Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Spring and my sunflower seeds are sprouting.

Last year I planted a couple of packages of sunflower seeds. I made it a point to let the flowers go to seed, rather than cut them for in the house. I saved the seeds and planted them a couple of weeks ago. They're starting to sprout and I expect to have twice as big a bed of flowers as last year.

One of the most profound experiences of my life was the two year period during which I worked at an university arboretum. I actually got the job off the work-study board in the financial aid department and only tried it because other options didn't work out. I didn't get to any of the office jobs in time, and the job in the library was given to the fellow that walked in the door only a few minutes before me.

I did mundane tasks, like weeding, or cleaning the green houses. With my previous experience working in a hardware store, I got the added bonus of getting to fix problems with the irrigation system. I was taught how to change the shape of entire hillsides to prevent erosion, or to make a garden. I propagated plants from cuttings and harvested seeds for the next generation.

Two full years gave me an opportunity to actually experience the rhythm of the seasons. To watch flowers flourish, die, and go to seed. I got to train rose bushes I planted in trellises into walls of flowers by walking by every few days and taking a few minutes to push new growths back through the boards.

Some of the things I took away from that experience:

1. Sometimes a dream has to die, or at least appear to, in order to actually produce fruit.

2. If you have the patience, you don't have to get the stuff you want fully grown from somewhere else. You just snatch seeds, or cuttings, and grow your own. It may take longer, but it takes a whole lot less money. Not to mention that it's more satisfying.

3. If you pay a little attention to something on a regular basis, that adds up, and you may end up making something beautiful.

I imagine there would be more if I thought more about it.

I've got my new Morning Glory seeds soaking tonight and I will be planting them tomorrow. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Does not play well with others

Angry Winston
Its been over two weeks since I slaved over a hot computer long enough to put anything on the ole blog. I really should be more faithful to this. I don't want to be one of those people that starts one of these and then just abandons it in a few months.

I've come to accept the fact that I'm not a people person. I'm not exactly paralyzed by crowds, but I don't like them. I can handle myself in front of a crowd in terms of public speaking. I just don't like being *in* a crowd and expected to interact socially with multiple people for any real period of time. After a short period of time the fragile circuitry in that part of my brain shorts out and I become a snarling dog. If I added alcohol to this, as some of my friends wanted me to, it would be a real mess.

I also can't get into to watching sports. I think it's my inability to enter into some typical group psychologies. I just don't identify strongly with other people playing a game, and am also puzzled by those that do buy in to the point of occasionally being upset by sporting events.

I am however a person person. I do enjoy spending time talking to a person, or a few people. Over dinner, or over a beer, or three. I enjoy intelligent conversation with people that I know will disagree with me and can hold their own. I do like mindless interactions at times, but mostly with people that I already know in significant way. It's not something I do to establish a relationship, its something I do when one already exists.

It kind of puts strain on some of my relationships in that what many people do to relax and get to know others only stresses me and causes me to withdraw. Oh well, I've always been kind of a loner. The trick is to be a loner that stays connected.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sometimes I forget my place.

Well, I'm alive. I'm recovering from an embarrassingly ineffectual battle against the latest version of the common flu. I haven't been that sick since I was a kid living with my parents (two decades ago). I ran a fever for close to a week with a peak temperature of 103.4. Not high enough to bring on the hallucinations and delirium of my childhood fevers, but enough to inspire small spells of bizarre behavior like repeatedly touching things on the bathroom counter. It was curious to be crazy enough to do that, but to be sane enough to eventually realize it was crazy. I ended up going to the doctor and getting a shot of antibiotics, a course oral antibiotics, an inhaler for my shortness of breath, and some wonderful codeine laced cough syrup that probably had high abuse potential.

Occasionally I get a reminder of how small and fragile human life is. Normally it comes when I see the ocean, get away from the light pollution and see the Milky Way sprawled across the night sky, or look out across the Sacramento Valley through the clear cold air at the snow covered Coastal Range after a nasty winter storm. This time was less pleasant. I was laid low by something higher up on the food chain than I am. We prey on just about every other creature on the planet. Viruses, to my knowledge, have no natural enemies, and we are their food and breeding ground. Thank God for modern medicine.

Probably the most frustrating part of being sick was the social isolation. I'm actually pretty close to being a loner in that I don't crave or (up for debate) need validation from other people. That being said, I'm very invested in the concept of community, interconnectedness, and interdependence. My wife and I were treated very well by those we know during this time. Many people brought us food but out of our desire to keep the infection from spreading, we had them leave it on the porch and we would pick it up after they left. Not much in the way of significant social interaction.

I've missed the interplay, the small course changes in plans or thought caused by interacting with others. Nudges in either the right direction, or maybe in the wrong way to keep me on my toes. I think better around other people, people to question my actions and assumptions. I guess the best way to describe it is that I'm more alive when I'm interacting with other people than when I'm off by myself for too long.