30 April 2008

Zen Solitaire

You're out there. I know you are. It's on almost every Windows PC in the world, save those under the care of especially savvy IT departments. You play Solitaire on your computer.
The card game has a history, I'm sure - I saw family members playing it before Gates saw his sashes and panes as a tool for world domination. It's been around in every version of Windows I've used since the 3.11 days, and very little has changed in the interface. But you still play it. It's simple to play and quick to learn, and is way less boring than minesweeper. You play Freecell, maybe Spider Solitaire, too, but you always come back to the old favorite; there's a reason Microsoft still includes old school Solitaire with Windows.
I find myself some evenings working at Solitaire, sorting the cards as they are presented to me in various rule configurations (scored, unscored, draw 1, draw 3, etc.), and my mind starts to wander. First I am focusing on matching the cards and keeping track of what's going on, hand and mouse and eye flicking across desk and screen as the components drop into place.
Sometimes I win, usually I lose.
My mind at first becomes hyper-focused on the game, my eyes don't blink, I don't notice the growing cramp in my left wrist from gripping the mouse. My jaw at first tenses, and then relaxes. Cards appear, disappear, fall back in the shuffle, get integrated or segregated, ultimately sorted into the same state of being every time and I find myself beginning to ponder not the nature of cards or computers or colors, but of the Universe, of God.
Does God play solitaire? Is he interested in teaching me a lesson in whether or not black 7 comes up before I run out of options, or is black 7 forever hidden under the Queen of Diamonds who will never meet her Black King lost under the pile of sixes and twos and jacks? Are cards as in all things His Will or do I have control over the outcome if I just find the right formula for choosing which order to lay my cards? Take from the pile or always from the dealt cards? Always reveal what is hidden, or trust that by taking from the pile you will find your way?
God cleverly hides in the pile of cards as I turn over one too many, and I blink.
If only Life's undo option didn't usually involve money, blood, or shame.
I'm back to the game, and where I once thought of God I now think of nothing. Black on Red, 9 on 10, click click click click...
Cards fly to their suits, kings of a feather. Click click click one more card and victory is mine.
Click click click, my senses draw in and I hear the music of the mouse as Queens and Jacks dance with their aces; click click click where is that last four of clubs click click


F2

Once Spring Has Sprung, Can Frost Foul Fickle Fronds?

Not fronds, per se, but seedlings. Seedlings didn't alliterate, though. What am I on about? Oh yeah, my garden.
You may have read in my Myspace weblog (it's linked somewhere around here) that I've planted a garden, in the finest tradition of Murray men. I garden for many reasons:
  • an investment in seeds, water, and time is still less dollars than buying the grown food
  • It uses space in the yard that otherwise I'd have to mow
  • It looks nice
  • I have a knack for it
But mostly, because I feel impelled to do it. It's in my bones, as much as watching football, voting Republican, and breathing. It's something that a man does, how I was raised. Aro, ergo sum.
I had taken some time off from serious gardening while I lived in my townhouse, focusing mostly on houseplants. My garden in our new home has been something I was looking forward to, even if last year's inaugural experience was more filling for the dogs than it was for us (Zoe took a liking to eating ripe tomatoes off the vine). This year, I vowed as I gazed upon my domain during the long, cold winter, I would live up to my legacy and plant, goddammit!
I did not wait for May to be half gone before putting time into the land. I planted earlier this month, after we had our round of warm days. I was so happy to put things in order outside our back door (this is still a work in progress in some areas). It has mostly continued to be warm, too. Many nights have we slept with our windows open. Excepting last night, and probably tonight.
A cold snap is moving through, with temperatures supposed to reach down into the frost area. This is typical. I take the time to shovel and hoe and fertilize and plant seeds, fret over the seeds until they start to sprout (for the record, my father's garden is looking fantastic compared to my efforts), and then rejoice and give thanks as more sprouts emerge, spreading their first true leaves to the sun, and then a frost moves through. I'll do what I can to protect my small friends, but it still irks me that on this last day of April, less than 24 hours until May, I'm worrying about frost.
Here's hoping that the frost doesn't come, or is merciful; I can already taste the fresh beans, squash, peas, broccoli, peppers, radishes, and carrots. and popcorn. I'll talk about the popcorn later, and maybe I'll share some photos of April's efforts in the yard.

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