I’ve been working in my garden a lot lately. Not vegetables. No, it’s plants of all types – a mature perennial garden. Hosta, lilies, astilbe, coral bells, sedum, fern. Lots of fern. Way too much fern. And a lot of plants that only my wife knows their name. It’s a lot of work.

Every year I’m impressed anew at the rapid rate of weed proliferation, By the time I know what’s coming back from the previous cold winter, the weeds have already taken over. It’s always too late for prevention, so I focus on remediation.

My back gets tired and I get achy from being hunched over, or on my knees, or hauling bags of mulch, but there is something zen for me about working the dirt. I get filthy, caked in mud, pounds of dirt under my fingernails. A dirty spectacle for sure, covered with grit and grime and sweat.

It all can be so overwhelming. My yard is not that big, but even so, looking at the vast proliferation of thistle, and creeping charlie, and those stupid little maple trees, and fern – too much fern – and other things that I otherwise like, but have migrated to places I don’t like, taking this all in together can be overwhelming and paralyzing. I have this desire to fix it. All of it, quickly. But I can’t. It’s too much. It’s not possible.

So I break the pieces down. I’m going to focus on this little chunk of the yard today. This chunk is going to look great, even if the one next to it does not. Maybe I’ll work on that one tomorrow if I’m not too tired. Seeing a small chunk completed makes me happy, and temporarily satisfied, even as I consider the enormity of what remains. Maybe, eventually, I’ll get to all of the pieces, maybe I won’t, but today there has been progress.

As I work the dirt, breaking it up in my hands, digging, burying, trimming, redistributing, I think about things. Lots of things. It’s quiet around me, but within, not at all. These things just keep rolling through my head. My older son, trying to launch as an adult, struggling with his mental health over the last six months. It’s been so hard to watch, and to feel so powerless and to feel so scared. I think he’s coming out the other side. The new job helps, and his new girlfriend. We see a lot more of the old him these days. It’s trending well.

My younger son – lovely, kind, and decent. A joy to be around. But ordinary things are frequently so difficult for him. What does the future hold for him? Everything in his life so far has cut a new path, one not well walked by others. Maybe it’ll all be fine. I’m sure it will all be fine.

My wife, things are changing for us, you know? After 30 years together, we’re heading into new space, as we have other times in the history if us. We’re evolving and changing and maturing as individuals, and sometimes our marriage gets dragged along for the ride. Where will it go? How will the story turn out? I don’t really know, but I’m preparing for the journey.

I sometimes think about John and Barb, my old friends, from whose own garden I drew so much inspiration. Mine will never be as nice as that one, but I’m trying. Maybe mine is just different. Maybe it doesn’t need to be that nice.

There’s my job, my relationships, obligations, problems I need to address, repair, prioritize. So many things to do. So many things I can’t control. So big is all of this, so wide and vast. So daunting. It’s too much, when you look at all of it, and I don’t know how I’ll possibly take it all on.

So I work the dirt in front of me, on my hands and knees, with my little hand trowel, with sweat dripping down on the leaves, breaking it up the soil in my hands, digging, burying, trimming, redistributing. I just need to get this little 10×10 chunk of earth right. That is my goal for today, to fix just this spot right here.

But there’s this thing that happens, every once in a while. Sometimes, if I allow myself such a moment of zen, I look up and look around at this vast, uneven, ever-evolving, partially groomed garden, and what I see is something amazing, and glorious, and perfect.

It Is Accomplished

The Dish


As Gandhi never quite said,

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.

I remember one of the first TV debates I had on the then-strange question of civil marriage for gay couples. It was Crossfire, as I recall, and Gary Bauer’s response to my rather earnest argument after my TNR cover-story on the matter was laughter. “This is the loopiest idea ever to come down the pike,” he joked. “Why are we even discussing it?”

Those were isolating  days. A young fellow named Evan Wolfson who had written a dissertation on the subject in 1983 got in touch, and the world immediately felt less lonely. Then a breakthrough in Hawaii, where the state supreme court ruled for marriage equality on gender equality grounds. No gay group had agreed to support the case, which was regarded at best as hopeless and at…

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Reblog: Robin Williams, RIP, Ctd

A very funny bit.

The Dish

by Dish Staff

Some immediate reaction from Twitter, including many clips of Williams’ greatest moments, here. Several more clips after the jump. A reader writes a moving eulogy:

I’m sure that I’m just one of many Dishheads writing in about the horribly sad death of Robin Williams. I’m a child of the ’90s, and he was a constant fixture of my cultural world through childhood and into adulthood. Not only was he a genuine comedic genius – his bit on the invention of golf [seen above] was legendary long before today, as was his 2001 appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, to name a few drops in the bucket. But his joy, sincerity and warmth of personality left a mark that I am now surprised to find was so deep.

He was consistently open about his struggles with depression, addiction and alcoholism, and it sucks that some combination of those demons managed…

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Reblog: I’m Sad But, You Don’t Have To Be

A good article from The Dish.

The Dish

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Yesterday Robin Williams died, seemingly from suicide. Scrolling through Facebook a few hours after the news broke, I found myself in a sea of RIP and this is so sad! and other, lengthier expressions of mourning for the beloved actor. One update stood out, from a friend of a friend. After acknowledging that it may sound cold, she wrote:

I just want to put it out there that it is also ok not to have any feelings when something bad happens to a celebrity.

This was met with initial, emphatic approval from a few, quickly followed by admonitions. Didn’t she get the memo that we were all supposed to be using this as a PSA about mental health? They bet she wouldn’t be singing this tune if she or someone she knew had suffered from depression!Las Vegas Hosts International Consumer Electronics Show

Now there’s nothing wrong with using the surprising (apparent) suicide of a surface-happy…

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People That Need To Go, v2: Morrissey

I was never a fan of The Smiths, so I don’t have a deep well of loving musical memories to buffer my assessment of Morrissey.  My message to you, sir, is that We Get It.  We get the fact that you believe that eating meat is a horrifying thing.  You even wrote one or two songs on the topic to reinforce your point, as I recall.  Yes, your point has been made.  We understand. 

You are a beautifully bleak, dark, and tortured soul.  Here is some proof.  I guess it is a natural thing for people which such passionate beliefs, on whatever topic they may be, to be completely obnoxious asses about it.  I suppose he feels he need to personally advocate for the animals, because no one else is.  I’m not even sure I disagree with you on the particulars of this topic, though I am a confirmed omnivore.  Animals are treated badly.  But, you don’t change hearts and minds by telling people that if they like meat so much, they should eat their own children.

Morrissey: ‘Eating animals is just the same as paedophilia, rape and murder

We only hear from you when you dispel yet another rumor of a Smiths reunion, or when you pop up in the news once in a while to spew some crazy.  I guess you just enjoy the attention, but shut up already.  Good grief.