Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunday.  Last day of August.

Yesterday was pretty nice.  The rain held off until evening and, has become usual, was a very heavy downpour that didn't last long.  Supposed to be dry and sunny today.  I hope so.  I have a few things I want to do outside.  I didn't do anything except look at the plants yesterday.  They say we have had a much wetter than normal August and I can believe it.  Stepping outside we feel like we are breathing through a wet cotton ball.

This is an interesting notion but I noticed the article didn't deal with two very important concerns: how much water is required and how much energy is required--and where will each come from.

Monday.  Welcome to September.  Because of the high temperatures and copious rain it doesn't feel like Fall has arrived but the spreading color on the trees is making it look like Fall.

Harvested some peppers and a couple of nice tomatoes yesterday and pulled a couple of petunias that were looking very spent and ragged.  Right now most of the work is deciding when to pull what and whether to take cuttings from which plants and which to repot for moving indoors.  If we get some sun and it remains somewhat dry I may get some of that done.  We'll see.

I don't remember the name of the billionaire (choose your own favorite descriptor) who said late last year that our voting philosophy shouldn't be "one man, one vote" but "one dollar, one vote."  He may be getting his wish though not as directly as he wished.  However, I think it is both obscene and wasteful that the tab for this year's elections has already topped $1Billion and likely to quadruple by election day.

This isn't surprising given stories last fall and just a week or so ago about the problems farmers and grain storage operators had and are having because the oil tankers are hogging the lines.  In a sane world one would think that food stuffs and agricultural products would have priority.  They are perishable after all.  But the oil companies and rail operators must think we will simply mutate to be able to directly consume fossil fuels instead of food.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Just waking up on what looks to be a warm day punctuated by thunderstorms--continuing what we had yesterday.  The patio looked wet but it is still too dark to see much.  So I probably won't get much done in the gardens.

Let's see what I find on the 'net.  The volume is usually much lighter on the weekends.

Considering the epic drought afflicting California, this measure is overdue.  Hopefully it is a case of better late than never.  I have read accounts in Texas and Colorado where the industry claims that they don't use all that much water as a percentage of the total.  However, the figures are their own and no one has any way of checking their accuracy.

We have been more than a little fed up with the media obsession with Obama's tan suit.  Evidently karoli at Crooks & Liars is too.  We suspect, and have for sometime, that they latch onto something trivial and run it to death because they don't want to discuss real news.

Exchange at the grocery check-out:  Bagger "Paper or Plastic."  Me, "Canvas." Which results in a confused look until I hand her my bag.  Cashier, "How many do you have?"  Me, "Several, but I will be using only one."  The store gives a nickel credit on the order for each of your bags you use.  I guess the first half of that conversation might be meaningless in California if the legislature succeeds in banning plastic bags.  We still do accumulate plastic bags but not as many.  I keep them to use for produce at the farm market and for other things.  Every now and then I cut a bunch into strips to crochet or braid into baskets.

Friday, August 29, 2014


We did have a nice day yesterday--mild temps, dry, and sunny.  Today, the weather people predict, won't be.  Thunderstorms by mid-afternoon and mid 80s.  We'll see what I get done in the gardens but I am feeling somewhat lazy today.  I have started dismantling parts of the gardens.  I have moved the tower I added to the gardens this spring into the house after pulling all the plants except the sage.  I had a devil of a time getting the wonderberry roots out and finally tossed the entire root ball--more roots than soil.  Those plants were too big for those spaces but I didn't expect them to get that big.  I am thinking about what herbs I am going to put in the spaces.  I hope they will survive the winter inside.  Sometimes I think I am doing these wind-down chores too early; then I notice how far the shadow of the house have expanded into the gardens.  I was shocked to see it is now almost at the bottom of the fence.  By equinox it will be at the top.  The outdoor gardening season is definitely ending.

Since today is the beginning of the Labor Day weekend I thought this was a good post to link.  All our national holidays have to varying extents been so commercialized that the original meaning has been lost.  Labor day is no different.  We no longer celebrate labor.  We celebrate consumption.  We don't really take pride in our productive skill because we don't, most of us, produce anything and have no skill in making anything.  Instead we flaunt our ability to consume heroically.  We don't really manufacture ( from manu factum, Latin for made by hand) any more; we construct by robot or other machines.  Raw materials go in at one end of the process and the final product comes out at the other with no human hands touching any part in between.  Happy Labor Day, All.  (SARCASM)

Huffington Post linked to a very short and uninformative AP article about recent airliner diversions because of unruly passengers.  Their comment contained more analysis that the AP piece did: a further sign of the devolution of American society.  We have said about the same here reading or seeing similar stories.  Courtesy toward and respect for others has become very scarce today.

Talk about ego!!  Rick Perry has plenty and wants us to take him seriously as a Presidential candidate.  This provides a good reason why we shouldn't.

Our first reaction on hearing about Burger King's merger with Tim Horton and the likelihood that the combined company would be headquartered in Canada so shaving a whopper off their tax bill:  if we still patronized that chain, we wouldn't ever again.  It sounds like some who are still patronizing Burger King are planning on not doing so anymore.  Good!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


It was dry yesterday and only in the mid 70s.  Same forecast for today.  I hope they are right.  It would be really nice to have two dry, mild days in a row.  I have tomatoes to finish off and get in the freezer and a dehydrator filled with hyssop, sage and peppermint to empty.  I picked a nice bunch of lipstick peppers and the first Cornu di Toro Rosso pepper.  All are chopped up and in the freezer.  The Rosso pepper has a really nice sweet pepper taste that will go well in salads or casseroles.  I have a couple of bigger ones slated for stuffing.  I think our hummingbirds have gone south.  They haven't visited the feeder or explored the cypress vine flowers.

So what am I reading today (in between various chores)?

Tomdispatch (as always) which has a piece by Rebecca Solnit that should strike home to any woman who has found herself in a conversation with a man who simply wants to show off his "expertise" to a (he hopes and expects) is a fawning audience.  Some of them really do need to be kicked in the organ with which they think--an I am not talking about their putative brains.

The Economist's View asks a good question:  When do we start calling this the Greater Depression?  I noticed a snippet on a news program last nigh which said that Bernanke has said that the economic crash of 2007 (which has not fully passed no matter what the boosters say) was worse than the "Great Depression."  So why don't we change the Great Depression to "The Great Depression of the 20th Century" and the "Great Recession" to "The Great Depression of the 21st Century."  Of course, if we have another crash of a similar magnitude we might have to start numbering them.  Unless the Great Depression of the 21 Century last the entire century.

Given that this is round 2, round 1 came last fall with similar results, maybe we should all learn to drink oil because the crops aren't getting to market because the oil shippers take precedence.  I remember 1973 when angry Americans protested the Oil Embargo by telling the Saudis and the rest of OPEC to drink their own oil.  Now our oil companies are essentially telling Americans to do the same--and nobody is protesting.  The situation is actually worse than the article said.  According to last night's account many farmers have full silos with last year's crop.

I wonder where California's 1% are getting the water they are having delivered--at $15k a pop.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Heavy downpour yesterday a little after noon.  We were already home and done with our errands.  The weather people say we should stay dry although some scattered areas may get brief showers.  But the forecasts change from day to day--often from one forecast to the next.

Picked up some more corn and a nice batch of roma tomatoes at the farm market so processing those is high on the list this morning.  I hope that will just about finish off the stock of each we want in the freezer for over winter.  Our new dehydrator came yesterday so I hope to give it a tryout today.  The bearings in the old one were beginning to go but it is in its box upstairs--just in case.

I have heard whispers of this in the mainstream press--whispers quickly stifled.  We bought a meat grinder a while back and used it for about a year before we found our small local meat market.  The grinder is in its box on the shelf--just in case.  We have said that if that market disappears we go back to grinding our own mean.

This story leaves me perplexed.  Is any "political" agreement truly binding?  For how long and on whom?  If Obama signed a "politically binding" agreement on climate change before a new congress comes in and the new congress is dominated by Republicans, would they really be bound by that agreement?  I expect not.  And that notion of "naming and shaming" is somewhat strange.  It assumes whoever fails to meet the conditions specified in the agreement is capable of feeling shame.  I am not at all sure many of the world's politicians are capable of being shamed.  I call this an exercise in futility.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The rolling thunderstorms just keep coming.  We had another heavy downpour which hit yesterday afternoon for about half an hour and then continued at a slower pace until evening.  From what little I can see right now we may have had more overnight.  As usual the entire area has spotty wind damage and flooding.  We have errands planned, including a trip to our local farm market, so I hope things stay dry for a while.  And cool--at least until we get back.

The mid-term political silly season is heating up.  The Bruce Rauner campaign in Illinois has trotted out his wife--again.  Her great claim to fame is that she is a "life-long Democrat" supporting her billionaire Republican husband.  Her campaign spot annoys me for a number of reasons but the one that hits me at the moment is her claim that "Bruce" doesn't have a "social agenda."  No indeed, he has an "education and economic agenda."  What makes her think that education and economics AREN'T social?  Nothing is purely social, or purely economic, or purely educational.  It is all interrelated.

I found this by way of Huffington Post.  The U.S. government was "surprised" the Egypt and the United Arab Emirates would act against Islamist militias in Tripoli without clearing their actions with Washington.  Our reactions here: 1) where are our "intelligence" services and what are they doing?  2) turn about is fair play--that has been our MO.  How often have we acted unilaterally because we thought the action was in our interests?  3)  Are we so stupidly self centered that we don't think that other actors on this world's stages might (possibly) have agendas of their own?  Or that those agendas just might not coincide with our own?

Somehow I am not terribly surprised at this item.  But it pisses me off.  I guess it all depends on how you define "caused."  I once knew a veteran, retired military actually, who tried to get treatment for an asthma like condition but was kept waiting for an appointment for nearly a year.  He died five months before that appointment.  Who can say that the lack of diagnosis and treatment actually "caused" his death?  But it sure as hell didn't help.

Monday, August 25, 2014


More heavy rain yesterday in the late afternoon and maybe some in the dark of last night.  Areas got an inch to an inch-and-a-half in less than an hour.  The wind came up and had all the trees and some of my plants rocking and reeling.  It is still dark at the moment (though it won't be when I finally post this) so I can't see if any of the gardens or plants have damage.  Dawn is still a while off.  (Update: it is light now and things are drying out but the sky is overcast.  It might clear off.  It might also dump on us.)

I did get a bit of work in the gardens in between our downpours.  Took out a strawberry plant that simply wasn't going to revive along with the yellow squash and sunflowers.  Both were pretty well spent.  I had left the squash so the one remaining fruit could mature but the previous rain squall (see my last post) knocked that off the plant.  The sunflowers were looking spent with no new blossoms.  Time to clear both.  I also harvested a half cup of wonderberries. We are eating them with our cereal.


Dry yesterday--finally.  Cut back the spearmint.  Dried seven trays and filled a quart jar with the rest and some vodka.  Drained the peppermint put up a month ago.  It is still dark outside.  I woke up just before 3am and again at 3:30  and yet again just before 4.  At that point I said to hell with it and got up for good.  I crocheted a bit on a scarf/shawl, fixed coffee and thought about what I want to do in the gardens when it is light outside.  I am going to take out the melon plants.  They aren't producing and are looking poorly.  I should know better by now--melons and squash don't do well in my gardens.  But I am a stubborn sort, or maybe insanely hopeful, or maybe stubbornly, insanely hopefully.  Every couple of years I seem to try them again.  The roma tomato is also looking spent and has no new flowers so I will take it out.  I hope I can get the peppermint cut back and processed as well before the heat is too much.  The weather people expect heat indices in the low 100s today.  Not conducive for outdoor work.  The borage has finished blooming and I have collected enough seed for next year.  Time for it to come out also.  This year feels discombobulated.  I just checked my posts for last year and the borage and cypress vines were producing still flowering into late September.  They also bloomed earlier than this year.  Everything seems out of sync which does nothing positive for my moods.

Update:  It is now almost 10am.  The roma, the melons, and the borage are gone.  Decided to take out the wonderberries also.  We got a nice couple of cups of berries from them but there aren't many left on the plants and we don't like them well enough to mix them with the blueberries.  I won't plant them again.  I wouldn't even if I had space.  I would rather put in blackberries and raspberries.  But the heat is already building so I am done for the day.  The peppermint can wait.