Saturday, May 23, 2015


I pulled the rose yesterday and, as expected, I found no live roots.  That pretty much ends my experiments with perennials in my gardens.  At least for now.  I might try again after I think about the situation a bit more.  We made a trip to the garden center and I picked up some new plants and potting mix.  The strawberry bare roots never sprouted so they are coming out.  Another experiment that won't be repeated.  I replaced them with plants.  Also picked up a nicely grown foxglove (for the hummingbirds and bees), a mandavilla that is providing a welcome splash of color.  Trying another experiment with one of the hanging pocket gardens.  For those who aren't familiar with the concept check this out.  Mine is much smaller and filled with begonias.  If it works I will use it next year with other plants.  Found a new variety of pepper, the Shishito, to try.  Also picked up a couple of new peppermint plants.  You can never have enough mints.

Found this first thing this morning.  I guess they thought it a good idea at the time.  As too often happens, someone now needs to clean up the results of the "good intentions."

Now this is an interesting idea on the issue of sky-high medical bills: don't pay.  Of course they aren't saying don't pay anything and the strategy only works when you have high-powered legal help.

I have been watching the hot weather creeping north in various parts of the globe.  This is nasty.  The northern hemisphere is still a month away from the beginning of summer.  By the way, 44.5C translates to 112F.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Watered some of the plants outside and checked on all of them.  What was doing well yesterday are still doing well and what wasn't doing anything is still not doing anything.  It is too cold to do much.

I have heard about problem prison/jail administrators have had in other parts of the world when they find the funds to continue operations aren't forthcoming.  But this is in Alabama.

I had a bit to say about this article.  Since none of that was polite I won't reiterate.  This won't end with Canada and Mexico or with just beef, pork, and chicken.  Have any of read about the conditions under which some of the fish and shellfish imported into the U.S. have been raised?  Well, we like to know where our food comes from and will continue our habits of buyings thins as locally as possible from dealers who deal locally and buying no imported fish or shell fish.


Cold--Cold--Cold.  Did I say Cold??  Only about 40F outside this morning.  I don't expect any problems with the plants.  The lemon verbena are the most tender of them and those plants are all inside.  I will go out later and water the tomatoes on the fence.  The wind just sucks the moisture out of them.

How much "shadow work" do you do?  I am old enough to remember "full service" gas stations where an attendant pumped your gas, washed your windows, sometimes checked your oil.  Then the stations offered a "price break" when you opted for self-serve.  Essentially the lower price paid you for your effort.  My how cheaply we value our time.


A little warmer than this time yesterday but it should warm up a bit today.  We are so ready for real spring.  The weather people joked that we have gone from winter through spring and into summer all in the space of a few days.  One of our hummingbirds has returned.  After visiting the feeder it looked over the plants but all of the ones that it might find interesting aren't anywhere near blooming.  Even though I had a fair number of seedlings successfully started here at home I have a number of spaces in the gardens so I will look for plants the hummers might like.  The only plants that looked stressed after yesterday's frigid beginning were my lemon basil but they seemed to be perking up.  I hope the second unseasonably cold temps this morning won't stress them further.  I brought a pepper and rosemary in from the little greenhouse.  Sure hope the rosemary in the gardens is doing well.  It looked good yesterday.  Another bit of weather trivia: yesterday's high was the lowest high on record for that date.  I am grateful for one bit of good luck--none of the hail and snow flurries that fell a bit north and west of here came by us.


Almost 50F this morning and should go into the high 60s.  Yesterday turned very nice yesterday as the sun finally burned through the clouds.  I watered a bit in the gardens.  The wind, as I mentioned, dries the plants out.  I noticed some cold damage on a couple of the tomatoes but they are looking pretty good otherwise.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Supposed to get temps into the mid 80s with a chance of storms.  I did get my hyssop and lemon basil transplanted yesterday and will get a few other plants out if things are dry enough long enough.  We had heavy rain last night so things need to dry out a bit.  I also need to find the pots for the wintergreen and lemon verbena plants.  I love the way Cook's Garden packed the plants.  They were in easily-opened clam shell packages that kept the plants secure curing shipment.  Those plants are destined for a life inside with brief times outside in good weather.  When I opened up the lemon verbena the strong lemon scent reminded be of why I want to find a way to grow it.  It was wonderful.

As expected Tsarnaev was given a death sentence.  An interesting "win-win" situation.  The families, prosecutors, and the worst of our commentariat can claim a kind of justice (which is a thin veneer over thick plank of vengeance) while Tsarnaev, if he really is a committed jihadi, gets what he truly wants (martyrdom and a reward in his heaven.)  If I sound somewhat cynical, I'm not.  I'm a lot cynical.


Supposed to be warm again today with a likelihood of storms.  Probably won't get much done outside today but things are looking very nice.  In the early morning I saw a couple of the Cupcake squash peeking their little heads above the ground in their pot and by late afternoon all five had emerged and unfurled their first leaves.  The peas are just a bit behind them.  Still no sign of life in the strawberries.  The wintergreen and lemon verbena plants are all in their pots and recovering from the transplanting well.


We should get near 80 today before the temperature takes a serious dive.  Overnight drop into the low 40s.  I will bring the wintergreen and lemon verbena I put in the greenhouse inside for the next several days.  All my peas have sprouted and the Barese cucumbers are starting to poke through the soil.  The rose still hasn't shown any signs of life so I will wait until next week and, if it is still not showing anything, I will dig it up and check what is happening below the surface.  And if the strawberry plants aren't showing anything I will replace them with already sprouted plants.

This article sums up some interesting studies, clinical and lab, on drug addiction that I have hear a very few mentions of before.  It makes one wonder if we really don't have the entire notion of drug addiction wrong.

Some time ago we decided to change our foods to those which were the least processed in any way and had the fewest additives.  As a result we get whole dairy products as much as possible.  No 2%, 1% or skim.  We have also shifted away from margarine and back to butter.  Conventional thinking would be aghast and waiting for us to gain a lot of weight as a result.  Didn't happen.  This article might help explain it--as far a nutrition science can explain much of anything.

Another interesting article that pretty much confirms some of my own not terribly scientific conclusions: much of what appears in the science literature isn't very reliable.  All too often the results are preliminary and won't stand up to further studies aimed at confirming them.  The pressure to publish and publish frequently pushes the release of preliminary data long before any firm conclusions can be reached.  And too often the researcher asks the wrong questions or fails to ask reasonable follow-up questions.  (See the first article I linked to where they describe the studies in which isolated rats lapped up the cocaine laced water till they died.)  Also the entities which fund the studies want certain results and, by asking the right questions and setting the parameters of the experiments the "right" way, their tame researchers can give them those answers.  Think about how often a nutritional study which indicates a "health problem" with one kind of food (eggs, red meat, dairy, whatever) is followed by contradictory studies claiming the "health benefits" of those very same foods.

Scott Walker's "Sarah Palin" moment:  she was qualified to be vice-president (possibly president) because she could see Russia from her deck and he thinks he is qualified because he traveled to six countries

I have been getting real tired of all of the various events to "honor" our "heroes."  They have become increasingly saccharine and staged.  Evidently, my instinct on some of those events may more right on than I knew.  Cheap and insincere and avoids doing anything of substance to "support" the troops.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Though warmer than yesterday at this time it is still very cool.  But I don't see any frost threats in the seven-day forecast so I will put the Tumbler tomatoes back on the fence and uncover the tomatoes in the containers.  The strawberries I wasn't happy have given me no reason to change my mind about them.  If they still haven't shown any life by next Monday I will replace them with developed plants.  Still haven't seen any life in my rose either.  I am not sure when I should consider it a lost cause.  I need to move the last of my seedlings upstairs into the mini-greenhouse to harden off a bit before I transplant them.  I got an e-mail from Cook's Garden telling me my wintergreen and lemon verbena plants are on the way and should arrive tomorrow.  The sweet potato slips should ship next week.  That will complete all my orders.


Had heavy rain off and on last night.  As soon as I have more light outside I will check the plants especially the Tumbler tomatoes which are back on the fence.  And the standard tomatoes which I uncovered yesterday.  I don't know if it will dry out enough to plant anything more.  We'll see.  Waiting for the sweet potatoes.

As I have mentioned before, I am very skeptical of the whole notion of "privatization."  It is simply a means of commodifying goods/services that shouldn't be turned into profit centers.  But we have seen more and more of the process of supplying such goods and services turned over to private companies so they can squeeze as much as they can without regard for the wellbeing of the people receiving those goods and services.  Water is an intensifying battle ground as this piece shows.  I have read horror stories about cities who privatized their water systems only to have to reclaim them after the companies failed to either up the maintenance of the system creating a health crisis and/or failed to follow through on their other promises.  Given what good neighbors profit driven companies based in distant places are, perhaps it won't be so bad.

We haven't used our dishwasher for nearly ten years.  We weren't happy with how it cleaned the dishes and never could get it adjusted properly.  We simply gave up.  There are only two of us here so one of the suggestions the repairman made--to make sure we had a full load each time--was unrealistic.  Mom always washes the pans separately anyway but even with a pan or two our few dishes each day wouldn't come close to filling the dishwasher.  We could go a week if we had the number of dishes required before we would have a full load and by then the food residue we were supposed to leave on the plates would have dried rock hard.  This little article, however, indicates that families with children might have healthier children by mothballing the dishwasher and doing their dishes by hand.  Though cleanliness may be next to godliness too much can be a health risk.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Chilly as promised this morning.  Temps might go up to 60F.  So far what I have already put in the garden is doing well.  I saw several of the sunflowers popping up so I should be able to plant the beans next to them in a couple of weeks.  I still have peppers, the Roselle tomatoes, hyssop, lemon balm, lemon basil and marigolds to put out.  And sweet potato slips coming in the mail.  I just got all of the Tumbler tomatoes off the fence and into the little greenhouse along with the Red Robin in a small pot.  All the others are under caps.  The weather people are calling for frost warnings for areas west of Chicago.  We may be east but I really don't want to lose tomatoes I started myself and nurtured for the last three months.  The herbs should be able to handle the cooler temps.

I find stories like this amusing.  Often we hear a statistic on how much of something "we" Americans consume and sometimes we wonder who is getting our share.  Things like chocolate, or beer, or something like that.  Other times we wonder who would want all that crap.  Some of the stats in the article were more accurate once--when we were younger.  We've pared down a lot over the last few years and our shopping over the last 20 years especially has changed drastically.  The totally unstated point lying beneath the statistics is that we reduced to that nebulous identity "consumers."  Our value, for decades now, has been in how much stuff we could accumulate which was a rough estimate of how much money we earned and could waste on ephemera.  Martin Luther King, Jr., said he looked forward to the day his children would be judged by the content of their character.  Instead we all are judged by the contents of our closets (and garages and storage units and where ever else we can pile the crap.)


Low 40s this morning.  I could probably have left the Tumbler tomatoes on the fence but the wind was brutal which would have ripped them up.  In spite of the chill I took my claw cultivator out to attack the weeds in my containers that are the results of the birds scattering their seed all over.  Checked the covered tomatoes while I was at it and was totally surprised to see tiny buds on my Microtom tomato, a small pot variety.

This 5/3 Bank commercial is more blackly humorous than they realized.  It tells more truth about the employment prospects of college graduates than I think they really intended and offers less assistance to those graduates than promised.  If the jobs aren't there the bank's job search assistance won't do a hell of a lot of good.

Another good reason to eat as little fast food as possible.

Something to ponder as you watch the news reports about the latest Amtrak derailment.

This actually tops the policies of Florida Governor Rick Scott which prohibits state employees mentioning "climate change" and related words.  Wyoming and other states simply don't want to know if their streams are polluted and have criminalized the collection of such data and transmission of such data to state or Federal agencies.  Brings "Know Nothing" from the 19th century into the 21st.

Hee hee!!  A new infestation spreading.

I adore the quote from Smedley Butler that starts this post.  It is a perfect lead into the iniquitous list that follows.

Monday, May 11, 2015


We expect rain off and on today so no gardening.  Everything looks pretty good.  Next couple of days should be dry but colder as in lows in the mid to high 40s and highs in the mid 60s.

More Monsanto plots (in more than one sense.)  They are like the proverbial camel sticking its nose under the edge of the tent as a prelude to taking it over.

Maybe it is time to add catnip back into the gardens.  I had stopped after all my cats looked at me like I was crazy offering them catnip, in toys or otherwise.  This piece says it is a better mosquito repellant than DEET.  That alone would make it worthwhile.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Thunderstorms rolled through starting yesterday evening and continuing through the night.  It is still dark so I can't see how my plants are doing.  Update:  now that I have light I can see all the tomatoes are bedraggled but alive.  Sometime today I will have to get out my garden stakes and get them supported.

I follow a number of "sustainability" blogs or environmental blogs or homesteading blogs, what ever you what to call them.  I have noticed this shift in some of them.  They are dropping the term "sustainability" in favor of "resilience."  I read the original story, included in full, yesterday but find the introductory comments interesting so linked to the Naked Capitalism site rather than the original.

Interesting and thought-provoking essay partly concerning the British elections.  Kaiser's broader theme is political fragmentation in the Western world, the rise of corporate power and the implications of both for democracy.  His outlook is about as gloomy as my own.

Sunday--Happy Mother's Day--

Rained most of yesterday and is still raining.  It was heavy enough that that I worried over some of my transplants but so far all have come through--a bit ragged but all right.  I have friends in Colorado who are getting their gardens in and setting up their bee hives and their weather is much worse.  The rain should continue all day today and through the better part of tomorrow so I am not planning any outdoor activity.

Found an interesting article by Atul Gawande by way of Naked Capitalism.  I recognize many of his arguments from his excellent book Being Mortal.  Both are good descriptions of modern American medicine and its weaknesses, blindspots, and inefficiencies.

Ah, the perils and pains of globalization!!  I have never been enthusiastic about the extremes to which it has been pushed and never believed in the pollyanna predictions of the benefits that would supposedly accrue to people like me.  Most of us got lots of cheap crap and crap jobs out of it.