When the story of the decline of Western civilization is definitively told, Exhibit A of our decadence will be the carved-out half pineapple that held the rice dish that I ate at the Thai restaurant Sabai tonight. 

Do I remember everything we planted in the garden this year?

Yes, I do: carrots and onions and potatoes underground, three flavors of peppers (bell, Serrano, Caribbean red) and three of tomatoes (regular, Roma, and cherry), basil for pesto and lettuce for salad, both near last year’s spearmint and strawberries returned, cantaloupe and watermelon and cucumbers to spread south toward the sun, four stalks of corn just for fun, and six sunflowers that — should they escape their fate as groundhogs’ snacks — will grow to 12 feet, plus two varieties of zinnias to keep them all company.

Well over 100 plants made it from the greenhouse to the ground. And the lemon tree looks promising again this year, too. That’s what spring is: hope.

Wet, burnt, exhausted, satisfied

I’m really good at ignoring evidence. The expiration date on a block of cheese I plan to slice up. The heat advisory when I want to ride. The unreciprocated gesture. I guess you could say I just can’t take a hint. Will trumps reality; desire outpaces what’s realistic, if only in my mind.

But that’s where I live these days. Take, to come to the case at hand, this statement that came with the model of kayak I chose: “For calm flatwater only.” I read it, committed it to memory and respected it, and, on Sunday, I ignored it.

Families with young children put in at the flatwaters just west of RVA’s Huguenot Bridge. They paddle their canoes and kayaks upstream and have a lovely time as heron and hawks fly overhead and the odd glimpse of a turtle hints at life in the water below. The river is broad and slow, and the rocks are easy to climb on.

I went downstream toward the Pony Pasture rapids. I’d been thinking about kayaking all of the way downtown, 10 miles or so, but to get there I needed to find the portage around the Z Dam. I asked a woman on a SUP about going downstream as far as Reedy Creek, where

I’d heard that at the island you stay left, but when I got to the island, there were two islands, a tiny one in the middle of the river and, to its left, the much larger Williams Island. So I followed Williams around to the left and found myself alone. I paddled ahead as far as the buoys reading “Caution Dam, Stay Away” and turned round to go back upstream. No portage in sight.

The day was a loss. I’d planned to be out two hours and had already been out 90 minutes. As I circled back ’round Williams Island, the sun was now higher and the river, I could see,

[Wordpress tells me I left off writing this 658 days ago. I don’t recall how I intended to finish that sentence.]

I wish I had a reason to wake up tomorrow.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams’ suicide is a reminder that grief often lurks not only beneath the surface, but also hidden in plain sight. Many of his best roles were about keeping grief at bay.

My two favorites are not surprising: The Fisher King, about the madness and tenderness co-existing in all of us, and Good Morning, Vietnam. I always respected the latter one for calling the main character to account for his naïveté. The young man he trusts betrays him. Life shatters. And so it goes. And we go on. Or not.

Songs of love and hate

“We will never reach the moon, at least not the one we’re after.” [slightly altered]

Facebook jokes

Rule: If I am reading a hip, funny joke on Facebook posted by George Takei, it’s either (a) not funny or (b) an old joke to my 14 y/o. This rule has no exceptions.