Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday.

Good morning, all.  Cool today with clouds and a bit of wind.  The weather report this morning predicted a roller coaster between comfortable and cool with rain on Thursday.  I have peppermint drying and will grind it later today.  I dumped the root ball as I did the spearmint root ball.  As usual the pot was packed with roots.  Separating the soil from the roots would yield too little for too much work.  I will start those pots off next spring with a new batch of soil.  Tomorrow, if it remains dry as the weather people predict I will start on the hyssop.  Two weeks ago I harvested four flower cones and set them to dry on a small plate on the top of the refrigerator.  Today I shook out about a half-teaspoon of seeds for next year.  I like hyssop for tea (it adds a licorice-like flavor) and the bees love it.  Since we like honey and use a lot of it instead of sugar (we eliminated artificial sweeteners as much as possible a good while ago) I feed the bees as much as I can.

I found this article this morning and it started a conversation here.  We don't live in an area particularly susceptible to drought.  We had a moderate drought a couple of years ago and our politicians and utility experts issued mild urgings to conserve water.  I notice that most homeowners around here don't bother watering their lawns much.  During dry stretches the grass dies back and then comes back when the rains return.  Why would the drought in California start a conversation here?  Well, we always ask ourselves what would we do if... .  We don't expect a drought like they have in California but what changes would we make if something happened leading to the kind of water rationing authorities in California are debating.  Often it makes us examine how we do things and come up with a change that would benefit us beyond reducing the amount of water we use.  The time to think about such things is before the situation becomes critical.

The only reason these jerks got away with their boorish behavior was that they were on an El Al plane.  They should have been removed by police and charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting airline activities.

It is an old truth that once you spend money on one thing you can't spend it on something else.  Hence the "guns vs. butter" argument.  While I do recognize that sometimes we do have to spend on war and war-by-other-names but we seem to have been engaged in these activities for aims that are far too nebulous and ill-defined and have gotten far too little benefit from them.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sunday.

Expecting another warm and sunny day.  Need to finish off the spearmint in the dehydrator today and, perhaps, cut and dry the peppermint.  Should also get more of the greenhouse cleared and straighten up a bit in the shed.

I noticed that one bit of info each news story concerning the bizarre workplace murder in Oklahoma is the notion that the murderer is "Muslim."  For the most part the news I watch has merely mentioned that and that he had tried to "convert" his co-workers.  But I have to wonder why that is mentioned at all.  I don't hear about the religious affiliation (or lack of) for other perpetrators of workplace violence so why does it matter here?  Are the networks simply trying to give its more rabid viewers a small taste of red meat?  I notice that if there isn't a whiff of Islam in these stories religion isn't mentioned at all.

Monday.

I did get the spearmint ground but nothing else.  Mom decided it was time to thoroughly clean the refrigerator and, as I have complained often, the kitchen isn't big enough for both of us to work in at the same time.  I picked a couple of nearly ripe Biltmore tomatoes and accidentally cut a green one.  The Biltmore is the only tomato still in the garden.  The next three days should be cooler and wetter.

I simply don't understand the economic reports.  I found this today which says that consumer confidence is at a 4-month low and people aren't opening their wallets.  But just Friday our local news readers were crowing because people were spending right and left with enthusiasm.  Which one is right?  I have no idea.  I know that we don't fit into the metrics anywhere.  We aren't planning to make any major purchase.  Our 13-year-old car is doing just fine and we have no plans to buy a home.  All our appliances are doing fine and most are provided by the landlord anyway.  We buy what we need when we need it and think carefully before buying.  "Confidence" has nothing to do with our buying.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday.

Welcome to the last weekend of September.  The year is going by so fast but the weather is beautiful--temperatures in the 70s and low 80s with plenty of sun.  I cut back the bee balm yesterday and filled the bird feeder.  Also watered the inside plants which all seem to be adjusting to life indoors--so far.

Just harvested the last of the spearmint and emptied the pot.  Half is in the dehydrator and the rest is in vodka on the shelf.  I debated on the last but decided to go ahead with the extract.  Although I don't consider what little we put in the compost bin, I would rather use it for flavoring our tea.

I have friends who live in Colorado and who are following this story more carefully than I am at my geographical distance.  One part of this story I find all too typical: the board member who, when asked, couldn't specify any part of the history curriculum she objected to.  I also noted that, like a similar movement in Florida a couple of years ago, the aim of these so-called reformers seems to be to define criticism of American politics and society as unpatriotic.  These "conservatives" want an obedient and respectful drones not thinking citizens.  I love the students' response to the board's charge that they are pawns of the teachers' union.

I am sure you all have seen the stories about the airport disruptions in the Chicago area caused by a man who sabotaged the Aurora control facility and then botched his suicide.  I am amazed (but not surprised) by the comments by a woman who lives in the same area as the saboteur.  She was surprised that someone that disturbed (suicidal does qualify as disturbed) would live in her neighborhood.  No neighborhood is immune from housing possibly disturbed people and not all those who are unstable have a brand on their foreheads informing everyone of the danger they pose.  But I see the same reaction to any revelation that a rapist, murderer, violent robber, etc. might live in any given neighborhood.  I rather doubt that she knows her neighbors any better that I do--and I barely know mine by sight.

Isn't it amazing how a strain of unapproved experimental genetically modified wheat developed by Monsanto has been popping up in fields eleven years after trials on it were discontinued.  Once these genies get out of their bottles we can't put them back no matter what the "experts" tell us.  I notice that the USDA has closed the investigation of the Oregon appearance of the same strain even though they never found where it came from.  That incident cost a good bit of business because the Japanese cancelled contracts the farmers had depended on.  The Japanese don't accept genetically modified crops.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday.

Yesterday turned into a lazy day.  I watered inside plants and did just about nothing else.  Let's see if today is different.

I generally try to ignore most of the politics.  I am so totally disgusted by 99% of it.  Unfortunately, it is mid-term silly season now and avoiding the quagmire is impossible.  The Political Wire posted this quote from Joe Klein which reflects my feelings exactly.  And it is worse than Klein describes.  So many of the most despicable ads we see aren't produced by any candidate's campaign.  Instead outsiders with ultra patriotic sounding names, who would support Darth Vader so long as he said he was a Republican (or a Democrat), pollute our airwaves with scurrilous crap.

Here is a new wrinkle in the car loan business which is increasingly a subprime racket.  And these (I can't think of a severe enough epithet so will leave that to you) are about a polite and considerate as many of the collections agents I have read about lately.  In other words--crassly stupid bullies.  Notice the woman with a sick child running a dangerously high fever was not behind on her payments and hadn't been on the two earlier episodes.  And that one woman wound up in a very dangerous, life threatening situation.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday.

Mom was busy cooking up acorn squash yesterday so I stayed out of the way.  If we had a magic wand with one wish we would make the kitchen about twice its size.  So I didn't get any spearmint harvested.  Will do that today.  I did get the patio swept and washed down a bit.

The first headline I saw this morning proudly proclaimed the results of the latest "U.S.-led" airstrikes in Syria: "at least" 14 dead IS fighters and 5 "civilians."  Interesting question: how much did we and our "allies" spend to kill nineteen people?  What could those funds have accomplished if we had spent it on improving crumbling infrastructure, upgrading our power grid or on any of the other problems we have here at home?  A military officer expert interviewed on one of the news programs said that the purpose was to eliminate at least some IS sources of revenue--hence the targeting of refineries.  I wonder how much environmental damage our "success" has also accomplished.

Oh, the joys of trying to find out where your food comes from.  We try to stock up on veggies we can freeze while the farm market is running.  Which is why mom spend a good part of yesterday cooking acorn squash.  We know it is locally grown and organic.  When we get produce from our supermarkets we look for the country of origin labels.  Our markets also indicate the state of origin, which is nice.  Generally, we follow the simple rule: the closer the origin of the produce to our table the better.  As the story indicates that isn't fool proof but better than being oblivious.

Want a clear explanation of what we are doing in Syria and Iraq?  Here it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday.

We visited our local farm market for the last time yesterday.  They will be open one more day but we don't really need anything.  We went out for a couple of the large jars of honey but got there a bit late.  The vendor was selling his last jars of the season to the customer who beat us to them.  Most of the other venders were also selling down their stocks.  We picked up our honey from the supermarket.  It isn't quite as local as what we got at the market--from within 100 miles instead of in town.  One of the maintenance men came by yesterday to put our storm windows back up.  They are much too heavy and awkward for Mom and me to handle.  Our next seasonal chore will be putting the plastic over the windows.  I plan to harvest the last cutting of spearmint today and clear out it's pot.

I found this interesting piece on Green Prophet.  Even the land needs a rest.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday.

Welcome to Fall--although it has felt like autumn for a while now and the trees have been turning for the last three weeks.  I have been clearing the containers for the last couple of weeks--in the dry periods between some vicious rain squalls.  It has been a very strange growing season--a feeling quite a few of the gardening bloggers I read have also felt.  Blessed Equinox to you all.  I always know when that occurs because the shadow of the house touches the top of our fence.  The gardens are now in shade because little light gets reflected off the white of the fence onto the poor plants.  The light they do get comes early in the morning reflected from the northeast corner or late after reflected from the northwest corner.

A NY Times segment (I haven't linked because it comes with several other pieces and is well down the page) quotes Vice President Joe Biden saying "Politics has become too personal." to explain why Washington doesn't work any more.  I had a similar thought some time ago.  I grew up during an era when the Feminist chant was "The personal has become political."  Whether a woman wasn't hired or was fired because of her gender was (and is) intensely personal and became political.  Whether a woman would be admitted to an elite college or be denied because the school had limits on how many seats would go to women was (and is) intensely personal and totally political.  Whether a woman has access to affordable birth control and safe abortion was (and is) intensely personal and very political.  The problem, it seems to me, is that too many of us expect everything around us, including politics, to reflect our own personal beliefs and prejudices exclusively.  We have lost any sense of toleration and restraint.  It isn't enough that person X thinks women should confine themselves to tending the home, husband, children and church (Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche as the National Socialists in 1930s Germany would say), s/he wants to enforce that belief on everyone else. It isn't enough that person Y thinks abortion and contraceptives are morally wrong and conforms his/her own behavior accordingly, s/he wants everyone else to conform as well. It isn't enough that person Z thinks homosexuality is sinful and conforms his/her behavior, s/he insists on the right to force everyone else to live the same way.  The personal has always been political; but the politics of the personal has simply become far more vicious.

I saw two headlines, one following the other, on one of my lists.  One wondered if the rains in Texas heralded the end of the drought while the other announced a prediction that the drought would intensify in the coming year.  I didn't read either.  I just thought the positioning was amusing and somewhat revealing.  No one really knows what is going to happen but spout off anyway based on nothing more than their prejudices and wishes.

This story proves that the old saying about those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.  Sometimes you know the history but simply hope that this time will be different.  But why would anyone think that pest plants that have evolved glyphosate resistance won't do the same when exposed to 2,4-D?

I figured out sometime ago that the Miss America and other such patents were a lot of smoke and no BBQ.  I just didn't realize how little meat was behind their claims of providing tens of millions of dollars for scholarships for women.

Charles Hugh Smith has a very nice critique of GDP as an economic measurement.  I have often thought that we have a totally screwy system when the sale of cancer causing chemicals and the treatment of the cancers they cause are both considered growth.  Or that cleaning up the pollution created by companies producing goods are as much a part of growth as the value of the goods and the profits generated from them.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday.

We did get rain yesterday--but not much.  The new said we had high winds and a bit of damage from that.  We didn't think the wind was all that bad though we had a lot of lightening which was severe enough to make me unplug the computer.  All I did yesterday in the gardens was cover the containers I had already cleared.  We may get more rain today but the next six days look dry.

Monday.

As you can see I was very lazy yesterday.  I did get another two pots cleared and took three transplant plugs out of my gold leaf lemon thyme which are now inside in the pot tower.  I hope they do as well as the lavender and creeping thyme.  I did read some blogs and news but not much.  It was definitely a vegetating day.

Another good post at Tomdispatch.  I have spent all too much of my adult life in one institution of "higher" learning and have come to the conclusion that modern college education isn't worth the time or money spent on it.  Evidently, the educations received in for-profit business purporting to provide "education" are worth about as much as a high-school diploma.  The only ones getting rich off that business are the shareholders and executives.

Sam Smith at Undernews also has a very interesting post.  The ultimate corruption: the politics of illusion.

And now for corruption of another kind.  There is a reason why medical costs have risen so fast and to a point where most of us can't afford most medical treatment without insurance or some other financial aid.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday.

I don't know how much I will get done in the gardens because we may get rain today.  I pulled the tansy root ball yesterday and I was surprised by how extensive it was.  It was in one of the larger containers all by itself and was close to being pot-bound.  I would have had to remove it in the spring even if I decided to keep tansy in the gardens.  I decided to take it out now because I won't continue it.  I did get a good start on another seasonal chore--cleaning and organizing the little greenhouse.

Just saw the Al Jazeera story about the release of the Turkish hostages ISIL had been holding.  The reporters said that Turkey had not paid any ransom so the question is what was the "quid pro quo" ISIL got in return.  They speculate Turkey secretly promised not to take active part in any coalition against ISIL.  Our pundits have noted how reluctant Turkey has been to join the ant-ISIL efforts and attributed that reluctance to the threat to their hostages.  But I wonder if there isn't something more behind the position Turkey's government has taken.  I am reminded of a segment in a novel I recently read.  A merchant in a feudal society pondered aiding a young prince in a clandestine endeavor his monarch would not approve.  The merchant wanted increased influence and wealth for his family and ponders the risks involved and asked the question of what loyalties he owes to whom and to which generation.  The important point is underlined: to which generation.  Should he refuse and earn the gratitude of current rulers while earning the enmity of the generation to whom power will be passed? I wonder if Turkey's president isn't pondering the same question.  How he might answer it depends on whether he sees the U.S. as a strong, major power or declining power.  Does he act in accordance to U.S. wishes earning our gratitude or does he hedge his bets and not antagonize a group which might be a rising power in the region?  Given our actions and the results of those actions over the past fifty years, I think the question is very much up in the air.  Our successes since the end of WWII have been few, far between and highly qualified by how success is defined.

I may sound vindictive but I say "GOOD."  I would love to see the jerk get the 30 years maximum sentence without parole.  He is as bad as gang shooters who go out and spray a neighborhood with gunfire not caring who gets hurt.  Maybe worse.  You know you can't trust gangbangers but you trust that what you bought in our supermarkets won't kill you.

Interesting piece by David Brin that deserves a bit of mental chewing and digesting.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thursday.

Cool but sunny again today.  I plan to get some more of the gardens cleared and cleaned up.

Mom and I have wondered for some long time why we have so many low and no calorie foods and drink and yet so many of us are over weight.  I have read some historical studies which show that the twin "epidemics" of obesity and diabetes have increased in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners and the growth of the fast food industry.  Also perplexing is why so many people (several in my own family) can go on rigorous diets and exercise programs as rigorous as their physical conditions permit but still not lose much, if any, weight.  Well, they depended mostly on the artificial sweeteners and foods that use such to reduce their calorie content.  This piece from Green Prophet gives a plausible reason.

I hadn't heard that the walnut crops have been hit hard in several major producing areas with the consequence of rapidly rising prices.  We'll be watching that here because I usually add walnut pieces to our cereal.  However the Independent (UK) says that unscrupulous food manufactures are secretly adding peanuts in place of walnuts endangering some of their allergic customers at risk.

Friday.

Should have another sunny day and a bit warmer.  I got a nice handful of strawberries out of the pots I cleared out yesterday which all went into some yogurt.  Also cut down the tansy and pulled the basil.  It feels a bit early but all those plants are looking spent.  I plan to get some more clean up done today.  It feels much too early but the cool weather has definitely arrived and the trees are turning.

I wish the unemployed got paid as well for sitting on their asses and doing nothing as the Congress Critters do.  That would do far more to boost our economy.  I guess anyone who gets elected to Congress (or the Senate) have their empathy and shame surgically removed.

I guess the key here is the definition of "moderate" and I guess the Obama administration defines moderate as "not-ISIL and anti-Assad."  Mom asked where they intend to find the money since none of those budget "hard-liners" were demanding "off-sets" as they did every time any extension of unemployment benefits or other such legislation came up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday.

Another busy day out and about planned.  We expect sunny but cool conditions today.  Yesterday was cool and wet.  But with our plans I won't have the time to do much more than look at what is going on outside.

Wednesday.

A third busy day planned.  Errands and shopping mainly.  But we should have sun which always improves my mood.

As always Tom Englehardt has an interesting post.  A perfect description of American Hubris.

I see someone else has noticed the discrepancy between Obama's assurances on Iraq ("no boots on the ground") and his military (it depends and will be decided "on a case by case basis").

I can agree with the sentiment when Sam Smith says that laws should be treated like prescription drugs--with considerable restraint and caution.  But our politicians, he writes, treat laws like candy eating them by the handful.  However, I would say that our politicians are treating prescription drugs just like candy now-a-days.  Medicines are consumed (and prescribed by our doctors) with all the enthusiasm of kids on Halloween eating their trick-or-treat loot.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Saturday.

One of the weather reports this morning said the low temperature we achieved overnight was the lowest in 120 or so years.  We are debating when we should ask the maintenance crew to help us put the storm windows in.  Those windows are too much for us to handle.  The report said our temperature got up to 62 yesterday, very cool for this time of year--but my thermometer on the patio only read 55.  If we get sun I will get some more of the gardens cleared.

"We're living in a third world country now."  Some of us.  Others of us are still in the consumer driven world where retailers are trying to reignite the spending orgy of the past.

Charles Hugh Smith on the flaw in capitalism--it doesn't value what it can't put a price on.

Sunday.

Didn't get much in the way of sun yesterday so all I did was look out there window at the gardens.  Temperatures are still cooler than normal but should be a bit warmer than yesterday.

Monday.

We did get sun yesterday but I had no ambition at all--as you can probably tell.  I don't know what I will get written for the first half of this week because we have a busier schedule than usual.

This makes me very glad that I have never, do not, and will never live in Detroit.

If this Grist post is accurate the California bill to ban plastic bags has passed and is awaiting the governor's signature.  What I found interesting is the comment the author made that the only way a shift to paper bags would truly better than the plastic is if customers reuse the paper.  I wonder how many will do so.  Consider the conversation we have had several times at the stores that still have baggers.  Bagger: Paper or Plastic?  Me: Neither. Canvas.  Bagger: HUH!! as I had over my own canvas bags.  We do go to one store that gives paper bags and I keep the one we get and reuse it until the risk that it will break is unacceptable.  Then I put books I intend to give to the local library in it--so it serves one last time.

Gore Vidal has a very sensible take on the so-called "War on Terror."  I would add that WoT is also a fraud.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday

Cold and cloudy again--and the weather reporter says we won't get warm again soon.  Temperature at the moment is in the low 50s which the reports last night said is more normal for early November.  We are fixing chili today--also a month to a month-and-a-half earlier than we normally would.  I picked four nice little tomatoes and a pepper.

Some good news--Bloglines is back up.

So the General Assembly has voted for a resolution directing the UN to establish a mechanism to resolve sovereign debt crises, like Argentina's.  Will that make the mess more orderly?  I would guess not.

David Kaiser posts what President Obama should have said in his address concerning ISIL.  Kaiser is right on every point and, unfortunately, Obama said none of it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday.

Another day without Bloglines.  I found a list I made last time this happened and managed to get most of them on Bloglovin but I had a number of sites that I didn't list and don't remember the title off hand.  Damn but the whole mess is frustrating.

I need to make a space for the two scented geraniums inside.  We expect some very cool (in the mid to high 40s) overnight with day time temps in the high 50s and low 60s.  I will also have to bring in my attempts at taking and rooting cuttings.  If the gardens dry out I am looking at a couple of containers to clear.

An interesting essay on jobs from the Contrary Farmer.

I didn't watch Obama's speech last night.  I figured it was going to include wider air strikes and strikes into Syria.  Huffington Post has an account here.  I would say he was trying to "degrade and destroy" IS (or ISIL or ISIS) on the cheap but the missiles aren't cheap.  Nor is the equipment he wants to safe with the Kurds, Iraqi "army," and "moderate" rebels in Syria.  We won't be putting our own boots on the ground which is a good thing.  However, we will be relying on our "allies'" boots to handle the ground fighting.  I have all those words in quotes because the meanings are terribly slippery.  I don't think Iraq has an army in any meaningful definition of the term and as far as moderate rebels in Syria go one has to ask what we mean by that word.  All of the rebel groups in Syria have ties to IS and anything we share with them will, sooner or later, find its way into IS hands. All of our alleged allies have their own agendas and those agendas are often at odd with ours--that is if we have honestly defined our agenda, which I am not at all sure we have done.  It is a miserable mess into which we are about to dump more material and money to create more misery.  Sounds like a recipe for futility to me.

The news last night had an amusing and amazing picture from Calgary, Canada showing a yard full of frowning snowmen--at least a dozen about four feet high surrounded by additional snow.  You can find that picture (well down the page) and others here.  Our weather reporter said the snow storm was at least four weeks early.  The same system is supposed to be here late tonight and into tomorrow but with rain not snow.

Being neither a citizen nor a resident of Scotland the matter of Scottish Independence and the upcoming vote is something I can view placidly from a distance.  However, if I were either and I had money in any bank that published a threat to leave Scotland if the vote went for independence, I would be on my way to taking every penny out and moving it elsewhere--even if that were my mattress.  I dislike blackmail--intensely.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday.

Wet and, evidently, going to stay that way all day.  From the weather maps we have a large area of rain that will move in waves over the area.  I moved the little eucalyptus, which is still struggling along, into the little greenhouse last night.  It doesn't need to be drenched--again.  Everything else outside is strong enough to take it.  I noticed just yesterday that our average first frost date is only a bit more than a month away.  How fast the time goes.

I still cannot get onto Bloglines.  I have no idea what is going on with it--but I am much annoyed.  This is, I think, the fourth time this year that the site has been inaccessible.  I think it annoys me on two counts: I don't like it when a technology that is a large part of my life fails and I don't, really don't, like having my routine disrupted.  Oh, well--consider it an exercise in flexibility and adaptation.

Ah, Margaret and Helen are back with a conclusion I can support:  life is full of questions and pie is always the right answer.

I think it is a curious juxtaposition of stories on the news this morning that David Cameron visits Scotland to promise greater autonomy for Scotland if the Scots vote no on independence and Petro Poroschenko promises much greater autonomy for eastern Ukraine within a united Ukraine.  In each case they had rejected those measures a while back which fueled their respective oppositions.  There are times when politicians should look seriously at compromise but that seems to be a lost art among modern politicians--of any nationality.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunday.

Cool so far this morning.  Cool enough that I debated wearing the winter robe but settled for the light summer robe.  We should have sun and the temperature should get up into the mid 70s.  Nice for work in the gardens.  I transplanted the creeping thyme and lavender, brought the rosemaries and pesto basil inside.  Our weather people predict overnight temps in the 40s and low 50s for the rest of the week.  I need to find space inside for my scented geraniums.  Otherwise, I need to harvest some lemon balm before cleaning out that area as well as the stevia from another area.

Lambert Strether posting at Naked Capitalism asks a very good question:  what are the long-term unemployed (or as Strether says, "disemployed") doing with their time?  His comments remind me of a point Dmitri Orlov made in one of his posts some time ago:  jobs may have disappeared but work always remains.  We are used to an economy in which we sell our labor for money that we exchange for the things we need (food, clothing, etc.)  Though we may not have a job the work of obtaining the things we need remains.

Monday.

It was a very pretty and mild day yesterday.  More of the same for today, they say.  I got the lemon balm cut and drying.  I had thought I would pull the remaining plants but I have changed my mind.  I will leave it for another cutting.  I need to grind the dried leaves today so I can cut and dry some of the stevia.  I collected a few of the spent flower heads from the hyssop which are dropping seeds now.  Those are drying on a small plate on top of our fridge.  Next week I will collect the seeds in an envelope for next season.  The bees are still working over the remaining blossoms on the hyssop which aren't many so I am debating when to start cutting the plants to dry the leaves.  I think I told you that the shiso is blooming.  Rather pretty but not enough to plant next year.  I noticed that it isn't attracting any bees.  As I clear an area I am putting down a layer of newspaper mostly to keep the soil from being splattered out by rain of which we have had an abnormal number of very hard episodes.  Over the fall and winter (as long as we are clear of snow) I will add more layers to inhibit weeds.  I also took cuttings from the scented geraniums hoping they will root.  I look at the cuttings I took from other plants late last week.  So far they are still looking pretty good.  Hoping they produce plants.

Tuesday.   I have stevia to grind.  The peppermint is next on my cutting/drying list if the weather holds.  So far it looks like the rain that was supposed to come in tonight is coming in this morning and will clear off by afternoon.  It may or may not give us anything.

Update: minimal rain--sprinkles and not much else.  I have been unable to get on Bloglines for two days now.  Damn!!  Have no idea what is wrong but about half of the blogs I usually follow are inaccessible.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday.

Oh, my, did those storms roll through yesterday evening and last night.  Thankfully, we didn't get what the northern Chicago suburbs did.  They are cleaning up and trying to get the power back for some 65+k up there.  We got nasty winds that swirled and seemed to hit from all directions.  Normally my little patio is well protected but the winds wiped the plants viciously.  I will check everything when we get light out there.  Supposed to clear off and get sunny but with mild temps today.

Things look pretty good out in the gardens.  The Pesto Perpetuo basil is listing and needs to be staked but it isn't broken.  It also needs to be trimmed.  That is the worst of the storm's leavings.  I will start the garden work shortly.

This isn't much of a surprise--nor, I guess, very unusual.  I remember two near minimum wage jobs I had which specified a dress "code" all employees had to adhere to and, if they didn't have suitable items in their closets, they had to buy them themselves.  I may have recouped the expense but it was a serious hit at the time.  Good thing--I still have the slacks from those jobs and I am back down to a weight that allows me to wear them.

Well, out air attack that killed al-Shabab's leader did such a hell of a lot of good.  The organization, as any organization would, has already named a new leader.  We really need to get someone who can think outside the box because getting a bigger gun or more guns isn't working.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday.

We expect storms sometime today.  I don't know if I will have either the time or the energy to do anything in the gardens.  Depends on whether the when (if) the rough weather comes in and whether my get-up-and-go wakes up.  Right now it is still snoozing.

The Powers-that-be and their cheerleaders keep telling us that the economy is in recovery and has been since 2009 and they keep scratching their heads in bewilderment when we don't believe them.  This piece by David Dayen would tell them why we don't believe them.  Most of us have experienced declining incomes and increasingly tenuous jobs over the last decade.  That doesn't translate into recovery.

I have thought for a very long time that the bleats from employers about how difficult it is to find "qualified" job seekers to hire has been a self-serving crock of shit.  Wolf Richter basically defines "qualified" for us and it isn't what we normally mean in using the term.

Update:  well, my get-up-and-go returned by 8am it was already too hot and humid to do any real work outside.  Since we expect rain storms overnight I won't water anything.  We did go out because I wondered if either of our garden supply stores had herb plants left that might be suitable for the tower planter and Mom wanted some appliance enamel paint to repair a couple of spots on the clothes dryer.  I didn't expect anything in the plants and wasn't surprised to find nothing.  I will check my seeds to see what I have that I can start for that space.  I also have some cuttings that may root.  We'll see what happens.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wednesday.

Oh, well.  My hope for a clear day yesterday didn't come about.  By the time we finished our errands we had sprinkles and a short time after a heavier rain fell.  We did get some sun late in the afternoon. But it was too wet to do more than collect a ripe tomato.  I was pleased to see that the hummingbirds are still here.  A couple of them visited over yesterday.  One found the cypress vine flowers.  T.he weather should be clear an sunny today; if so, I need to get out an get started on the clearing up and transplanting chores.

This is an idea I like--a lot.  I hope it spreads.

Thursday.

I got my sage transplanted into its own pot.  That took a bit of effort.  It has some very well developed roots.  I hadn't intended to do that but it really had grown too large for the tower.  I don't know if I will get much done outside.  The weather predictions for the day include early showers followed closely by heat.  We'll see what happens when.  I also got the bean tower pulled.  That was a bit of a chore also.  I had woven the vines back and forth through the trellis.  We processed the brussels sprouts we got while shopping Tuesday.  We usually buy frozen but it has become harder to find plain sprouts and we don't really like the spices and sauces the processors put on their products.  We only found two packages of "Asian spiced."  I put that in quotes because I am sure no self-respecting "Asian" would eat that crap.  We won't waste it because it is barely palatable.   However, the produce section of the grocery store had sprouts for $2.99/lb vs. the $2.49 for those 10oz packs.  The "convenience" (which isn't all that convenient) isn't worth the cost.

Ah, some humor from the Contrary Farmer on the issue of mega-farms.

Note:  I (very) few moments ago I stepped out on the patio to get my small watering can, the one I bring inside for the winter, and though the cement was wet, indicating a recent rainfall, I didn't feel a single drop.  By the time I watered the eucalyptus and the sage (both inside now) and sat back down with the computer the rain had escalated to a downpour.  Since I started writing this it has backed off again.  That is why this fall has been a problem for watering the gardens.  What we just got wasn't enough to do much good for most of the plants.  It looks like a lot but it simply isn't all that much.

Talking about rain brings to mind water generally and a story on the news last night.  I forget which major internet/computer/cloud company has awarded its new data center to Las Vegas but my first thought when they mentioned the new jobs was "what about the water for the new center and for the new workers?"  Has anyone thought about that?  Not from what I have been reading.

Reading this my first reaction was "Well, DUH!!!"  Our of curiosity I looked up what percentage of the world's population live in cities now: 54%.  A quick look at what defines a "megacity" indicates a population of 10 million or more and there are about 20 such cities in the world.  I disagree somewhat with the one person quoted when he said we "have no precedent" for such operations.  Think Leningrad, Stalingrad, Moscow for starters.  Then of course there are the cities bombed into oblivion or near oblivion: Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden, London.  The only difference is the number of people.  We have been playing with urban warfare for some time.  Many historians consider the American Civil War to have been a dress rehearsal for WWI and WWII.  Think Atlanta, Vicksburg, and Richmond.

I have found the discussions of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is being hammered out in as much secrecy as the participants can muster, and its bookend deal on the Atlantic side, also being constructed in secrecy, very disturbing.  This story from Triple Crisis illustrates why they are such bad ideas.  All of these basically trash the whole notion of national sovereignty and cut the legal knees out from under anyone or any group who wants a say in what impacts their own lives.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday.

Hoping for a clear day today.  I want to get some cuttings started and a couple of plants moved.  Also have a couple of containers I should clear out and get ready for winter.  I know it is only the second day of September but the plants are done producing and, even if they decided to bloom again, they don't have time for a second crop to mature.  I cored and seeded the Lipstick peppers which are now in the freezer.  One plant still still has a few peppers ripening.  The first of the Cornu di Toro Rosso peppers is in the fridge waiting for the next three which should be ripe this coming weekend.  Mom plans to stuff them with chorizo and cheese.

The broadcast news made a big deal of this in their usual sensationalist manner that provided no useful information.  I think the first lines are pretty accurate: are you less secure than you were?  No, you were never as secure as you thought to begin with.  I have distrusted the "cloud" from the day I first heard about it.  I don't use any of the "cloud" services.  I am not so concerned about "sensitive" information making its way into unfriendly hands but I don't like the notion of being at the mercy of the service to get my own info.  It is bad enough when our internet service is interrupted for some unknown reason.  Anyone remember a couple of stories over the last couple of years where people and businesses lost access because the government seized the servers to investigate possible criminal activity?  Far more non-criminals were locked out than criminals were inconvenienced.

Interesting piece on the Guardian's Environment Blog.  The paragraphs on temperature sensitivities are especially interesting.  Translating: 20C = 68F; 25C =77F; 30C = 86F; 35C = 95F.  But we don't have to worry about heat alone.  Last year we had record breaking heat here with 40+ days over 90F.  This year only 4.  We have had a very cool summer so far--almost as cool as one about six years ago when I seriously considered getting seeds for a cold adapted tomato.  But then a couple of years, like last year, were so warm I was thinking of a heat tolerant plant instead.  I haven't gone with either and have actually had some pretty good harvests given how little space I have.  We were talking to one of the venders at the farm market who said that all his customers and fellow growers have commented on how strange our weather has been.  All we can do is be as flexible as we can.

This cartoon says a good bit of truth about our higher "education" "system."  My own advice to prospective college students: think twice--and then think again.  The diplomas aren't worth what they once were worth, and many aren't worth the time and money you will spend on them.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunday.  Last day of August.

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

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

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

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

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

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