Seven years ago, I closed up Hedlin's Produce Stand for the winter. I packed up my 1993 Red Toyota and drove out of LaConner, leaving that blessed town once and for all, heading for sunny California.
Seven years in California. I miss my friends in LaConner. I miss the Skagit Valley and all those green fields, but I am much happier in Santa Barbara. I love the blue skies. I love wearing shorts and sandals. If I start to complain about anything, I just head for the beach with a towel and a book.
A Democrat, but not a proper Democrat
I have this unfortunate tendency to think freely and wander off the reservation. I keep writing what I honestly think, and then I delete it. I cannot seem to get it right. The situation is too confusing. But let me try with a few common progressive goals that I support.
I support an increase in the minimum wage. I support the forgiveness of student loan debt. I support the estate tax -- you can call it the death tax if you want, but I support it.
I support legal abortion. I support legal marijuana. I support same sex marriage. I oppose the death penalty.
Those are fairly standard positions for a Democrat like me, but when we get to cultural issues I am somewhat of a dinosaur. I admire Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee and Mickey Mantle. Yes, I have read Howard Zinn. Zinn serves as a useful corrective to the main story, but he is not the new gospel of truth. Don't give me new myths and don't ask me to believe in new idols.
I have never respected the political judgment of actors. I intensely admire the film work of Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Matt Damon, but off screen they have nothing to say.
If I was a Democrat running for Congress in 2018 I would keep my distance from Hollywood. Don't go to their parties and don't accept their money. It's getting very toxic in La La Land.
Enough of that.
Garden News. I made $532 in October doing garden work for my seven customers. I charge $20 per hour and I work several hours each day. Last week I pruned the Cecil Brunner hedge rose for the Swiss people. Next week I will strip the ivy off the back fence at a rental property. It will take me two hours to strip the ivy. I know that because I already did it once earlier in the summer. Then the darn ivy grew back again. I suppose I can look at that as job security.
Every week I go to work at the pre-school garden. It is great fun working among the little tots. I trim the trumpet vine, I dead head the geraniums, and I look about for what needs doing. The last time I was there they had spilled straw all over the parking place in front of the school. They buy bales of straw to strew around the play area as a protection against injury. They unloaded the new bales of straw in the parking area, leaving heaps of little straw pieces all over the place -- that took a half an hour to sweep up.The pre-school also has a topiary giraffe. I trim that as needed.
Next comes the Italian garden, built in terraces on a hill side. It is three stories from the street to the top of the garden in the back yard. I worked there yesterday and I loaded six cans of green waste and carried those six cans down two flights of stairs to the street where they will get emptied on trash day. That was a bit strenuous.
That's my work. Do I love gardening? A little. You could say I love it a little. My customers are very nice people, but honestly, I just need the money. This is no easy way to make a living. I get hot, tired, dirty and dusty. I tell people that I do gardening work and they imagine it's a cool job. It's not.
The Writing Workshop
I read four very short stories at the writing workshop last Saturday. Bathsheba Beckons is my favorite story, about an old farm hand and his romance with the owner of the farm. I stole the plot from Far from the Madding Crowd, but my reading put them all to sleep. I was reading it out loud and the other writers were struggling to stay awake and pay attention. Well, what could I say to that? I liked the story and they did not.
However, I read three other stories as my turn came up -- Berkowitz, about a doctor advising a depressed patient, The Woman with Scars of her Face, about a woman with scars on her face, and The Ten of Swords, where a man goes to a psychic to discover why his ex-wife stole all his money. These three stories were received with enthusiasm . The other writers made sharp and interesting criticisms of this phrase and that phrase, criticisms that will make useful improvements in the three stories.
It may seem natural to you, but I had the hardest time writing the newsletter this week. I typed then I deleted. Then I typed some more, then I deleted. I felt so confused and conflicted -- but I realized it was not me, it was the culture I live in. Trump won the election a year ago this week, and our nation has become confused and conflicted. I cannot fix that. I can only write down what I see, and this is a painful exercise.
Just the same, be well, and have a good week,