kind to one another.

There’s a chance, just a chance, I think, that people wearing these bands, seeing them on other’s arms, would slow down a little, just enough to see one another’s faces, and in those faces, their shared humanity.

Is this possible? Can we do it?

August Singularity

Note: I've changed names here because I don't want to invade anyone's privacy.

Around eleven-thirty this morning, driving north towards the shopping mall where I had a meeting at Borders, I saw several signs of change: a new street-light at Dead Man’s Gulch, an aspen sporting yellow leaves, and a dusting of snow even on Baldy, the lowest of the Bridger Mountains. The snow was gone by the time I drove south again after completing my errands at PetSmart and Target, for by then the sun had reached the western side of the mountains, the side visible from town, but I knew it still lingered in north-facing crevices.

About two weeks ago Mary Jo Snelling summitted Mt. Cowen, in the Absarokas. Today she flew to a rehabilitation center in Denver specializing in spine and brain injuries, to learn how to live as a paraplegic. Her business partner, my friend Pat, dove at once into the task of trying to preserve Mary Jo's business so that when she returns she’ll find it intact and thriving.

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GTS: On the Nature of the Beautiful

Bean Blossoms


This can’t be the sort of bloom Carol of May Dream Gardens had in mind when she started the Green Thumb Sunday flower posts, but surely she’ll let this one go, given my most excellent excuse: after my garden, flowers and vegetables all, was taken down and out by hail a couple of weeks ago, a bean blossom—precursor of a bean—is a welcome sight indeed. It helps, of course, that they have practically no competition, as the hail stripped my delphinium, decimated my echinacea, and –but enough is enough.

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Post-Garden Post: Garden? What garden?

I wrote about the storm yesterday.

Front-page headline in the local paper today: "All Hail Breaks Loose." Trees and tree branches down all over town, power out, gardens ruined, flooding downtown,  etc. etc. etc. No news yet about how local farmers fared. That’ll probably be in tomorrow’s paper.


That green blot above was my mid-summer lettuce plot; it gets a couple of hours’ sun in the morning, then shade all day, so lettuce usually does well there right through August.

So I’m trying to get used to a world without a garden. Almost as a perverse exercise, I’m “looking on the bright side.” (Maybe I should try a limerick.)  This is not like me.

A confirmed and dedicated pessimist, I loved the poster a former dentist of mine had on his wall: it showed a damp and furious-looking kitten, with the caption, “Don’t tell ME to have a good day!” There’s a remarkable resemblance here to the meditative advice: sit with the emotion, whatever it is. I keep close to my heart the story about an African tribe that honored grief: instead of hurrying a widow through it, they provided the option of a second funeral if she felt the need a year after her husband’s death.

(Please don’t ask me which tribe; I don’t know. Which means the story could be apocryphal; most of us know so little about Africa that we could get away with almost anything by prefacing it with the words “There’s a tribe in Africa that—” I find this increasingly embarassing as I meet and become friends with more and more Africans.)

Nevertheless, here I am making lists of possible benefits to being garden-less.

There are the obvious ones–

  Think how much more time I’ll have!   

   There’s  plenty of space for fall crops!

–and the practical ones–

   I won’t have to water anything for at least a week. (Ooh–that one doesn’t really work, since there isn’t really much left to water.  Try again.)

   Good thing Steve’s brothers arrive tonight; I’ll have plenty of help with the clean-up! (Brace yourselves guys; I hope you brought your rakes.)

–the pseudo-practical ones–

   Look–the salad lettuce is pre-torn!

   There’s certainly lots of green stuff around for the compost heap!

   And it’s already mulched!

   Hey–all my trees have been trimmed–for free!

   At least I don’t have to figure out what to do with all that extra lettuce.

–the defensive ones–

 Now no one will know how late I was with my garden this year!

And then there are those that are clearly the products of a twisted mind:

   Wow, I sure seem cheerful–now we know my anti-depressant medication is working!

   The compost pile came through without a scratch!

   That trip in September? The one I almost didn’t want to go on, because it meant I’d miss the fall harvest? Well, now I won’t.

But my older son’s contribution is the best:

#1 Son: Well, it’s not everyone who gets to have the question of whether God really and truly hates them answered so clearly and definitively. No more wondering! No more questioning! That knowledge is priceless. You’re not writing that down, are you?

Me: No, never.

#1 Son: Well, you should. It’s better than anything you could come up with!

Ain’t it the truth. As my mother-in-law used to say, You gotta laugh.