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.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


WET, WET, WET.  It rained all night and is still raining--much of it very heavy with lightning.  Thankfully, we don't have the flooding many areas are reporting.  At least not in our immediate area.  News is reporting some places got as much as four inches of rain in 45 minutes.  Several flash flood warnings are up.  No gardening today unless this mess ends and things dry out a bit.  At least I don't have to water anything

Did I say it is wet outside?  That is a bit of an understatement.  We went out on the errands I postponed yesterday because of the rain and we had a bit of an adventure getting around.  The major street we take to get to Panera, Target and Menards (all on our itinerary today) was blocked off because of high water half way to where we were going.  We saw a car stopped in the middle of a lake that had developed across the road joining catchment ponds on opposite sides of the street.  We met the owner of the car at Panera where she works.  We followed the detour planning to take another major street to a cross street past the area where the new lake had formed but the lanes going in our direction were closed--because of high water.  The next major street was clear as was the connecting street coming back to our original route but we encountered another small just-barely-passable pond before we reached our destination.  We have lived here for 15 years and have never seen water this high along these streets.  We have seen rain raise the levels in those catchments to the very top but never three feet or more above.  I have no idea how much rain we actually got last night but the evidence of our eyes says it was a lot.


I found the first blog I read today somewhat unsettling because I think David Kaiser may be right and like him I don't much like what I see in the dark glass of the near future.  I have watched over the last decade as politicians who won their elections mouthing Democratic sentiments voted as thought they were Republicans.  Or whose only claim on the voters allegiance was the claim that they were the least of the evils presented.  I am tired of choices that are no choices at all or the feeling of betrayal when the so-called lesser evil voted with clones of the greater evil I voted against.  I am not at the point of the Millennial voter Kaiser cites.  I will not vote for Rand Paul; he doesn't represent my values any better than Republicans or Democrats do.

I know nothing at all about the company featured in this Grist article having never heard of it before.  However, I have seen other items in the grocery stores over the last couple of years which package pre-measured components so time challenged cooks can simply "dump, stir, and serve."  That last is my description not the manufacturers.  We haven't been tempted by the alleged convenience.  I say "alleged" because all too often they don't save much time at all.  How difficult is it to open a couple of jars of herbs or spices, dip in a measuring spoon, and dump it into what you are preparing?  Or shake the jar (most have shaker inserts) over the piece of meat or the soup or what ever?  Since we have not been tempted to buy those products we haven't looked at the ingredients but, if they follow they usual pattern, I suspect they contain more salt or sugar or other things than we want.  And then there is the packaging.  By the time you empty the small jar of herbs or spice you have prepared many more than one meal and have one small jar to throw away (unless you find a new use for it).  Think about how much plastic and paper you would be throwing away if you used the single dish packages for every meal for a year.

Again!!  I don't know what these infantile idiots think gives them the right to alter posts by writing scurrilous slurs on public sites.  Anonymity I suppose.  These congressional taggers aren't any better than youngsters who plaster graffiti on walls owned by others.  At least the graffiti taggers can claim to be artists.  The congressional taggers are ideological hate mongers parading their hate like it was a badge of courage but they aren't courageous enough to claim it publicly where they might be taken to task for their bigotry.

"With justice and liberty for all???"  I think that quote should be amended to "for some." And add "No justice and no liberty for the rest."

Well, this is one way to shore up consumer confidence in your products.  I doubt the insurance payment will take care of the medical bills that come with food poisoning.

Since I have been in a bit of a ranting mood today, the TV news last night and this morning noted that Sam's Clubs (a few of them at least) have decided to bring out Christmas decorations.  It was bad enough yesterday to see Halloween decorations at Menards but Christmas???  I remember comments a history professor telling my class that the counter culture/hippy movement of the 1960 died when it became commercialized.  When love beads and bongs were sold in gift/novelty shops and tie-dyed tee shirts were printed with peace signs the movement was effectively rendered impotent.  Today all of the symbols of Christmas (and Easter) and all of the icons of American identity (4th of July, Presidents' Day, Thanksgiving) have been similarly been reduced to serving commerce.  How much symbolic potency do they have left?

"Brutalization?"  Seems like an understatement to me.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


We did have a busy day yesterday.  The tomatoes are cooked (about 4 pounds of store bought romas plus 2 pounds from the gardens.  Lavender, stevia and lemon balm in the dehydrator.  I will finish putting the tomatoes through a blender and packaging the sauce in one-pound bags for the freezer.  I need to grind the herbs.  It is wet right now but when it dries off I want to harvest some more spearmint for drying and alcohol extraction.

Nimue Brown at Druid Live posted comments I have thought for some time.  So much of what makes life worth living simply isn't easily measurable.  Unfortunately, what is measurable has taken over the politic/economic discussions here.  We have politicians who think the profit/loss measures that dominate business should be applied to government.  We have businessmen who think the only measure of success in business is the size of the profit--not the health and safety of workers, the welfare of their customers.  And even what we can supposedly measure can be jiggered to give the kind of information politicians and economists want and totally obscure the reality they allegedly measure.

A good quote from Huey Long on Undernews.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


We just got home from our errands this morning.  Needless to say, no gardening today.  But I do see the cypress vine has some new blossoms and several clusters of wonderberries are almost ready to try out.  If we like them we will plant them again.  We finally will see a few days of summer.  We have had 3 days when the temperature touched 90--one sixth of the usual number.  Trees are already turning color--much too early.

Update on the wonderberries: just found a fully ripe cluster and gave Mom half.  We like them better than the ground cherries we tried a couple of years ago but we don't like them well enough to devote space in our small gardens to them.  I will mix the ones we get this year with our blueberries.


Busy day planned.  Hope to get most well underway early because the temp is supposed to be warm and summery.  I have tomatoes to get cooked up and packaged for freezing.  That is the big job.  But I also want to get some lemon balm, stevia, peppermint, and spearmint harvested and in the dehydrator.    Everything out there needs watering.  We didn't get any of the rain that deluged some areas around us yesterday.

The "Cloud" has been touted by the computer/internet industry for some time now but I have been skeptical from the beginning.  I have a habit of asking "what if?" and then considering scenarios in which being unable to access the information stored on the "Cloud" would be annoying at best, catastrophic at worst and frustrating always.  This is a perfect illustration of why it is a problem and potentially dangerous.

I saw this on the morning TV news and looked it up on The greed simply blows my mind. I didn't know that the featured artists weren't paid while the set up costs were covered by the NFL.  Now the League wants the stars to agree to fork over a percentage of their next year's earnings.  That is crap.  They should consider the bump in earnings the artists may get as compensation for the fees the stars don't get from the NFL.

Susie Madrak has an excellent point here.  Our media seems fixated on the fact that ISIS/ISIL/Is beheaded an American journalist.  Would anyone feel any better if they had used a bullet in his head?    And I don't care to use the term "execute."  Let not give the bastards any undeserved legitimacy.  They murdered a journalist for no other reason than he was American.  Sows' ears are sows' ears and murder is murder.

Monday, August 18, 2014


I had thought to take out the pathetic looking  pot of melon plants which has (it seemed) produced nothing other that flowers.  Recently it hasn't even done that.  However, I have to rethink that.  I found one small, lonely melon developing.  I don't know if it will have either the time or the will to develop fully but I will give it the chance.  I am cutting back the borage also.  It has stopped blooming and is now dropping seeds.  I have already collected about 30 for next year.  I expect I will get a a number of volunteer plants next spring.  I should also take off the hyssop blooms that are mostly spent so I don't get volunteers next spring.  I want to move that patch away from the rose.


Didn't do much more than cut back the borage yesterday.  I got very lazy.  It happens every now and then.  But in the process I collected a lot more seeds.  I don't know what I will get done today.  The sun isn't up yet and I am simply enjoying my morning coffee.


Collected a nice little basket of peppers and tomatoes yesterday.  I plan to get the peppers cleaned and packaged for freezing today.  I saw the first fully open cypress vine flower also.  The hummingbirds will be happy.  We have dense fog this morning but I don't think we got any rain the weather people said we might get overnight.

So what am I reading today?

Tomdispatch as always.  I may have to find more written by Eduardo Galeano.

Undernews.  Interesting comparison.

James Howard Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation.

A thought experiment from the Rude Pundit.  Caution: high tolerance for justified profanity required.

Grist has an interesting way to repurpose a backyard in-ground pool.

Mahablog on the not-distant-enough 2016 Presidential elections.  If were faced with a choice between any of the Repthuglicans or Hillary Clinton, I would write in Darth Vader.  God how I wish we had a "none of the above" option and what would happen if "none of the above" won?

My thoughts on this piece from Firedoglake are much too crude to write down.  One expensive, decade long failure evidently isn't enough.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday.  Our overnight temps dipped into the mid 40s (F).  It is feeling too much like fall.  I am watching the predictions to plan when I should bring in some of the plants--the rosemaries, the eucalyptus, the pesto basil.  The wonderberries are starting to ripen and the lower leaves of the bee balm are turning red.  I find myself thinking more and more often of when to take out some of the plants--like the sunflowers which are pretty well spent.  I got a large handful of green beans yesterday which will be part of supper today.

I don't often agree with Sen. Rand Paul but he is right on the militarization of our police forces.  And on the erosion of our legal rights and protections.

I just had a thought on police militarization:  can we expect anything else when most of our social and political problems are couched in terms of "war."  As in "War on Drugs" and "War on Terror" and "War on Poverty."  We have militarized our thinking and the adage I quoted yesterday is just as true in the realm of philosophical or conceptual tools as in the realm of physical tools:  if all the only tool you have is a tool all your problems look like nails.

Sometimes I wonder if the ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare) was designed to fail.  This piece at Naked Capitalism supports that notion.  How much more intrusive can it get?  A damned good argument for a single payer system that cuts the insurance industry out entirely.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday.  Stewed the roma tomatoes (store bought and garden grown) yesterday.  We decided to include some of last year's peppers as well since the the new crop is coming.  I will finish up today and get the tomatoes packaged in one-pound lots.  Next week we will pick up some more tomatoes--my own are just coming in and I picked all of the ripe romas yesterday.  We also need some more sweet corn.  I checked on the spearmint and peppermint I have soaking in vodka and they are developing very nicely.  I have some beans to pick also.

A couple of thoughts occurred to me as I watched the news reports on the Ferguson events overnight. First, if your only tool is a hammer (as an old saying tells us), you tend to see all your problems as nails.  Ferguson evidently has a well, it seems, militarized police which means they are responding in military fashion.  Second, if the Ferguson PD uses the standard police slogan "to serve and protect" some very necessary definitions are missing.  Who are serving and what are they protecting?  It doesn't appear their black citizens who are a majority everywhere except in political offices and on the police force.  Third, what happened to the cell phones the police took from by standers who recorded the incident?  Haven't heard a mention of them since the first day.

And on that subject the folks at Political Carnival have some excellent observations.

Interesting that someone finally had the guts to make this observation.  And I would go even further and say that even in high paid occupations most college graduates will find their degrees not worth the time and money spent to gain them.

Ah, another conservative lie busted.  I always thought their dogma was doing a striptease on the political stage with this one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday.  We are supposed to get some more rain this morning and cool temperatures (low 70s which is cool for this time of year.)  We have errands so I probably won't do more that walk through the gardens today.  Maybe take some of the slicing tomatoes that are ripe.

Oh, my--the rain and wind has hit.  I hope it passes over quickly.  We have already dropped our usual trip to the farm market.  It is open air and winds like these make the vendor's canopies dangerous missiles.  My bean tower is swaying drunkenly but so far still upright.

Wednesday.  Supposed to have temps in the low 80s and sun today.  The overnight temps dropped into the mid 50s.  The flooding in other areas not far away (southern Michigan) makes me thankful we are here and not there.  Pictures from Detroit are unbelievable.

I love the title on this Economic Collapse post: "Jobs=Just Over Broke."

I would say a celebration is in order.  As you can probably guess, I am no fan of Monsanto.

Monday, August 11, 2014


We had a short deluge yesterday afternoon.  Though it looked ferocious it didn't drop all that much water.  I doubt it gave us more than a quarter of an inch.  We have more right now so I don't think I will get much done in the gardens.  I didn't get anything done yesterday except for watering.

An old saying: there is no honor among thieves.  Evidently there is no sense of honor in industrial food manufacturing either.  Which raises the question of why the government relies on an "honor system" for companies to report tainted products?  Two parts of this story utterly piss me off.  First, the defense attorney noting that the government doesn't even require testing for salmonella.  Woopty doo!!  The company did test for it and then fraudulently covered tainted batches with the test results for clean batches.  Second, the prosecutors agreeing to not mention the dozens of deaths resulting from this example of corporate greed.  That is obscene.  The company and its owners and executives should be held accountable.

Ah, yes!!  Some very snarky comments on our "do-nothing" legislators.  Thoroughly agree.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I have a dehydrator to empty today.  I harvested a large handful of green beans yesterday and decided to dry them.  I did try a fermented green bean recipe a bit ago but Mom didn't like them.  She doesn't like many fermented foods other than cucumber pickles or pickled beets.  I also picked stevia, peppermint, and spearmint.  I saw a nice bit of lemon balm I should pick so maybe that is a good job for today.

I watered the gardens heavily yesterday.  Everything is very dry.  It feels as though we didn't get all that rain just a bit ago.  And it is really beginning to look like fall.  Some of the trees have more than a hint of autumn color and some of the plants in the containers are starting to show their end of season color. My mind is going through the fall chores and which plants will need to come indoors and when. Overnight temps are running in the low to mid 60s so everything is good for now.  But soon enough that will change.


Quiet weekend so far.  Nothing much to comment on.  Didn't get the lemon balm yet.  On the list for today.

Sometimes Robert Reich comes up with good ideas.  Here is one.

Our own actions coming back to bite us in our collective ass--again.  Didn't we do that a generation ago in Afghanistan and didn't have the same result?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday.  My goodness, where has the week gone?  Like the year (and so many years past) the time has just blitzed past.

Didn't do too much yesterday in the gardens.  Picked some beautiful strawberries  which we ate in our  cereal.  Took a couple of our tomatoes but found a problem with two.  One had definite blossom end rot while the other showed "black heart" disease.  Both are caused by environmental factors or by low calcium.  It has been a cool summer with inconsistent rain.  My soil fertility meter reads on the low side of optimal but it doesn't really measure calcium.  Oh, well--something to think about for next season.  Also harvested a couple of ripe Lipstick peppers.

From Grist--a foreshadowing of times to come?

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I am not a fan of the "internet of things."  I joke that I don't want too many machines around me "smarter" than I am.  My cable TV, phone (not a smart phone), e-reader and computer are about all I want.  I don't see the utility of having my appliances equipped with computer chips and connected via the intent.  Our grocery shopping is rather routine so we don't need our freezer and fridge telling us what we are low on or out of.  This piece reflects some of my thoughts on the subject.  Most commentators talk (or write) about "privacy" in terms of what governments (and law enforcement) can glean from our electronics but I am also very suspicious of business.  The one markets its surveillance as enhancing our safety; the other as enhancing our convenience and broadening our choices as consumers.  In truth, each is pursuing its own advantage.  Governments reduce us from citizens to cattle to be herded where they want us.  Business reduces us to "profit" points.  I refuse to be either.

Gene Logdson always has good points.  He makes me ask how much human (mal-)adaptive behavior is at the bottom of our myriad problems today.  He makes another good point on the limitations, mostly unacknowledged, of statistics and data.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Wet out in the gardens this morning.  We had rain yesterday afternoon--at times very heavy.  It continued last night.  No complaints since the more water Mother Nature provides the less I have to.   I have nothing I absolutely need to do in the gardens.  The tomatoes are ripening but none are ready to pick.  Some of the bull nose peppers could be picked but can wait.  The other varieties aren't ready yet.  I have a couple of squash I will take later this week.


Wet again in the gardens after overnight rain.  The news reports some areas of very heavy rain and flooding.  As one of the reporters remarked we needed the rain "just not all at once."

I love finding different ways to garden in small spaces.  This article describes "keyhole gardens."  Evidently they are popular in dry areas of Africa.  It conserves water and provides an easy way to apply compost to the garden.  If I had space...


We had a busy day yesterday so I didn't spend a lot of time with my normal on line reading.  The farm market is in full swing and we are staging our buying for winter storage so that we aren't overwhelmed with work.  We have corn to clean up and get in the freezer this week.  We will start looking for tomatoes to make sauce and stewed tomatoes next week and maybe more corn.  Our meat stocks were somewhat low so we replenished the freezer a bit.  I was surprised the prices weren't as much higher than we paid last time.  Given the drought, last winter's surprise blizzard and the pig virus I had expected a much higher jump.  We had several other stops as well so we spent the entire morning running errands.  I go everything skimmed if not thoroughly read.  See what I find today.

Well, Well--Walgreens just announced they would not be moving their headquarters to Europe after all.  Senator Dick Durban in Illinois has attributed the decision to pushback from consumers.  Maybe.  We had expressed our displeasure at our local Walgreens and, from the reaction, others had done the same.  We are still going to explore our local drug stores.  We figure it is best to know what options we have before we need to exercise them.  And who says the company won't make a different decision in the futures (after the furor dies down.)

We may be a bit cynical here but we had a good many questions about the missionaries infected with Ebola.  Evidently we aren't the only ones with questions.  Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism (and other sites) has some we didn't even think of.

The mystery of the non-melting ice cream bar.  Can anyone really believe it does anyone good to put that crap down our gullets?

Sunday, August 3, 2014


We were not impressed with shiso after we cooked it.  It may work well as a flavoring but doesn't as a stand-alone vegetable.  I dried what we didn't cook and will use it as part of tea mixes but I won't plant it again.  I will try something else next year.

I harvested spearmint and put it in a jar with vodka to make a syrup.  It joined the peppermint on my shelf to cure a bit.  I also harvested some hyssop, purple basil, and sweet basil to dry.  Saw some red developing on more tomatoes and on a couple of my peppers.

When I read the headline ("Heatwave taking a toll at fish farms") for this article I thought the story concerned India or Thailand, or Vietnam.  India, especially, has had high temperatures for some time as has a lot of Asia.  Well, I was wrong.  This heatwave is in Finland.

I wonder what the toxin is that is afflicting Toledo's water.  Evidently it is stable in boiling water and boiling will just concentrate it.  And this isn't the first time the algae in Lake Erie has caused a problem.  But most of the news stories don't identify the toxin itself.  Ah, the Daily Mail (UK) identifies the toxin as microcystin and it is a nasty item.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Harvested the shiso yesterday but we didn't fix it for supper.  We had a busy day and settled for grilled cheese sandwiches instead.  The shiso is in the fridge ready to be cooked up today.  I don't know how it will taste but the scent is intriguing--rather spicy, sort of a combination of cinnamon and licorice.  I don't think I will have to water anything.  We got a good rain yesterday.  About an inch over a 45 minute period of time.

I follow a fair number of crafting blogs.  I crochet, embroider, quilt among other activities and like to see what others do.  I won't try to duplicate the pieces pictured but they might give me ideas for my own projects.  This one is way up on the cute-o-meter.

I don't know which is worse in this story.  Is it the woman who thinks Nazi Germany's Final Solution for its undesirables (including but not limited to Jews) is a reasonable pattern for how to deal with illegal immigration on our southern border or the Minuteman asshole who "sympathizes" with her sentiments?  Excuse me while I take a vomit break.

And the dysfunctional and hypocritical House of (Non)-Representatives is just slightly less vomit worthy.

More from the Repthuglican comedy.  I guess they think people will forget who voted against the same measures when they were introduced not so long ago.  I would be more impressed if the Republican women Representatives defected as a group to the Democrats or went Independent.  As the old saying goes: talk is cheap.

The media and some of the blogosphere is going ape-sh#t over ebola and yeah it is a situation to watch.  But this concerns me far more.  It, along with other highly (often multiply) resistant germs, is already here; it is a man-made crisis thanks to over use and mis-use of antibiotics, and there is no cure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday.  August 1.  Where did the time go?

So what am I reading today?  Well, let's start with this piece found on Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism.  I have read a lot on developing water problems world wide and I can agree with her observation that nearly all consider the issue in isolation--as though it had no connections to other issues.  Most of the articles dealing with water shortage and energy concern the demands fracking makes on scarce water supplies in drought areas, like parts of Texas.  But conventional power generation demands large amounts of water as well.  We live in a network of interconnected resources, peoples, processes and when one is stressed others will be also.  And those stresses will be spread through the entire mesh of relationships. 

You may remember I was disappointed with the stevia last year.  It just didn't have the potency I was used to.  This year is entirely different.  I love the stevia syrup I have produced this year and the dried stevia is very different.  How different?  Well, I found a small jar about one-third filled from last year.  I want iced tea for supper so I brewed a pot early and leave it in the fridge to cool.  I thought about using the older batch but took a good sniff and decided against that notion.  I smelled this year's batch and there is a clear difference.  I wasn't imagining things.  Mom also detected the difference.  She thought the old supply had lost something.  I think it never had it to begin with.  What a difference a year makes.

Sometimes I simply scratch my head in disbelief--as when reading this item.  A teacher of English for non-English speakers is fired for writing a blog post on homophones because his boss a) doesn't know what the word means and b) was (supposedly) afraid his school would be forever associated with gay sex.  The idiot probably can't distinguish between there, their, and they're either.