An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

December 31, 2018

The Last Sunset of 2018

     2018 has not been a good year. In fact, it has likely been one of the worst for me and my family. This was a year of great loss for us, permanent loss from death, and temporary loss from incarceration. If there can be any upshots to these losses, it would be the reminder not to wait until people are gone from your life to cherish your relationships. The other upshot was to recognize what I can control, and that I have the strength to avoid unhealthy stresses over what I cannot control. There were also enough minor events throughout the year that made me question the laws of karma, and just what I had done to tip the scales. Add to all this the big black cloud of chaotic idiocy centered over Washington, and 2018 is indeed a year I want to see behind me. However, I am not running into 2019 with open arms. I will be cautious, but taking my joys whenever, wherever I can. I hope you can do the same. 

July 20, 2018

Along the Avenue of Second Place Trophies

     While in Richmond recently, I killed time with a walk along Monument Ave. I have always enjoyed this street with its buffet of architectural styles, handsome trees and gardens, cobblestones, and the monuments themselves. It is one of Virginia's most beautiful, but increasingly controversial streets.
Mathew Fountaine Maury - Pathfinder of the Seas (2)

Along Monument Ave. (19)

Along Monument Ave. (13)

Along Monument Ave. (15)

Stonewall Jackson

Along Monument Ave. (20)

Along Monument Ave. (7)

J.E.B. Stuart (3)

Along Monument Ave. (2)

Along Monument Ave. (4)

Along Monument Ave. (21)

Metropolitan Community Church (2)

Jefferson Davis (2)

Jefferson Davis (1)

Along Monument Ave. (5)

Along Monument Ave. (18)

Along Monument Ave. (17)

Along Monument Ave. (16)

     When I was fresh out of school, and working a job where I felt unappreciated, I came home to Richmond one weekend, found a new job, and quit the one I had in Norfolk in a dramatic huff. I needed a place to live, and found an apartment in the house below on Monument Ave. It is quite the place now, but when I lived there it was an affordable dump. You could see where a previous tenant hung pictures on the wall because the site of each frame was outlined in roach droppings. There was a football-sized hole in my bathroom floor that gave you a good view down into my neighbors kitchen. It was nothing a piece of plywood and a rug couldn't hide, but my neighbors liked to cook collards, so there was always a strange smell emanating from that hole. I didn't live there long.
Along Monument Ave. (11)

Robert E. Lee (2)

Robert E. Lee (4)

Along Monument Ave. (10)

     With its large globe, hound dog, ox, swallows, and churning waves, the Mathew Fountaine Maury (Pathfinder of the Seas) monument is my favorite. 
Mathew Fountaine Maury - Pathfinder of the Seas (3)

     The last monument built on Monument Ave. was that of Arthur Ashe. I like that it was sort of a raised middle finger to all the Confederates, but I can't stand it artistically. Ashe looks like he is standing on the edge of an upturned concrete culvert from which children are pouring. To keep the kids from stealing his books, he holds them at bay with his tennis racket.
Arthur Ashe Monument (1)

Arthur Ashe Monument (3)

Branch Museum (1)

Branch Museum (2)

First Church of Christ, Scientists

     You would have to be living under a rock, or maybe a marble plinth, to not have heard about the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments. Personally I feel they should stay as part of the city's flawed, but colorful fabric, though I would like to see them somehow interpreted in a more historically accurate context. That said, if I grew up in Richmond as an African American, with these bearded bronze uncles constantly looking down on me, I know I would feel much differently.