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Time pirates and inherited gardens

May 29, 2008

This is not my garden.

Certain things in life are clearly placed in my path to drain time, chronically frustrate, and utterly thwart. The top three at this instant are computers, cell phones, and gardens. And I find that technology, pitched as a boon that makes life easier and more convenient, is definitely more difficult to set in order than things of the earth.

Unquestionably, my computer has saved me countless hours. I can research anything and find millionth-hand answers in seconds. It’s so handy to know, for instance, some tidy fact about Max Von Sydow without admitting to a reference librarian that I care. But the computer exacts its toll. Things that should take seconds can take frustrating hours, or even days.

WordPress’s image uploader continues to have intermittent white-outs all over the world, but my blog benefactor has yet to acknowledge or fix the problem.  Entitlements do not exist in the realm of free services.  My computer nags me to restart it for necessary updates that screw up my settings, creating the necessity of resetting things that no longer work properly. New programs pop up and simply begin installing themselves before we have been properly introduced. I take the time to go in to My Computer and uninstall them, just to make sure they understand they are unwelcome. Just yesterday I evicted an opportunistic Yahoo! Jukebox that popped up and installed itself, because an update pulled the plug on iTunes as my default player. I hate when that happens. It’s my computer. I get to be primitive.

I’m on my third cell phone in nine months, and am obliged to take it to the phone store later today, squandering a chunk of time and upending my Routine. Maybe if they’d quit having these el cheapo phones made in China, they would work the way they are supposed to for an entire contract period. I’m asking for very basic, low-tech operations, like the phone turning on reliably and alarms going off reliably.

We have lived in our house for six years and have worked at transforming our Inherited Garden every year, and still I feel that only a third of it is ours. A third is still haunted by the spirit of the rheumatic lady who lived in our house for the previous 45 years. Neighborhood lore has it that she would tether a rhododendron to a rope around her waist to yank it from its roots and move it. All 60 rhododendrons were insanely placed. We had friends come out for a U-dig, and I’m still stuck with 48 of these monstrosities with their hideous hydra heads wanting deadheading. It seems most people are either hot or cold on rhodies. But this woman had a horror vacui. Many spots have three shrubs growing together in the same space, all in the same season.

The other third belongs to the squirrels, who move and replant things. An adventitious peony has shown up among the ferns, and a poppy in the rose garden. My neighbor’s squash was transported to our yard. And a feisty rhubarb that won’t die has a bloom reaching nearly four feet skyward. It’s going to be a busy summer.

A panda-colored bunny showed up the other day, and I ran him off. I should have let him eat his way through the inherited garden, but I could not count on his discernment. I was afraid he would acquire a taste for bamboo or hydrangeas, things we have planted that I like. We have also planted grapes, raspberries, and blueberries; and annually we grow beans, squash, and tomatoes. We need to evict more of the previous occupants to make room for the things we enjoy.

My brain works the same way. I need to search and evict previous occupants to make room for ones that enable enjoyment.



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