Monday, June 30, 2008

Mysteries of Time and Space

"Is a merchant entitled to demand a greater payment from one who cannot settle his account immediately than from one who can? No, because in doing so he would be selling time and would be committing usury by selling what does not belong to him.”
- 14th century Franciscan priest.

Today, nobody owns time: instead, we are all slaves of time. The academic school year is traditionally scheduled to permit students to help with planting in the Spring, and harvesting in the autumn, and to attend school in between their farming chores – a rather outdated seasonal tyranny of time considering how many students actually do help to sow and reap down on the family farm. We even use time to worry about time, looping back over hours wasted, and years misspent. From an early age, we’re taught not to become trapped in the concentration camp of idleness, where the devil will influence us to generally behave badly.

For most of us, there is no place we can hide from time – it keeps ticking, often the loudest during those moments of stolen time when we’re alone. This is more so for me. I have a benign circulatory condition called a bruit in my carotid artery that makes my heartbeat audible inside my head. I often think I hear the relentless beat of techno-rock, a phantom thumping in the background. Is that a car driving up the hill outside, with it’s windows down and its radio blaring, and because of my poor hearing all that comes through is the underlying beat of the music? Usually not.

J wrote that David Harvey said many Western thinkers, “typically privilege time over space in their formulations. They broadly assume either the existence of some pre-existing spatial order within which temporal processes operate, or that spatial barriers have been so reduced as to render space a contingent rather than fundamental aspect to human action.“ In other words, time is more important to us than space.

Except, that is, in gardens. In Gardens, while we may pay careful attention to passages of time (the seasons, the daily journey of the sun and the moon overhead, the changing shadows), we tend to compartmentalize our thinking not (as much) in increments of time, but (more so) in parcels of space.

When I garden, I deal with the spaces in my back yard, and time is simply what happens when I’m there. Today I have to turn the compost, and rake the dog poop out of the compost area. I also have to work in afternoon shade and move the water plants out of the pond in preparation for it’s impending acid wash and re-sealing. I also want to move some potted plants from the front yard to the back. Thus, time spent in the garden frees me from the very tyranny time seems to impose on the rest of my days. When I garden, I’m not just slowing down the clock to a more gentle pace marked by the passage of the seasons, or the sun’s journey across the sky. I’m freeing my other senses from the perpetual schedules and marking of time, thereby enabling me to hear, see, smell and touch and taste and to enjoy the timeless spaces.

Turns out, I can escape from the devil’s workshop of idleness into the garden, there to enjoy the space in peace, without worrying about wasting time. The beat of my heart even slows down enough in the garden that often, I don’t even notice the thumping of my heart, counting down the remaining days and hours of my life.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Koi Pond Murders, Part 2

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."
- George Bernard Shaw

(In our last episode, The Gardener was overtaken by grief, swooning into the arms of her faithful Tech Support Guy upon discovering senior members of her koi pond family had been brutally murdered.)

Narrator’s Voiceover in a deep, slow Sam Elliott drawl:
Recovering fully from her swoon of surprise and grief, The Gardener set about making final preparations for the memorial ceremony while Tech Support Guy led the body recovery operation using a net and a plastic bucket.

The Gardener’s voiceover, beginning with a fake cheerful nervous laugh, quickly choked off by a tidal wave of melancholy resignation:
What caused the Monday Night Massacre? Villains? Evil Magicians, carnival freaks, raccoons, possums, egrets, or a possibly desperate coyote? Skunks and the otherwise tattooed? Australian tree rats, gophers, ground squirrels, demons and devils, two Mormons clones riding bikes, Tupperware Sales-Moms, or badly dressed Amway reps? Some of the dead have been with us for more than twenty years.

Narrator Voiceover, in a - “Hi, I’m Chad McClure. You may know me from the educational films “The Woman In Peril is Saved By Hero In the Nick of Time” and “The Lonely Death of the Woman in Peril Who Solved her Own Problems But Died an Old Maid” - type of voice:
One of the dead was beloved Rickey - purchased before The Gardener married the Tech Support Guy of her dreams over 20 years ago, when he (Rickey) was a little fish three inches long. Rickey came to us with Lucy, the way we always bought fish in the future – in pairs named for dead celebrities. Lucy left us in her prime years ago – she was white – an easily visible target for aerial hunters, as we learned from her untimely death. But Ricky, shown at far right in this awful lineup, survived. At the time of his death, he was blind in one eye, covered with scars from past escapes, missing a few scales and generally looking pretty raggedy. But he knew his name, and came when called to kiss my fingertips when I fed him fish pellets. All the other fish let Rickey eat first, either out of respect, or because he was one big old mean bully of a fish

The other gold fish (at left) was either Phil or Lil – so named because they were virtually identical twins – born as offspring of Ricky and some of the larger gold fish we’d purchased as feeder fish simply to populate the pond when it was first completed. (Ok, wait, I know I said we named our koi after dead celebrities, but I think consistency and truth are overrated, so yes, also named for cartoon characters, but always adopted as arbitrarily chosen boy-girl pairs.)

Tech Support Guy (seen pictured as a shadow above the fourth victim):
I know what you’re thinking, Yes, The Gardener acknowledged that the koi intermarried with the carp, an abomination to a real koi fancier. To make matters worse, Rick was a butterfly koi – the ones with the long graceful fins. Real koi breeders eschew the fancy tail fins because they aren’t genuine koi, and besides, the huge tail fins really increase drag, thus decreasing gas mileage. Apart from that, there’s serious incest happening, and eating of the excess hatchlings by their kin in order to control overpopulation. Pretty depraved pets, eh? But they were like family.”

The other fish (center in top photo) – the silver and black one – was an actual genuine koi, purchased when he was tiny and named Bekko because of his desirable coloration. Bekko was actually probably one of the more “valuable” fish in our habitat, but The Gardener liked him because he could blend into the background of the pond and then suddenly, by changing directions, he could send watchers a bright glint of silver as the sun caught his fins in action.

There were dozens of other victims, unnamed smaller koi who were nowhere to be found. Now, that kind of terrorist attack in the pond hood tends to spook survivors, who are sometimes in hiding for days afterward, a sort of collective fish PTSD.

A fourth fish was found gutted and drying in the sunshine behind the pond. His body was too mutilated to permit identification. The corpse, dragged about 4 steps away from the side of the pond and disfigured violently, confirmed that it was invaders, not poison, that killed the fishies. Based on our experience egrets completely consume their catch, leaving only bones and an empty skull. This last find confirmed for us that this was not an egret, but something that entered the pond, captured and removed fish and tried to carry them away. Some glutton who, not satisfied with Nature’s bounty, simply killed all in his path, not stopping to consider his innocent civilian casualties.

(Camera pans out from the solemn, sweaty face of The Gardener, to slowly reveal her arms holding a long shovel, then her entire silhouette a gardener poised in profile, bending over a shovel, beneath the shade of the California pepper, and backed by a sun-drenched canyon of glinting golden dry tinder.)

The Gardener:
We buried the bodies in what will one day be my White Garden, overlooking the back canyon. Ricky is at far left, on the left side of the night-blooming jasmine, and Phil or Lil beneath the right side of jasmine, and Bekko beneath the Alfonse Karr Bambusa further down the hill at the far right of the picture.
By late Tuesday, we observed at least two survivors, both medium small – about 6 inches long, but they may be gone now too. The food we left for them lies untouched at the bottom of the pond, and no one comes when you wiggle your fingertips beneath the water and call them to dinner. For now, while we’re grieving, we don’t want to buy any more koi. We’ll get the “skeeter-eater” fish the County provides to prevent disease-bearing mosquitoes. They remain too small and unappetizing to attract predators.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Koi Pond Murders, Part 1

“And the Guide said to me: ‘He wakes no more
This side the sound of the angelic trumpet;
When shall approach the hostile Potentate,

Each one shall find again his dismal tomb,
Shall reassume his flesh and his own figure,
Shall hear what through eternity re-echoes’."

Dante, Divine Comedy, Inferno: Canto VI

Narrative Voiceover:
Our mystery begins early one recent sweet morning, when Spring was holding her brightest smile still for the camera. The peace of the morning is suddenly shattered by a sudden cry! Startled birds spread the alarum! With a shriek rivaling a vintage 1940-something stunningly beautiful woman in peril, The Gardener does a (ladylike) spit-take of her morning iced coffee, fragrent with cardamom. Strolling through the outdoor patio to say good morning to the fishies, The Gardener is stunned to see a floater: a dead fish bloated and lounging sideways at the surface of the pond. There! Among the water lily leaves, algae blooms and torn netting. Not one. Not two. Three! Their blind eyes staring up into the deep blue morning of their Judgment Day.

“Tech Support Guy,” wails The Gardener, flinging aside her vintage collectible Dopey™ coffee mug, “There’s been a fish disaster!”

(Camera focuses on animated picture of Homo Simpsonien, falling to his knees, throwing his arms outstretched, beseeching the sky in an eternal reverberation. “NOOOOOoooooooo…” and continues to pan out from a crane shot, morphing through mapquest, to google, to google earth, to the universe, past Planet Express Ship, and vanishing into the infinite.)

The Tech Support Guy, in a deep voice, dripping with wisdom and speaking slowly with resignation and zen-like acceptance: Hell is the place where we remain on the earth that we created while we lived – only for eternity. The cries of those from within the inferno may echo eternally, but the lament of the living, when sending off the spirits of the dead, don't last all that long.

Narrator, in a country preacher chant of a voice: Our fallen heroes wake no more this side of the angelic trumpet. Who perpetrated this act of terror?

(Cut from animated universe to real picture of TH, swooning in TSG’s arms. Pan gently to a slowly waving American flag at half mast, reflected in the silent pond. Fade to black.)


Thursday, June 19, 2008


“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States all slaves are free... They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts, and they will not be supported in idleness, either there or elsewhere.”
Major General Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865

According to the FBMS (Federal Bureau of Made-up Statistics) more than 82% of bloggers are illiterate, uninspired, filled with rage and undirected longing, and/or simply stupid. The FBMS report goes on to say that 83% of the remaining 18% are narcissistically focused on their own small patch of reality, which is, let’s face it, often of interest to fewer than 8 readers. This means that the chances of finding an interesting blog, written in a literate and engaging style, presenting a new and creative idea, or a new and creative take on an old idea, are vanishingly small.

So, if you’re reading this, it’s almost certainly not worth the effort. Your dogged persistence in reading says more about your stubborn nature than about my creative writing. Since you’re still here, I submit that you are probably like me, turning off your conscious mind and blindly surfing garden blogs for flashes of brilliance, insights so crisp and fresh they taste tart on your tongue, and combinations of words that make your eyes sparkle. Such a quest is very much like visiting my garden this time of year. There’s a lot to see, but viewed with a critical horticultural eye, much remains unkempt, uninspired, terribly neglected, or simply stupid. Not much sparkling, although the strawberries are sweet and tart.

Most gardeners can’t keep up this time of year. There are not enough hours in the days, even as the summer solstice approaches, to do all that the garden wants us to do. So, I stayed in the cool indoors this afternoon, surfing the web - supported in idleness just what General Granger warned us against. And that explains how I learned about June 19th.

According to the link above, “President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It seems hard to believe that it took two-and-a-half years for the news to reach Texas”. So take a day off from your garden NOW. This is Emancipation Day, and it’s probably too hot outside anyway. Make yourself some iced tea or pour yourself a cool beer. If you don’t have indentured servants to stand at your side and cool you by languidly wafting fat palm fans, sit yourself in front of an old fan, or on a rocking chair in the shade. It’s almost summer time, and the gardener’s living is almost easy. Happy Junteenth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blessed Be the Gardeners

“Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused”.
It’s been hot – high 90s F – too hot to work outside. I manage to get outside about 7 pm when the patio is in shadow and it’s cool enough to water the thirsty shade plants. My potted fuchsias are putting on a show. I don’t recall the name of the pink and white cultivar, but the pink and purple one is, appropriately for the subject of this post, “Voodoo”.

Magic is in the air. Possibly the effect of watching too many Harry Potter movies. From the depths of his Lazyman recliner, my Tech Support Guy pointed the TV remote at me last night and shouted, “STUPIFY”. Unable to think of a suitably witty riposte, I clocked him with a pillow from my massage chair. To which, of course, he replied: Ahh, my spell worked, Stupid Old Woman! (That’s his pet name for me). We may be going to hell, but we’ll probably have fun down there.

Which got me to wondering what I might have thought of such behavior back when I was a kid in seminary school. As you may recall from your Baltimore Catechism there are about 8 Beatitudes, more or less. Generally, they are all about the miserable: hungry, clinically depressed, lacking in imagination (aka, poor in spirit) and other kinds of meek little parasites that seem to cling to most family trees.

Yeah, sure there are the merciful, the peace-makers and clean of heart, but generally speaking my Mom once told me, such sanctimonious suck-up behavior gets rewarded well in this life by being appreciated by other self-righteous types. But “clean of heart”? As my Sister M would say (I have four sisters whose names begin with M) “WTF,O?” Which gets me to Q/A 716 of the Baltimore Catechism #3: “Why are the clean of heart promised so great a reward?”

“The clean of heart, that is, the truly virtuous, whose thoughts, desires, words and works are pure and modest, are promised so great a reward because the chaste and sinless have always been the most intimate friends of God.” Which is a positive spin on nuns telling us at age 8 that Jesus won’t be your friend if you’re an immodest little WHORE. Which reminds me of a line from Family Guy when Peter, as a young boy, asks his mother why some great evil occurred. “Because you touch yourself” is Mom’s matter-of-fact reply. Years of therapy ensue….

So, since it's too late for me to take the pure-of-heart route to "friending" Jesus, I’m giving some thought to inventing a few new beatitudes for blessings from the faithful who cultivate gardens. Beatitudes are supposed to be the “highest Christian virtues” that we should practice in order to obtain “sanctifying grace in this life and eternal glory in the next” (Q/A#711). It’s time we updated them for gardeners.

Blessed are those who cultivate gardens, for they shall return to Eden as it was before the fall.

Blessed are those who compost, for they shall not suffer in the heat our overheating globe.

Blessed are those who teach their children to sustain the earth, for they shall enjoy some kick-ass reunion picnics together.

And finally, one for me: blessed are the irreverent whose garden designs veer dangerously toward kitsch, for the harvest of their imagination shall be richer than any earthly paradise.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dolce Domum

"Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way...shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day's work..."
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Home should always be sweet, wherever it is. Here are more pictures from my sister’s garden in Michigan. There are very few things that grow equally well in Southern California and central Michigan. So we often exchange pictures and envy what flourishes in one's garden that languishes in the other's. The only thing we have in common below is iris, although my thirsty and anorexic plants make her iris patch look like a jungle to my eyes. Here are M’s pictures with her captions.

I started a bunch of bicolor violets from seed (looked more red and yellow in the catalog) to live around my mailbox, where I need something short. The first flower opened the day I put them in the ground.

The irises just started to open, at the left front of my house. The viburnum beyond them is now about 8 years old and flowering for the first time (just a little topknot of three). There were so many old roots there from the juniper we'd removed that I ended up planting the poor thing in a narrow little clay hole, where it bare survived. It is finally feeling comfy.

To the right of the viburnum is the white rose I used to have in a patio tub. It looks much happier, although I did just spray it for aphids. I bought it on impulse because of its clove-scented blooms, but the super spiny branches tried to kill me every year when I was surrounding it with a cage filled with leaves for winter insulation. No more of that!

To the right of that is the hole where I butchered a too-large viburnum down to movable size and moved it to the back yard.(When that bed starts to fill out, I'll send photos.) In its place is a sad Little Honey oakleaf hydrangea, still barely recovered from its Fed Ex journey. I really need to buy more locally in the future."

The clematis on the lamp-post is much happier since I gave it an inadequate trellis. Behind it, the stupid peony is in bud (stupid, because it can't hold up its own heavy flowers).

I've been too busy working in my own yard, making the most of the lingering chill on mornings to stop and take pictures and blog. As much as I envy M's peony clematis, my own garden always has the sweet fragrance of home, sweet home.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Loathing and Envious Eyes

“Man designs for himself a garden with a hundred kinds of trees, a thousand kinds of flowers, a hundred kinds of fruit and vegetables. Suppose then, that the gardener of this garden knew no other distinction than between edible and inedible, nine-tenths of this garden would be useless to him. He would pull up the most enchanting flowers and hew down the noblest trees and even regard them with a loathing and envious eye.”
- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

I’ve tried to plant seeds into the ground. It’s too dry and too hot, or else it’s too cold and wet. Few survive. Also, there are too many predators interested in harvesting tender young shoots. Nothing grows except a few brave sunflowers protected by a fence of chicken wire. So, I’m back to planting seeds in starter packs. The envious eyes of birds, rabbits, and grasshoppers will be able to see what I’m doing, but at least the new sprouts will get sufficient water. Once they sprout, I plan to place a flat piece of chicken wire on top of the trays to preserve them from the envious while they are tiny.

Because I have such a failure rate, I often label my starts with “indelible” pen on popsicle sticks, thus not wasting my cool Brother “Electronic Labeling System” on the expensive metal stakes – those are reserved for survivors who make it into the actual garden. What often happens is that by the time the survivors are ready to transplant, their labels are too faded to read. But yesterday, I discovered a wonderful way to label starts without using the nice metal stakes or wasting non-fading label tape.

This year, Seed Saver’s Exchange packaged their seeds in bright yellow biodegradable plastic seed packets. By inserting the metal stakes into the bottom of the empty seed pack, I can then slide the pack up to the top and close the ziplock seal on top. This secures the pack to a metal stake that I can use as a temporary label. Once the seedlings are ready to transplant, I’ll dispose of the seed package and use the metal stake to hold a real label.

This may also, I hope, prevent me from pulling up enchanted flowers and whatnot by mistaking them for loathsome weeds.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sacred Spots

“Many women have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of opportunity, perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred spot and sank upswept into oblivion.”
George Elliot, Middlemarch

I once had a boss named Skippy, an insecure little martinet, who was every bit as incompetent as his name sounds. Looking back, that job, all two years, three months and eleven days of it, was the worst job I ever had, mainly because it sucked the spiritual grandeur out of my soul like a hyena sucks marrow out of zebra bones somewhere on a parched African plain.

I quit that job about the same time I decided to stop bothering with the upkeep of a saltwater aquarium filled with yellow tang, leaving me with a perfectly good plastic, fish tank sized castle to dispose of. Because my back yard is dominated by some gigantic granite boulders, I had a number of possible mountain passes in which to situate the retired fish tank castle. It will always remind me of Skippy and his ilk who personify the meanness of opportunity afforded to the women George Elliot writes about.

So, there my castle sits, high in the mountains, representing a sacred spot to meditate on, a spot more suited to my lofty spiritual grandeur than Skippy’s corner office. I can imagine that someday I will retreat to my mountain stronghold to write the story of my epic life, detailing all the obstacles I had to overcome, and all the mistakes, like The Skipper, that I survived.

I might even go so far as to say I was saved from oblivion, and from a life of tragic failure, by a plastic aquarium castle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gardening the the Land of Earthquakes

Castles built on shifting sand, sink into the sea, eventually.
- Jimi Hendrix

In California, we rarely have basements, preferring to build on land scraped flat and paved with a four inch slab, or built up on stilts if the ground is too hard or steep to grade. Sometimes, instead of explaining that builders are too lazy to excavate basements, we say it's a practice to live with stability in the land of earthquakes. We used to have a big magnolia tree planted so close to the house it cracked the slab. When we had the tree removed, we planned to pave the area with flagstones. Our task was complicated somewhat because we couldn’t level the ground after the tree was gone. The roots had managed to work their way down into the decomposing granite ground. The roots you see here aren’t round. They are 6-8 inches wide, but they stretch beneath the ground for more than 10 inches - which was as deep as I excavated before giving up.

The flagstone path is thus lovely in pictures, but treacherous to walk on because the grade dips over 4 inches from pond to cement patio. An earlier owner built the crooked uneven narrow concrete path at left in first picture. It too, spoils the grade and is almost as hard as the tree roots to remove. Someday before I’m confined to a wheelchair, I’ve got to do something about that. But I have another problem that’s more immediate.

When we built the arbor, we couldn’t seat it on concrete piers buried in the ground because we didn’t want to resort to dynamite (I’m not kidding) to level the ground. When our pond was built, the builder broke TWO rented jackhammers trying to make it below ground level, and thus he had to build up with cinderblocks to get the minimum depth of 2 feet. That’s why we have to have the pond in the background of the first picture covered with a net – the fish can’t dive deep enough to escape the giant herons that see their pond as a buffet.

We have to live with the shallow pond, but now the arbor is leaning because the left-hand leg sits just about on the original trunk - you can see the roots radiating out from where the crooked post now stands. The guys who removed the tree chopped the trunk into sawdust down almost a foot, but the sawdust/remaining root has subsided while the other legs of the arbor seem to be content pretty much where we originally placed them. In the process, the drip irrigation which fed all the plants on/beneath the arbor has stopped working – most probably because of the subsidence of the rock planter which pinched the tiny line. I now have to hand water daily to keep these guys alive. Which leaves me with two choices:

I could prop the arbor up, perhaps on an extended ladder, excavate beneath the crooked leg, find something solid to replace beneath it, and replace it in a more vertical position. That means removing all the plants, and disassembling the planter at the base. That might enable me to fix the drip line while I’m at it.

Or, I could call this my earthquake arbor, tell people the ground is shifting beneath us every day, and the lopsided arbor stands as a metaphor for the impermanence of man amid the giant boulders representing the relative immortality of Nature. My orchids and other delicate plants in this spot would have to be moved, or hand-watered daily, or die, or they might be able to evolve drought tolerance in one season. My limited horticultural knowledge tells me the last option is unlikely, but you never know.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fear Itself

“Freedom of thought is the only good that is perhaps more precious than peace, for the simple reason that, without it, peace would merely be another name for servitude.”
- Andre Comte-Sponville

Here are some more pictures of stuff I can’t grow in my backyard. The pictures are of my sister’s garden in Michigan. She's too busy gardening to have her own blog.

Generally speaking, I’m a big fan of Freedom of Speech. But recently, I was caught in the ripple of an e-mail message circulating about a new scam thieves use to steal your car and terrorize you. Here’s the heart of the matter, purportedly from “a Pine Bluff, AR Policeman”. In the seductively gravelly whisper of a horror book on tape, the message says, “You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You start the engine and shift into Reverse. When you look into the rearview mirror to back out you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors, and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view…” That’s when the thieves “appear out of nowhere” and jack your car. Walking and talking about fear itself: terror is another name for servitude.

Or, I suppose you could do what I do - and simply not look in your rearview mirror before you shift into “Reverse”. I know what you’re thinking, but this story must be true too, because the chain mail message includes “THIS IS NOT A JOKE” in the subject line. The part about me not looking in my rear view mirror before backing is so true I forgot to laugh.

And now for something seemingly completely different.

I’m thinking of starting an e-mail chain to spread the word that me and my college friends weren’t crazy when we were watching the Wizard of Oz, and at the exact moment the Cowardly Lion roared for the third time, somebody started playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Literate college kids all seem to know that the song TOTALLY goes with the movie at that point, and explains some of life’s greatest mysteries. Rest assured, THIS IS NOT A JOKE EITHER. Movie and song sync perfectly even if you’re NOT stoned and listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” when the tornado hits Kansas.

To paraphrase what Bill Murray’s character said in Caddy Shack, about how a swami once told him he’d have universal awareness in the moment before he dies: “So, we’ve got that going for us.” So let’s all just be careful about retrieving messages left on our rear windshields, and we can all get on with our lives.