One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Getting the Spirit

jolly-gardenerSo, it’s December.

You’d only have known it from the calendar page today, though.  Our temperatures climbed up just under 60 today, with sunshine so bright it was once again hard to take a picture of me with my eyes open, when I went down by the bay to try.  This one sort of captures the jolly mood I find welling up in me as the calendar page turns.

Even though it didn’t feel like the end of the year, it certainly is and it’s also, as they say, beginning to look a lot like Christmas.   That was certainly the focus of my day as I worked toward getting the halls decked at the banquet hall.

I always find the decorating (some of which is really serious work, with wobbly ladders and hammering and fastening) goes down a little easier if I’ve got some holiday music to spur me along, encouraging my deep-seated fezziwigness, for lack of another word.  I’m also trying to pull together a few plans for some extracurricular holiday activities, which is sort of exciting, too.  Details as things fall into place.  (When possible, participants will be notified in advance.)

Meanwhile…some pretty pictures, festive in nature.

watercolor-fruit-wreath

tree-detail

fireside-scene

trinity

And it’s not just here on this planet where things are getting a bit festive:  you can see here the solar system provided a  bit of a show this evening, though I am certain that someone, somewhere, took a much better photo of it than I was able to capture.   Just the same…here’s the new crescent moon, with bright Venus and and fainter Jupiter.

I took this from the beach on the way home this evening.  The wind off the bay was pretty brisk and it was hard to stabilize the camera well enough for the shot.  Oh, Santa, an inexpensive tripod might be nice, and could telescope down to fit nicely in my stocking.  ; )

110px-red_ribbon_svgNo matter how merry I am at December’s start, there’s also a reason to be deadly serious today.  This is the twentieth December 1st we have commemorated as World AIDS Day, and there are more people infected with HIV and AIDS than ever before.  So much for a day to raise awareness.

Twenty years ago…that would’ve been 1988.  The Midnight Gardener was 24 and freshly out of the closet the year before.  In ’88 there was (eyeroll, shudder) a perm.  Whitney Houston was “emotional”.  Rick Astley and a guy named Paul were never gonna give me up, never gonna let me down, never gonna run around and hurt me.  They did, of course.  Well, not Rick.  And there were other guys, too.  That was the year or two of my wild oat sowing and it ended with a big scare and my first HIV test.  You had to wait two weeks for the result then, which seemed like forever.  I think during the wait was the whole Olympics reveal of Greg Louganis’ HIV status, which just sort of underscored the theme of my own drama in a weird sort of way.  You’ll understand my great relief at my own negative result then…no less than it was this past summer.

I am of a generation younger than the ones on the front lines of the opening days of the AIDS epidemic.  I grew up hearing about it, knew the facts and how to prevent it and still in my foolish youth didn’t always think it was something I ought to have to worry about.  It wasn’t ’til later that I lost people I knew, appreciated more how quick and brief and temporary life is.

So I suppose it’s easy to understand how a generation younger than mine, who have always known a world with HIV, which has become more treatable and less sure death might take it less seriously than those who watched the people they knew and loved and laughed and cried with disappear from it.  I certainly understand how powerful the denial can be…how very much you want to will yourself to just not think about it. 

But damn, you gotta take this seriously.  Don’t think about it in terms of inconvenience.  You have to know.  I was tested in August of this year, it took twenty minutes.   That’s not too long out of anyone’s day to be sure of their status.  So you haven’t done it before.  Big deal.  Get over the shame, the procrastination, the embarrassment.  Just do it.  And once you know, whatever that result is, you know what you have to do.   From that moment on, use a condom.  Every time.  Don’t trust anyone else to care about you if you don’t.

Okay?  Lecture over.  I hope I didn’t slap the Merry out of you.  Here, maybe this will help, it’s a favorite of mine.

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Comments on: "Getting the Spirit" (10)

  1. You sound all Christmas Jolly. I like your enthusiasm for life. It’s refreshing.

    And your enthusiasm for life inspires you to remind us about this World AIDS Day. I like that clip. I have never seen that one.

  2. I work once a week at an AIDS support clinic. I learned that there are still condoms on the market that contain lubricant with a spermicide ingredient called N-9 (nonoxynol-9). DO NOT USE ANY CONDOM containing N-9. It abrades tissue, leaving the users MORE vulnerable to viral invasion. Spermicide is useless to men, anyway. Read the box before you buy!

    This public service announcement is brought to you by someone who’s lost a loved one to AIDS. I don’t ever want anyone to know what that feels like.

    Birdie, thank you for the PSA! I remember when N-9 was the big miracle breakthrough and supposed to save us. Don’t think I’d ever heard the negative stuff about it before you, though!

    Your bro is in my thoughts this week.

  3. Hey Greg, I can certainly see that you’re all excited about Christmas – the decorations reflect it.
    You’re so totally true about AIDS. Still people are not aware of its seriousness. Can you believe me if I say that there’re parents here who banished their kids just because they were affected with AIDS due to some ignorant and foolish physician/nurse? Sad that people still don’t know what it is and how it spreads and how it doesn’t. [sigh] Wish people change soon… My prayers are always with those affected…

    Mouli, thanks for your prayers and good thoughts. Sad to say I’m not at all surprised to hear of those close-minded parents. That AIDS has been so stigmatized has been, I think, the greatest challenge to its treatment and if not eradication, than at least control. Peace to you.

  4. Dear Santa, you look so young and a lot like a blog buddy to boot! ;)

    The bf and I were tested at the start of our relationship, we had both not been active for a long long time but still hiv can hide from seven to ten years without showing any signs in a person. The results took two weeks to come back and even though we had no reason to worry, it still made me nervous. It scares me that there is such a large push for not using condoms these days in the gay community and that so many young people want to belive there is a cure. Drugs help people live a long life but I heard that for some people the drugs don’t work. I would think the feeling of wearing a condom would be better than the feeling of dying. Good for you Greg in reminding us.

    Steven, you are the sweetest thing and go to the top of Santa’s Mostly Nice (everybody’s a little naughty, eh?) List for that comment about looking young!

    I’ve seen how the drugs effect those who take them. True, the virus levels can made so low as to be undetectable, but the trade-off on quality of life sometimes is a bit of a misery.

    Given a choice between cake or death, I’ll have cake, thanks. ; )

  5. We have had cloudy days every day and I haven’t been able to see the sky show, dangit. I like your jolly picture. I remember well my friends dying, the only thing that saved me was monogamy and prudishness. I miss toby (22)and dennis (30) and bill (28) and george (21)and john (32) and uncle jerry (48).

    Torn, sorry to hear of your cloudy skies.

    I found myself protected somewhat by being in the wilds of upstate, though not as protected as I thought at the time. I’ve often wondered if I’d still be alive if we hadn’t moved away from the NYC area when I was in junior high.

    Hugs for you, with tears, in memory of your friends. All our friends.

  6. GREAT photo, Greg! Good to see you happy, smiling… and wearing a Santa hat makes me smile, too. :)

    I wonder if we could make it a meme: every blogger needs to post a photo of themselves in a Santa hat sometime this month!

  7. Great holiday photos.
    Thanks for reminding me about World Aid’s Day.

  8. It is hard to believe that people still feel invincable to the point that they think catching HIV will not happen to themselves and that it’s an “old-gay-man’s” disease. We thought at one time, we had it under control and that it was going to go away. Then, it was, off with the condoms ( just this one time because that guy looks too hot to be infected) and back to “barebacking.” Unfortunately, the numbers are rising again.

    You look very festive in your Santa’s hat. Glad you’re getting some warmer weather. It is hovering near 30 degrees F here. ( that’s cold to western Washingtonians. ;-)

    It’s a shame how ready most people are to stick their heads in the sand…or somewhere else…isn’t it?

    Our temperatures are fall out of the forties as I write this…and there’s talk of non-accumulating snow for the weekend…and maybe another kind for the week ahead.

  9. I loved that look back to 1988. I, too, went through that perm phase two years earlier; at Mom’s insistence. I loved you shot in the Santa cap on the cape. Here’s to a White Christmas in 20 days! ;-)

    Yah, I think I had willfully forgotten the perm…tho there is photographic evidence out there, god help me…until I did the search to see what was going on musically back then…and then it all came flooding back.

    Goodness, I’ll be thrilled with a white Christmas in 20 days…it’s the one we may get at the start of the coming week I’m a little worried about!

  10. Don’t apologize for your “lecture.” It’s important stuff.

    I remember visiting a small section of the AIDS memorial quilt when it first came to town (early 90s maybe?) and being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it. It’s bad when your friends start dropping around you, and to see the facts translated into visual terms can’t help but sink you into stunned tears. And the scale of the problem is so much worse today.

    Sure, the meds help a lot of people. Sure, people can now often look forward to living more than just a few years after a diagnosis. But like you mention the drugs don’t help everyone, and even the ones they help frequently find that side effects are life-changing.

    If you must indulge, go for that extra slice of pie, but don’t skip the condom! (The triple conjunction photo,if you rotate it counter-clockwise 120 degrees makes a pretty serious frowney face, a good lead-in to your serious topic.)

    Nice observations all around. Mmm, pie.

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