The cat is in the way….

A short observation over here: Obsidious

What I refer to now as ‘the meadow garden’ was originally a lawn, chemically-maintained several times a year by the previous owner. I know this mostly from the mailers that I kept getting from the services that were hoping to continue those treatments, and from the amount of undisturbed soil several inches down when I started digging out garden beds.

From neighbors, I learned that two owners or so previous to me, the yard had been overgrown with volunteer cedars, yews, and ivy, which had to be removed before one of the sales went through. I don’t know why that was — maybe someone’s child got eaten by a tree?

Anyway, there was a LOT of lawn and I had no interest in having such a thing.

But where was I going to begin? I’d had a fairly shady garden….no, that doesn’t sound right. “I had a garden that had many mature trees and not much sun.” There we go.

And now there was this expanse of hammering light that needed something other than a chemically-enhanced monoculture. [One might note that chemically-enhanced monocultures are fraught with other problems].

Thus, the following plants were ordered:

  • Anchusa Dropmore
  • Achillea
  • Agastache [two types]
  • Asters [two types]
  • Sea holly
  • Arabis
  • Mums
  • Monarda
  • Phlox
  • Leptodermis
  • Russian Sage
  • Teucrium hyrcanicum

Of these, more than a decade later, the Asters, Monarda, and Phlox have weathered the many changes in placement, light, and soil quality. Soil was amended. Roses were in the wrong place, and now the right ones. Seasonal springs were tamed with multiple willows that created a shady area for hosta, persicaria, ferns, and hellebores.

Seedlings became full trees, with birds nesting and singing. A blank canvas of grass has been carved away, year by year, into multispecies islands with green pathways between them.

So while the world is a dumpster fire, the lilies bloom.

The previous post did a thing that blog entries often do — center the speaker or writer, then focus outward. I’m aware that the goal when talking or writing about Black Lives Matter and doing real advocacy is to center the voices of people not ordinarily heard.

So look and listen and learn, and we will keep working at it all. And I will still probably be here periodically being exasperated. But even that word includes the possibility of hope.

Per aspira ad astra…

Aspiration and Inspiration and Respiration….

I have little patience with word-processors at the moment, having used at least four different ones in the past three weeks. WordPress offers me “blocks” and I think perhaps kettling my text is not the sort of thing I want to do right now.

Barriers, blocks, hierarchies, conveniences, order, The Way Things Have Been… I am well tired of the lot, and I am not nearly as inconvenienced as the unnecessarily dead or the unjustly killed.

Lives of people lost to illness because those with power wanted nothing to be bigger than their own egos, certainly not a virus. Lives of black and brown peoples, of native peoples, of peoples ripped from their homes by profiteers, or chased from their homes by remarkably similar power grabs and hubris. Dozens of expediencies calcify into malice and people cannot breathe. Grenfell Tower burns. Covid-19 spreads. Traffic stops, sleeping in ones own bed, asking to be left alone, all turn deadly. The structures and choices that made these atrocities possible also made possible incredible comfort for others, and to think the things built that way will stand is, well,

Rotten, like the bottom of a wooden garden bed made from the wrong substance from the very beginning. There is no ‘fix’, there is just starting over, hopefully smarter. Hopefully in better concert with the local realities. Maybe just plain hopefully, which itself is a bit of an ask these days…

Lots of behaviors are creaking, cracking open under the weight of contradictions. And many more people seem able to see these things too, maybe because the revolution is going to be televised, or cell phone video’d or something that hasn’t hatched yet…?

I read a short essay recently by someone who said that he and his friends with guns were not going to intervene on behalf of people who say “Hey, look, you said you needed the weapons for when govt. became oppressive, and don’t you see some oppression going on here that is far more deadly than the horror of missed haircuts?”….because, in a nutshell, people had ‘mocked’ gun rights folks in the past for carrying. And my immediate thought was — You are telling me you can be deterred from your proclaimed mission so easily? You’re willing to tolerate the deaths of children and innocent bystanders over and over and OVER….but mockery is what will keep you home?


“I’m not going to confront oppression because that one time someone was laughing at me”


Let’s set aside that most people who want stricter gun laws are not laughing at the people who are sports hunters or target shooters. We’re not laughing at the mass shooters. We have asked, on many occasions, if there’s some other reason heavy weaponry should be in the hands of civilians, and we’ve been given official answers. But what we’ve seen is that the loudest of the gun rights arguments == We need these to protect the people from government’s lopsided power == evaporated somewhere between displays of selfishness during a pandemic and not showing up when peaceful protesters are getting bloodied in the streets. And THAT, that contradiction, is worthy of mockery.

May mighty forests arise from these ashes; may we tend them and defend them as they grow.


Family groups, and dogwalkers failing at social distancing, amble the wrong way up the alley, sometimes commenting about how there are trees here — it’s interesting how quickly that tells you people are roaming beyond their usual neighborhood boundaries.

The people we know from our street walk the other way down the alley, and are commenting about the leaves fledging out, or are those pussywillows lingering longer than usual.  They’d talk about the pollen on cars, too, except most of that has washed away in the rain.

The pollen in the air is a different matter, and the mold/fungal spores brought on by a warm snap.  The much hated Bradford Pears make throats itch and noses twitch — exactly what you don’t want if you are on guard for a horrible contagious lung infection for which symptoms have been only vaguely described….

How are you?

One of the concepts I always had difficulties getting across to undergraduates was the idea of opportunity costs — not how expensive something was in cash terms, but “If you are doing X, you are not doing Y.  What are the consequences or losses associated with not doing Y?”  Not everyone is immediately skilled at shifting between foreground and background, or positive/negative space.

Not doing “Y” could be any number of things.  Not clearing a desk. Not mowing the lawn.  Not paying attention to the news.  Not acting on what you know. All of these things have consequences, and some of those are less trivial than others.

Sometimes there are reasons you can connect the not-done actions to larger things, but not always. Not thinking about retirement because the world is on fire.  Not relaxing in a quiet moment because you’re already contrasting it with the chaos that seems just beyond the next news cycle. Not replacing worn linoleum because you don’t want to know what’s under there. Not discarding an old T-shirt because you’re still amused that it lasted longer than the job where you got it.

“Why are we focusing on what we aren’t doing?” demands a student. “What good is it to spend time listing out all the things we might be doing instead?”

“Because it reminds us that what we are doing is a choice.  It reminds us that there might be other options.  There might be a different way…”

Get a room….


Or, “Angels are canonically non-binary”


Nam nam fisk!