These past few days, my aim in life has been simply to keep my rosemary bush alive. After the pepper plant gave up the ghost, in a sudden, petulant fit of decay, it seemed more important than ever. To allow a living thing to fail is a particular and horrible brand of personal defect.

I can't stand it.

Up in the middle of the night reading about horticulture, anxiously inspecting the spreading brown patches, but the rosemary bush looks worse. All my efforts have been in vain, and I hate to see the stark evidence.

I want to know how to keep something alive, when it wants to die.