A Few Garden Thoughts, July

  • There is too much to do. So do what you see how to do. As you work, you’ll see how to do other things.
  • You’re working with roots, not leaves. The leaves are what’s stressful, they’re what you see, but they aren’t the real matter: push them aside and follow the stem, and where it touches the ground, feel around, grab the other stems rising up from the same point and pull, gently, until they come free roots and all. 
  • There is no wasted effort. If you are getting in the car to go run errands, but see a young weed without deep roots right there in arms reach and you have the few seconds it takes, reach down and pull it out. Things are now better than they were.
  • There’s a lot of stuff “to do” but mostly you just need to let things be. Water. Sun. Composted manure. Some basic maintenance to keep the bad actors away. That and time is all the garden needs. So help out and then let it be.
  • The Beav likes potatoes. I tried three sorts. But I didn’t hill them in time and they laid down. This doesn’t seem to bother them. I haven’t weeded enough and the grass is thick between the plants. This also doesn’t seem to bother them. Potato bugs have descended and I’ve tried to pull them off, have caught a lot of them in the first wave as they were mating, but I think I’ve lost this battle. They are going to be thick on the plants for the rest of summer whatever I do. (Because I won’t do chemical pesticide.) But this is okay. I’ve now seen how potatoes work and they are working fine this year despite the grass and bugs — they are tall and densely colored. When I plant next year’s potatoes next year, because I’ll plant them again, I’ll know better what to watch out for. So this year has been more than worthwhile.

A Home at the End of the World

Book I

Two young boys grow up together in Cleveland as best friends. One is dealing with the trauma of family members’ deaths. The other with an awakening gay sexuality. They smoke pot & drop acid (it’s the 70s) and have sweet, young sex.

Book II

The boys, now young men, reunite in New York after spending the early years of their adulthood apart. One has gone to school, come out, and become a journalist. He lives with his new best friend. The other has apprenticed as a baker, opened a restaurant that failed, and has come to New York to start over. They live exciting lives until the baker and the roommate began to have sex. The gay man flees.

Book III

The gay man’s father dies and the three go to the funeral. Back in New York they decide to form a family and buy a house in the country. They raise their child as three parents. Eventually they take in the gay man’s former lover who is dying of AIDS. The roommate leaves with their child, disappears. The two friends stay at the home together caring for the dying man. The book ends with the three of them standing naked in the freezing water of a lake under the beautiful sky.

I loved this book.

Butler: Themes Post-Exogenesis

Reading the Exogenesis series (DawnAdulthood RitesImago) I made a non-exhaustive list of themes running through Octavia Butler’s novels.

—–

  • Empathy, feeling what others feel, suffering through what you do to them in your own body.
  • Valorization of sexual pleasure, bisexuality, polygamy.
  • Privileging group, social unit over the individual without subsuming individuality or individual freedom; there’s no binary.
  • The ongoing threat of slavery, the ongoing threat of racism, especially the dangers presented by white people and white men, dangers that are entrenched enough to appear innate, biological.
  • The evolutionary threat (and dead end) posed by patriarchal masculinity, a dead-end that is named explicitly in the narration and played out explicitly in the narrative.
  • Inquisitive, intelligent, and empathetic (but always rational) women are the protagonists after the first Seed to Harvest novel.

—–

When I made this list, I’d read (but not necessarily logged) the Exogenesis series, Fledgling, and the Seed to Harvest series.

But now at this point, I’ve read everything Butler’s published except a bit of the short fiction. I’m not sure though what to write about what I’ve read.

Butler’s fiction is alarmingly topical and the clarity of her prose is simply overwhelming: it’s difficult to imagine how someone writes her sentences and then uses them to muster the narrative energy she brings to bear novel after novel. What I see clearly is that she makes structural choices vis-à-vis narration and point-of-view that enable a fluency and a diction that are spare and beautiful.

My take-away is that Butler is an extraordinarily talented and smart novelist.

Nus Masculins

A 1954 film by François Reichenbach restored and presented by the Cinémathèque française that I found through a blog post by José Arroyo. I can’t find a way to make the embed video link from the original site work, so you can watch it hosted by the Cinématheque here.

What Opening Looks Like

I’ve realized too late that it would have been cool to keep the Government’s various info sheets as they were released as a reminder of how restrictions changed over time for when the slow stages have congealed into a simpler memory of the “the Troubles.” Alas, I didn’t think of it in time.

In the spirit of “better late than never,” here’s what a late-stage guidelines info sheet looks like.

The Times of Crisis

The troubles move at their own times. There are waves of infection. There are also waves of reaction. They don’t however move together the way I’d expected. The virus continues its steady march but what we feel is mostly about what we’ve been feeling. The facts seem to have little to do with it.

Here things are opening up bit-by-slow-bit and seem to be under control. Yet my own reactions, while rooted here in Quebec, are also tied up in my worries about the situation in Florida and Georgia which (as I feared) is spiraling out of control.

Emotionally, this is a bit like standing with one foot on a dock and the other on a loose boat. It’s not the bit of stable ground that matters.

Required Viewing

Today’s thought: Ink Master and RuPaul’s Drag Race are, despite surface differences, the same show about the same subject. They should be watched together, side-by-side, one episode of one, then one episode of the other.