Tactile indulgences in the garden

I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation — Phyllis Theroux

When I first read Theroux’s quote, I couldn’t help but think of the moment of conception where the sperm finally gets to fertilize the egg and it’s all downhill from there. The downhill part is a joke on my part. Sort of.

Anyway, I don’t think there is a way for a woman to know the exact moment she becomes pregnant. If there is a woman out there who knew the very second she got pregnant, then I congratulate her. But I highly doubt any woman is that sensitive to the goings-on of her own body on a microscopic level. I know I’m not.

However, I’m aware of the aches, pains and kinks my body experiences. I’m also aware of when something doesn’t feel or seems out of the norm. But that doesn’t exclude me from finding a bruise I can’t remember earning. I have this habit of bumping into and/or doing things that doesn’t make me go ‘ouch’ right away. It’s usually a day or two later when I’ll spot the bruise. Depending on the location of the bruise, I usually have a good idea on how it showed up.

If I’m unaware of how I earned, as an example, the little bruises on my legs, then how the fuck am I supposed to be ‘present’ at the moment of creation, the moment where the one silly sperm introduces himself to the egg and gets to work? Nobody’s that sensitive.

So, now that I got that ramble off my chest, I don’t think one of the reasons I garden is because it’s the closest I can come to being present at creation. I certainly don’t feel it in the scientific or religious/spiritual sense of the word. But if you equate growing stuff with creating stuff then I might buy the idea of being present at creation.

I can see a comparison between gardening and a creative endeavour like writing. A simple idea is all that it takes to want to nurture it and let it grow into something amazing. But I don’t think of writing as a plant. It’s not a natural inclination to regard the two in that way.

I like gardening because I like growing stuff. I like to keep busy with things that give me some form of pleasure. I’m a tactile person and running my fingers through the soil is one of many small pleasures I enjoy. Makes all the other unpleasant parts of life easier to tackle.

Gardening, especially vegetable gardening, is practical when it comes to living off the land. I like living off the land. No one in their right mind would prefer store-bought vegetables over fresh garden-grown.

There is a satisfaction in determining if my thumb will remain green for the upcoming growing season. Most of the time, I have a green thumb. Last year was a bit of downer. Too wet and not enough dry and warm/hot days to encourage vigorous growth.

This year, there are changes in my gardening endeavours. First, I will not be growing vegetables in the ground. I don’t see the point in feeding the neighbourhood wild bunnies that cut through the backyard on a regular basis. The furry little shit bags ate everything that shot out of the garden last year. No point in waging a losing battle. To be honest, the area set aside for the vegetable garden has slowly gotten smaller over the years. It is surrounded by lilac, raspberry, saskatoon and haskap bushes that are moving into the space. Their presence has transformed the area from full-sun to partial shade. I’m going to let them and the wild bunnies have the run of the area. I’ll probably see how the bushes take over the space this summer before I decide whether or not I should plant another bush or shrub in that area for next year.

The garden will now consist of the garden box and six large planter containers. I have seeds I picked up last week. Over this past weekend — for the price of a bag of starter soil which he will be used for next year’s batch of plants — an longtime friend generously offered me a selection of plants he started from seed a couple of months ago.

And there is a dogwood in another part of the yard that isn’t looking too happy right now. I let it grow wild for years and it has always done well. This year, the leaves haven’t completely grown in. Looks kinda sparse, to be honest. I’ll probably have to do a heavy cut and see if it can bounce back. If not, I’ll remove it at the end of the summer and set up another garden box in that spot for next year since that section of yard is in full-sun and I could take serious advantage of that location.

This season is will definitely be experimental. I’m excited about the plants that are sitting on the back porch waiting to go into the containers. However, the weather sucks balls right now. Forecasts of rain and cooler temperatures for the next couple of days. Bleh.

Guess I’ll have to wait until this weekend to indulge in my tactile pleasures.

The mess that is everything

What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications — Nora Ephron

It seems as I get older, I find myself walking down a path that is leading me towards opportunities to do what amounts to as my personal definition of ‘everything’. Everything I’ve wanted to do, everything I daydreamed about or never really considered doing because I never saw it as a real option.

That’s exciting. Occasionally, I find myself envying those who have found what makes them happy at an early age. I’m referring to people in their 20s or younger. They’re the ones who get to live the next 50 or 60 years pursuing and doing what they love. A lifetime of living the dream, as it were.

Every time I find myself envying those folks, I have to remind myself that my journey in this life is tailored specifically for me. There is a reason the opportunities I see in front of me (and the ones I can’t see just yet) are appearing now instead of 20 years ago. Everything that has come before is leading to now and the future. So, yeah, I’m excited where it could all lead to.

I still maintain the right to not reveal everything going in my life in this blog. I wouldn’t call it being mysterious. That’s a romantic notion. Romantic notions make me cringe. I call it being vague. I call it keeping it close to the vest. And some might accuse me of being a horrible tease. I prefer vague.

Ephron was right about doing everything and how it will be messy and complicated but you must embrace it and not shy away from it. Depending on what it is, it isn’t hard to embrace the mess and complicated nature of doing ‘everything’ or at least being prepared to do ‘everything’.

For me, the trick is to organize enough of the mess so that it can be somewhat managed. Or at least keep track of it. I’m used to a little chaos. There is always a way to ground yourself when you find yourself walking into a mess that you’ve created or is not entirely of your own doing.

Now, I’m finding my organizational/time management skills are being challenged because the nature of the mess is a little different than what I’m used to. Or it could be that it’s been that long since I had been challenged in that way. I’ll think about it later.

I suppose a follow-up question to this is ‘Would I be happier if everything wasn’t so damned messy?’ Answer: No. For me (and not everyone would agree), there is a fine line between less messy and boring. I don’t think there is a way to straddle that line comfortably. Either it’s one or the other. I consider messy being the lesser of the two evils.

Boring leads to nothing but trouble. Boring leads to a desire to get yourself into some sort of mess. And sometimes, you don’t get to choose that mess.

Does that mean I have a penchant for trouble? If I’m around certain individuals, yes. Other than that, I would have to say no, I don’t have a penchant for trouble. I just have an aversion to boredom. There’s a difference.

So, for the foreseeable future, boredom looks to be a passing ship in the night. Although, it won’t hesitate to come in to dock for short durations. I can’t tolerate stopovers for any extended length of time. The sooner boredom sets sail the better off I am. Good thing doing a whole lot of everything leaves no time for boredom… just time management issues. I can’t avoid that. Those issues are probably mandatory.

Oh well. That’s the price for doing everything.

Movie snacks, socks and stories to tell

Last week, I managed to find some time to watch four feature films. I didn’t watch them in the theatre, although, there is one I plan on grabbing some hot buttered popcorn for.

Watching movies at home is great. You don’t have to buy overpriced drinks and popcorn or nachos. Settling in with a gin and tonic or a tumbler of whiskey sounds like a good idea. But I do think having whiskey during movie night depends on what movie you’re planning on watching. I have yet to figure out kind of movie would be appropriate with the hard stuff.

However, I can think of a couple of actors who would go well with a shot or two of Lagavulin or Macallan. My mouth waters at the thought. Considering I haven’t found the right movie that goes with a good whiskey, I defaulted to a good herbal tea for the four films. Yes, that’s boring. No, I don’t care. Just know that when I bring out the whiskey, it will be for something special, something unique.

As for in-home movie snacks, I guess I could make my own popcorn. Unfortunately, I don’t have a popcorn popper. I could use one of my stainless steel pots to make the popcorn but then, I’d set off the smoke alarm and ruin a perfectly good pot. Not really interested in a hot air popcorn popper even though it’s considered the healthy alternative to using hot oil. And I’m ambivalent about microwaved popcorn.

Since I refuse to put in the work to make good theatre-worthy popcorn, snacks of choice would be mixed nuts or rice cakes with almond butter. That might be a little too healthy for some folks but that’s how my tastebuds roll. I had the rice cakes.

Screenwriting is always about what people say
or do, whereas good writing is about
a thought process or an abstract image
or an internal monologue, none of which
works on screen
— David Nicholls

Now that the discussion of in-home movie snacks has been dealt with, I’d like to say watching the four films was the first time I was consciously aware I was viewing the films as more than just as a person looking to be entertained by what was on the screen.

To be more specific, I was looking at lighting, the choice of camera angles and the type of camera shot. I practiced figuring out within the three-act story arc where act two and act three started. Not sure if I was all the successful. Yeah, I was getting nerdy.

Call it research. Call it learning. Call it absorbing everything like a sponge and reflecting on it.

And before I started watching the third film, I came up with another idea for another novel. Let’s just say the idea was inspired by one of the first two films I watched. A re-imagining, perhaps. Maybe more like a deconstruction? Anyway, it probably won’t look anything like the source of the inspiration after I’m done figuring out the characters and fine-tuning the storyline.

Considering I have two writing projects I need to focus on, coming up with another future project seems a little ambitious and is begging for trouble when it comes to time management. It’s probably safe to say that for a lot of writers, coming up with several story ideas that have enough traction to become novels or screenplays is something to relish and be grateful for. It offers the choice to work on a couple of ideas simultaneously or one by one — finish one project and start on the next.

When I started writing, I didn’t know if I had a story worthy of becoming a book inside me. Then, after I wrote The Raven Sonata, I didn’t know if there was another story tucked inside me that I could sink my teeth into. To continue to hone, to stretch and push, and to get more ambitious with my storytelling skillset.

It turns out I have more than one story to tell. It’s not like I have a ton of stories dying to be told. I have no idea how many stories I have and how many of them will end up on paper. And I don’t think I’m too concerned about that right now. Nevertheless, I’m surprised. Surprised that I like being a storyteller. Surprised that I’ve found the one thing that allows me to express myself in a way where I simply couldn’t give a fuck what anyone else says. And I’ll never stop being surprised by the tiny pile of story ideas I’ve acquired, all with not-fully developed characters, waiting to play with me.

I know I’m becoming more ambitious with the stories I want to tell. Being more ambitious requires figuring out how to execute those lofty goals a person has set for oneself. That’s where I am now. Complexity and simplicity have been ubiquitous qualities that have shaped all aspects of my life. So, why wouldn’t I have that enter my writing. It’s a matter of allowing the complexity and simplicity to flow and express itself in the written word. It’s not an easy process but the journey has been rewarding, so far.

Although my focus is on the second novel and the short film screenplay, it doesn’t stop me from thinking about the most recent idea. It will remain an idea that will incubate and grow on its own. I estimate working on the story arc for this new idea won’t happen until late summer/early fall unless something changes and I find myself scratching notes on file cards sooner than later.

It’s always exciting to come up with new story ideas that immediately grab hold of your imagination. All fun and games until you realize you have to prioritize. Either I reel in my imagination or pull up my socks and manage my time so I can get this pile of stuff done…

I guess I’ll pull up my socks.