Personal Log: Waylaid (by memory) and Outclassed (in the garden)

Think I’ll do the “outclassed” part first. And that is, I’m totally astonished by the wonders Laura Bruno is working in her rapidly proliferating and hugely productive (already! this early in the season!) permaculture garden. Her imagination and creativity show with every single bed. Check it out! They’re all unique and some demonstrate decided originality. Gardening — as an art form.

Garden Update: Trellises, Flowers, and Stacking Functions

Indeed, as I was scrolling through her post, I found myself “burning with envy.” Well, mild envy, but yes. True! Hmmm. What’s that about? Maybe we should rev up the old “competitive” spirit that does seem to be an inherent part of human nature and reconfigure its focus into a massive, multicultural, multigenerational laser beam, to grow perma(nent)culture!

Forget sports! Forget capitalism! Do permaculture! It’ll take your edge off like nothing else can. Yeah. Let’s have contests, big ones, all consuming, where we learn from each other, to best each other. Forget professional sports and predatory capitalism. Go for Permaculture Olympics!

Who can do the “best” permaculture garden?

Who can get it going fastest, grow the most, and the most delicious food?

Whose garden attracts neighbors and inspires them to do the same the fastest, the mostest?

Who stacks functions, utilizes edges and perennials, cultivates relationships with all species, absorbs and redistributes all flows, sees big pictures and tiny details, both — most thoroughly and creatively??

We could have contests in our neighborhoods, towns, regions . . . what a great way to get us lazy bones off our fat asses, eh? Nothing like a little Mars energy to get us riled and revved up . . .

Damn, Laura is clearly “winning.” Just a few hours driving time south, we’re also going to town in the GANG garden, but geez there are at least two of us who care and work in the garden (with a number of neighbors around who come and go as well), and we’re not nearly as meticulous or creative as Laura, this singular woman, who goes about it with such flair!

These past few days, Rebecca and I have been working with two big chunky, unweildy beds, hugelkultur beds, which have been lying in repose, like giant sacrificial crypts for old norse gods, piled with logs from the old elm that I had to take down before it fell on both our houses, for a whole year now. One hugelkulture bed was almost finished last year, but not quite. Lots of “weeds” sprouted up on/in it over the winter. Big, hunky weeds. It’s obviously very fertile already.

Over the past week or so, Rebecca completed the first bed with my help, and planted it. Yesterday she asked me to put the grass mulch on it afterwards. Okay.

I decided to take these photos beforehand, to show what one side looks like, both planted and mulched, and the other, planted but not mulched.

A bit of the grass mulched side is visible on the extreme left of the photo. The mess to its right is the other hugelkulture bed, still undressed, with its innards showing,

IMG_0284looking like a bunch of trash tossed with a blue tarp.

In fact we need more soil before we can finish this bed, and will get that next week. Notice that not all the carbon required is in the form of logs or twigs. Some is office paper, junk mail, old cardboard, etc. You can use up all your paper waste in this way, not just for hugelkulture, but to make all kinds of layered beds (“lasagna beds” as they are sometimes called). The point is, to make soil, and keep on building soil with green and brown “waste.”

Sometimes, as now, we decided to order finished soil and pay for it, since we wanted to get all the extra space in the garden going as garden beds NOW for eating SOON, this summer. Otherwise, you can layer new beds before winter, and then plant the following spring, when they’ve somewhat decomposed.

So yes, the second hugelkultur bed is damned ugly right now. We will be loading soil and mulch on it in a few days.

Here’s the side of the finished bed, planted, with newly wetted grass mulch. BTW: we discovered that you have to be very careful that you don’t go steeper than the “angle of repose” when sculpting hugelkultur beds. And I’m not sure we succeeded . . . Once plants put their roots throughout the bed, they’ll anchor it and stuff won’t just roll down.


Here are the two hugelkulture beds from farther away, looking not quite so gross. That’s potatoes with still too much (winter-over nitrogen-fixing) vetch covering them, in the foreground. We’ve removed some of the vetch. More to go . . .


I can’t help myself. Must finish any post about the garden with a photo of it’s heart and soul, the pond. Here it’s evening, so the lotuses, including the pink one, are closed for the night.


Okay, so that’s the “outclassed” part.

Here’s the “waylaid” part.

I wrote a post a few days ago about my son Sean and his newly discovered need to excavate memories from childhood. In an email afterward our phone conversation, he told me that he picked up my book, This Vast Being, specifically hoping to find little shards here and there that would help him understand both himself and his relationship with me, his Mom, who left him and his brother Colin with their dad when they were young, seeing them only in summers.

Then he dropped a bombshell, saying that he has now realized that he’s still angry with me over what happened 40 years ago, “and it’s about time that I forgive you.”

Of course I knew of his anger; I could feel it, despite that it was buried; I’ve always hoped that some day, some day, it would come to light so that he could let it go.

After we talked, I remembered another book, actually, not a book (yet?), but a manuscript, that I wrote in 1985 about my first 30 years of life. An autobiography. I called it “A Soul’s Journey.” I spent one full year writing this document, via a meticulous deliberate process of sinking back into each year of my life chronologically to uncover memories from that year and documenting them. My aim was to discover the arc of meaning that connected them all, with the assumption that whatever I remembered must have been important, since it stood out from the mass, like a dot in a pattern that needed to get connected for me to see it whole. I was in my 30s, I wanted to become whole, wanted to uncover and integrate all the parts of myself, and deeper, I wanted to show how the soul, when invited, reveals itself over time to the personality. Thus its title, “A Soul’s Journey.”

Now here’s the awful part, the part that has waylaid me. I can no longer locate a physical copy of this manuscript! I thought I had one here. Where is it? Since I wrote it in 1985, I no longer had computer access, and though a friend took this doc to be “copied” electronically a few years ago so that it would again show up on the desktop, the copy was full of weird glitches and the formatting completely lost.

So, this morning, I woke up at 4 A.M.— weirdly, the same time as I arose, every day for six weeks when I was 28 years old to write my doctoral dissertation. The process of writing that manuscript was automatic, my soul speaking the truth of my life as revealed through a year-long, post-LSD, uncanny emotional identification with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

So there I was, this morning, inundated with memory and sick at heart that I could not find the document that speaks of these various long and even longer loopings through time. Waylaid.

I woke up at 4 A.M. today, and found myself walking to this computer to begin the process of reformatting A Soul’s Journey, for Sean, because I know that it will help him jog his own memory, which in turn will, if we are very very fortunate, help us reconnect with each other in the way that we were originally designed to meet, as old familiar souls, 50 years ago, with him playing the role of my sweet vulnerable son and me his young, desperate Mom.

Here’s Sean and me, when we got back together, on Thanksgiving Day, a few days after I made peace with his Dad, 1987.


Wow! I just realized, as I wrote the last sentence, that I took this momentous journey to reconnect with my sons two years after I wrote A Soul’s Journey. Perhaps that manuscript helped me get to the point where I could take the plunge and return to the scene of so much pain. And perhaps it will help Sean in his process, as well.

I’m going to send him pdfs, a few chapters a day, like a series. I may also copy some of them here. The manuscript was a labor of love, this reconstruction of it is a labor of love, and love’s labor, I realize more and more, the older I grow, is never, ever lost. The only catch is that we must often wait until time loops round again, to bend its arc towards, not just justice, but towards precious, sacred, meaning.

Due to this reformatting task I have set for myself, as well as the many garden tasks that have suddenly become even more compelling with this new, hilarious “competitive” edge, I suspect that for the next week or so this blog might not command much of my attention.







This entry was posted in 2014, conscious grieving, waking up, zone zero zero. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Personal Log: Waylaid (by memory) and Outclassed (in the garden)

  1. laurabruno says:

    Ann, I’m honored … And truly, we should all see Kimber’s garden, which perhaps outclasses us all. 🙂 She (and I) would, however, envy your pond. That is on both our wish lists and probably won’t even happen this year at her place. Grow, grow, grow! And do realize that the caved in garage roof of the neighbors two doors down and the factory across the street inspire this artist’s soul to kick things up several notches just to compensate. Extra beauty cancels out the surroundings. Edible ornamentals are a must for my soul, not just my tummy. 🙂 Cheers!

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