. . . lest you knock the raindrops from the petals.
The other day I wrote about my feelings of empathy
for agents and editors who have to say NO to projects
they know are labors of love for the writers.
Well, this afternoon I experienced another level of
empathy for those agents and editors.
I received a phone call from the man to whom I’d sent
a carefully worded email letting him know I wasn’t
going to use his landscaping service.
He wanted to know why I’d chosen the other landscaper.
While his demeanor was pleasant, I was uncomfortable.
I’d made my decision and didn’t want to go into the specifics
behind that decision.
So I fumbled a bit and wished him well before hanging up.
I’m guessing agents and editors would rather not be put
on the spot that way, either.
Today I had to send an email to a man who’d put time, energy, and creativity
into his proposal to landscape our back yard.
I had to tell him “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I spent quite a while composing those several email sentences,
wanting to be kind and to somehow minimize the “blow.”
In doing so I felt a certain empathy with agents and editors;
it must be really difficult to send out so many NOs.
A landscaper friend of mine used to bring me
plants she’d thinned from other people’s gardens.
One day she showed up with iris bulbs and
when I asked what color they were she said, “Brown.”
“Brown? Who wants brown flowers?
I’ve got plenty of brown flowers that didn’t make it
through the heat of summer and you bring me
on-purpose brown flowers? Really, Judi? Brown?!”
(We had that kind of relationship)
Fast-forward to this morning when I was waiting in
the driveway for Zebu and Wildebeest.
I looked over at the patch of blooming iris
and thought, “Aren’t they lovely?”
I’ve grown quite fond of my brown flowers.
Most gardens throughout my neighborhood have an iris display,
but I’ve yet to find another showcasing these brown beauties.
My iris are unique.
They aren’t brilliant yellow or gaudy purple or oh-so-delicate pink.
Which just goes to show how taste is not only subjective
but also apt to change. And so I draw the inevitable connection
to the writing life. No project will ever attract unanimous
adoration and it would be pointless and silly to have those expectations.
What isn’t silly, however, is remembering that tastes vary.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of locating the right garden.
Here’s what’s growing on around here (get it? "growing on"?)
This is the largest profusion of clematis blooms ever seen on this patio,
due to the sad demise of the neighbors’ crab apple tree which hung over
There I was in my bra, surrounded by strangers, while a man hit me repeatedly in the head with his hat…
I drove my brother’s pickup to the Rooney Valley Recycling Center to unload the juniper branches and sod I’d removed from my yard. I paid $10 at the gate and the woman told me I needed to separate the materials so she directed me to the very back of the area where there was a huge mound of sod. Right across from it was the enormous pile of branches. She thought it’d be most convenient for me to unload both back there.
I drove past one other truck on my way to the sod mound, weaving around materials piled so high you can’t see anyone or anything else. I parked the truck next to the mound and started grabbing sod and flinging it into the pile. It was a nice morning, not too warm, not too windy. Not bad at all, I thought as I flung a huge piece of sod.
Suddenly an annoying fly was buzzing around my head. Quite aggressively. I told the damned fly to shoo, but then there was another. And another.
Except they weren’t damned flies.
They were damned bees.
A swarm of them.
All around me but especially around my head.
In my hair.
I took off my ball cap and waved it around my head.
As I screamed.
The bees kept buzzing.
My whole head vibrated.
I tried to be calm,
to stand still so they’d leave me alone.
They were too pissed.
I felt a sting.
So I screamed some more
And ran a bit toward the entrance.
The woman from the other truck saw me and yelled, “Run, honey! Run!”
I ran past her and the man with her said for me to run to the shack at the gate.
(Not clear on why I’d want to bring bees to the woman in the shack, but at least it was a plan!)
But before I got there, the woman screamed for me to take off my shirt
because bees were flying out of it.
The woman from the shack came out while the other woman helped me unbutton my shirt.
She shook it out while the man yelled for me to stand still.
Then he hit me in the head with his hat,
over and over.
I was so grateful.
He knocked all but two bees off my head.
I got the second-to-the-last one and the woman brushed off the last.
I was bee-free but full of adrenaline.
And there was my brother’s truck, keys in the ignition,
way back there surrounded by an angry swarm of bees.
The man and woman drove me back there in their truck.
We watched while bees swarmed near the truck and around the stump
that probably held their nest.
The one I’d inadvertently hit with a huge piece of sod.
I walked slowly to the truck, got in the passenger side and slammed the door.
The man slowly walked to the back of my truck, grabbed the broom and rake leaning there,
and threw them in my truck before getting back in his own.
I unloaded the rest of my materials in stump-free areas
and was remarkably calm the entire time, if I do say so myself.
On the drive home, though, a fly buzzed in the truck cab and I panicked.
I’ve got a ways to go before letting go of the bee panic.
But I’d be much worse off without Good Samaritans, Phyllis and Jeff, there to help me.
Next time I go to the drop-off, I think I’ll wear one of these:
I went out into my garden just now.
It’s not a pretty sight.
I’ve neglected it for the past couple months
as I focused on my writing projects.
Here’s Lamb’s Ear strangled with bind weed:
Yarrow upstaged by thistle:
Sunflower in a neck-and-neck race with incredibly tall thistles:
Yesterday Zebu came out in the front yard where I was busting sod,
a task I began a month or so ago.
I’m taking out a huge area of lawn to be replaced with rocks
and isolated plantings.
Zebu asked, "Do you expect to have this done by winter?"
I replied in the affirmative.
Zebu expressed some doubts.
"Not only that," I said. "But I’m also going to have the kitchen all painted
and finish my book."
He said, "Something won’t get done."
I said, "Well, it won’t be my book. I’m finishing that."
He went back inside,
and I dug out another piece of lawn.
Spotted this guy sunning himself on the patio this morning:
And here’s Lebowski lounging in the sedum:
He didn’t even notice the snake,
and neither did the dogs.
It’s scary when I’m the most observant on a Monday morning.
This morning I’m headed to my brother’s house
on a Beautification Mission.
It feels like the perfect project for me right now.
Number one, it’ll make him happy
but it will also help me overcome my feelings of overwhelm and despair
related to the massive oil spill and calls for more war funding.
Digging in the soil as I talk and laugh with my brother
will be the best remedy for what ails me, I think.
I’m taking plants from my garden:
Including several Red Valerian plants:
© 2010 Tracy Abell
And a whole lot of Bearded Iris bulbs that may or may not be this color:
© 2010 Tracy Abell
I hope to create a lovely oasis of calm and beauty for my brother
who next week is flying to Florida to drive back to Colorado with our mother.
It’s my way of thanking him for being a good guy.
Whatever your mission, I wish you a memorable Memorial Day weekend.