Gardening in the age of Google

My vegetable garden is thriving. But I’m not sure what it would have looked like without the internet. Some of my searches over the past month:

  • How do you prune cosmos?
  • Why is my cosmos not blooming?
  • What is the yellow foam/slime growing on top of the soil?
  • How do you harvest beets?
  • Do you prune fennel stalks?
  • Is my fennel supposed to flower?
  • What can I do with pineapple sage?
  • How do I dry sage?
  • How do I make stevia powder?
  • Can I prune zucchini stems and leaves?
  • When are French baby beans ready to be picked?
  • How do I deadhead zinnias?
  • Where do I deadhead marigolds?


It’ll be my five-year anniversary at my company, Automattic, this fall, and I’m eligible to take a three-month paid sabbatical — a benefit I’m very grateful for. It feels funny to compile a To Do list for time off, but a bit of planning will help me make the most of it.

Here’s a list of things I’ve thought of, so far, that I’d like to do:

  • Go to the gym at whatever time I want, even — or especially — those awkward times like 10 and 11 am.
  • Spend more time one-on-one with my three nephews and niece, who are growing way too fast.
  • Spend time in our soon-to-be garden, which should be planted by mid-summer, pending this still-rainy weather.
  • Cook a lot and try out new recipes, expanding beyond my comfort zone (aka my beloved Le Creuset dutch oven). Start baking.
    – Take a soft pastel class. Or get back into watercolors, which I enjoyed in middle school.
    – Take a surfing lesson — somewhere in California, if possible. (I plan to take a class in Hawaii this summer — this may be a better opportunity.)
    – Do a self-directed silent retreat at a Trappist monastery up north.
    – Attend a yoga and vipassana retreat in Marin County.
    – Continue with my taiko class and practice my form.
    – Restring my violin and take private lessons.

I’ll try to squeeze in visits to New York and Los Angeles to visit close friends and family, but for the most part I want to travel as little as possible — and enjoy being and doing right here at home.

Binge material

Today, I asked my husband: what shows are in your top 3? Top 5? Top 10? We tried to narrow down our own favorites — we could consider a series in its entirety, or even a single season of a series. It’d be hard to choose from all the shows I’ve ever watched, so I’m limiting this list to dramas I’ve watched in the past five years.

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. The Americans
  3. The Leftovers (mainly season 2, which we recently finished; season 1 is notable, but it’s hard to say I “liked” it — it was incredibly bleak and very hard to watch at times)
  4. Homeland (definitely season 1, but I also got back into it in season 5, set in Berlin)
  5. True Detective, season 1
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. Carnivale (so unique — it’s a shame there were only 2 seasons)
  8. Westworld (absolutely love the premise, but in season 1, I didn’t like some of the forced exposition in parts)

I’ll stop there. I’ve enjoyed other shows, but they don’t necessarily belong on the list:

  • The Night Of
  • Mr. Robot, season 1 (couldn’t get into season 2)
  • Orphan Black (mainly season 1 — after that, it pretty much loses its freshness)
  • Boardwalk Empire

Any recommendations for what to binge on next? Black Mirror, Stranger Things? Try to watch The Wire (again)? While these are all dramas, I’m open to comedy, too (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Peep Show are my favorites.)