Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, November 26, 2018

In The Doldrums

You've probably noticed I haven't been posting much for the last couple of months. I'm doing fine, still gardening like a madwoman, just not much interested in sharing about it on my blog.

Do you know what The Doldrums are? Basically it's an equatorial region of the earth where a lack of wind causes sailing ships to make no progress.

That's been the state of my blog for a while.


I could write about what I've been doing in the garden, but because of the time of year, it doesn't really look like much yet. Plus, I've been in a foul mood.

So, bear with me while I veer off into a rant about a few things. If it bothers you, feel free to stop here. Go read (or reread) someone's uplifting post about what they're thankful for this year.

Social Networking

In many ways, social networking -- and blogging is a part of that -- has been a great way for introverts (I am one) to communicate with the world. But...



But social networking also sucks ass, in all kinds of ways.

Facebook, for example. I deactivated my Facebook account almost two years ago now and haven't missed it yet. I really should go back in and delete it completely, but I've forgotten my password, and I dread any interaction with them to try and get it back.

Read this. Why the fuck are you still on Facebook, putting money in Zuckerberg's pocket?

Then, there's that nagging feeling, every time I get on Instagram and check out the wonderful, curated images, that everyone except me has a perfect life and has the perfect garden and is having the most fun in the universe. The certainty that I'm the only flawed gardener out there with a garden full of dying plants, thriving weeds, and huge areas of bare, ugly soil is such a drag. Come on, Instagrammers! Someone post some ugly pics, so I can at least have a little shot of Schadenfreude.

By the way

I know




The Holidays

What can I say? I'm a bit of a Scrooge. The only authentic feeling the holidays elicit in me is a sense of mourning. I mourn the young woman I used to be who loved celebrating them, and who found meaning in them. Who searched and searched for just the right gifts for loved ones, or sometimes made them with her own hands. Who spent the holidays surrounded by family, and treasured family dishes and recipes. Now a darkness descends on me every fall when I sense the holidays approaching, which unfortunately happens earlier and earlier as the shops put their Christmas and Thanksgiving merchandise out in August. It's a marathon cooking slog, for a meal that is hard work to prepare, that requires shopping in grocery stores packed with people (shudder!), and takes less than 15 minutes to wolf down. On the one hand, it makes for a very nice, cozy, unstressed meal with just me and Nigel, and he is very appreciative of my work and he always compliments my cooking.

Everything Else

I was going to mention the news, the wildfires and climate change, and politics and the state of the country, my health and my increasing age, but maybe I'll just say "ugh." Every day the news is either depressing or alarming.

If you went to that link above about The Doldrums, it says

The word may be derived from dold, an archaic term meaning "stupid", and -rum(s), a noun suffix found in such words as "tantrum."

Anyway, I'm still here.


  1. You aren't alone in your feelings. I, too, have no enthusiasm for the holidays. I used to do lots of holiday things - now I make things simple and look forward to New Year's in Vienna on January 1. This is jigsaw season for us and I have found some foreign series to watch on the web and good books to read so that will fill our hours. We certainly don't need special food treats or any more calories. There needs to be a new name for the holidays for this time of life!

  2. You should start your own Instagram garden meme #whatitreallylookslikewednesday or #forrealfriday and challenge others to post ugly garden pictures to Instagram.

    As for the holidays, you know I'm a sucker for the decorating opportunities, but I am less and less enthused about the gift giving each year. Not because I don't like spending money on other people, but because it feels so forced.

    1. I could not agree more about the forced giving... I absolutely HATE it and all the consumerist hype surrounding it! I just updated my wishlist to all free items - all it will take to make me exuberantly happy is a few hours, and some muscle. I just asked for help in the garden, and then listed all the projects I need strong-people-help with. Gosh, if they only offer assistance with half of them, it will make a huge difference, and the year to come will be a lovely one! Fingers crossed!

  3. I empathize. I used to invest a huge amount of energy in the holidays but, once the nieces and nephews get too old to appreciate anything other than gift cards and you realize that you've run out of ideas for gifts for friends they might actually enjoy and your spouse and you exchange gift lists rather than simply clicking "buy," the holidays end up feeling a lot less jolly. As to social media, I sometimes feel that it's done more harm than good. (I never had a Facebook page and Instagram is still on probation as far as I'm concerned.) But I do love to look at gardens and, yes, even projects in progress. And I very much enjoy your blog sidebars, which always make me chuckle in a world that offers all too little to chuckle about.

  4. Well, at least I got a chuckle out of your discomfort.
    I have not given up on Facebook, or holidays, or creating a picture perfect garden. It's in my DNA, I think. But I am accepting of those who do. What is it Rick Nelson sang long ago? "You can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself."

  5. I completely hear you on the holiday thing. I've come to just dread the whole damn thing. Other than, as Loree said above some decorating opportunities mostly centered around plants. The soul crushing consumer-ism, stores opening on Thanksgiving etc etc. I agree that FB can be toxic but I have what I see dialed down quite a bit and my friend list is restricted to horticultural peeps. There is something be said for the old school internet garden forums that were moderated .

  6. I like the idea of a meme, maybe even extended to bloggers - how about Breaking Wind? (you know the doldrums and all.) Here's a fix of schadenfreude for you (sorry no pictures, you'll have to imagine.) - we've got rats in the basement, mice in an upstairs closet, and every few years a bat flies around our living room. I've no idea where the bats come from. Our house is a wildlife sanctuary. In addition, there's a growing hole in the plaster in our bedroom ceiling. Every few years, a chunk of plaster falls down. So far, none has fallen on us but now the light fixture is hanging by it's wires. (This was part of the 10 year plan to fix the house when we moved in 21 years ago.) You know that my garden is full of dying plants but since I leave the fallen leaves on all the beds, they're harder to see.
    So, let's just fix this holiday thing. Groceries can be ordered online and delivered to your home or you can drive up to the store and have them loaded into your car. No people. If you don't enjoy cooking, order a nice pre-made feast from one of the casinos or other places that advertise them. So the mashed potatoes aren't great aunt Zelda's traditional recipe. Put enough gravy on them and who can tell?
    I share your feeling of mourning the young person who used to wake up every morning thinking that something wonderful was going to happen, who loved every holiday and cherished traditions. (Experience usually ruins most idealism.) Now some years I decorate; others I don't. Some years it all looks like a bunch of glitzy crap to me and other years, golden sparkling magic.
    Embrace your inner Scrooge and have plenty of rotten tomatoes on hand to throw at any carolers strolling by.

  7. I'm with you and feel your unrest. I wish children these days could experience the wonder of the holidays as I experienced it. Watching, wide eyed for santa's sleigh, seeing the glistening sparkles of untouched snow on a sunny day, opening presents from under the perfect tree. I miss those sensations for myself and others. I'm with you, sister, in all aspects. And to those who still caress the season, power to you, enjoy!

  8. I hope you catch some wind in your sails soon, Alison. I sense the distress you express in this post, the feeling of being "stuck". I worry that it lasts so long, that working in your garden hasn't helped alleviate the funk, that "a very nice, cozy, unstressed meal with just me and Nigel" hasn't shaken it loose. There are supportive comments above from readers and friends. I hope they help lift your spirit.

  9. I love Danger's idea of the meme. You were doing better last winter. What did you do differently? I'm in a foul mood too. I call this time of year The Holiday Corridor and I count down the days until January 2nd. The holidays used to be filled with joy and now I just grieve. You're not alone. I'm gardening like crazy too and my yard looks like a muddy fir needle coated mess.

  10. I hope you feel better. Maybe some of it is just the time of year. My garden is at its worst in November and December.

    My congressional district flipped "blue" for the first time ever. So, while almost everything might be hopeless, not everything is always hopeless.

    Never joined facebook, and yes facebook owns instagram, so I skip that one too. Never did do much for holidays.

    I think about the things I am grateful for: dear husband, pets, a home, a garden however imperfect. It always makes me feel better. A messy garden is 100% better than no garden.

  11. I love Loree's idea of a new meme... My reality-checked, zoomed out photos would make you feel SO. MUCH. BETTER! (There is a reason they are mostly close-ups...)

    The Holiday-hype is depressing to me too, so I choose not to pay them much mind. One thing that has helped me in the past, is to single out someone who has inspired me during the past year, and reach out to them with a small token of appreciation. I don't always do it, and sometimes my appreciation goes to someone or someones I barely know. It's always someone outside of my family, who I feel has contributed to the wellbeing of others in some meaningful way. My random act may not always lead to anything (not that that is the intention, other than to create some unexpected, spontaneous joy), but my little impromptu gift to three inspiring people 2-3 years ago, has led to a wonderful, lasting friendship between the four of us. It's been really fun, and such a small thing does wonders for my own mental wellbeing. I like how the house looks after decorating, but I honestly don't bother half the time. It's more fun if it's a family effort, and it hardly ever is. So then, fuck it. Same with the food. I used to bend over backwards with the cooking and everything else when the kids were small, but now, we do whatever the hell we want. It's so much nicer! Sometimes this involves going skiing on Christmas Day, and it is always magical and restoring of my cynical, battered soul. The mountain is almost completely empty, except for us...

    I also agree with Kris. Your blog sidebars crack me up, and often give me my best laugh of the day. So hang in there friend. If you ever need to lift your spirits about your own garden, be sure to stop by and see mine the next time you're in town. I'm always embarrassed to show it to anyone who asks, but hell - it's progress is limited to funds, my available time, and my ability to talk stronger folks into helping with the heavy stuff. I guarantee that seeing my nearly constant state of incompletion will make you feel good about yourself. There is plenty of Schadenfreude opportunity there, to be plastered all over social media. Or not. Like you, I find most of that stuff an irritating time sink, taking away from more important and meaningful things. I have considered bowing out many times, and still might. Hugs to you! <3

  12. I hear you. I think Peter has some good ideas for the practical side of things. We have cut way, way back on gift giving. The last several years we've taken a trip with the kids instead of gifts, though we can't do that this year. And I agree that garden blogs should show the failures and ugly spots of gardens. I try to do that. People and gardens that are too perfect are annoying. Maybe go out and visit a conservatory, or take a trip somewhere. Can be just a car ride. Just a change of scene. Anyhow, I hate unsolicited advice, so I should shut up. Hope your spirits get a lift soon.

  13. Amen, sister! The holiday hype IS worse, and it's even more depressing when there aren't children in the picture. My garden looks like shit and I have too much ennui to do anything much about it this time of year. And the state of politics, despite the mildly encouraging midterm results, just sucks. Plus winter just plain gets me down more and more and more each year. Well, so much for cheering you up!

  14. Can we start this meme on Friday's? I would love that.
    Oh Alison, I can relate. While I still have children living at home, the forced consumerism of the holidays drives me nuts. I am slowly wearing down all of my kids grandparents to stop with the adult gift giving - aka gift card swapping. It's absurd. My holidays always include an escape plan. This year, we're camping in Death Valley. I'm giving the extended family the bird and we're leaving before Xmas to drive and camp our way down and we won't come back until New Years. Take that holidays!! Big Hug to you Alison~

  15. Well, you know for certain that I show all the crap that goes on around here for the most part. Piles of dirt and rusted out junk and 'castles' that never get finished. Yes, we keep it real. I do detest FB just as much as you do; a friend talked me into joining it years ago and though I don't post much on there at all, it's still annoying at times. I've often thought about closing my account, but the effort is too much for me lately.

    Depression is an old acquaintance of mine, and the change of seasons always brings it out. I find if I cam cooped up in the house for too long, I'll really go downhill quickly, so I do my best to get outside and take a walk if nothing else, even if it is after dark. This year is another bad one because I have to go through the rest of my mom's belongings and start slogging through the crap we have here from the last 40 years as we are contemplating an extensive home remodel. Oh, boy, just what we need, more stress. You know me, I'll be writing about this in all of it's gory detail very soon, I always feel better when I get it out of my system. And speaking of my system, some old person has taken up residence of my body, I don't bend like I used to and my back locks up constantly. I do not approve!

    But back on the social media rant: I have a few acquaintances who went almost completely berserk a few years ago with a fitness kick that made my exercise attempts look like a Lazy Boy Recliner Rock Off event. They were posting all the obligatory pictures on FB of their weight loss accomplishments, you know, the one where they are standing in one leg of their jeans, 'Just look at this, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, not EVER going back!!'

    And the worst 'fitspiration' quote of the day? "Pain is just weakness leaving the body!"

    Oh, really? Wow, I must be the strongest old broad around then. :-)

    The Hollerdays were always stressful in the past, and now in my 60's, enough is enough; overused I suppose, but my favorite saying will suffice, "It is what it is."

    We'll get through this, I know we will. :-)

  16. I'm very late to the party, but I want to leave this comment anyway. I've been very down since mid-October. I'm dissatisfied with my garden and simultaneously don't feel the energy or motivation to fix it. I've barely been writing for my own blog, let alone reading others (hi, sorry I haven't been reading). The holidays usually make me depressed, too. This year, Thanksgiving was a good time with just my immediate family, very low key, just spending time with each other as we grieve my father's passing.

    Your complaints about all the picture-perfect gardens we see on social media are one reason I occasionally do critique posts about my own garden, showing the areas that need work and aren't looking great. I wish more people would post about problem areas and plants they've killed. That's where we learn the most.

    As for the mess known as "the world" I can't even think about it without getting angry, depressed, and overwhelmed. I try to focus on my little corner of it.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.