I haven’t blogged in so long that I practically had to get out the GPS even to find my way here.

No excuses beyond the usual. I’ve been busy finishing (yet again) my book. Books in manuscript form, as those of you who are writers know, are a lot like boomerangs: they keep showing up, needing just a little tweaking here and some nipping and tucking there, a possible rethinking of Chapter 15, perhaps another comma or two in Chapter 20. I tell you, you could go mad.

And then there’s Comcast. We’ve been having rather a comcastic time of it over here, ever since we fell for their ad about the triple play. (They really should call it the triple threat.) That’s where you can pay next to nothing and get internet, digital cable television, AND phone service all on one bill. Since we already had the cable TV thing and the internet thing going, we decided what the hell. How great would it be to add the telephone to that lineup and save tons o’ bucks!

The phone immediately went crazy. At least ninety percent of the time, we’d find ourselves talking to people on the phone, having a perfectly nice conversation, and then out of nowhere they would start screaming: “WHERE DID YOU GO? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! YOU SOUND LIKE YOU’RE UNDER WATER!” And then they would hang up on us.

So in the last few weeks, Comcast has been here approximately 468 times, which has taken up an unbelievable amount of time in my life. It’s been like a part-time job, scheduling these visits and then living through them. in fact, I visit with Comcast people more than I see my friends these days. They are nice and apologetic individuals, generally of good character but with a certain air of doom and mystification about them.

Because they are generally young, I have to explain to them that once upon a time in America, phones just worked. You picked up the receiver—it was usually black and heavy—and you heard a dial tone. You could make calls by dialing a little wheel with numbers, and those calls always, always went through. You could even hear the person on the other end speaking clearly and loudly in your ear. It was astonishing. True, the phone didn’t go from room to room, and you had to pay for long-distance calls—but it worked every single time.

They look astonished to hear this.

In our time together, these Comcast men have done everything they can think of. They have rewired the house. They have trampled the flower beds. They have jiggled wires and cursed and complained and called on supervisors and higher powers. They have harrumphed and argued—and one hapless guy even tried to talk us into canceling our service. But we have persisted—and since for the last two days nobody has screamed at me for being underwater, I am even willing to go on a little longer.

But—how did I get so off track? This is not a post about books OR Comcast. This is a blog about the secret to life, which happens to be mulch.

While I am following Comcast workers around my yard, I have been pondering yet again my garden.

Unfortunately, I have always been the kind of gardener who would like it so much more if it was an activity you could do from the window. Okay, I am willing, just barely, to go and buy plants at the nursery and then put them into the ground—and I have even been known to water them for a few weeks. But then, alas, I have a personality defect which caused me to lose interest. I think that nature should step in and do the rest.

So my yard always looks like hell by the end of June or so. Flowers are gasping for life, while only the weeds and dandelions run rampant.

This is where black mulch comes in. It was during one of my walks around the yard trailing a white long wire marked Comcast that I suddenly realized I wouldn’t have to weed so much if I bought bags of mulch. DEEP DARK MULCH. I was immediately ecstatic. I would go and buy heaps and heaps of the stuff, and I would place it where the weeds normally grow, and the weeds would not show, and the flowers would hold in their moisture, and life would be grand.

So I spent a whole day weeding, planting and bestowing deliciously black, rich-looking mulch on everything I could find. I have put it everywhere I can think of.

Here is a picture of my mulch. I call this “Mulch with Hostas.”


And this is “Mulch with Petunias”:



I can’t imagine life without it. In fact, the most recent Comcast guy said he’s seeing black mulch everywhere he goes lately.

“You’re out tromping around people’s gardens a lot, are you?” I said.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Lots of people can’t get their phones to work. People tell me their friends yell at them that they sound like they’re under water.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“But black mulch—” he said. “That’s the wave of the future.”

Wave of the future? It’s the secret of life! At least in the spring.