How friendships are like a garden. Or why I hate Facebook.

If I had subtitles for my posts, the subtitle for this one would be: “Or why I hate Facebook.” Instead, I’ve put it in the title, too, because I don’t want you to miss it.

I know Facebook and other social media outlets give friends a way to stay in touch and see pictures of each others’ children and keep updated on what’s going on in our busy lives, but it also strikes me that Facebook has created distances between friends, too.

Under the best circumstances, Facebook feels like a junk-food approach to maintaining friendships, when what we really need to strengthen our connections with each other is real time together, talking, hugging, laughing and even crying with each other. Continue reading

Running roots

I’ve mentioned my love of running before, but these days, it takes up a lot of my thoughts. Just a few short weeks ago, I registered to run my first marathon and sat down with my husband (who also happens to make a great unofficial running coach) and mapped out my long runs from now until mid-June, when I’ll run the marathon.

I wish I could say I feel completely confident about reaching this new goal, but overly tight muscles and memories of old injuries keep threatening to drag me down. Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that overcoming the mental hurdles is half (or more) of the battle. And so I know I need to win the mental race before I’ll be able to endure the physical one.

That’s where patience and discipline come in. Let me be the first to admit that neither of these two virtues is a strength of mine, but I know I’ll need to cultivate both to toe the line at that June marathon with a firm hope of finishing.

Running the marathon is a bit like enjoying a fully grown and thriving tree planted in your yard. Trees don’t just spring up fully grown overnight, just as humans don’t typically wake up one morning and find themselves magically able to run 26.2 miles.  Continue reading

"I’m not dead yet"

The title of today’s post is best read in a British accent, a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that movie, there’s a scene set in the Middle Ages in which men are hauling carts through a village calling, “Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead.” The plague has hit, and the men are hauling away the dead. Now, in case you have been hiding under a rock for the last several decades or irreverent, comedic farce isn’t your preferred movie genre, you need to understand that nothing about Monty Python is serious. So try to imagine the humor of the scene that ensues:

A man is trying to get his elderly relative onto the cart, despite the fact that the elderly man, though frail, is still very much alive. He keeps protesting, “I’m not dead yet.” But the younger man doesn’t want to miss the opportunity of the carts coming through the village and have to wait until the next one.

Well, that phrase, “I’m not dead yet” has been running through my head all morning, thanks to a visit from an agricultural extension agent to check out some dead and ailing trees at our place in the mountains.  Continue reading

The Lady Baltimore

Last August, when I took my in-laws to the local farmer’s market, they bought my husband and me a lovely hibiscus, called a “Lady Baltimore,” for our garden. The seller at the market promised that it’s a perennial in this area. I’ll admit to being skeptical at the time.

By the end of my in-laws’ visit, though, the plant looked like it wouldn’t even live to make it out of the pot and into the ground. But it did live, and I was delighted when it bloomed several times last August.

Although it was a single stalk last year, the seller promised it would grow back more bush-like this year, with multiple stalks. I was just happy when one stalk poked up through the ground this spring and started sprouting leaves and then buds. I’ve spent many mornings since the first sign of green giving it ample water to grow tall and strong.  Continue reading