Sunday, July 31, 2011

Good morning to you all. We are still in a slightly cooler pattern here. The temperatures got to the high 80s after starting at about 60. Yes, it is nice Rebecca. I would love to see the extreme heat break though I am not ready for winter yet. Finished collecting the ginger mint and drying it yesterday. Hope to get the lemon balm today. We were surprised by a little hummingbird checking out the flowering catnip yesterday. First one we have ever seen here. I hope I see the goldfinches that stopped by last fall. I have marigolds on the fence which they really liked. Next year I plant to put all flowers in the nine fence pot holders. I will have to find some nice small plants both bees and hummingbirds would like.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Good morning, everyone. It is clear and cool this morning. The temperature was a nice 60 and the humidity is comfortably low. I need to check out the garden and get a bunch of the herbs cut--again. But first I will have to empty and clean up the dehydrator. Drying blueberries makes a mess.

The other major mess--our dysfunctional legislature in Washington--prompted a thought. During Obama's first two years the then-minority party, our not so well-loved Repthuglicans, blocked nearly everything the administration proposed (even those proposals they originally supported) using exactly the same tactics the Tea Party faction of their own party is using now. The shoe is on the other foot and they don't like the fit. If it weren't for the damage the impasse is causing, with worse damage likely, I would enjoy their discomfort and frustration.

I hadn't read anything about Agenda 21, Lois. From what I skimmed it sounds like a lot of high flown pretty rhetoric with few, if any, teeth. And I don't expect it to get any soon. The U.S. Senate has so far not ratified the program and has, at least according to a couple of web sites (whose accuracy I can't attest to), has been rejected. Both Clinton and Obama put a small part into action with an Executive Order. Considering how the Kyoto Protocols and the Copenhagen meetings on the environment went--I won't worry for now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hello, again, and this time it really is Friday. This has been one of those weeks we have had a hard time remembering what day it is because our schedule has been blasted six ways to Sunday. We had errands and appointments all week. We had heavy rain over night with a lot of lightning and thunder. It is still wet and a new round of rain going to the south may clip up. They said we in our area got almost 2 inches in a one hour period. In spite of the winds everything in the gardens is fine--no damage at all. I have a whole bunch of cherry and plum tomatoes to pick. Should also pick a couple of the herbs.

I just turned off the news on TV. Pandora is much more soothing. The talking head announced they were going to have a 'Tea Party Republican' to explain his position on the debt ceiling matter. I have heard it so many times I am beginning to tune the noise out. I am seriously thinking of resigning my status as a news junkie. The last couple of years have pretty much cured me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good morning to you all on this wet and final Friday of July. The weather people say that this month ranks number one on the all time wettest list. Actually July 2011 has a double distinction--wettest and hottest. We have had (and are still having) on and off showers so I probably won't get anything done in the gardens--unless I sneak out between the raindrops. But I have the blueberries to process this morning. Mom will be doing the first of the corn after her bone scan this afternoon. All of the corn this year will be cut off the cob for freezing. We still have corn-on-the-cob in the freezer. The first of the ground cherries fell off the plants yesterday--four of them. I tried one and, though it wasn't bad, I don't think it is good enough to keep in the gardens permanently. It has a faint strawberry flavor but, if I want strawberry flavor, I can buy strawberries or even grow my own. The seeds were a freebee so it was worth trying them out.

Well, that break was longer than I intended. I have all of the blueberries taken care of. Six pint bags though not a full or packed pint. I spread the berries in a single layer in the bag so they would freeze quickly. And I have three trays in the dehydrator. Those I will put into snack sized bags. Then I filled another three trays with stevia--it was ready to be cut.

I agree, Lois. I love this country but despise our dysfunctional government. Lead characters in one of my favorite mystery novels, Gaudy Night, make the point that the first thing a principle does is kill someone. Too many of those idiots in Washington feel so righteous clinging to their principles while killing our political and economic systems. What makes me very sad is that Obama has been willing to negotiate and to put aside some of the Damnocrats' long held principles only to be despised for it by the Repthuglican ideologues. He might as well have told them to go to hell and stuck by his principles for all the good his willingness to compromise has done him (or us). Now they are putting their pedal to the metal headed for the cliff while firmly believing that he will cave in and save them. I find my self more hoping he doesn't because that will only encourage them to extort more. It is rather like paying the $50 the local gang demands not to break your windows. Next time they hike the demand to $100. And so on and on. Glad you like the pictures. The garden is doing quite well although I do see a few signs of heat stress.

I hear you, Kay. Like you I tried to balance a marriage that was all too much give on my part and too much take on his. His Navy career took precedence over everything and later his preferences took precedence over anything and everything else. Thankfully, I was able to get Social Security based on his earnings intend of my own. That puts me $30 above the poverty level instead of $700 below it. Save for retirement?? Not when your 'partner' never found a penny he didn't want to immediately spend. Put my foot down and insist on some discipline?? Not when the dear boy stole some of the so-called courtesy checks from my gas credit card, cashed them, and then hid the bill from me while I was out of town. When I got back I found the utilities, water, and cable had not been paid and my credit card was threatening me with a collection agency. I left three weeks later. And they tell me my Social Security is an all-too-generous entitlement?? I wonder how they would like to be castrated since Nature was all-too-generous with the balls she gave them.

Reformed Broker has a very good suggestion of where we can find a cool $1 billion (almost) to held reduce the deficit. And that is on the Senate side of the government alone. We might find another $1 billion from the House.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good morning, again, and on to my usual trip through the news and blogs.

I understand exactly where you are coming from, Kay. I look at the mess in Washington and worry. I am one of the majority of Social Security recipients who depends entirely on that check every month. My mother is 95% dependent on hers. The only reason we are reasonably comfortable is because we share the expenses. Neither of us would be at all comfortable if we were doing this alone. We have seen the cost of her medicines quadruple in the last four years, thanks in large part to that little piece of corporate welfare--the Affordable Care Act. And every year the Medicare premium has increased although the COLAs have been negligible or non-existent. If the past hasn't been kind, the future looks worse. It looks very likely that the government will implement that damned 'chained-CPI' as the measure of inflation that will determine how much, if any, cost of living increases we will get. Many of us have noted that the current CPI measures are exercises in statistical lying that allows the Fed to pretend they are meeting their legal responsibility to control inflation. For our siblings who are just behind us, the picture looks worse yet. I have a brother and a sister who are just under 55 and, if the age for full social security and Medicare is raised, they are screwed. Neither one has the time or the flexibility to recoup what they will lose.

I just came back to this after one of the idiot Tea Party Congresscritters drove me away from the news with his inanity. He claimed that raising the taxes on the rich would cost jobs. Oh, my!! How horrible. But the estimate for job losses if they fail to raise the debt ceiling--640k. Why don't those losses register on that guy's radar. I am trying real hard here not to swear and call him obscene names.

The early local news had a segment that illustrates very clearly why we have the impasse. We have seen national polls which say that a sizable majority want a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts with no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But outside the local (Chicago) Congressman's office--dueling demonstrations with one group supporting a hardline of deep unspecified spending cuts and no revenue increases while the other insisted on unspecified compromise. Each legislator can listen to the side he most wants to hear and tune out the other. And as far as claiming that the American People want this or that--they essentially decide those whose opinions they don't want respect aren't Real American People.

Well, I guess I didn't lose out on the blueberries after all. We just got back from our favorite year-round farmer's market where they still had the 5 pound box for 13.99 and sweet corn for 3.99 the dozen. The prices most places have been jaw-dropping to be kind.
Good morning, Everyone. We are supposed to get back into the low 90s for the next week with good chances for thunder storms at any time. I am back to watering early and doing some small jobs in the gardens until it gets uncomfortably warm. It is time for another garden update.

The peppers have been absolutely beautiful this year. These are the red bells. Bought these as seedlings and my put them on my list for next year. If they are heirlooms I may try to save the seeds.

I decided to try these melons, the Tigger. It is an heirloom European variety that only grows to about 1 pound. When ripe it will turn red with white zip-zag stripes. The blurb in the catalog says they are very sweet and fragrant. Started these from seed and the vines have been very vigorous. I found a number of small developing melons so they might produce well.

This is the Brandywine. It is an heirloom variety I started from seeds. This year all my tomatoes and peppers are producing well after last years disappointment with the small and sparse harvest with the slicers. I am trying several new varieties just to see what they will do.

This is the dragon's egg cucumber--a small white heirloom that I started from seed. As I said a few days ago, we took the first one for a salad and were very pleased with it. Sweet, no bitterness at all and thin skinned. Mom doesn't like cucumbers much but she really liked this one. She even suggested they would be good sliced with a bit of salt--and nothing else. I see a lot of flowers and hope they will produce enough for a few jars of pickles.

Some of the first ground cherries are turning yellow and papery which means they should start falling soon. What you see here is the wrapper. The fruit is inside. We are really looking forward to trying these. Started these from seed.

And here is the Vietnamese multicolor pepper. So far I have found only green and purple but I am watching for the other colors. It is a beautiful plant and we will keep one for the show but the fruits are smaller than I thought and a bit hotter (as I described a couple of days ago) than we wanted. The seed company substituted (with my permission) this variety for the one I had ordered because they were out of my first choice and I had no real idea of what it would be like.

This is the Big Beef tomato--one of the odd ones I thought to try out since I still had room in the containers. Normally we would have taken the couple of larger green ones for frying but the heat really killed our appetites.

So far the only plants that haven't even begun producing are the blue lake beans. A lot of foliage but no beans yet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good morning, All. I wondered yesterday morning if we were going to get the sun, lower humidity and temps the weather people promised. Finally, a bit after noon, the sun came out and the clouds burned off. I did get two of my tomatoes caged. But the others are going to stay as they are for the season because getting to them would be a real struggle. I have to catch up on some of the herbs. They grow like the weeds they once were. But I also have a couple of errands to run. Our weekly shopping and errands were a mixed bag. Mom had an appointment for a bone scan but that had to be rescheduled because who ever it was she talked to in setting the appointment told her she didn't have to worry about the calcium supplement she takes daily. Well she should have suspended them for at least three days before the scan and eliminate foods (like milk, cheese, and some juices) that have high or added calcium. So we have to repeat the whole thing again on Thursday. Needless to say, she was not happy. Then we stopped at the farmer's market we have been anticipating for the last month and which finally opened up last Monday. The corn wasn't up to what we have come to expect--a bit small and underdeveloped. And the blueberries were $4/lb. I may have missed the window for blueberries because the last ad for our year-round market didn't list blueberries. They had a sale of 5 lbs for $13.99. That would have been a bit more than $1/lb less. Blast!!

Burning Platform has a good post this morning. What the authors of the study cited call 'The American Peacock Syndrome' Thorstein Veblen (a century ago) called 'conspicuous consumption.' I rather think the full expression of the syndrome is a cyclical feature of human nature. After all the conspicuous consumption that triggered Veblen's work were the 'Gay 90s'--1890s, that is.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalist provides this analysis, by David Apgar, of Speaker Boehner's response to President Obama's remarks concerning the debt limit impasse. It seems that lying has become the Repthuglican sport of choice in the 21st century.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good morning, everyone. We have some relief from the heat. Low to mid 80s and dry. I can get out and get some gardening done and the gardens really need the attention. We took the first of the dragon egg cucumbers for the salad yesterday. It met expectations--sweet, not a trace of bitterness, and thin skinned. It is definitely a keeper. The Vietnamese multicolor pepper wasn't a disappointment because we really didn't know how it would turn out. It is absolutely beautiful and unusual. The fruits are smaller than I expected--only 1 to 1 1/2 inch teardrop. But it is much hotter than we wanted--a bit below cayenne and considerably above jalapeño. We wanted a bit milder than jalapeño for salads. I won't harvest any more but I will plant one next year for the beauty of it. I found three small melons developing nicely. This variety is only supposed to get about 1 to 2 pounds so they should be ready soon. We have several plum and cherry tomatoes with more coming along.

I can only agree with you, Kay. I think our political/economic systems are like the great tree we grew up loving and that seemed so solid and eternal until a sudden storm toppled it and we found the inside rotted out. And we wonder how long the appearance of strength had been mere illusion. I have already turned off the news this morning. There is simply nothing out there that justifies that designation and I am sick of getting the same old swill.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Good morning, everyone. As you saw yesterday, I didn't have much to say. We will see what I find today. I don't have anything new to report about the gardens. We have possible storms coming in so the most I will do today is take a few peppers and that dragon egg cucumber. We will see how those little Vietnamese peppers taste. I found mixed reports on line. Some sites consider them simply ornamental. Others have used them in salads. What we do with them will depend on how hot they are. I wanted a variety that has a bit more of a kick than the ones I have but not so much as the cayenne I harvested last year. I didn't plant more this year because we still have a whole lot of it. I probably won't have to plant cayenne next year either.

I saw an interesting little segment on I forget which news story yesterday: some educators are worried about the effect the internet is having on the memory of modern people. They found that more people remember where on the internet they found a fact than remember the actual fact. The conclusion parallels my own experience. As I surf on the internet I usually have two tabs active: one for the blog and on that I am reading. I can easily go between the two as I find something that strikes my fancy. Often I will open a third tab to search for more details on or for confirmation of something I am reading. But I don't always remember exactly what information I am reading beyond a short time after I have read it. I know I can always go back on line and find the info again. As I listened to that news segment I thought about a piece from James Burke's The Day the Universe Changed series some 25 or so years ago. He described Medieval minstrels who could remember with few errors songs of 1000 lines or more after hearing it once. A second hearing and they could play the songs perfectly. What changed you ask? The printing press invented by Gutenberg in the middle of the 15th century. And that led me to a memory which I couldn't actually nail down before I went to the internet. Did I hear it in a class, or was it something I read, or was it a discussion of something I read in a class? It took me only a few seconds to locate the ultimate source: Plato's Phaedrus. I read it some 35 years ago for a class on ancient Greek philosophy. Why should the news story trigger that memory? Well, in the Phaedrus, Socrates discusses memory and writing. For what ever benefit people would derive from the technology Socrates saw as many detrimental effects. More things change, the more they stay the same. Each new technology has unforeseen effects which may be as detrimental as positive.

According to Huffington Post this is the new plan John Boehner is trying to get going to deal with the stalled debt ceiling. Frankly, I think this is an admission that our system is simply not working today. The Constitution might as well be dead. The body that has the responsibility for originating money bills (the House of Representatives) is insisting that someone else--anyone else--provide them with a plan and then create a mechanism that forces them to pass it. Unfortunately, this is only the latest incarnation of this problem. Two decades ago we needed a Presidential commission to determine what excess military bases should be closed and then had to require an up-or-down vote without amendment to get it passed. What really depresses me--the fact that Boehner seems more worried about the Market's response and his paymasters' responses than getting a really workable deal. I noticed that he didn't release his letter breaking of negotiations with the President until after the Markets closed on Friday. It took about 12 hours for the mainstream media to comment on that. They were much quicker to link his insistence that we get some deal today to the opening of the Tokyo market. The financial tail is really wagging this dog.

I just had a bit of a wandering thought on the whole mess. I wonder how much of the on-again-off-again nature of these negotiations comes from each of the principles (Boehner and Obama and whoever else happens to be in the room) agreeing in principle to something that seems extremely reasonable to them and then finding that they simply can't sell it to their respective sides. Then of course they have to have the dueling news conferences to blame the unreasonableness of the other side. The nasty thing coming out of this--I don't trust anybody much at all.

Several op-ed pieces and blogs have expressed the theme of "willful deceit" in comments about the debt limit negotiations. Jeffrey Sachs has a good one today. I think he is right on the money.

No need to comment on this Job Jones post this morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Good morning everyone. Right now it is cloudy with a possibility of rain. We had thunderstorms from last evening through last night. The weather report last night said we only got a bit less than .2 inches or rain. I think we got more. Half way through the cloudburst we saw about half and inch on our patio. A report this morning said that parts of Chicago got 6 inches in 2 hours. Yikes!!!

I won't have to water this morning. Might have to this afternoon if we get sun and the temperature goes into the low 90s as is predicted. But I did clean out the acorn squash and I think the ground cherry and tomatoes will be happier without the competition. Acorn squash are now on my do not plant again list. They just don't do well in a small container set up like mine. Besides, we don't want to eat it all that often and they are plentiful at our farmers' markets.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good morning on this already sweltering Friday. The weather people say we will get a bit of relief today--it will only be in the low 90s with heat indices about 100 instead of high 90s that feel like 110. I got everything watered while we were drinking our morning coffee and then got some spent plants pulled, others tied up to the trellises, trimmed yellowing leaves and fertilized half of the small plants on the fence. But, though it is only 7:45 am, I am about done. The only task left is trimming the spearmint and getting it in the dehydrator. We found some purple and green peppers on the Vietnamese Multicolor plants and a cucumber that is very near ready. That last was hiding way in the back. But the acorn squash are not doing much. I found only 3 fruits and two of those were shriveling. I plan to remove them so the ground cherry will get more water and light.

Glad you stopped by, Leigh. I found your blog a little while ago and stop by regularly. I think if Marx were alive today he would amend his famous assessment of religion (as the opium of the people) to include politics. And if our Founding Fathers were alive they would be leading a new revolution. The only reason I pay attention to politics is I want to know what the self-righteous bast**rds want to do to me. And I am absolutely sure it will be done to me and not for me. Which is why Mary is so contrary, and cranky, and bitchy. And that is also why I spend so much time with gardening and needlework.

This story from HuffingtonPost doesn't surprise me at all. Push has been coming to shove for a long while now. At least the Chicago authorities are trying to get people to check in on their more vulnerable neighbors. We are dreading our next electric bill but we can't cut the thermometer back any further. As it is we keep it at 80 and use fans to help circulate the air upstairs where the temperature is 5+ degrees higher than downstairs. And in an hour or two, when the heats starts radiating through the window upstairs, I will close the drapes. We are always looking for ways to deal with the heat (or the cold in the winter) with as little energy expenditure as possible.

So Wall Street is laying off again. Wasn't it only about six to eight months ago that the financial firms were hiring again and celebrating their substantial earnings? I find it interesting that the low level minions are getting the axe which is the opposite of what other industries have done. Those companies layer off the more expensive, older and mid-level managers first.

The Onion has a nice piece of satire on the debt 'negations.' Unfortunately, the comedy is much too close to the truth.

I hear you on the politics in Washington, Lois. My major effort is to figure out how to mitigate the effects on us at our lowly level of the economy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good morning, again, everyone. They predict another hot day with temps in the high 90s and heat indices in the 105-110. That means we are under an extreme heat advisory until early tomorrow morning. We had some rain Tuesday and because we had some urgent matters to attend to inside I didn't water Wednesday morning. By late afternoon, with the temperature on the patio hitting 100, my poor little jungle was looking very wilted. As soon as the fence shadow covered the east containers I went out and thoroughly soaked everything. Thankfully it all came back quickly. I did get back on my watering schedule this morning but, with what we expect in the way of temps today, I will be watching the gardens and will water again tonight if the plants need it. I did notice that a couple of the high leaves on two of my tomatoes are showing some heat/sun damage. I hope that will be limited. But Mother Nature won't be helping me any. We expect 90s through Sunday with mid to high 80s for Monday and Tuesday before the 90s hit again. Even with air conditioning this head is debilitating and there is not a day we haven't been thankful for the ac.

We have had a couple of days of domestic upset. The stove acted up--again. About a month ago I put the big pot of water on to boil, turned on the burner, and watched it spark a small fire. I quickly turned it off and moved the pot while Mom called our landlord's repairman. He came in quickly and changed out the burner. Everything seemed fine after that for about three weeks. Then we had problems with the burner again. It would start heating and then cut out and then start up again. We simply tried to make sure the burner was firmly seated until Tuesday when I heard it spark again. Our favorite little repairman came in thinking it would be a quick and easy job to change out the burner and plug. Famous last words. He had to chisel, scrape, pry, and abrade the blasted thing. When he got it out we found that the original spark had badly damaged the socket--so badly it was a wonder we got enough of a connection. While he was doing that we mentioned that we had a bit of a leak in the kitchen faucet so he came back yesterday to fix it.

We all thought he would simply change out a washer or two and everything would be good. Not even. This building was constructed back in the late 1950s or early 1960s and we doubt any significant changes have been made until the present owner bought them. The low-flow attachment on the faucet broke off taking the threads of the faucet with it so he had to replace the entire faucet. Trying to get the faucet assembly off replayed the scene of the day before getting the burner socket off the stove. He pried, hammered, chipped, sawed, and used his mini-torch. Then the saw slipped and he sliced a hole into the steel sink. So, four-and-a-half hours later, we had a new sink, faucet, and spray attachment. I shouldn't have been surprised at the corrosion given the amount of calcium I get out of the water I boil for our coffee, tea and ice cubes.

Allison Linn at LifeInc. has posted this little item describing exactly why Washington seems so out of touch with the rest of the country. While our elected (mis-)representatives bicker on endlessly about the debt ceiling the rest of the country is far more concerned over the general economy and jobs. Worse, in my mind, is the fact that whatever they do to lower the deficit will probably have a depressing effect on the economy and jobs. As I said to Mom a bit ago "We're damned if they do and we're damned if they don't." And they aren't really listening to us. Or, rather, they are listening to a fringe minority that reflects their own peculiar brand of fanaticism as indicated by this piece at MSNBC's First Read.

As usual, Tom Englehardt has a good post on our insane policy in Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq/Middle East. I can't add anything to it except to note that the amounts we are spending on these exercises in futility could easily account for the entire budget cuts in Obama offered in the 'big' debt reduction plan.

If anyone really thinks the 'Gang of Six' deficit plan is in any way balanced they need to check out this page on Bernie Sanders' page. This is a royal crock of s**t. And I like Susie Madrak's take on the repeated call for 'shared sacrifice.' When the hell is Cantor, Boehner, Hatch, and their Wall Street paymasters going to ante up their share?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good morning to you all on this cloudy but very muggy Wednesday. Some thunder storms rumbled through overnight. I don't know how much rain we got but I figure I will have to water late this evening. I will be watching the beds very carefully. We used the first of the green peppers yesterday in a kitchen-sink potato salad. That is one that has a little of everything--onions, peppers, corn, peas, ham and onions. Given the heat cold suppers are very attractive options. We hit 97 on our little patio yesterday. It may be worse today as the weather people are predicting air temps in that same range for today. The patio is usually 5+ degrees more than their official temps. So far everything is still looking very good if somewhat over grown. I am only half-kidding when I describe it as my 'jungle.' By the way, that pepper (one of the giant marconi)--absolutely delicious.

I hear you, Kay. You're crabby and I am increasingly contrary over the inanity that is modern American politics. I am absolutely disgusted by the Repthuglican strategy designed to simply deny Obama reelection even if they sink the economy doing it. Unfortunately, the Damnocrats are so desperate for a 'win' they seem willing to sacrifice what ever of their constituency they think they can most afford to betray. I have asked the question before but I have to ask it again (even though I know there is no firm answer): when will ordinary people in this country decide that this government which Abraham Lincoln once described as 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' is no longer. And what will happen when a significant part of the citizenry lose faith that the system works for them. And, like you, if anything interrupts our social security checks we would have maybe three months before we would be on the street. That is scary.

You're right, Lois. I doubt that either Murdoch (father and son) will be seriously tagged for the sins of their employees. I notice that the news stories have focused on Wendi Murdoch's vigorous defense of her husband, Rupert, during that silly pie throwing incident. I saw only one small snippet of an interesting exchange between James Murdoch and one of the Parliamentary interrogators. He was asked if he knew the term 'willful blindness.' He claimed he didn't after the questioner defined the term. Here is an interesting post on the issue with special attention to the corporate culture of Murdoch's empire. The crux of the issue is that, if there is information that a corporate officer could have know and should have known but claims he didn't know, he is still responsible for the consequences. Or as I have stated on the issue: if the Murdochs and their executive underlings didn't know what the staff were doing, they didn't want to know. But poor Rupert doesn't feel he was in any way culpable.

David Brooks has this nice op-ed piece in the New York Times today which draws a bead on the bull's-eye of Repthuglican politics and why we can't get any kind of centrist agreement on anything. Unfortunately, these are the idiots Obama keeps trying to negotiate with. None of them know the meaning of the word.

Prison Planet summarizes much of what I have been reading about the various droughts and the heat wave. And draws some of the often ignored implications of the situation. Funny thing is I remember the last Texas drought about 3 years ago when the news picked up the story of ranchers seriously reducing their herds (those who didn't liquidate entirely.) I remember telling Mom that we should take advantage of the reduced beef prices that were coming because we would be paying more later. That proved exactly right. We couldn't escape the increased price when it came because we have limited freezer space and, of course, even frozen meat has a limited shelf life. We did get enough time to reconsider how we used our meat and how much we needed. As I said, I watch the weather related news reports consistently--world wide. Why, you ask? Because of this from tomdispatch. And I do not assume that we lucky Americans are immune to what is happening overseas. After all, some of that is happening over here. It just isn't getting much attention and, when it does, we have all kinds of experts telling us 'don't worry, be happy.' The news sites and the bloggers have been reporting on how badly Texas lakes are drying up. Remember when the news reported the rapidly declining levels in Lake Lanier in Georgia? That got a lot of attention because Lake Lanier provides almost all of Atlanta's drinking water.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Well, the weather people have moderated the forecast a bit. After Wednesday and Thursday we should only get into the mid-80s. I managed to get everything watered and a couple of the vines trained and trimmed. Friday and Saturday I should be able to get a bit more done. The spearmint and ginger mint are going wild. I have to harvest them and the stevia. While the heat is on I am getting some cleaning done inside.

I agree, Kay. I think the News of the World scandal has just scratched the surface. I see a corporation with a thoroughly corrupt culture. And of course the leaders of the company are claiming 'plausible deniability.' This mess is yet another example of a big hole in our legal system. Corporations are legal persons but are not held accountable as flesh-and-blood individuals are. Instead, a few of the corporate officers are (sometimes, rarely) held accountable but that rarely reforms the corrupt culture of the company itself.

Technology is wonderful--until it isn't.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Well, we are well into our heat wave. The weather people have 90s posted for this entire week. That is what we had over the weekend and we basically shut everything up. We did our weekly shopping early this morning--as soon as we finished our coffee. I opened the patio door and shut it immediately. The thermometer registered 80 and the humidity was suffocating. I did relent and let Kuma out but even he didn't want to stay outside. I got everything well watered but I have to keep a close eye on the plants. The plants in the north east containers started to wilt yesterday afternoon in spite of the watering I did in the morning. I may have to plan on watering some of these beds twice a day. So far the tomatoes aren't showing the signs of heat stress as they did last year.

We are celebrating in spite of the heat. Our favorite summer farmer's market has opened. We will start making it part of our weekly marketing routine.

I have been watching the unfolding soap opera of the News of the World scandal. I notice that the news media are concentrating on the phone tapping aspect but are virtually ignoring other aspects that, to my mind, are more important. First, the corruption of the law enforcement agencies. The resignations and arrests because of the alleged bribery among Scotland Yard and the London Metropolitan Police officials have received a passing mentioned. But none focus on what it means for a society when a rogue company has enough money and power to corrupt law enforcement. Second, there was a bare mention of the allegation that Murdock's company was powerful enough to corrupt the political process. He owns enough of the largest British news outlets that he could seriously damage the careers of any politician who did something he didn't like. The phone hacking is serious and it is highly illegal but the matter of how Murdock's reporters got away with their criminal activities for so long is even more important. And I don't for a moment think News of the World is the only part of the Murdock empire involved.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good morning, everyone. For the moment we have cloudy skies and cool temps. It isn't supposed to last though. The forecast temps are supposed to be in the high 80s and low 90s. I have already trimmed my catnip and a few of the vines, and watered everything. I may have to water the smaller pots late this evening. Before the heat drove me inside yesterday I got my finished compost bagged and the new compost transferred to the main bin and washed out the secondary bin. I also did get the rosemary and lemon verbena trimmed and was surprised to get a full tray of the rosemary and 4 of the verbena.

What a wonderful example of Repthuglican logic!! The recklessness of the big financial institutions caused this economic mess but they want to cut the budget of the agency that is supposed to regulate them. Oh, I forgot--'greed is good.'

The Economist has an interesting article this morning explaining why a compromise over the debt ceiling is as inevitable as many of the pundits think. Most important reasons: both sides have invoked moral principles that make it difficult (if not impossible) to compromise, sizable minorities in both parties are not convinced that the aftermath will be as catastrophic as the 'experts' predict, the hardliners in both parties may not be as badly punished by the voters as pundits predict, and you have the 'peanut gallery' of Repthuglican presidential hopefuls spouting their mental diarrhea without responsibility for the consequences. One interesting point has broader application--the problem of mixed messages from dueling 'experts.' For each voice yelling 'catastrophe' there is another insisting that nothing dire will happen. Which expert do you trust?

The Good Morning, America show had an interesting segment on the real estate market: foreclosures have dropped almost 30% year-over-year. However, the reporter noted that this news wasn't necessarily good. The banks were simply pushing foreclosures on large numbers of properties into next year and 2013 to keep them off the glutted market. They hope the market will rebound and they won't have to take a loss. That seems to be the hope around the world--if we can kick the can down the road the economy will pick up and everything will be fine again. The problem: what if the economy doesn't pick up or even gets worse?? Then you have a worse situation and are in an even weaker position.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good morning to you all. We have a few clouds at the moment--6:30 am. The only gardening I plan on today is to trim the lemon verbena and rosemary and dry the clippings. I have always loved the scent of lemon verbena. Just brushing against some of the herbs (spearmint, lemon balm, rosemary, and basil especially) releases the aromas. Walking through the gardens is a delight. Unfortunately, after Sunday that activity will be severely limited. We are expecting 90s with heat indices well into the 100s. Neither Mom nor I can tolerate the heat as we used to. We already planned our meals for next week--salads dominate.

I woke up to the hopeful news that the Minnesota politicians had reached an agreement on their budget impasse. The TV news said that the Damnocrat governor and Repthuglican controlled legislature have agreed on no new taxes and no state employee layoffs. The latest segment added that the State will delay payments to local schools and will raise bonds to turn future tobacco tax revenues into present cash. This Huffington Post story says much the same. I have a problem with the description of the deal as recounted by HuffPo: the description of the agreement as raising 'new revenues.' This doesn't raise any new revenues. It delays payments that would be going to schools and converting it to other expenditures. Nothing new here and it says nothing about how the local school districts will make up the lost money. I am not assuming that it will ever be made up by the state. And raising bonds on future tobacco money? To use an old agricultural phrase that hasn't been heard much since we became an urban country, they are 'eating their seed corn.' This is simply a combination of robbing Peter to pay Paul and kicking the can down the road.

Thomas Friedman, in this NY Times op-ed piece, makes a very good point: neither of the ideology driven solutions from our two major parties will work in the current economic climate. He points out that the half dozen fastest growing companies (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in the fastest growing sector of the economy (Silicone Valley, high tech) are not creating the number of jobs that one would expect from multi-billion dollar companies. Although they and other big companies are hiring they aren't hiring in large numbers and they are highly selective in who they hire. The tax cuts favored by Republicans won't change the situation and will only sit on the company books until used to either pay shareholder dividends, buy back stock, or acquire other companies. Bottom line--few jobs. The stimulus favored by Democrats will not create many jobs either. Why should a company expand and hire new workers when they see no increase in the demand for their products. And much of the stimulus actually went to the too-big-to-fail banks which simply have sat on it while some small businesses complain that they can't get loans. Somebody really needs to think outside the box here.

Given the heat that is coming our way and others have experience for the last while, this is an interesting article. Warnings of excessive heat danger aimed at 'the elderly' are often ignored by that target audience because they don't consider themselves 'elderly.' Perhaps then it is time to strip out the designations and simply advise all people to take precautions in the heat. About 15 years ago I was hit with heat exhaustion while at the Kansas City Renaissance fair. I thought I had been careful by taking it easy, drinking fluids, keeping in the shade. Luckily help was available and in an hour I was feeling much better than the death warmed over I had felt. I was only in my late 40s then. I take heat warnings (and all other potentially life threatening weather warnings) very, very seriously. I ignore who they say the warning is for.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ok, now that the garden update is done I will proceed to my daily trip through the e-mail, blogs, and news.

So, Obama finally got a bit ticked off and walked out of the debt limit faux negotiations. Faux on the part of the Repthuglicans. If he stays firm on the issue I might stop thinking of Democrats as Damnocrats. I notice new political commercials calling out the politicians for their proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Good!! As long as they are willing to spend obscene amounts of money on the botched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which the incredibly dishonest Bush II administration conducted off the books. I agree with Obama: no short term fixes. I remember the tactic the Repthuglicans used during the faux negotiations over the budget. They passed, I think, three short term fixes for a couple of weeks and were rewarded by successive $2 billion cuts in the appropriations already passed. And the Damnocrats let them get away with it.

Hey, Lois, I became an Apple fan because I am not really a proficient geek. Way back when I was considering a computer I tried out a couple different kinds. My ex-ecology prof turned computer salesman allowed me to take them home over weekends. He didn't get the sale though because we found the Apple first. The Apple II was easier to set up and worked right out of the box as has every Apple computer since. While most of my friends who had other pc models swore at their crashed computers and tried to re-boot, I sailed on peacefully with my Apple. The money I could have saved by getting any of the others wasn't worth the aggravation. We did come out of the last storm unscathed. Some areas in Chicago are still without power.

Yes, Kay, the gardens are a nice counter to all the idiocy out there that would be raising my blood pressure. As an additional measure to protect our mental and physical well-being we have taken to turning off the tv (especially the news) and putting on Pandora. I think my disgust and irritation hit an all time high with the 24/7 coverage of the Anthony trial which seemed to be followed, up here anyway, by a similar coverage of the Blogojevich trial. And for the last two weeks the ABC channel has featured snippets of Diane Sawyer's interview with Jaycee Dugard. These stories should have filled in between the more important real news but instead the important stuff became the filler for these non-stories. Why do I call them non-stories? First, usually the more recent story on any of them had nothing newsworthy or new about them. They were rehashes. Second, we have courts to handle the legal stories and I hate the propensity to try these juicy cases in the media. And, while the stories might have a bit of interest, a steady diet is just plain nauseating. Maybe Obama is ready to start using the 'bully pulpit' (as Teddy Roosevelt called the Presidency) and stop playing nice with the bullies. I certainly hope so. By the way, did you see that Bernie Sanders is sending out his Bernie's Buzz newsletter. I found out this morning with an e-mail thanking me for signing on the the letter.

I have to wonder where the Repthuglicans come up with their female candidates/office holders. First we had Sarah Palin. Then along came Michelle Bachmann. And now we find State Rep. Julia Hurley (R-TN). But then since she attributes her success, such as it is, to her time working at Hooters her bra size probably exceeds her IQ.

Good morning, again, everyone. Can you believe that July is half over? We are always amazed by how fast the days, weeks, and (now years) go by. It was cool enough yesterday that we wished we had put on long pants. We did today because the weather people say we will have cool temps today. I got half of the garden back under control yesterday and will finish up today. I saw lemon balm, lemon verbena, basil and rosemary ready to cut. The dehydrator will be busy again today. If the weather holds, I hope to get the shed cleaned out so I can find things again.

I have a few new pictures to show. The first up above is the marigold I put in at the last moment. I had an empty pot holder on the fence and I decided to take a chance it. It is quite pretty and (thankfully) short enough to stay easily on the fence. I can't put anything taller than 8 to 12 inches because we can get high winds at any time.

As I said a couple of days ago, the Teddy Bear sunflowers survived the winds in spite of being blown over. The flowers are filling out nicely. We will definitely keep these in the gardens.

Next year I will put them in a couple of the large containers. I looked at the seed packet again and found that the height is only 18-24 inches so they would go in front of either tomatoes or peppers very nicely.

The last plant will not be making a return appearance though it is pretty. Mom saw it on the fence and asked what it was. It is the catnip. She used to have a large bed of it when she had a bit of acreage along the border of central Indiana and Illinois. But she had so many barn and feral cats that her's never had a chance to bloom.

It is a pretty plant, as I said, but I crushed some and gave it to Kuma. He looked at it. He sniffed it. He batted it around a couple of times. Then he looked at me with a look that clearly said, "You want me to do what with that?" The only reason I had it in the garden was as a treat for the cat.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good morning, all. Blessedly cool today with temperatures expected to remain so until Saturday. Then the heat returns. I hope to get all of my gardening chores done before then because I won't have much time to do anything when the 90s return.

I had also heard the 'Boehner had blinked,' Kay. The problem is he doesn't seem to have enough pull to get enough of his more radical caucus to go along. Too many of them are of the "kill 'em all and let God sort them out" persuasion. They don't mind crashing the system so long as the other side doesn't win. We are waiting also to see how this will go down.

Thanks, Rebecca. Glad we missed another bullet. The weather people said that some of that mess headed your way. Did it get there and how are you doing?

The L.A. Times has a nice article on the proposals to change the calculation of Social Security COLAs by linking it to the 'chained-CPI.' This hasn't received as much attention as it should thanks largely to the debt and deficit debates. The idea behind the move is to 'reform' the measure to take into account 'substitution.' Michael Hiltzik notes several important features of this plan. The current measures of the CPI already try to account for substitution. They don't really need another. The proponents claim that it considers 'substitution' generally. So that if consumers go from, as one economist provided for an example, a Mercedes to an Audi because the price of the desired Mercedes went up, then they have simply substituted a cheaper car for the more expensive one and that would be reflected in the chained CPI. But the current CPI already does that while the chained-CPI doesn't consider the notion that they may not substitute but rather forego. And it doesn't take into account the goods or services you can't forego. If the price of your (generic) heart medication goes up, what can you substitute for it? Food, gasoline, or electricity perhaps?? I find the discussion of the Cato Institute's position on this interesting. They favor using the chained-CPI to calculate COLA for Social Security but not for calculating the annual adjustments to the income-tax brackets. Why? Because using the chained-CPI would result in a loss of $112B for seniors over the next 30 years and an increased tax bite of $72B for the upper income tax payers. So they would rather Social Security recipients be 'reformed' out of $112B that the government would not have to pay thanks to calculations using the chained CPI while the government does not receive $72B in tax revenues because the tax brackets would be calculated using the conventional CPI measurement. The whole argument is a crock of S**t and I hate being the Peter who is robbed so the already-well-off Paul can become even more well off.

For a bit of a break--the easy part of the gardening is done. I trimmed the three roses and treated them for black spot. Then I took all of the pots out of the fence hangers and trimmed them before watering them and putting them back on the fence. All except the love-in-a-mist. That simply didn't thrive at all so next year I will try it again--in a different way and spot. I took some of the thyme for the dehydrator when I trimmed it back as well as some of the oregano. Got a half tray of each. The rest of the gardening is going to involve the big plants and vines. That is always exhausting. Especially since I will have to muscle some back to where they should be after that big wind a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good morning to you all. Thankfully it is calm and sunny. The winds yesterday were in the low hurricane levels. The worst of the storm lasted only 15 to 20 minutes but during that time it really did a job on parts of the area. Over in Illinois it left about 800k people without power--which according to ComEd is the worst in the company's history. The local newspaper (online) reported about 20k Nipsco customers were affected in northwest Indiana. Thankfully, again, not us. Though we lost cable/internet we did not lose power.

The little sunflowers came through pretty well and are looking quite pretty and cheerful out in the patio again. The only tomatoesI found with any real damage are the German Queen--one major branch broke--and the Brandywine--also one major branch. Otherwise, I think it is only getting the plants tied back up and trimmed.

This is an interesting notion. I noticed that some of the comments were a bit harsh--some because, of course, no congress and senate will ever make such a move which really isn't Buffet's fault. But I think there would be serious Constitutional issues as well if they did have the guts to do it. Remember when some states tried to impose term limits? But I would love to see the Treasury decide that the first paychecks that would not go out if the debt limit isn't raised are those for the legislative and executive branches. I am sure that would light a fire.

So the stock market over here followed the rest of the world's markets yesterday and finished a good bit lower. The stories say the causes are weak economic data and the concern over Italy's finances. I find the sudden attention to Italy a bit amusing since the economic reports have talked about the PIIGS for some time. That is Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. All five have had looming fiscal crises for the last two years at least. But there are also seismic rumbles from some of the Eastern European countries as well. Surely the so-called experts can't be surprised by this slow train wreck. What really kicks my skepticism into high gear is how they think anything they have done will really fix the problems. More debt for countries already so far in debt they can't possibly pay it off except under conditions of economic growth it would be delusional to expect.

Like you, Kay, I have no desire for an iPhone--and I am an Apple fan and user for nearly three decades now. When AT&T was the only vendor for the iPhone that was a deal breaker because I have been very happy with Verizon. Now that Verizon can market the iPhone I find that I don't really want the 'smart' phone. Several of my relatives talk about how handy theirs are but we simply don't want all of the features. We surf the internet enough on our computers. If we go anywhere we are not familiar with we get the maps on-line before we go so we don't need to get directions on the phone. Once upon a time I probably would have rushed out and got the new toy but now I don't feel the need to get the latest gadget or toy. I have pared down my 'things' over the last few years. When my portable CD player died Mom suggested she get me a new one for my birthday. I thought about it for a minute and told her not to bother. I realized I hadn't used the one that failed for over a year and carrying around the CDs was a bother I didn't really want to deal with any more. I never bothered with an iPod or mp3 player. We used our old computers until Mom's died and we got the two laptops. My old computer is still upstairs because I put all my CDs are on the iTunes file. I did yield to temptation, as I noted on an earlier post, and bought a Nook. I like it well enough but it won't replace traditional books. Technology is interesting but I am getting very selective of what I buy and whether I even replace worn out technology.

Yeah, Lois, I did have an anonymous comment. Most of those are simply links to products or 'unsuitable' (read porn) sites and I simply delete them. Sometime ago I posted my rules: no sales, no flaming, nothing rude or obscene, and nothing anonymous. I have become very adept at using the delete key or consigning something to the spam folder.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good morning, everyone. It is sunny for now but we are expecting storms later this morning and, possibly this afternoon. Even with that we also expect temps in the low 90s. We were going to do our shopping but will put that off till tomorrow when it will be cooler. Kuma, of course, is not happy at all because he is inside and it isn't even 7:30 am.

We caught the Good Morning America segment, short and superficial as it was, on the budget 'negotiations' this morning. That is in quotations because I don't see how you can call the process a negotiation when each side is basically holding a loaded gun to the others' heads. The reporter listed all of the nasty consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling: no military pay checks, no social security checks, downgraded credit rating and a significant drop in the stock market. The problem I see is that the hardliners on each side (but especially on the Repthuglican side) would not mind seeing the whole system go down in flames because, although they may be hurt, everyone else would be hurt more.

And there is something incredibly obscene about the notion, recently expressed by Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), that those who have little should be eviscerated while those who have much don't even get a pin prick. And yes, Kay, I know that many military families earn so little that they qualify for food stamps as do many on Social Security. The 2009 poverty level for a family of four was a bit over $22k/year. For a single person under 65 it was a bit over $11k/year or right around $930 per month. The average monthly Social Security check, in April of this year, was $1177. Note that was the average--meaning a whole lot of recipients got less, often a lot less.

Oh, HELL!! The rain has come and with it some high winds. I just rushed out and picked up my sunflowers which have been blown over. They are sitting just inside the door now . I am cringing while trying not to look at what is happening in the gardens. I will definitely have some repair work tomorrow. I could have left off the watering this morning--we have rivers running down the street.

An interesting little segment on the morning local news involved 'apple picking.' No, we don't have local apples ripe and ready to pick. Rather, that is now the term for a particular crime wave--stealing iPods, iPhones and other smart phones. That crime is on the increase on the mass transit lines.

To Anonymous: I don't mind discussing my ideas and considering why you think I am wrong. However, I don't allow any anonymous comments. Nor do I permit any comments that contain links to any commercial products. Normally, I would allow any comment with an identified source which is not abusive or an ad in disguise.

Well, it is still overcast but the rain has stopped for now and the wind has died down. Hope it stays that way. I put the sunflowers back on the patio in a more protected, I hope, spot. Also saw a couple of broken tomato branches. I will have to trim them tomorrow.

And now, after two hours when we had no internet or cable probably the result of the storms that come through this morning, I am back on and trying to get through my blog roll. And we have sun again.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Good morning to you all on this Sunday morning. We are expecting temperatures in the low 90s and it is already 80+ on the patio--in the shade. Our air conditioning thermostat is set at 80 and only comes on when the temp gets near 81. It just went on--at 8:15 am. I did get everything watered well this morning and brought in the three ripe cherry tomatoes and a couple of heads of lettuce for supper today. I see a lot more cherry tomatoes coming up but for now we will supplement with the red slicers. I also got the cover off the greenhouse. I was a bit worried about how soft it was getting in the heat and how it was sticking to the metal supports. Besides I don't need to concentrate heat this time of the year. Like anything else figuring out how best to use the greenhouse is going to take time. The blasted Colorado potato beetles are back so I am doing some internet research on how to deal with them. Evidently using my mild insecticide may just create a resistant bunch--especially since that is what I used last summer. They seem to have a taste for lemon balm.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Sunny again and we expect the temp to get into the high 80s today--90s tomorrow and Monday. I plan to water everything well after breakfast because it will be a bit too warm later in the afternoon.

I didn't know about any U.S. government program exploring the possibility of implanting bombs in a person, Lois. But I wouldn't be surprised that such a program existed. A great deal of obscene and evil operations have been conducted with government (and military) connivance. Glad you like the photos. I have played with photography for the last 40+ years since I went through photo training in the Navy. That was when we still used film and chemicals. For about 15 years I didn't have the money to pursue it. Thanks to computers and digital cameras I can get back to taking pictures again. And my mistakes are more easily 'erased.'

Well, evidently there are some expenditures that can still get an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Unfortunately, they don't involve women, children, old people, sick people, or the middle (or lower classes). And please don't give me any of the crap about how 'security' benefits all those groups. We are at the point where the increases in military spending are yielding less and less security for the money.

And this piece of totally inane legislation has passed the house on what I suspect is a strict party line vote. And I absolutely love (sarcasm alert!!) the remarks by the Kansas Repthuglican Representative Tim Huelskamp that he wants to make sure that "America's military camps are not used to push a narrow social agenda." But he and his gang can push their narrow economic and political agendas in the so-called budget negotiations.

A few days ago Arizona was hit by a dust storm right out of the Dust Bowl. Now the Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on earth, what hit by a 31.5 inch snowfall--the heaviest in some 2 decades. And that is in addition to record lows in Santiago.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blast!! I hit the wrong button and accidentally posted that last little bit. Oh, well--I will continue with a new post.

Now this lad has some interesting points and most I agree with. Actually, my thoughts are a bit more gloomy than his. I have said for sometime that our train wreck is coming; a matter of when not if. And to those who think it is merely a matter of whether it will be hard or soft, I say it will be hard either way.

Last night the economic reporters were ecstatic because the the economy created something like 150+k jobs last month. I wasn't too impressed because most of the experts say that we need a minimum of about 200-250k jobs each month just to take care of population increase. However, this story tells a very different story and illustrates why I remain a skeptic with regard to any numbers put out by the government (or any other institution). The net number of jobs created were actually--18k. That is the net number so most of the new jobs were offset by job losses and the numbers are not nearly so bright. And that highly massaged unemployment number? It has ticked up by another 0.1% to 9.2%.

Richard Engle an NBC foreign correspondent has some very cogent thoughts on our national security state this morning at MSNBC. Like him I also wonder what we have lost in the hysterical drive for ever more security. And, like a couple of bloggers (sorry, I didn't save the links), I wonder if the next stem, given the report that terrorists may be resorting to surgically implanting explosive devices inside their suicide bombers, will be a proctologist at each station.
Crooks & Liars linked to this little talk between Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff and Keith Olbermann that touches a thought I had while listening to accounts of the News of the World scandal in the U.K. The thought? What makes any one over here think that Murdoch outlets in this country haven't done the same?
Well, now that I have given the garden up date on the other post I will continue with my perusal of the internet. I won't be commenting on the broadcast news because we have already turned it off. The first three stories teased on Good Morning America were really not news--human interest at best and gossip at worst: the man who fell at that baseball game and died, Her (possibly unhappy and less than-) Serene Highness of Monaco, and the Dugarde interview (continuing another day.) And I am sure they will have more meaningless commentary and faux analysis of the Anthony trial. I get far more real information and analysis from the internet sources. Instead we broke down and got the year subscription to Pandora.

Last week the blogs and internet news sites had several posts on the possibility of the Administration using the 14th Amendment to get around the obstructionist Repthuglicans. Now Huffington Post is reporting an unnamed source saying that the option is off the table. But I find this bit from the end of the post most intriguing: "That the White House would choose not to keep the option of ignoring the debt ceiling as an arrow in its quiver is a curious strategic move. It could have presented an emergency exit if debt negotiations with Republican leadership reached an intractable impasse. It also served as a threat to Republicans, who risked getting nothing at all if they refused to budge on issues like tax revenues. It is worth noting, though, that the revelation may have come from a Republican source at the White House meeting, rather than from Geithner or the White House." That the White House would disarm itself is not very surprising--they have done so frequently in the past giving up far more than they gained. I wonder if the Repthuglicans are trying to paint the Democrats into the corner of their (the Repthuglican's) choosing.

Good morning to you all on this sunny Friday. The temps are supposed to rise to the mid 80s. Have a few pictures from the gardens to show. It was cool enough that I got quite a bit done yesterday. With the storm and the heat over the last weekend and a few days on either side I let the jungle get a bit out of control. So I spent a lot of time pruning the tomatoes and tying up the vine plants. Also fertilizing everything and trimming some of the plants damaged by the potato beetles. Thankfully not much of the last.

This first picture shows the first blossoms on my dragons egg cucumber. I have to start trimming the tops of my vines--they are all topping the trellises. Trimming off the growing tips will force them to put out more lower branches. I may have to do the same on the tomatoes--several of them are already a bit over 4 feet--which translates to 6 feet over the cement surface.

This is the Teddy Bear sunflower almost ready to open up. They are only a shade under 3 feet tall. The package says the max height is only 4 feet. So far they seem to be doing well although the five plants are in one medium sized pot. I thinned them out about two weeks ago and cut out four weaker plants. I have to be really careful with the watering because they can dry out the pot very fast. Note for next year--fewer plants in this size pot.

These little purple flowers were a complete surprise. They are on the Vietnamese Multicolor pepper. But all the other flowers on this plant and the one in another container are white. I have to keep these plants in as much sun otherwise the full color of the foliage doesn't develop.

Here is my ginger mint--blooming nicely all along its stem. Not for long though. I have it scheduled for a drastic cut back today. I just love this very pretty plant but there is no way it will every be put in my large beds. It grows very fast and is very invasive. I would never get it out again. The same goes for the spearmint. I am debating how to carry these over winter. I may try cuttings late in the season to put inside.

And last--the flowers are the first on my acorn squash which is another vine I have to start topping to keep it to the height of my trellises. The little orange dot in the middle of the frame is the first ripe tomato--on the yellow cherry. There is another just a bit above which is almost ready. Those are the earliest so far.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good morning to you all on this cloudy Thursday. I am not at all unhappy that it is cloudy--it should keep the temps down and the prospect for rain is not all that good. The longer the temperatures stay cool I can get more tasks in the garden done. First up on the list is fertilizing--with containers you have to feed the plants more often because the nutrients was out more quickly. My first two cherry tomatoes are nearly ripe. They were the first to appear so, of course, they are the first to ripen. New peppers and tomatoes are appearing daily so I have good reason to hope for a good harvest there. I noticed that my sunflowers are almost ready to pop.

Some may wonder why I always take the 'good' economic news with a ton of salt--here is why. Bret Arends at Marketwatch tells it like it is and, unfortunately, like it may be.

I just received the weekly e-mail from our favorite year-round farmers' market with an interesting item. They have 'columnar apple trees' available for sale. 'Columnar apple trees?' I queried. The nice thing about the internet is that you can find almost anything with only a few key strokes. So, me being me, I entered the phrase and found this site with a picture. The market is touting them for urban or suburban gardeners who want apple trees but are short on space. The trees top out between 8 and 10 ft and only 2 ft wide. But the fruit is full sized.

Had a funny (not ha! ha! funny) thought this morning as the news showed some more footage of that dust storm in Arizona a couple of days ago. They quoted long time residents' comments that they 'had never seen anything like it.' No s**t!! To have actually experience such an event in this country (and remember it) a person would have to be between 85 and 90+ years old and have lived in the Great Plains. It was called the Dust Bowl which was created by a natural dry cycle compounded by disastrous farming practices. For more info watch Black Blizzard the next time the History Channel shows it.

Ah!! My melon has started to bloom. Found one lonely little blossom as I busily pruned and staked in the containers this morning.

Jesse's Cafe Americaine provided this item to be filed in the 'Why In The Hell Isn't This Company Shut Down and its Executives In Jail!!!' folder. In his last year as Chicago's Superintendent of Police Jodie Weise held a news conference in which he threatened the leaders of Chicago's gangs with prosecution racketeering laws governing 'criminal enterprises' if the gang related shootings continued. From what I see the big banks should qualify for similar prosecution--the are criminal enterprises.
Good morning to you all on this sunny Wednesday. The temperatures reached a bit over 90 yesterday so all I did before we closed up was get some of the more needy plants watered. I saw the first blossom on the melon vines this morning and all of the vine plants need tying. Right now all the gardening involves maintenance and waiting. When we drove by the site where our favorite farmers' market but it hasn't appeared yet. I hope it does soon.

Here is an article for the 'Same story, different time and place' file. Remember all of the stories about the air quality (or lack of clean air) in Beijing at the time of their Olympics. Well the same kind of stories are appearing concerning London. And then the Tucson to Phoenix area had a dust storm that was eerily reminiscent of the Dust Bowl era. The morning news had a brief line about it with some rather dramatic film. The first story I found this morning on this was from the Guardian in the UK. MSNBC has a whole 19 seconds of film and comment from NBC's Nightly News broadcast.

The European sovereign debt crisis carousel continues to spin out of control. They barely got the temporary fix arranged for (extorted from??) Greece when the ratings agencies downgraded Portuguese debt further into the junk realm. Ireland, Spain and Italy have more question marks on their fiscal situation. I have been wondering for some time how long they can keep the merry-go-round going.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Bright, sunny day today that we expect to hit the high 80s--which means the 90s on my patio. I will water early and do a bit in the gardens but on these hot days I do minimal gardening. I found blossoms on my acorn squash and cucumber so those are looking up. The damned Colorado potato beetles are back. I squashed six yesterday but decided to spray. I am not one of those who are adamant against using chemical insecticides--I just use the least toxic and most transient I can find. They found the lemon balm I have on the fence but haven't touched the patches I have in the containers. I hope that remains the case.

Glad you liked the pictures, Kay. This is, so far, the best year of the four I have been actively gardening on that cement patch. Hope it continues. And I agree totally with your comments on the cloud and the insane Repthuglicans.

I love the title of this Crooks & Liars piece: 'Oh, those annoying peasants!' The 'annoying peasants' are Montanans who are upset both by the Exxon spill and the condescendingly slow responses (verbal and otherwise) to the spill. The problem here is that Exxon only values the oil being moved and the only thing the company really regrets is the loss of the oil they could have sold and the costs associated with cleaning up the spill (which they will make sure are as small as possible). The costs Montanans see (loss of revenue, loss of trout fishing, loss of other wildlife, loss of irrigation and drinking water) mean nothing to the company. That is the problem with so much of our industry in this modern age. The corporate decision makers and stockholders are too far removed from the people and areas most affected by accidents. And they not only don't feel any urgency about the situations their failures cause but actively dismiss the concerns of those affected.

Karoli at Crooks & Liars had this nice post featuring a Repthuglican representative getting taken to task by a constituent. The comments are right on the money to my way of thinking. Somehow I rather doubt the dear boy will take the message to Cantor. It isn't what any of them want to hear.

We went out to do our weekly grocery shopping today and saw another reason to hate the way we celebrate the 4th: all the trash from the various fireworks littering the street. Can't these bozos ever clean up their own messes? Evidently not.

Firedoglake has another headline I really like: 'Is America A Representative Democracy or a Mirage Democracy?' And the most telling stats in the article: Only 42% of Americans believe in our government and how well it works. And less than 25% approve of the job our legislators are doing but fully 90% of those idiots are expected to get re-elected. Is it really a choice when most of us feel that we are voting for the lesser evil?? It is rather like the choice that 95-year-old woman was given by the TSA: 'give us the Depends or you won't get on the plane!!' In other words, no choice at all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good morning to everyone on this 235th year of our nation's life. Happy 4th of July, all.

Yesterday was highly frustrating as you probably could tell. Our cable/internet was out for about 2 hours over all and afterward was running very slowly. About halfway into our isolation Mom noticed me tapping away on the keyboard and asked, hopefully, if service was back. I had to disappoint her and tell her that I was simply catching up on my garden notes. Since I have the Appleworks program on my computer and all past notes I was able to work on it. That kind of situation is what makes me very leery of 'the cloud.' It is nice not to have to clutter up your hard drive with all your programs and projects. And I have heard that some new computers will be (or, perhaps, already are) on sale at the very low end of around $500 but with a memory only as large as the machines of 30 years ago and they will be totally dependent on 'the cloud' for programming and storage. Funny, in a way. I remember when IBM took a big hit in its computer sales (the big mainframes) because everyone was shifting to the desktops. Some bright person in the company asked 'Who wants a computer cluttering up their desk?' and came to the wrong conclusion. Now the computer is asking if people wouldn't rather have all their 'stuff' somewhere in some undefined cloud. Some may but not me. I have all the interaction with the cloud I want or need.

I have often shook my head over news stories where the headlines (and often most of the commentary) are in direct contradiction to the facts of the story. Dan Baker illustrates just that point in this piece (found by way of Naked Capitalist). For those who don't go beyond the headline and the first paragraph, it appears that a couple of Repthuglican hardliners have finally discovered some rationality and balance. Unfortunately, nothing is farther from the truth.

Good morning, again, everyone on this 4th of July. It is amazing to think that this year is already half over. I thought I would post a few pictures of my 'jungle.' This is what is on my potting bench (formerly patio table). From back to front: impatiens, miniature roses, and bamboo.

These are the first peppers. The Giant Marconi appears to be living up to its name. They are already 4+ inches. The large Tidy Cat pails make excellent planters. All they need are a few holes in the bottom.

The east side of the patio with King Kuma surveying his kingdom from his second favorite throne. Usually he is on the trash tote.

Sorry this one is a little fuzzy. You can make out the first of the ground cherry fruits in the top center. They look like little Chinese lanterns at this stage. When they are ripe the outer wrapper opens up and the cherry drops to the ground. You are not supposed to take them before because they are slightly toxic until they are fully ripe.

This is the Juliet style Roma tomato and it is producing very well. I am looking forward to when they are ripe and we can put up some sauce.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Good morning, all. It was hot yesterday. Temps reached 96 on the patio. I stayed inside even though I still had one container of plants to get trimmed and tied up. The beans (finally), cucumbers, melons, and squash are growing fantastically. As soon as I get one tendril trained into the trellis two or three more start going where ever they want. I saw the first little recognizable ground cherry this morning. I need to get the camera out and take some new pictures.

Remember how we were told that the bank bailout and the low interbank interest rates were going to increase lending to small business and spur employment? Well this article tells how that strategy actually had the opposite effect. Another reason to find and patronize a very local bank.

Well, maybe I will be able to finish posting today. Our cable/internet service was off line for almost 2 hours.

Here is another entry in the 'Been-There-Done-That' file. Exxon/Mobile not BP and a land based pipeline under the Yellowstone River not a deep ocean rig. And for the same file this article. It must be nice to get paid $84M and actually think you are worth it.

Damn!! Now Google is giving me a hard time!! This is putting me into more than a contrary mood so I will try to quit now before I throw something.