Friday, July 31, 2015


Welcome to the last day of July.  I know I am not the only one who feels the time goes just too quickly.  Several bloggers I read remark on the same perception rather frequently.  I have peppermint to harvest today.  The spearmint I cut yesterday filled my dehydrator so I didn't cut peppermint.  I could have used the old dryer but I didn't have to hurry.

And now for a bit of current events that our news media doesn't mention.  The European Union has had an immigration problem for some time and it is growing.  The linked story deals with non-European peoples coming into Europe but there are also problems with European migrants going between various countries.  The promise of free movement within the Union has created more problems than the founders ever dreamed.

Another story which doesn't cause a blip on this side of the Atlantic pond comes from Italy where the first bail-in of a troubled bank occurred--or didn't depending on how you look at things.  Technically one can say that the junior bondholders took a haircut but then they were made whole "to preserve the  reputation of the sector."  What reputation??  The only thing preserved is the portfolio of the idiots who made the wrong investment choice and were about to be hosed.

Ah, yes!!  Much easier than kidnapping a person for ransom.  As the comment on the link I followed said this is penny ante.  The real extortionists are the junior bankers demanding their bonuses.

A semi-humorous take on a guy who shot down a drone flying above his property.  Unfortunately, the law hasn't caught up with technology.  Given all the stories of perverts using up-the-skirt-cameras or drilling peep holes in girls locker rooms or restrooms, I sympathize with the homeowner here.  I wonder if a slingshot would have done just as well in downing the pest.  Or if it came within range of a baseball bat.

Moving backwards with all possible speed.  And let's do another one just like the other one.  Since Ronald Reagan's administration I thought the Repthuglican agenda was to turn the clocks back to 1900 if not before.  Retrograde seems to be the new forward.

But who says we live in a reasonable world?  We aren't really citizens any more.  We are "revenue streams."

If we lived in a reasonable, crap like this self-righteous assholery wouldn't happen.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Hoping to get more done in the gardens today.  We should still have a high temp in the high 80s but with much lower humidity.  It is fairly cool right now.  I have spearmint and peppermint  ready to cut and dry.  The lemon bee balm is blooming nicely and it is very pretty.  We cooked up and froze another 5 lbs of tomato sauce yesterday.  And I got another two packages of the Gold Marie beans picked and in the freezer.

I am already tuckered out.  I tied the flower spikes of one of the sunflowers up so they weren't flopping so much in the wind.  I found the planter of lavender and marigold on the ground yesterday because the vibrations of the wind nudged it off its supports.  Nothing spilled, thank goodness.  I also had to spend some time trying to get some tomato vines back under some kind of control.  The last week of high temps kept me inside more than I like but the last thing I need is heat stroke.  I have to prune those vines some but I will do that in stages.  The weather last night had an interesting factoid: the last 11 days have been bone try in this south tip of Lake Michigan area taking what had been a very wet July down into the below average category.  I wish I had ignored the weather people yesterday and watered outside.  The cucumbers and the squash look much worse for the rain that didn't come.

This has been a season for wildfires--though, honestly, wildfires don't have a season any more.  Tomdispatch has a post today on fires burning in an area they shouldn't:  the North American temperate rainforest.  Mom commented that she can't remember so many fires burning at the same time.  I remarked that we have been saying that each year for the last three or four.

A look into the future?  The water wars are intensifying in the western U.S.  They died down in the southeast when rains finally filled up the reservoirs feeding Atlanta but will erupt again when the next serious drought comes.  Think I am kidding?  I found this a little while after I typed that previous bit.

I have two of this guy's books.  I would love to do more with them but current circumstances don't make that feasible.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I have been "missing in action" for the last few days partly because of shear laziness and partly from lack of interest.  I can attribute the laziness to the heat--summer has finally arrived--which simply saps mental and physical energy.  I have roused myself early in the mornings to water everything in the gardens and every so often to hunt down Japanese beetles to drown.  I have another month of their "chowing down" season to get through and the more of them I kill now the fewer survivors to lay eggs.  I don't expect or even try to kill every one.  We should have cooler weather today but it rained during the night so I will wait until later to spot water what ever needs it.  But another round of rain should come in for the mid-morning hours.  We'll see.

As to as lack of interest--

Ten years ago during the week I watched the local morning news (2 hours), Good Morning America (1 hour), a mix of channels (Scifi, History, CNBC, etc.) during the day depending on what was on, Jeopardy (half hour), local evening news (from 4 to 5:30), national evening news (5:30-6), and finish up with another mix of programs depending on what was on (PBS, History, Scifi, Al Jazeera, etc.)  But over the years the kinds of programming changed (Scifi and History added more and more "reality" shows which didn't interest us), shows we liked developed in ways which left us utterly uninterested (Lost lost us in the middle of the third season) or ended their run which wasn't necessarily a bad thing (Battlestar Galactica and Eureka told their stories and ended before they became boring rehashes.)  The news has become repetitive and uninformative presented with maximum drama and no real content.  All of that was broken up by repetitive and often annoying ads.

I used to be a "news junkie" but lately there isn't anything really new.  Even "new" developments on an old story are rarely new.  We turned off the morning news after the weather report--the only interesting segment for us.  We have turned off the evening news early because they had nothing new.  For the most part the stories simply drift out of the media's ken without explanation or resolution.  Greece, as an example, has disappeared because the situation has gone from a roaring boil of crisis to a simmer on the back burner.  But the contentious issues haven't been resolved and very little of those issues have been explained.  Or how about this story, totally absent from our media, which reveals the deep fissures in the European (Dis)Union?

On the political front--can anyone really tell me that they find the clowns vying for a Presidential election over a year away terribly interesting?  The news reports of the "contest" leave me angry, frustrated, and very, very bored.  I follow politics mainly to keep a tab on what the bastards (of both parties) are proposing to make my life harder.  As far as commenting--what can I say beyond what I have said repeatedly and often with more profanity.  I get tired of swearing and I have ceased to be amazed by the abysmal level of stupidity.

I like Nimue Brown's blog and today's entry is a good one.  Whether a system, such as capitalism, works one has to define terms.  What do we mean by "work?"  If we chose to define "work" as providing unprecedented amounts of material goods to a wide (though now narrowing) group of people or unprecedented wealth (often ephemeral and to an even narrower group of people) or providing unprecedented profits (same caveats as above), then capitalism "works."  However, if we choose other metrics, as Nimue Brown does, then it doesn't work at all.  And today's capitalism doesn't work like the capitalism described by that patron saint of capitalism, John Lock.

I do love the Contrary Farmer.  I can sympathize with control freak gardeners having been one once.  But no garden has turned out in the fall as I planned it in the spring.  Sometimes things work; sometimes they don't.  All you can do is step back and punt.  Like Logsdon age cured me (to a large extent but not completely) of being a control freak.  I just thank the gods of nature for what I get.

So California farmers are beginning to switch to less water demanding drops.  About time.  I don't mean that pejoratively.  I recognize the reluctance to cut one's losses and shift over to something else after a large investment of time and money--even if the project isn't working well.  And until the last few years the project--growing thirsty crops in a desert--paid off handsomely (for some at least.)  Given that the projections of climatologists calls for at least five years of above normal rainfall to recharge the ground water in California, shifting to less water intensive crops is a good idea.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


A bit of a change of pace.  Here is an interesting piece from the Wild Hunt concerning time.  It drew me in from the first vignette with the old man whose time had not commercial value and a relative who constantly criticized him for wasting money on cable.  The story resonated because for years my own time has really had little commercial value.  When I had jobs my time in those jobs wasn't worth enough to sustain me.  My time when I was unemployed only had potential value--as in if the time I "spent" searching for a job succeeded and I had the potential for a money income however small that income might be.  Now that I am retired I find that my time is far more valuable to me than it would b to any potential employer.  I spend it in reading, needlework, gardening, and writing--and I find that a far more satisfying way to "occupy" myself.

The garden is producing more.  I collected a double handful of cherry tomatoes which I added to the bowl we have on the counter.  Next shopping day we plan to pick up some romas and will combine with the ripe ones we have grown to make another batch of tomato sauce for the freezer.  The last batch yielded six one-pound freezer bags.  I also collected a nice basket of Gold Marie beans which are now in the freezer also.  I saw a little pod developing on the runner vine--finally!!  And the Blauhild looks like it is ready to bloom.  My Moldavian balm has also bloomed and the bees are happily working on it.  The nearby bee balm is ready to burst into blossom.  Should be any day now.  Yesterday I stopped short before I was going to open the patio door because I happened to spy a beautiful male goldfinch perched on top of a Candy Mountain sunflower vigorously attacking the seeds.  He stayed there for a good ten minutes.  I won't cut the spent sunflowers any more so the birds can enjoy them--and we can enjoy the birds.

To continue the theme of "time" with reference to "The American Dream" consider this piece from Peter Rollins posted at Pathos.  As usual with such posts questions rise in my mind that circle down to definitions.  Specifically definitions of what the American Dream is about and for whom.  And what do we really mean by "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?"  I won't try to answer those question because my answers might make some people, especially those so invested in hawking consumer products they promise to make us happy, cringe.  And looking back I realize that what makes me happy, what I want out of my life now, and what I want to do with my "liberty" isn't the same as it was ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.  It may not be what I will want ten years from now--or twenty, if I make it that far.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


We did our grocery shopping yesterday which included a visit to the farm market.  Our own tomatoes are beginning to come in and we have more than we can eat so we picked up some romas to make sauce.  All I did in the garden was water plants and drown some beetles.  Today I have beans to harvest and the trimming I put off yesterday.  Was very nicely surprised to meet a neighbor from down the street who came by to see if I could use a few small pots.  His family is moving to Georgia and thought we might like them considering the plants we have.  I noticed several herbs I can take a new cutting from in the next few days.  I looked for some small plants to put in bare spot where the mizuna used to be but didn't find anything interesting.  I think I will take cuttings of the ornamental sweet potatoes to root and put that in.

For some weeks after we got our new-to-us car we kept getting messages on the dash read-out encouraging us to sign up for Onstar and Pandora.  We ignored them.  We are thoroughly turned off by the whole "internet of things" concept.  I agree with the comment Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism) put on the link to this story:  my car will be as old and dumb as I can find.  As will be my phone.

I saw a brief blurb on the morning news on this story.  The rest of the story is a real testament to our (in)justice system.  After all of the news media hullabaloo, the Feds get an "obstruction of justice" conviction that is overturned on appeal.  The whole doping "scandal" got lost in the process.

Caught between high water and none.

I like this notion.  I have read a couple of blogs whose writers have tried versions of it.  I ought to Google indoor gardening again.  Just for the hell of it.


Puttering and maintenance in the gardens today.  I need a new boiling water canner.  My old one sprang a leak so it will become a garden planter.  It is large enough to replace one of the large pots I lost to the winter.  I think I will spend part of today browsing around for a new canner.

An excellent critique of American Christianity.  I have known for a long time that American Christians have cut the cloth of their faith to suit their own purposes and spirit.  And neither is pretty.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


It is supposed to be much cooler today.  We had waves of monsoonal rain last night with lots of lightening and thunder.  At one point the streets on either side of the house had been turned into fast running rivers.  I will check everything in the gardens after the sun comes up.

Garden update:  I took a walk out and promptly drowned about two dozen Japanese beetles.  It looks like they are trying to mount a new offensive.  It is cloudy and muggy so I think I will defer any real work outside till tomorrow when it should be dry and cooler yet.  Making a to-do list.


Been busy in the gardens this morning.  Spread some fertilizer--especially in the cucumber and tomato beds.  Watered the sunflowers and found beans growing on the Gold Marie vines.  Nothing yet on the Sunset runner beans.  Drowned another score of Japanese beetles.  Then I tackled the tomato vines which are going into their jungle phase.  The monsoonal rains and heat have kept me out of the patio for a bit.  I found three Cupcake squash growing to a nice size.  The Moldavian balm has flowers now and I think the bee balm lemon is close behind.  I think I told you all that the hyssop is throwing up its flower spikes and my foxglove is blooming again on secondary spikes.


Planning to tackle the tomatoes again today.  I got the most important ones done yesterday--the ones that were interfering with the gate.  Now I need to get others done.  I trim them so I can more easily see what is developing.  It should be cool and sunny today which will be very nice.  I turned off the air as I usually do when the outside temps drop below 85F.  I spent some time watering all of the beds in the evening and talking to a neighbor who is just starting gardening on his patio patch.  Most of his plants were started late so they aren't as far along as mine.  Since his fence encloses a small patch of bare earth he didn't think about doing containers.

Does anyone feel that somehow, socially and politically, we have gone off the rails?  Who would have thunk it--The Donald leading the Republican polls and retired General Wesley Clark advocating internal concentration camps for Americans who might become radicalized.  But wonder if Clark's sickening suggestion is any worse that the conditions outlined in this Alternet report on employers use of technology to create other kinds of concentration camps for their employees--for the sake of "efficiency" and "team building" and what ever innocuous sounding good they can think of.

Gaius Publius has a long but very interesting article on the factors contributing to the drought in the West.  Many years ago I knew a history professor who studied water law in the west who said that the allocations of water from the Colorado River had been made on the basis of faulty data.  Exactly what Gaius said--they apportioned the water based on the 30 wettest years in the history of the river basin. They knew that in the 1970s and did nothing to change it.

So Kerry is "disturbed."  Why?  Did he think that simply signing the nuclear agreement with Iran would suddenly make them love us?  I can't imagine him being so naive but then so much of American foreign policy (as if a pinball bouncing around has a policy) seems to fit that description.

Another attempt to raid the Social Security "piggy bank."

Saturday, July 18, 2015


We expect more temps in the 90s today with steam bath humidity.  I plan to check everything outside early and I may water everything even though we got what looked like a good bit of rain last night.  I see tomatoes ready to pick.

Garden update:  only lasted about an hour outside before the heat built up to the point I had to quit.  I watered the sunflowers which are the most likely to dry out in spite of the rain we had.  Everything else looks good right now.  Cleared out a lot of the fading lower leaves of on the dragon's egg cucumbers and collected three nice ones we will have later today.  I hope that will open things enough for the peppers planted in the same container can do better.  I pulled the mizuna which was sprawling all over.  I like to leave plants I haven't grown before alone to see how they grow and in what kind of space they do well.  Next year the mizuna will go in its own large pot--as will the mustard.  The shishito pepper I planted behind the mizuna may also do better now.  It does have some nice peppers developing on it.  I also cut as many powdery mildew infested leaves on the bee balm as I could find.  I hope that will stem the spread.  Tomorrow I will spray the affected plants well to curtail it even more.  My basils and chocolate mint are recovering nicely from the attack of the Japanese beetles now that the numbers of beetles have dropped.  A week ago I was drowning thirty or so a day going out several times to hunt them.  For the last few days I have only found one or two.  Right now I am bushed.