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For this week's reading, I really enjoyed how Gene transitioned from the chapter on his mother's death to the Marble Orchards.  I've toured some cemeteries and have always felt them to be very peaceful places, somehow in touch with nature even when near a big city.  I'm not sure what I think about the permanent photographs or recorded audio messages... I've never even seen these. But here, I don't think I want to. If possible, I feel I'll stick with only visiting old cemeteries.

The end of the next chapter really struck a cord with me. I do love this message "What if we, as loving parents and conscientious teachers, told children that, yes, someday, the people you love are going to die but they will always live in your memory safe from both the strife and suffering of life and the inscrutable agony of spiritual immortality. Our bodies are made of chemicals and organic matter that do not go to any paradise up in the sky somewhere but into a peaceful slumber of hummus in old Mother Earth where, in one form or another, they live forever.... is it possible that everyone would be happier, accepting the idea that in mortality lies immortality?

The chapter on the pigweed was also great! I'm just getting into planting my first big garden and have been reading a lot about not tilling which is why I think this resonated with me. I also find it so fascinating that some plants just don't do well with cultivation but will thrive when and where you don't want them to.

And finally, the chapter with all the suicide information that contradicted other information. I feel sometimes there is just too much information available for people to quote (or mis-quote) and this chapter really highlighted that again for me. Maybe I'm becoming contrary in my middle age, but I am having more and more trouble believing anything until I see evidence of it myself.

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Sorry I'm so late getting to this. I had a family crisis this weekend (was planning on getting the reading done Saturday, but the last several days have been a blur). I only got chapter 5 read. I'll catch up by next week.

I also loved that section at the end of the chapter. It reminds me of the essay on why you want a physicist to speak at your funeral. Here's an excerpt: You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

Death becomes less scary and less sad when you think about it not as a loss, but as a beginning. Especially when our expired vessels can be allowed to decompose into their basic components so they can become new, beautiful things. I love the idea of nut trees growing over graves. I love the idea of bird's nesting in the grass that grows greener because of the fertilizer buried beneath. 

Please don't be sorry at all and I hope things are better for you and your family now!!! If not, I hope you can get some good time in the garden to help center you through this time. Consider this a random hug from a stranger in California.

Thanks for sharing that excerpt about a physicist speaking at your funeral. I've earmarked it to remember those thoughts during tough times.

Hi, all. I'm sorry to be late to the party, too. I had a long day of traveling yesterday, but that meant lots of time to get caught up. I found some of this week's reading to be a little hard going—not in a bad way, exactly, but pretty serious material. Gene doesn't shy away from the difficult stuff, huh?

A couple of things stuck out to me, in particular. For starters, at the very end of chapter 7, Gene talks about the idea that we live on through our families. I love that. Such a basic, common-sense idea that everyone probably ascribes to, no matter what their beliefs, and I loved being reminded of it. I also love the idea that, beliefs aside, we're part of the food chain and our physical bodies will return to it. That works for me.

Similarly, I found this to be a really practical reminder: "In the garden, the Why Witch disappears from my consciousness." This reminds me of a passage I liked from the first week's reading, when Gene was so distracted by the insects in his garden that he could forget, for a few hours at a time, he had cancer. Even in the six-month season we call winter here in New England, going outside always distracts me from any worries. There's a whole world out there—and a microworld in the garden alone.

I think this is just an ongoing party, no ending, no beginning. Except for Monday, when we start the fun on some new section.

I agree, Jennifer, this is some heady material. I get a little overwhelmed sometimes, but then, the chapter just ends! And I take a deep breath and slowly let it sink in. Although I find Gene's writing very accessible (for lack of a better word. I probably need a better way to say 'not text-book like'), it's some dense material. I find myself re-reading a lot of sections just because I'm not sure what just happened.

Thanks for chatting this week ladies!

Hey, guys. How are people feeling about next week's reading? Does chapters 11 through 18 seem doable for Monday, or should we aim for a bit less? Also, I can kick off next week's discussion, if that sounds good.

11-18 sounds good to me. I've caught up from last week's reading and am starting on this coming week's. 

I'll get to it! We're traveling so I may be a little late on Monday responding but I'll be there!

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