Tuesday, April 24, 2007


When I came home from New York this weekend to temperatures in the mid-70s, my new tulips had opened with a spring splash. They stood (well, some of them leaned) in bunches scattered in the garden. Some of the colors are astonishing. One is a pearlescent pink with a soft yellow wash. Another is cherry pink flecked with white. Another is light lemon. Their cups hide dark hearts. Not only are they different colors, they are different heights and shapes. Some are almond-shaped as they wait to open; others are open classic Us. I looked up Sylvia Plath's poem Tulips. Gorgeous poem. Here's my take: These garden sentinels produce oxygen; they cheer me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Breaking the spell

Two recent Oprah shows -- on autism and addictions -- have disappointed me. Both borrowed heavily from cable-television documentaries, which is a cheap way to find your subjects. Both spent a great deal of time on a number of individual subjects but didn't necessarily give varied experiences. That was obvious to me with the autism show, since I know something about the subject. The spectrum of autism disorders -- and it is a spectrum -- wasn't represented; there was nothing about Asperger's syndrome. On the addiction show, it bothered me a lot that Oprah kept asking questions and cutting people off at a certain point in their answers. Sure, she's not Bill O'Reilly, but I wasn't feeling the love. I was feeling the lecture as she quizzed five case studies.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The shallow and the deep end

I haven't watched Oprah in a while, having felt a little jaded by the linkage between her and The Secret, which I regard as a pretty shallow rendering of a human impulse. (though no more crass than The Prayer of Jabez.) I got tired of having to translate Oprah's interest in it as "positive thinking" rather than "material acquisition." It is New Thought, which holds that the material world can be affected by thinking. That's not hard to agree with. Whether you can produce a Mercedes-Benz or a cure for breast cancer simply by visualizing is more arguable. But I don't want to argue. I'd rather be inspired by generosity, which Oprah does so very well -- both inspire and give away. Today's show was on "finding your calling." Don't do things until they hurt. Do things because that is what you are supposed to be doing, and the "supposed to be" represents your recognition and acceptance of God's will (though nobody used the G-word) -- the intention for your life. Nothing is forced. Psychologists call this flow. Generosity is the deep end of religion. Thanks, O.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What I'm reading

A Thousand Names For Joy. By Byron Katie.

I got the book while working on a Publishers Weekly story about Buddhist books. Katie strikes me as one of those very compelling people whom you admire but don't want to live with, like Gandhi. The promise of a little joy pick-me-up is why I picked up the title. Yet I also can't help but wonder if the enlightened, don't-know mind resembles the mind with Alzheimer's. All is equal and new.

How my garden grows

Slowly. Every tomato tells a story, since each one has a name. Boxcar Willie. Lillian. Old Flame. Brandywine. Black from Tula. Quimbaya. Green Grape. Amish Paste. Mrs. Benson. Hard Rock. Toni's Round. Rose de Berne. Interesting how many females there are. Hard to pick between Lillian and Mrs. Benson as my favorite. The yellow Lillians strongly remind me of my mother. The little gals have popped up in their seedling beds with ferocity and multiplicity -- admirable germination rates. I haven't visted them today, but they have basil for company. Let us now praise heirloom tomatoes, though maybe we should hold the praise, and the pasta, for August.