New plants for 2015

It is easy for me to go stir-crazy this time of year, because the weather doesn’t typically cooperate enough for me to work in the yard. So, I spend my time planning which changes I intend to make to the landscaping, and ordering new plants online. Good for my cabin fever; bad for my wallet.

These three plants will be joining us in a few weeks:

'Aphrodite' Sweetshrub

‘Aphrodite’ Sweetshrub

I am a big fan of sweetshrubs due to the lovely one I discovered in the yard when we moved here 5 years ago, so I was very excited to see Proven Winners debut a sweetshrub that actually enhances the best features of my older plant. The intoxicating blooms of ‘Aphrodite’ are larger and it has a longer blooming period.

The Rising Sun Redbud

The Rising Sun Redbud

I could not believe my eyes when I stumbled across this gem online! This small redbud blooms normally, but the real show begins when the leaves emerge in a peach color before maturing to dark green. Apparently, keeping it watered and fertilized forces the show to continue throughout the growing season.

akatsuki_dogwood

Akatsuki Dogwood

This small tree has stunning variegated leaves and large flowers that open white before gradually turning pink. It blooms longer than most dogwoods, and has excellent fall color.

To thine own self be true

Much has been made recently of comments made by Russell Tovey, one of the stars of HBO’s gay-themed Looking. During an interview with the Guardian, he said the following:

I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up. If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path. Because it’s probably given me the unique quality that people think I have.

While he has since called his statement “inarticulate,” it is easy to see why so many in the LGBT community found his remarks insensitive and outright homophobic. After all, how many of us grew up in similar circumstances where we often felt the need to hide our true nature from family members and friends in order to fit in with social expectations?

We live in a time when the effeminate male has become a bit of a pariah within the gay community. The standard for a desirable man is often described as “straight-acting,” and many guys are quick to point out they only want masculine, non-effeminate men. Because so many of us exhibit behavior that could be considered feminine, one has to wonder if this is symptomatic of self-loathing within the gay community.

I certainly wasn’t what one would consider a boyish child. Sure, I did my fair share of tree-climbing and the like, but I was just as comfortable playing Barbies with my sister or going shopping with a car full of women. As I got older, there were times when this kind of behavior was discouraged by adults, but most of the negativity I received as a child came from other kids. I absolutely despised being called a sissy. “Only girls play tambourines,” said one boy at church, much to my chagrin.

On the other hand, my maternal grandmother practically encouraged my girlish behavior by saying I should have been born female. She even gave me, my sister, and our two girl cousins matching dolls and strollers for Christmas one year, explaining, “I didn’t want him to feel left out.”

Even though I tried to alter some of what I thought were undesirable traits as I grew older, I never was able to morph into the idealized concept of masculinity. As an adult male, I still have characteristics that most guys would consider feminine. I cry easily while watching television. I love dancing like a slut to Beyoncé music. I worry incessantly about how I look. I’m pretty sure I have at least two periods a month.

But really, why do we care so much more when female traits are exhibited by a man than when masculine traits are exhibited by a woman? I suppose our patriarchal society can’t help but attribute power and strength to masculinity while relegating anything feminine to the weak and defenseless. It does a huge disservice to women when gay men allow themselves to be brainwashed into such a misogynistic way of thinking.

Human beings are complicated, but I wish we could evolve beyond our imperfect expectations of what we think male/female and gay/straight should look like. I wish we all could just accept ourselves as unique and whole persons without pressuring ourselves to become something we can never be.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare

The winter of my discontent

Our driveway today.

Our driveway today.

The older I get, the less I like winter.

It is so unbelievably cold here. We received several inches of snow last Sunday and Monday, then temperatures bottomed out under zero. More snow arrived on Wednesday, and then we had another round of freezing rain and sleet on Friday. Because the temperatures are so low, most of the snow we got is still sticking around.

A week later, I am not sure we can even get out of our driveway. We tried yesterday, but got the car stuck 3 times before we gave up. Honey wound up shoveling as much of it off as he could, but the driveway is fairly long and some of the snow wouldn’t budge.

I know the local main roads have been cleared of ice and snow, but our rural road wasn’t touched until a couple of days ago when someone came down it with a snow plow. Unfortunately, it wasn’t treated with any kind of salt or chemicals, so we have to wait for the sun to work its magic. Since temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until Tuesday or Wednesday, I guess we will just have to be patient.

Honey was off work all week due to the weather, and I had to catch rides back and forth from coworkers with 4×4 vehicles. I have decided to sell my truck later this year and upgrade to something that will perform better on slick roads. It is too hard to rely on other people for transportation, and I feel trapped when I am at home without a way to go anywhere.

I have felt so sorry for the birds. Since the ground has been covered for days, they have had virtually nothing to eat. I meant to get bird seed before the storm hit, but it completely slipped my mind. I asked a coworker to run me to a local store yesterday, where I paid $3-4 for several very small bags of bird food. It was almost dark by the time I got home and filled the feeder, but I was happy to see them swarming it this morning when I got up.

Anyway, spring can’t come soon enough for me. I am so ready to work in the yard!

View out a back window.

View out a back window.