Saturday, December 30, 2017

Another frigid morning with snow expected later today. We won't get out of the deep freeze and into the 20s until a week from tomorrow if the weather people are right. Hibernation sounds like a real good idea.

David Kaiser's new post parallels many of the thoughts I have expressed over the last couple of years. I summed up the current situation by saying that Barack Obama was the last president of the United States while #45 is the first president of an entity that will bear the name but isn't the same.

Friday, December 29, 2017

We had a couple of inches of new snow from yesterday afternoon through last night. Our temperatures did get into the low double digits but the wind made it feel much colder. We are doing what the public safety experts on the news recommend: staying inside and warm. This cold weather is predicted to linger for at least another week. Not much worth commenting on and we have been busy getting caught up on chores which languished during the depths of our illnesses over the last two weeks. Now I am ready for a nap.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Another cold morning. At least the temps are above 0* though not by much. The shopping and errands yesterday wore us out. We are still a bit tired today wishing the last of these colds would go away--soon.

I will try to work my way through the seed catalogs but I feel so far behind. I had planned to have the orders in already but this crappy cold intervened. I started editing my "wish" list--all those seeds that sounded interesting but on closer look wouldn't do at all for my small space. But I hadn't received all of the catalogs at the point where I started the list so it is time for another whack at the project.

"The Elephant In Our Midst" is an excellent title for this piece. I won't bother getting the book. I have read a lot of similar information for a long time. Some years ago I dissected the promise of "globalization" and found it wanting. The key premise (that everyone would benefit from the process with more money and more goods at better prices) was false from the get-go. Middle class incomes stagnated, jobs paying middle class wages disappeared, and we got cheap quality goods at dear prices. Definitely not a good exchange. That the wages of the middle and even low percentile workers in Asia and Africa went up fantastically doesn't surprise me. Those were paid for with our lost wages and opportunities. Those in the West who benefitted "bigly" are the ones who have been telling us the economy is doing well--and for them, it is. For the rest of us the pie is shrinking and the knives are coming out as people try to defend their positions and, perhaps, carve a piece off someone else's share.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

It is bitterly cold here only -3F so far. They have changed the weather forecast and lowered the expected highs for the next three days as well. The news weather used the term Chi-beria (smash up of Chicago and Siberia, for those not from the area) for the first time in a few years. We do have to go out: we need to pay rent, get groceries and get cat litter. Our two week recovery from the cold left us with spoiled milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Plus we need to replace other staples. But we will make the trips as quick as possible and bundle up.

We got started more than a bit late because the car wouldn't start. That was frustrating because much earlier Mom started it and let it run while she cleared the snow off. It took almost an hour and a half to get through to her insurance company and get them to send someone out to give us a jump. It was annoying but understandable considering the wallop this weather has caused over such a large part of the country.

This story is interesting in light of our shopping today. We were looking for Tidy Cat scoopable litter in the paper bag rather than the plastic container. We did get it in plastic first time around but don't really don't want to discard more plastic. We finally settled on a different brand that comes in a cardboard box. We don't use as much plastic as we once did but getting it down further is difficult given the amount of plastic packaging.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hope you all had a good holiday. Ours was very quiet as we recovered (and are still recovering) from a damned nasty cold. We used to get over such maladies quickly in three or four days at most. This time we were miserable for almost two weeks. From what I have seen on line we weren't alone. A number of posters complained about suffering the symptoms for two full weeks. We are almost back to normal physically and beginning to reestablish our routines.

The other disruption is far more pleasant--two new cats we adopted from our local shelter. Our colds hit at the time we were supposed to pick them up after the shelter had has them spayed and chipped. Mom was already too sick to drive. I was just barely able to function. They have had almost free rein here. It has been about four years since the last of the old cats exited the scene at advanced old ages. Though we insisted at the time we wouldn't have pets again we found we missed the little devils. Every now and then one should have one's life shaken up a bit. Keeps you from getting stale and bored.

I hope this link works because Robert Reich has a perfect summation of the last year and why it has been so depressing on the political front. Last year, just after the election, I wondered if #45 would be the last president of the U.S. which seemed, and seems yet, intent on tearing itself apart. After nearly a year I adjusted that opinion: #45 is the first president of something called the United States of America (but which is anything but) while Barack Obama was the last president of the experiment started seven years shy of 250 years ago.

An interesting trip down a culinary memory lane. I recognize a lot of this--like using the various canned soups as a base for casseroles or incorporating various prepared, packaged, or frozen foods into meals. As I read the piece I was struck by how much our own food prep has changed over the last decade. We have no canned soups in our pantry--at all. Well, I have to amend that: we do have a selection of ramen noodle soups as an emergency. We actually used one over the last two weeks of our recovery from colds. We don't use Crisco any more but do use butter and lard. We do some of the oils (like olive oil) for salad dressing which we make from scratch now. We don't use any frozen or prepared foods. I have told Mom frequently we are going retro in a big way.

Friday, December 15, 2017

We are both under the weather here so I don't know if I have the mental and physical stamina to comment much. You wouldn't think reading and commenting on what you have just read would take much of either but it can be exhausting.

David Kaiser has an interesting dissection of the Alabama special Senatorial election. Most of the pundits I have read follow the line Kaiser debunks: Jones (D) won because of a surge in Democrat voters especially black voters. Kaiser makes the case that there was no surge for either candidate. The vote tallies indicate a decline in actual voters but that the Republican's lost more than the Democrats did as a lot of voters simply stayed home. Kaiser's statistics seem to reflect something from the 2016 election which only one or two pundits have mentioned: Clinton lost because a very large portion of those who had been expected to vote for her simply stayed home or did as we did and left the presidential preference blank. Mid-term and off year elections as well as down ballot candidates have for years attracted fewer voters but this year's special elections have attracted even fewer. I am glad Jones won but I wish there was a clear indication the Republican voters are rejecting the bellicose, theocratic, misogynist, and racist wing of their party. I would also like to see a realignment away from the "business" factions of each party toward the mass of ordinary Americans.

This has been coming so it isn't a surprise. The NY AG is planning to join a multi-state lawsuit to overturn the FCC's 3-2 vote to abolish the net neutrality rules and no longer consider the internet a utility. Patheos has another article on the possible implications. About all I can do is vote with my feet and wallet. I love the internet but if it becomes too expensive I will do without it and I can. I can still use the library. I still know how to read books and my attention span hasn't been reduced to tweets and sound bites.

Contrary Perspective has a post that hits a couple of my buttons. I have been totally annoyed by two almost obligatory behaviors: the constant refrain of "thank you for your service" when ever a reporter interviews a veteran or someone currently serving and the ubiquitous flag pin. They are unthinking conditioned behavior somewhat like Pavlov's dogs slavering. Those are the cheapest expressions of "patriotism" that don't require any real sacrifice of time, money or thought. The author is probably quite right: it bodes no good at all for the future of this country. One could actually question whether there is a country to have a future.

On a bit of a lighter note, take a look at the jolly skeleton mosaic from the 3rd century BCE.

Another not so surprising set of statistics about which schools and degrees have the most defaults and, as the lead in says, it isn't the humanities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Not much snow yesterday but plenty of wind. Only 21F so far. It may go lower before the sun comes up. The weather report says we may get into the high 30s with a good chance of some snow through today and tonight.

Well, they have to keep the prisons filled and petty marijuana laws do that job so well. Ronni Bennett has a post on AG Sessions' latest assault on legal marijuana.

The headline on this article is a bit of an understatement. I would say that American Capitalism isn't working for anyone under the 90th percentile of the economy. The economist interviewed for the article is careful to not tie the results to the economy generally but information is intriguing. The trend has been going on since at least 1999 so it isn't new. Also the statistics show increasing deaths from suicide, drugs and alcohol among both white working age men and, in a parallel though lower curve, white working age women. But that doesn't hold for black or hispanics of the same age and status or for Europeans. So, what gives?

I can relate to this article in a number of ways. My last academic interest (history) has been on the same path of extinction. But I have also loved some of the great writers of history, academic or otherwise. Unfortunately, those are becoming fewer and fewer. We get the celebrities but they aren't necessarily great writers. Some aren't even good writers. I don't know how many articles which should have been interesting I have started and then dropped because the writing was incomprehensible all the while wondering "what the hell are they teaching in English comp nowadays?" Will the loss of the "humanities" (including English, history, philosophy) make us somehow less human?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

We expect wind and snow today with temps not getting out of the twenties. About all we did yesterday was shop. We got all the supplies for the new kittens when they come home--after they are spayed. Normally our shopping only takes about an hour--maybe and hour and a half. But we were out for almost four hours yesterday. Then we got everything put away before we collapsed for the rest of the day. We have been out of the loop on pet supplies for about the last four years so we had to find out what outlets were still here and what they had.

I found this long article which is confirming, maddening, and just plain sickening. It confirms what I have seen over the last several years: our governments are not working for "we the people" but for the corporations against us. We get nailed financially as rate payers and tax payers for service that is either unreliable, too expensive to use, or never delivered at all. The whole crony system is maddening with the total lack of accountability. The executives get paid even when the projects are never built, run up huge cost overruns, or are years beyond the promised completion date. And it is just plain sickening to think of the waste of money and resources that get the general population nothing but broken promises, bullying, and, often, the loss of land, homes, livelihoods, dreams.

It appears there are some problems with the wheat harvest this year. There is a lot less of it and it has a much reduced protein level which has bakers scrambling.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I will be taking it easy today. The muscle and joint aches I expected yesterday as a result of my fall finally kicked in. I am just glad it isn't anything worse. At my age (68) it could have been and probably would have been if I had fallen differently.

We have been watching the fires in California--thankful to be far away. But we can't quite believe what we read or see. But then we have seen so many record breaking environmental disasters this year.

So they have a study that shows exactly what I have thought all along: #45 is a big, fat, frequent liar. Not to mention self serving and cruel.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Very early right now--the sun is nowhere near ready to make an appearance. We have snow to clear from the patio and from the car. And it is cold--only 17*. I am debating which chores to tackle when. I have bookshelves that need to be dusted and books culled with all of the ones I will not (definitely, sort of) want to read again going in bags for the library. And I have the sewing/plant starting/storage room that needs sorting and cleaning. That last is going to be a long multi-day task so perhaps the bookshelves should go first.

The Archdruidess has a hilarious item: no nativity scene in D.C. this year. Can't find three wisemen, virgins are coming up short but plenty of asses for the stable.

Well, I got one of the book cases dusted and a bag of books for the library. However, in the middle of dusting the other I somehow (and I still haven't figured out how) I missed the step on the ladder. I bounced off the bed, kicked over the ladder, rolled onto the floor and bumped my head on the door. I am all right and not nearly as sore as I should be. But that ended my cleaning for the day.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Woke to a heavier dusting of snow than yesterday but still less than an inch. Most of what fell yesterday disappeared.

We had something of an adventure yesterday. It actually began two days ago when Mom was reading an article about the Humane Society of the U.S. and how much of the money collected goes to pay executive salaries and shareholders and how very little goes to actually supporting animal shelters. She gets solicitations every year for donations often with pretty calendars as "gifts." I suggested she send a donation to the local animal shelter instead--just call and ask how they wanted the check made out. She thought that a visit might be a better idea--oh, and we just might see if they had a little kitty we might bring home. Obviously I wasn't the only one who missed our little furry lap rug pests. We checked out the directions on the internet which gave two addresses and wound up at the wrong one after a long search that almost got us totally lost. The operation had moved last year but nothing indicated that on the internet listing. There are times when the 'net is wonderful and other times when it is something considerably less. To make this long story short we should have two new furry roommates sometime next week after they are spayed. In the interim we are looking around at what we should change for their safety and our peace of mind. And doing some general housecleaning in the process.

We also have to think about the things we need to get (litter, litter pan, food, scratching post, carriers) that we once had and gave to that same animal shelter four years ago when the last of the previous roomies died--of very old age. We had said "never again" and actually meant it--then. As the saying goes "never say never."

Weather update: snowing heavier and we have definitely gotten more than an inch so far.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A frigid 16F this morning. Ah, well--'tis the season and it will be with us for another three months. I am looking forward to days getting longer again. The days seem to start so much later and end so much earlier than I like. Though the time change is a part of my discontent it isn't by any means all of it.

I found this encouraging article. I have always had more books, on shelves or (now) on e-reader, than I have read. At times I could honestly say I actually read as many as 95% of them but never have I achieved 100%. I also keep lists of books I might want to read--someday. A long time ago I realized that there are far more books out there and mare published each year than I can ever hope to read--unless I achieve immortality and the publishing industry dies.

Nimue Brown has an acidic post on the current dysfunctional U.K. society that well describes ours as well. Basically our society expects us peons to work ourselves to death to not make a living. The labor force participation rate has been pegged at about 63% for the last couple of years meaning that more than one third of the potential labor force has checked out of the system. Our pundits, political leaders, financiers all think this is laziness and an unwillingness to work hard. I say it is simply realizing the truth of the inhumane society we are stuck in.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Woke to a dusting of snow and temps in the 20s. But the sky is clearing and we may have a mostly sunny day.

I am calling BS on this. Efficiency is one thing cruelty is another. But then 45's administration is short on the first and long on the second. And, if anyone really thinks our legislators are going to get off their collective duff and do something when a fair number are actually gleeful about a possible government shutdown, I know of a couple of bridges I would be happy to sell them.

I have read this kind of story for the last several years--but focused on India not the U.S. Take a look at the figures for the U.K., France and Australia as well.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chilly today--drastic change from yesterday. Only the high winds are the same.

Remember what I said about promises being worth their weight in gold? Certain Senators are finding out the truth of that.


Didn't get anything done except appointments and grocery shopping. I need to take the fall wreath apart and store away the decorations for next year. The winter wreath is on the door. I was looking at the plants and a couple need watering upstairs while I should transplant into larger pots.

I love Delancy Place. I don't always get the books they feature but the quotes from them are always entertaining or enlightening or both. Imagine being hung for mutiny because you were right.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nice and sunny today. We had frost all the way down to ground. Often we see frost on the roof tops but it doesn't reach the cars or ground. We are now in the season where it does. The temperature today and tomorrow should reach the high 50s and low 60s--not at all normal for early December. But after that nothing above the mid thirties for the next ten days which is very normal. Of course it all might change--and probably will.

I stuffed all the fallen leaves I could gather in the "wall o' water" and packed them around the pot. I think I will shred some news paper to fill it more before closing up the tube and wrapping the whole in bubble wrap.


Yesterday was a lazy Sunday. I didn't do much more than water my hibiscus and large rosemary, read the news and blogs, and read a bit on a new book on weaving. And get another couple of rows done on a new doily. I don't think I will get much done today because my neck and shoulder are stiff and painful.

Nimue Brown makes some good points which echo some developments in my own life. I remember looking at jeans about three years ago grumbling out loud in the stores that "if I wanted "distressed" jeans I would by god distress the myself." That was all we could find and I was looking because my own had finally fallen apart. Fashion hasn't been a watchword here for just about ever. We generally ask if it is useful and needful then consider the esthetics. Of course, the commercial sector of the economy would be wailing and gnashing their teeth. If they had to depend on customers like us their bottom line would really pain them.

Ronni Bennett has a good summary of the Repthuglican tax bill passed on strictly party lines in the wee hours overnight Friday-Saturday.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Nice sunny morning and I got more done than I planned. I took last year's winter wreath apart and put the grapevine frame in the shed. It is way to big for the space and too heavy for the hooks. I will construct another on one of the smaller frames. As I fixed breakfast this morning (scrambled eggs with apple/cinnamon sausage and chives) the eggshells kept falling off the tray which was very full of other eggshells. I dry them, grind them and use them in the gardens. A gardener/blogger called them "slow release calcium." I separated all those not quite dry enough (or just plain wet) and ground the others.While putting the large wreath frame in the shed I saw a "wall o' water" and wondered if it was big enough to go completely over the clematis pot. I tried it out--yes, it does fit. So I started to fill the cells but I think it has a leak. I am waiting to see if the water level falls. If it does leak I will still use it but stuff leaves between it and the pot to insulate it. The information I found on overwintering clematis noted that they are generally hardy to a zone colder than mine but they don't like the freeze-thaw cycle so they should be protected against that. Hopefully what I am doing will work.

Well, the blithering idiots (a.k.a., Repthuglicans) added enough goodies for enough of their dissidents in the Senate to get that Tax Deform Reform bill passed. Of course, no one has read (actually read) the whole thing. And they screwed enough of the lower 95% to pretend that it won't add more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit. I think the reports (so far) project an increase of only $1 trillion. Craptastic.

When health care isn't really health care but a racket.

Promises, Promises--and considering #45's track record, those promises are worth their weight in gold.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Welcome to December. We spent a nice Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. Now the Christmas sales season gets into full swing. We didn't observe Black Friday heretical as that may seem. We are apostates in the American Church of Consumerism.

A couple of bloggers I read have, independently as far as I know, written about Socrates' "three sieves" lately. The first is the "sieve of truth"--is something you want to pass on is true or not? The second is the "sieve of utility"--do you really need to know it?. And the third sieve is the "sieve of the good"--is it good? I find, more frequently of late, that what I find on the internet I pass through something like those sieves. All too often the information fails at least one and usually all three of those tests. How much that is shoved at us is true? In the Age of #45, probably not a lot and you can bet that 80% or more of his verbal diarrhea is false. Much of what is see isn't good either though some of that might be useful or necessary--like knowing that you or a loved one has a dreaded disease isn't good but it is necessary. I often say that I follow the idiots in the House and Senate to know what the blithering idiots plan to do to screw up my life.  As a result I have less and less to post.

This is the slack time for the gardens. Everything outside is either cut back, pulled or waiting to be covered for the really hard weather which we haven't seen yet. Inside I check the inside plants for water and trim the ones that grow like the weeds they once were. The lemon verbena is the one that has shown the most growth. It has dropped quite a few leaves which, if the info I read is right, is pretty normal. As long a I see new growth I won't worry. I found some lavender sprouting from the seeds I started and I have several cuttings that need to be transplanted. The hibiscus cuttings are not among them though at least two of those cuttings are looking pretty good--so far. The rose seeds haven't sprouted yet but they are  very slow germinators.

Most of the garden work is now mental: evaluating last season and planning for the next. Several of the catalogs came in the mail including the Baker Creek, which is one of my favorites. I have a list of what I plan to order started and some plans in mind for how I will arrange things once the season starts. I have read blogs by gardeners who plan meticulously but my plans always change--sometimes before I even start planting. This and my needlework is so much more enjoyable than the antics of our political clowns.

Friday, November 17, 2017

We have nice bright sun today. We weren't expecting it considering the clouds we saw this morning.

I have been reading about people getting microchips installed for some time. Frankly, it raises alarm bells in me. As with any technology it has good, bad uses, and downright dystopian possibilities, as the Organic Prepper notes. For myself, I'll keep the inconveniences all those people want to be relieved of and let whoever is peddling this innovation keep it.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Didn't find much to comment on or link to. Has anyone else noticed that the "news" is monotonous and mind-numbing? Of course, the Repthuglicans have once again tried to attach another attempt to erase the ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare) to their so-called budget bill--which should be titled "The Welfare for the Wealthy and Corporations" bill. What the news coverage doesn't explain is the labyrinthine connections that link the repeal of the coverage mandate, their promises of tax relief for the middle class, their promises of corporate tax relief and the 2025 expiration of middle class tax cuts while the corporate cuts are permanent. Repealing the mandate gives them cover for their promises to cut middle class taxes, keep the deficit ten years out from passing their set cap, and paying for the corporate tax cuts, sort-of. What the whole mess involves is keeping the left hand from knowing what the left hand is doing.

The Wisconsin legislators have made it the 28th state to petition for an Article V convention to amend the Constitution to mandate a balanced federal budget. The process needs seven more states to get on the bandwagon and then the fun will really start. Read this article for an interesting overview. Although most commenters on the possibility will say that the process is "unprecedented" they are right in a narrow sense. It is unprecedented under the Constitution but not within the national experience. In 1787 a convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation under which the U.S. operated at the time. In that case "amend" came to mean throwing out the entire Articles of Confederation and writing the new Constitution.

Here is an interesting piece by John Feffer dissecting #45's recent Asian trip about which we heard precious little on our "mainstream" news and without any real analysis.

And on this I heartily agree.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Heavy roof top frost this morning although the temps are nice outside right now. Cool but nice. Debating when to cut back some of the plants and just not ready to do it yet. It isn't a high priority because even if I don't do it it won't make much of a difference except esthetically--i.e., it will make things look a little neater.

I found this a bit ago and it raises some alarm bells. U.S. News has a similar story here. So a majority of the sales tax money goes to bond holders and reduces the amount of tax money going to the city. The city then will have to make up the losses or cut what ever they were planning to spend the money on. And, if the bonds are going to pay a part of their obligated pension payments, what will the city pledge to whom for the next round of payments which they will have to make with reduced revenue? I wonder when they will run out of road down which to kick the can.

It looks like another bad year for the Northwest fisheries.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Easy and slow weekend. Cold enough that all the plants outside are gone except for the lavender. We had rain yesterday and last night but, if it dries off, I might get the spent plant cut back. I often leave the roots of the last plants in the soil to decompose in place. This year I am spreading the cuttings on top of the soil to prevent splash from hard rains. We have had more of those kinds of rain this year than I can remember and autumn is an unusual season for the monsoons we have received lately. I cleaned out and dusted two catch-all areas. One of the new seed catalogs has come in so I started looking at it. The company isn't one I usually buy from because they sell larger packets than I like to buy but I found a couple of interesting possibilities.

Ah, the Baker Creed seed catalog has arrived. I will start reading through it tonight. I wanted the bulk of my seed/plant orders in by early December. Too much of what I like others seem to also. I missed out on a couple of varieties of seeds last year because they were already sold out by early January.

Bread baking day--honey whole wheat sourdough. Looking forward to sampling it tonight.

Friday, November 10, 2017

BRRRRRR!!!! Only 29F so far this morning with the chance it will go a bit lower. We might also get the first snow of the season. Good thing I got the patio swept, the bird feeder cleaned out and refilled and the clematis cut back yesterday. As cold as it felt yesterday it was better than today. Some time in the next few days--when it is warmer and dry--I hope to wrap the clematis in bubble wrap and cover it for the winter. I don't know if that will work but I would like it to survive and grow next spring. Inside I started a couple of pots each of Angel Wing miniature roses and a lavender variety. The lavender is old seed and I want to see if it is still viable. The packet of rose seeds was a whim purchase when we toured the Chicago Botanical Gardens last year. We'll see what happens.

Update: Temperature is now 26F and we have very light snow falling.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Not as cold this morning as yesterday but since the sun isn't up yet the temps may drop a little more before the day really begins.

Ronni Bennett and Crabby Old Lady have a cute post on the "end of literacy." I have thought for some time that we are on a downward slope where literacy is concerned. It goes beyond emojis to writers who don't distinguish between words like "were" and "we're" or "their," "there," and "they're." More often nowadays I find items like a comment I read this morning where the writer used no punctuation at all and disentangling where one sentence ended and another began was difficult. And I find bloopers and really poor word choices in professional writing more frequently as well. Worse, my own writing has suffered over the years from many of the same defects. Often I catch the problem but I know I have missed just as many as I caught.

Fed my sourdough starter, swept the patio, cleaned out the bird feeder and refilled, and watered the downstairs plants. I still have the upstairs plants to do but I am glad to say that three of the four cuttings I tried to root from my hibiscus are still standing. The fourth looks like it is ready to give up the ghost but hasn't quite decided yet. I will let it go until it decides. Late this last summer I started using bamboo skewers to check the pots for watering--same principle as using one to test doneness of cakes etc. If the skewer comes out dry the cake is done or the plant needs water. I do have a high tech water probe but I haven't gotten good results with it. The results with the skewers have given me hope that I can try the citrus and blueberry again and, maybe, have more success.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Current temperature is 29F so we may see a lot of frost this morning. The prediction is for sun and a high temp in the 40s.

Evidently the temps have gone into the 40s. Nice that a weather report has been accurate for a change. We did get frost all the way down to the grass. I pulled a pepper plant that had refused to die after I cut it down a month or so ago. It had been a disappointment from the start but suddenly it decided to do something--too late, of course. The other disappointing pepper got the same treatment and did the same sudden growth but is in a more protected area of the patio and doesn't look so cold shocked as the other. It will stay for a while. Begonias, geraniums, creeping jenny and petunias are all still doing nicely.

I tried a new recipe for small batch sourdough pancakes which turned out well although not as fluffy as we like. That may take a bit of tinkering. The sourdough bread is almost ready to come out of the oven and smells wonderful. We love it when I am baking bread or drying herbs. The scent pervades the house.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

It looks like the computers/internet is acting normally today. Yeah, we have Comcast and it was having a nationwide problem that they claim is fixed. Maybe it is my curmudgeonly perception but these problems seem to be appearing far more frequently. I used to get really pissed when it happened and I mean "throwing something against a wall" pissed. Now I am just mildly annoyed. That is one reason I would rather put my e-readers on my computers so I can have all my books stored on the computer also. Internet down? No problem. I can still pull up any of my books and read. The only ones I put in the "cloud" are ones I don't want to read again--ever.

I noticed that the trees have finally gotten the message that fall has arrived. They have been almost sulky about turning colors with one here and another there sort of deciding to change from green to yellow or red or orange. I think I said I had pulled the marigold and impatiens out of the gardens. They were looking pretty frazzled. I wonder how many more plants I will pull out tomorrow if the temps drop to the predicted 29F. So far the geraniums, begonias creeping jenny, lavender and petunias are doing well. The purslane stopped blooming a month ago but I am leaving it in as a ground cover. The creeping jenny, begonias and geraniums are still blooming.

Golem XIV has an interesting and scary take on a headline I saw this morning that had me scratching my head in bewilderment. The Saudi government has claimed that Lebanon has "declared war" on it. Lebanon?? Really?? Last I heard the rockets that caused a bit of an uproar for the last week came from Houthi controlled Yemen. That the unstated issue might be oil or gas and whether payments would be made in dollars doesn't surprise me. We seem to be fighting a rearguard action to keep the petrodollar system in place.

Monday, November 6, 2017

We had heavy rains over the weekend with dense morning fog. That is very unusual for this time of the year. Hopefully the weather report is more accurate than those of the last few weeks. The predicted 60F temperatures never materialized. I plan on taking things slow and easy today, like yesterday, and maybe for a couple of more days. The time change always throws me off. Thankfully I don't have a job to go to and we have no errands planned so we can be lazy. I really, really hate that shifting of the time. I watched an interesting short Youtube piece on how it so does not save us energy but actually costs money, increases the number of accidents on the road and heart attacks the day after. Yeah, yeah--I know correlation doesn't prove causation but when it happens year after year and the savings are proven bogus--you have to ask why do our politicians insist on keeping it. Well, the answer, according to Youtube, is major lobbying by the restaurant industry, the entertainment industry, the retail industry and any other industry that benefits when consumers have more afternoon and evening hours to get out of the house and spend money because the daylight lasts a bit longer at the end of the day. Another reason to hate our commercial culture.

Mother Nature News has an interesting notion: put everyone, worldwide, on the same time. I didn't know there was anything like "Coordinated Universal Time." CNN has more here.

Just pulled the marigold and dumped the impatiens. The combination of chilly temps and monsoonal style rains battered them both badly. I should sweep the patio after things have dried out and after I warm up from that brief bit of work outside. I pulled one jar of sourdough starter out of the freezer yesterday. It thawed overnight and I mixed it up adding a cup each of water and flour. It is beginning to bubble nicely. I will feed it again tomorrow night so I can do up of loaf of bread Wednesday.

Well, every now and then, probably by accident, #45 says something I can agree with. I won't link because it is all over the news feeds. He proclaimed the Texas church shooting to be an "act of evil" and a "mental health issue" not a gun issue. Yes to both those points. That last is why I am not an advocate for gun control. I don't blame the tool for some ass's misuse of it. Unfortunately, we don't do much to address the mental health issue and our political idiots are trying desperately to scale back any health care at all, mental or otherwise. I would go and have gone even deeper in the explanation. For the last fifty years our society has enabled rampant and entitled individualism and then winked at violence perpetrated by those entitled individuals. We have a growing anger management problem and are doing nothing about it except verbally deploring it.

I am going to quit here because something is happening on the internet and several of my favorite sites are not loading. Why--I have no idea. I was on them earlier for other articles but now they simply won't load. Time to call it a day.

Friday, November 3, 2017

We did get the promised rain beginning Wednesday night and continuing all day yesterday. Nothing to report in the remains of the gardens. What was doing well is still doing well while the impatiens and marigolds which are showing signs of distress with the cold nights are still hanging on.

I Baked bread yesterday--a nice lavender/macadamia nut loaf. I used other nuts because Mom doesn't like macadamias. So far the recipe has worked well with both walnuts and pecans. By the way this was a yeast bread not a quick bread. I am glad I decided to try to work it by hand rather than rely on the instructions for a bread machine, which I don't have, or the stand mixer, which is a pain to set up and take down. It takes up way too much space and is used so infrequently we don't leave it up all the time. Usually I don't even print out bread machine recipes.

I found this by a circuitous route involving a couple of different links. What a lovely Christmas present this would be for Amazon and Walmart: a large slice of the $53billion in the federal government procurement budget. And on a no-bid set up. And the wording is structured to make it look like openly competitive but only two companies can qualify to participate. Crony Capitalism at its best (for them not us.)

An interesting account of the heatwaves in San Francisco this season from an emergency room doctor. We live far from the California coast but it has been an odd year for us as well. In years past we kept our thermostat at 85 in the summer which was usually comfortable. Not this year. We lowered the setting to 78. I think we had far more humidity in the air than normal. And, so far, our usual practice of setting the heating thermostat to 68 has been uncomfortable also. We moved it up to 70. Nothing seems "normal" about this year which just continues a string of such years. I have almost forgotten what "normal" really looks/feels like.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Welcome to November. Supposed to be wet and cool today. We did get sun for brief times yesterday. The very cool mornings has just about ended the impatiens in the gardens and the marigolds aren't far behind. I spend a bit of time going through a couple of my binders--the ones for the gardens and recipes--getting the ring holes punched on the printed pages and filed. Also made some notes on the pages I printed about the plants I put in this year. I am on track for putting in seed and plant orders for next year and planning the arrangements of moveable containers and where I will put arrangements on the fence. A couple of days ago I printed out my updated "map" for this year's garden with notations on what did well and what won't go in again. Next year's "map" will be different except for the largest containers arranged along the fence. Those are almost immovable unless I want to go through the trouble of removing most of the soil. I do that only when I have to replace a container which I will next spring. One of them has developed a large crack.

An absolutely perfect assessment of what has happened to the U.S. over the last 16 years.

And Helen at Margaret and Helen have a few appropriate words concerning our dysfunctional politics.

Monday, October 30, 2017

We are starting today with more cool weather--only 42F. We should see some sun but the high might bet into the very low 50s. The outside plants are still doing well but a couple of them--the impatiens and clematis--will need watering today. I checked them yesterday. We should have rain Wednesday or Thursday so I hope I won't have to water anything else.

I spend the weekend on various chores. I pruned the hibiscus and set up four cuttings to, I hope, root. I put two in vermiculite and two in the seed starting mix I thought I would try out this year.  I want to see which does better. I sorted and organized my seeds getting ready to seriously make out my seed orders. I want to get them in early this year. Then I decided to tackle some bookshelves that have needed dusting for some time.

I only read through e-mail but didn't read the Google alerts or the Bloglovin' feeds. Then I finished The Great Derangement by Amitav Ghosh and a good part of Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Sugimoto. I decided Friday that I spend all too much time wading through the so-called news and the various other streams of articles and blogs. The writers I like to follow most post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday so I will work through those lists on those days.

Not really much to talk about. The first indictments in the Mueller investigation are in and no surprises. The Repthuglicans some kind, any kind of legislative win and are frantically trying to get the needed votes. Number 45 has been his usual bombastic braggart self so nothing new to comment on there. I haven't mentioned the Damnocrats because they haven't done anything to merit mentioning. Since at least 85% of my reading is on political or economic matters that leave me with a headache these days because the insanity, inanity, and cluelessness, best to think on other things--like evaluating the plants I put in the garden this year and considering what to put in next year.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Crisp fall weather without rain. The forecast says partly cloudy.

I found this piece of idiocy way too early. Why idiocy? Because the U.S. has the largest defense budget in the world--more than the next ten nations in the biggest spenders list. "Sequestration" simply meant the defense budget didn't grow as fast or, at worst, stayed at the same bloated level. Maybe he should be questioning where the money is spent. But then the Pentagon would have to develop a real accounting system that could actually track spending.

I have seen articles on the problems some low income Detroit residents have keeping up with water bills and the trials of being cut off. Not long ago I read a study which said nearly a third of Americans are in that boat now and the proportion will only get worse. This story is closer to home.

There is a bit of irony in the Whitefish/Puerto Rico story. It smacks very much of the kind of "pay to play" corruption which landed a former governor of Illinois in prison. That was Rod Blogojevich in case you have forgotten and I always thought the evidence against him was much thinner that what I see in the Whitefish case.

Jesse's Cafe Americaine has some interesting thoughts that touch home. Those thoughts are the last two of the post. Mom's insurance comes through Aetna. She recently received a letter informing her that Aetna will no longer work with Walgreens in filling prescriptions after January 1. She has had her prescriptions filled at Walgreens for years. CVS, Target, K-Mart, and Walmart are still on their preferred list but we have never liked CVS and all the others are further away. Staying with Walgreens means higher prescription costs. Bummer all the way. We had wondered why until we read about CVS negotiating to buy Aetna. The last observation on the blog is one we have seen underway here for some time. Right now one health organization has locked up most of the doctors and medical facilities in our area.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Another cool, almost cold, morning in the mid 30s. The weather predictions say we should get into the very low 60s. Quite a contrast with southern California with its triple digit record temps. The plants I still have in the gardens are doing nicely still--clematis, geraniums, creeping jenny and marigolds and (for now) impatiens. We haven't had a freeze yet although it has gotten close and we actually had to use the back window defroster and scrape ice off that car window yesterday. Frost on the roofs and the cars this morning.

Theodora Goss posted this on her blog today and I can agree with it whole heartedly. I have also gotten tired of all the screen time lately. And what I find so often is uninteresting, irritating or advertising for things I don't need or want. A couple of times I simply deleted all of the items without reading any. It is a love-hate relationship. I hate it when I have to erase e-mails that promise to make me "hard on demand." Or that want to sell me the latest weight loss product. I get a lot of those things. I generally ignore Facebook except for the occasional post from a family member and the three or four games I waste time on (though less time than I once did.) I don't follow Twitter or any of those and I never liked Pinterest at all. But I love how easy it is to find information that interests me via Google, Duck Duck Go, or Safari. I love that I can take a library of about a thousand books anywhere because it is all on my iPad. And I don't need to find shelf space for them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Only 38F this morning and likely to go a bit lower since the sun isn't up yet. I switched the system from cool to heat and made sure the winter temperature was set. It won't go on for a while yet. The temperature in the house is 70F right now and the setting is 68F. We prefer to put on an extra sweater or a lap blanket of some kind to raising the thermostat. We may get some sun today.

Found this post on Patheos this morning. To use a phrase one of my history professors liked: the idea of diversity is "more honored in the breach than in the practice." Whether in religion, or in politics, or in economics, or in society, or in education we often want the corn plant to pretend it is a bean plant.

It was a long shopping/errand day. We had a longer grocery list than usual because we used down our freezer stores quite a bit. Usually we are done in less than two hours including going between stores. Price shock today: gasoline at $2.59/gal. Haven't seen that in quite a while.

One of our stops was the local meat market where we had another surprise of a more pleasant nature. I wrote in a post a while back that because of the shake up in our grocery store situation we were scrambling to find alternative sources for some of our favorite items. Lard was one of those items and we checked all the stores around us coming up empty. We finally found it at the Meijer store about 30 miles away. Well, looking at the shelves at the meat market while Mom told the butchers what we wanted and how we wanted it wrapped (yes the do do custom cutting and wrapping!!) I suddenly saw lard. We simply hadn't checked there because we only go when we have meat to buy and since the great rearrangement we hadn't needed anything else there. I am glad to have a closer alternative source. I always like alternatives.

John Feffer has an essay on Tomdispatch which parallels much of my thoughts as I read the news about secession/autonomy referrenda in various places like Catalonia and in northern parts of Italy. We have had a long period of political/territorial consolidation into, first, nation states and multi-ethnic empires and then, second, into trans-national organizations like the EU. But human affairs resembles something like a roller coaster--first you go up and then you go down. One of the factors driving the Feffer's "shattering" is a dissatisfaction with the policies of a distant power center. Not many in this country like D.C. much and resent their impositions and interference. That dislike is mirrored in the dislike many in Europe express with Brussels. Those powers are too distant, too dictatorial, and simply unresponsive to local concerns.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gray day again with cooler temps. It looks like rain on and off--at the moment off. A perfect lazy day to read and stitch.

Speaking of reading, I just found this. The F-35 program has been plagued with problems from the first design. So the repair times are more than double estimates, parts are in short supply, and the repair facilities that were supposed to be up and running last year won't be ready until--2022. The statement that the military had been focused on "procurement" and spent "very, very little time on sustainment." The boys wanted their new toys--NOW--and would worry about how to keep them up later. Something has happened to our military's ability to plan and carry out programs efficiently and effectively. And it isn't good and doesn't bode well for the future. This is the military our leaders keep telling us is the best in the world?

Monday, October 23, 2017

The rain came in as promised about an hour before sunset with episodic showers all night. I took in the wind spinner and wind chimes for the season yesterday and found a split in one of the large pots. Damn!! Have to find a replacement in the spring. Major task today: cookies, as in pecan sandies. Perfect for a rainy Monday. Changed my mind on the cookies. We just finished the last of the cookies I made up over a week ago. If you remember I froze two thirds of them and we doled them out slowly. I will wait until we want cookies again and then do up the sandies.

I found another story on this yesterday. I look at recall stories mainly to see if the item is one we use or are likely to use and then to check the brands and distribution for whether that item is sold here. Although we do buy veggies we don't buy Walmart or Target veggies. Nor do we buy packaged vegetables. But the story reinforces my disgust and distrust of the "industrial" food system. The waste is incredible.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

We had a nice mostly sunny day yesterday--warm enough to leave the storm door to the patio open using only the screen door. From the forecast today will be the last of the 70 degree temps with our daytime temps staying in the 50s and 60s and then plunging into the 30s and low 40s at night. A lot of rain and cloudy skies accompany those temps. Of course, that may change and probably will.

Nothing much to talk about. Every morning we look at the news on line--we rarely watch TV news anymore. But there is little that is really "new." The latest kerfuffle from the White House is flogged to death, the latest sexual misadventure by some rich, powerful, and well connected man will be minutely examined (to no result unless that is the desired result), the latest political maneuvering designed to make sure the top 0.01% gets tax "reform" that the rest of us pay for. But after you have called bullshit on all that a couple of hundred times it gets boring as hell. At last when I put another row of stitching on my latest crochet project is is a little closer to being something I can actually use. I think I will go back to it. See y'all later.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Found this early this morning and it certainly gives one food for thought. Whether a "prelude to war in Korea" or a "deficit neutral way to maintain Air Force staffing" or some other consideration, it smells thoroughly rotten. Don't you love how #45 fails to specify the so-called emergency. What "continuing and immediate threats" of what "attacks on the United States?" As the Rude Pundit noted in his post yesterday, America's wars since the end of WWII have been "bullshit." And perhaps David Kaiser's post today should make us a bit more cautious about what our government is doing.

The Telegraph had this article on the food shortage for the North Korean military on August 31 of this year. That story echoes this one from mid August. And then there is this article from yesterday. The North Korean government has long had its policy of "military first" and has basically shifted all resources to the military but has run into the problem of diminishing returns on their investment and running out of "investment." However I am not much comforted by the thought because the first article I linked to leads me to think we might be in the early stages of that "catabolic" cycle. They maintained their troop levels by making sure the troops were fed. We want to maintain troop levels by reactivating retired members of the military. During the crises of the third century CE the Roman government began collecting taxes in kind because coined money disappeared from the economy at the lower levels, passed laws making most occupations hereditary and branding or tattooing workers to ensure they didn't try to get around the law by moving to another part of the Empire. I wonder how far along the downward slide we are?

As someone who has worked entry level retail far more often than I wanted to over my life I can tell the perplexed "experts" why someone might not want those jobs. I can't begin to count the number of meetings I had to attend unpaid. Or how often we were told to clock out and then straighten up, clean up, stock and vacuum. Or how often my schedule was changed without much notice disregarding what ever I might have planned. Or how goddamned little I was paid. The anemic efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr ignores the fact that, in most areas, the amount is too low, even for someone who might work the old definition of full time (40 hours/week), to provide the funds needed for a single person to live on their own. The chief economist at some job site says there aren't enough people looking for work?? Well, I say there aren't enough people willing to work themselves to death to not quite make a living.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Although the weather has been nice I don't have much left to do outside. What is now in the beds will stay there to provide ground cover after the frost, which doesn't seem to be on the horizon just yet, kills them. It is also about time to disconnect the hose, drain it and put it away for the winter.

Well, the hose is drained, coiled and stowed for winter. I also added some soil to the hibiscus which is doing very well inside. I see a lot of new growth on it. I moved the five-gallon bucket with potting soil out of the shed and into the place it will occupy next summer after it is emptied. It will provide the pedestal for one of the three tiered pots. That opened up a lot of space in the shed and I can now reach everything much more easily.

Nothing much to comment on today.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The temperatures and other weather conditions finally feel somewhat normal for the season. For most of this strange year that has not been the case. Heatwaves in February that made it feel like late June or early July. Dry conditions when rain should have been plentiful and wet when things should have dried out. Fifteen named storms in the Atlantic ten of which became hurricanes, five of which hit the U.S. mainland with three of those doing an astonishing amount of damage. The "Lucifer" heatwave in Europe and hurricane Ophelia giving Ireland the strongest storm in 50 years. An astonishing fire season which seems to be an annual thing now. And all of that is on top of politics and economics so far out of anything we can call normal that it is nearly incomprehensible.

Here are some things I am reading today:

John Mauldin's Outside the Box features a piece by the Reformed Broker on automation. I don't know how many times I have looked at the stock market figures (out of curiosity since I don't have anything to invest) and asked "WTF???" Josh Brown might have an answer: terrified life-raft grabbing investors who are afraid they have no future. It seems uncannily like the situation Frederick Lewis Allen describes in Since Yesterday recounting the history investing euphoria jut before the 1929 crash.

Karina Black Heart posted this at Gods and Radicals that parallels the situation Josh Brown sketched. Brown's subjects are those who have done fairly well but are looking at a future that has no place for them. Heart's essay describes her own realization that the system is and always has been rigged and success, as defined by the rest of society,  has always been out of her reach. So she has decided to retrench and redefine success for herself.

For the most part I agree with this post at Strategic Living. I haven't seen the video the author links to but her "5 Things To Set Aside" are good ones. I would amend the first to "don't bother trying impress anyone." They will be impressed or not as they choose. I wouldn't hang my self-esteem on their decision. I long ago gave up being envious of other people's success. Such envy means you have compared yourself to others by standards you may not have even realize you have absorbed. Set your own standards for your success and celebrate all successes--your own especially. A long time ago I started paring down the mementos and such. For the most part they didn't really bring back memories, good or bad. The few things I have kept are associated with certain specific achievements. I revel in every gray hair, every wrinkle. I have earned every one of them. I will let others pretend sixty is the new forty or whatever suits their fantasy. I haven't yet mastered the art of letting confrontation go but I'm getting there. And actually I would amend that one as well: learn what it is worth spending your energy confronting and let the rest go.

OUCH!! I wonder how much of that moisture will go how far inland.

I am constantly amazed by the mind-boggling waste in industrial food processing. This is another such mind-boggling story. The recall goes from 2,000 pounds of meat (of all kinds) to 450,000 pounds or three days of production to almost a whole year. The problem seems to be the company's water supply.

I am a sucker for those odd quizzes on Facebook, especially those that ask how many of the 50 or 100 or whatever number of "classic" books or "must read" books, etc. Every time I get hooked by one (which is getting less frequent lately) several thoughts hit me. First, by what criterion are some of the listed books "classics" or "must" reads? Some are indeed classics but others I wouldn't call classics by any stretch of the imagination. Second, although I may have read other books by a given author I probably didn't read the one they list--and I don't intend to. Third, does starting and never finishing count? Nothing is a "must" read for me nowadays. I have gotten to the point where if the book doesn't interest me I don't slog through it as I once did. Fourth, I often can't remember if I read the book or saw the movie--or both. Fifth, I am amazed by how many of the books I remember reading, can tell you for which class or approximately when, but can't for the life of me remember much about the damned book.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cool again today--starting in the mid 40s and going up to, maybe, 70F. But sunny and dry. The only task on the schedule is biscuit baking along with some half formed ideas. We'll see what besides the biscuits gets done.

Biscuits done. Bird feeder filled with a small dish for the ground squirrel.

Put some future containers away in the plant/sewing/whatnot room. "Future containers"? you ask. Those are large yogurt or cottage cheese cartons I plan to use next season. Also turned the compost in the large bin outside a bit. And put another row on a crochet table scarf.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sunny day yesterday but quite cool. We got errands done but not much else. The temperature at the moment is 45F and supposed to rise to about 70. We should have a stretch of three sunny days so garden clean up is on my agenda. I have some bubble wrap I intend to use on the clematis to provide some winter protection.

Busy day just cleaning up outside after the hard rains of the last few days. The bird feeder was a grungy mess. I washed it thoroughly, including taking it apart, and put it out in the shed to dry till tomorrow. Cleaned out the dish on the bird bath so they also have clean water. Also swept most of the patio, moved three of the 5-gal containers into their position for next year--I hope. I might change my mind but for now the matter is settled. I also transferred the remaining salt from the bulk container to a gallon juice container I cleaned out for that purpose. The old container was tossed in the trash. I considered keeping it but I don't have a use for it--now or in the near future. We won't be getting salt in the quantity that would fill the big container. We just finished the 50# of salt we got in the fall of 2012--after that monstrous snow storm of January. Needless to say--that was a bit excessive.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

We had quite a light and drum show last night--lightening and thunder with really heavy rain. I can't remember another autumn with such hard rains. There seems to be a lot more moisture in the air which makes me wonder about what the winter will bring. The weather people predict more of the same today. Much too wet to do anything outside so I will do some stitching. I found two stamped embroidery pieces that aren't cross stitch. One was a pattern I completed on another piece some time ago so I decided to start the other one. Mom and I like many of the same things and we found duplicates when we combined our households. We gave most of the cookware and appliance duplicates (which often involved the same brands) to relatives. However, few of our relatives do much needlework.

I like this piece from Mock Paper Scissors--a lot.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I cleared out the chocolate mint yesterday and the mosquito plant. That latter I won't plant again. I did this year just to see what it would do. We have never had many mosquitos and fewer bugs I didn't want around than in previous years. I am watching the temperatures so that I can make sure the clematis is protected before any hard freeze hits (I hope). I won't be doing anything outside today (I think) because we had heavy rain just before dawn and the beds are soaked. We are supposed to have thunderstorms today but for the moment the sun is coming up. How long before more clouds come in I can't even begin to say. So far the plants I have brought inside are doing well--especially the lemon verbena and the hibiscus. The hibiscus stopped blooming but I expected that with the much lower light level. The light we have is still enough to keep it green and putting out new leaves.

Right now we have a monsoonal style deluge outside. The weather people said we would have thunderstorms and, for once, they were right. Though I wondered because we had several nice sunny interludes.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It looks like the for profit prison industry isn't the only ones wanting to keep their cells filled. This (expletive) sheriff in Louisiana is pissed because reforms in the state's criminal justice system will release the "good" prisoners he uses in his modern iteration of a chain gang. I linked to Raw Story but my Google search showed a variety of mainstream sources for the same thing: Some of the headlines drew the obvious parallel to "slavery."

The California wild fires have now become the deadliest in the state's history. This has been an almost unimaginable year for disaster starting with #45's inauguration. Then along came Harvey, Irma, and Marie followed by the fires. One of the headlines was, I think unintentionally, ironic. It noted that the blistering hot summer following a very wet winter has fueled the fires. I remember when everyone was celebrating the heavy, larger than normal snow pack and the the wet spring because the drought receded from extreme to merely moderate or abnormally dry.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We had intermittent rain yesterday and cool temps so I watered the plants downstairs and did a bit more cross-stitching and crochet. It is cool again today and cloudy. So far today Mom has put together one of our "kitchen sink" pasta salads which will cool in the fridge till tomorrow. Today is left overs from yesterday: pork chops, acorn squash and corn on the cob. I am about take out a loaf of yogurt/molasses/rye quick bread. I did ours with cherries and walnuts.

While the bread baked I watered the upstairs plants and fertilized them, tidied up one of my junk shelves. I have gotten better about such spaces--there are fewer and fewer of them. Part of that is that we have fewer and fewer things that seem to wander from their usual places and we are better about putting those back where they belong. I also got the bird feeder and its surrounding area on the table/potting bench cleaned up and the feeder refilled. They are happy. About six or so have already visited.

I may do some more stitching but I have had a bit of an itch to do something other than cross stitch. I don't know if I have anything other than cross stitch in my stash. I have to check that out.

Of course, I am still reading interesting items like this one. "Kakistocracy" sounds about right.

When we bought new phones and switched to a much lower cost carrier, we told the salesperson we preferred "dumb" phones. As it is our phones are a bit smarter than we wanted but they are much closer to the original phones that functioned as a verbal communication device not a miniature computer that can surf the internet, text, and play media etc. The salesman simply laughed. We don't tweet, go on pinterest, or most other social media sites. Our TV is usually only half an hour a day though Mom uses Netflix daily. It seems we aren't the only ones who control and limit exposure to social media. When software engineers do it, you have to look at the situation more carefully.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We had rain most of the night, often hard enough to rouse me a bit. The wind also was high and I could hear the wind chimes tinkling through closed the closed window. I think it will be too wet to work in the dirt today and, maybe, tomorrow. I am not in much of a hurry to get the rest of the beds clear. I can chip away at that project until the ground freezes.

As I go along I am making up my seed/plant orders. I want to get a couple of them in by December because the last couple of years some of the seeds I wanted were already out of stock by the time I ordered in late January. Mom has made a request that I plant more strawberries because we bought frozen last grocery run and the price was somewhat shocking. The bare root strawberries we got from Burpee did surprisingly well and had a really good flavor. Surprising because I wondered if they would produce at all and then, as summer gave way to fall, many of the plants suddenly bloomed and produced large, succulent berries. Not enough to take all of our needs but, if I can encourage more plants to gives berries in the same number, enough to put a dent in our purchases. I have a few ideas that might make for an interesting season next year.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It is cool right now with some overcast. The weather report said we should get rain this afternoon--a 40% chance they say so maybe, maybe not. We'll see. I just finished grinding a nice supply of egg shells. I add them to the gardens--especially the peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. A blogger (sorry, I forgot which one and it was some time ago) calls eggshells "slow release calcium." I am for anything that uses something we would normally throw away to grow something we can eat.

Yesterday was another foray into the "adventures of shopping." I don't call it "consumerism" since we aren't the mindless consumers who open their wallets and reach for the cards at the drop of a suggestion the commercial powers that be would like us to be. We generally know what we want and, usually, know where to find it. Over the last year or so that has become somewhat of a problem. Part of that situation is simply we have gone retro in so many ways. I think I have already described our shift back to cast iron cookware because we became utterly disgusted with the performance of the so-called non-stick cookware we had been using for the last fifteen or so years. After we started trying to find the skillets and such we suddenly found the local Target began carrying a line of Lodge cast iron. We had already bought from Lodge direct on-line. At the same time we have gone from the usual shower jells and shampoos to Dove bar soap and a couple of lines of "natural" shampoos till, just recently, to old fashioned castile soap. That last has been the best so far for our skins and hair.

Well, the bankruptcy of our main grocery outlets (owned by the same company despite the different names) has sent us off searching for the products and/or brands we use. Though the stores never closed, unlike another nearby store, we suddenly couldn't find lard, Fage yogurt, and a few other mainstays. I will admit that we can be very picky. If we can't get the Fage in the full 4% fat variety or the 2% (if absolutely necessary), we will do without. Yesterday we did our usual grocery shopping and found that the store here still didn't have the yogurt, the lard and a few other items we wanted. So we decided go a bit further afield and check out a store we had talked about but hadn't been in since the (local) chain opened a new store in a closer neighboring town. Surprise--we found everything there. And at comparable or cheaper prices.

Result--we are changing our shopping patterns. We buy multiples of our most frequently used items. The number of multiples depends on how much we use them. Whole wheat and all-purpose flour--we keep two five pound bags in addition to what is in our canister and get a new one when we empty a reserve bag into the canister. Corn meal and rye flour--one reserve. With that system we can easily keep a list and shop maybe twice a month. Milk and orange juice we can buy between regular shopping.

Once upon a time the big box stores promised us "one stop shopping. Only for those who aren't at all picky about what they are getting.

Monday, October 9, 2017

An excellent piece by Andrew Bacevich at Tomdispatch. More than a decade ago I basically disavowed many of the actions of the Federal government in the only ways I could and can--by voting and proclaiming as loudly as I can that what is being done is not in my name or with my consent. My participation in voting does not automatically mean I agree with what is done by those who win the election merely that I have to live with whatever atrocity they perpetrate and more frequently of late the result has been atrocity not benefit. I have long wondered whether voting is worth the bother. I don't vicariously participate in the winning or the losing. The results don't stroke my ego or shatter my soul. I wonder if Bacevich shouldn't have included another point although he bounced off of it earlier in the piece. McNamara's thought may indeed have become reality and the powers that be no longer need to focus public anger to prosecute a war. Instead it is more useful to focus public anger on internal "enemies" like blacks, women, gays, Muslims, illegal immigrants. Afghanistan is so far away and how many Afghans have you met lately? How do we get out of perpetual war when public awareness of it is so faint and we don't even recognize its impacts on us? By the way, notice Englehardt's discussion of the linguistics that mask the reality of war. Words do matter and all the words used by our leaders and our media mask that reality.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Came across this and it started some wheels turning in my mind. The answer the senator gave to the question in the clip echoes a sentiment expressed by the CEO of Nestle sometime in the last year when his company was engaged in a battle with local people over the local water supply. He claimed that water was simply another commodity which should be for sale to the highest bidder--in other words, no one has a "right" to water unless one can pay for it. The senator claimed that we do have rights--to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and, of course, to freedom. To which I would ask: if we have a right to life (the first right on the list), how could we not have a right to those things that are absolutely necessary to the continuation of life? There is a rule among the survival/prepper groups--the "rule of three." You can live three minutes without air, three hours in a hostile environment without adequate shelter (I would add clothing to that), three days without water, and three weeks without food. What good is your right to life if you don't also have a right to those things that are absolutely necessary to maintain life? As for "freedom"--well Janis Joplin sang "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." The question that prompted the senator's asinine answer had to to with a "right to medical care." The question should be: what level of health care? To say "none at all" is to basically tell most people that they simply don't matter and we don't care whether they live or die. If we go along with that notion then we aren't a society but a gaggle of beasts engaged in what Thomas Hobbs called a "war of all against all" in which there are no true winners.

I am so glad #45 approved an emergency declaration for Mississippi--before Hurricane Nate even made landfall. Considering how slow he and his administration were on Puerto Rico, I guess this is an improvement. But it smacks to me of someone who desperately wants approval for himself.

Spearmint is ground and in the appropriate jar on the shelf. Chocolate mint--the last for the season--and some lavender (collected so I could fill the dehydrator) are drying now. I hadn't any real plan for the day but managed to do the herbs and to put a few stitches in a cross-stitch piece I have been working, on and off--mostly off, for a very, very long time. Oh, well. As the seasons change the itch to do needlework gets stronger.

Friday, October 6, 2017

As the mornings seem to come later and later I have gotten started later and later. In high summer we usually start our coffee about 4:30 or 5 am. Today we didn't get our first cup until almost 6. I can understand why a blogger I read last year looked forward to the time change when light would come earlier in the morning even though darkness would also come earlier in the evening. Her kids had to wait for a school bus near a busy road at a bit of a distance from her house. Not a safe proposition for a number of reasons. It rained well last night and we expect more all day today and tomorrow. No gardening till Sunday when we should have sun and dry conditions again. Well I have things to straighten out in the planting/craft/storage room.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Every now and then Fr. Dwight Longenecker has an interesting column. This one precipitated quite a discussion here at our house. He brings in the statistics on the rising suicide rate among white, middle aged or elderly men and tries to connect it to the Las Vegas mass murder. I could also bring in the rising drug overdose rate and opioid addiction rates that show an overlap in the category of white, middle aged or elderly men. A basic question: if this reaction is from a creeping and growing despair, what is driving the despair and is that a problem we have the resources and will to solve? And then I wonder why aren't more white, middle aged or elderly men succumbing to opiates, or to suicide or committing mass murder in this, admittedly, depressing society?

Time Magazine has a slightly different take which is also interesting and not necessarily at odds with the Longenecker piece.

Did get some gardening done. Basically cleaning out a couple of my 5-gal. buckets. I harvested spearmint before clearing those buckets. That is now drying. Got one of the peppermint buckets cleaned out also. Those three containers wore me out so I will wait until tomorrow when, I hope, I will harvest the last of the chocolate mint and clean it up as well--along with the other peppermint and the lemon balm. I will leave the lavender to last because the bees are having a grand time buzzing around that pot.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So Black Friday is becoming a ghost of its former self. Good thing I would say. I never participated in the commercial/consumerist frenzy but I do have relatives who used to plan their Black Fridays as though they were generals going to war. Now if we could only see a similar decline in other commercial "holidays."

I have a lot of reservations (if not downright antipathy) about industrial food production. Just this morning I read of a large recall of ground turkey products because of possible contamination with metal fragments. Sorry I didn't note the site. It is sad in a way that, to me anyway, that I now think of a recall of 300,000+ pounds of ground meat as simply "large" and not huge. This little piece from the Guardian is titled "Goodbye--and Good Riddance--to Livestock Farming". I don't think any more of this author's stance than I do industrial farming or food production. The industrial system reduces all "inputs," whether animate or inanimate, to mere numbers on a balance sheet. The abuse he mentions is embedded in the system. My grandparents had a small, mixed crop farm for most of my childhood and adolescence. I can assure you that their animals were well cared for with numbers limited to what well rotated pastures would support. I once owned horses and, with others, had the great misfortune of renting land from an absentee farmer who over grazed the land horribly. He made it difficult for us to maintain our horses in healthy condition but we did manage it. I read blogs written by small farmers and homesteaders who write about their animals and all of them pay close attention to maintaining a number of animals their land can support and making sure the pastures are not overgrazed. The pollution problems he mentions come from overgrazing and/or from feedlot operations both of which are encouraged by the industrial agriculture system. And switching to faux meat soy products won't solve problems. Soy is grown in monocultures with generous applications of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (which adds to pollution) and which require plowing and cultivation which result in the loss of a lot of topsoil each year. And since he notes that he can't tell the difference between "quorn" based minced or faux chicken, I will note that I really don't want to eat a macerated vegetable product treated with chemicals to create the texture of meat and flavored with what ever chemicals will simulate the taste. I don't know if I would be able to tell the difference but--and this is key--I don't care if I couldn't tell the difference. I don't want the chemically adulterated imitation "foods" the industry produces and am busily getting rid of them in my life.

I thought it was interesting that #45 said, while in Puerto Rico, that the Puerto Rican debt would have to be cancelled but I take everything interesting or sensible he says with a big dose of salt--enough to endanger my blood pressure. All too often those sensible mumblings are refuted soon after and that appears to be the case here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Politico has a good summary of the U.S. response to hurricane damaged destroyed Puerto Rico. I think the story confirms my own summation. We responded differently to Puerto Rico because it was "too poor and too dark (as in brown)." Our government responded more effectively to Texas and Florida because the residents were wealthier and more white. And five years from now both areas will be whiter and the wealthier areas will be largely rebuilt while the darker areas languish. Look at post-Katrina New Orleans.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Woke this morning to the news from Las Vegas. I won't link because it is all over both broadcast and internet news sites. We turned on the TV to get what was known (not much yet) and then fairly quickly turned it off again when the anchors and "experts" started speculating on motive. Religion came up fairly quickly followed by Islam and ISIS. No facts support the speculation (as if conjecture requires fact) but I find it revealing and disgusting that, in this context, religion, Islam, and IS (or sometimes Al Qaeda) are linked as tightly as the Father-Son-Holy Ghost triad. But, of course, there is no mention of the possibility that religious motives might involve so-called Christians. I was surprised by how unsurprised I was.

Nor am I surprised that the strident voices for more gun control have already erupted. One title asked if we were "for" the NRA or the USA. I won't link because you can find the article yourself easily. The article progressed in the usual pattern: focus on the carnage, on the tragic deaths and woundings, then move onto the screed about the NRA and couch the argument in terms where one's loyalties should lie. My loyalties do not lie with the NRA but with the Constitution of the USA. You can argue on what the Second Amendment means and we have argued in court case after court case for years. However, until our legislators and president decide to approve a Constitutional amendment that either rescinds the Second Amendment entirely or changes it significantly it is still the law of the land, of the USA.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Here we are at the last day of September. Only three more months left in this strange, strange year. The temperature was at 50F a bit ago so it will probably dip down into the 40s before the sun comes up. I didn't get any work done outside. We decided, on the spur of the moment, to do our grocery shopping yesterday instead of today. During the summer we generally do that on the days the farm market is open but as the season winds down we don't have as much to buy there because we have already put up as much as we can in the space we have. By the time we came home and put things away the wind was kicking up so I decided not to fight it and left the gardens and outside clean up for today--I hope. Baker Creek sent out their e-mail announcing their 2018 catalogs so I ordered it. I already have a list of seeds started for next year.

So Price has resigned as HHS secretary. I wonder which parasite the Parasite-In-Chief will nominate to replacement. I doubt very much that the money angle bothered #45 much. I suspect it was the embarrassment and the fact that Price was supposed to smooth the way for the ACA repeal but failed to get that job done. The real lessons: don't embarrass the boss and give him enough progress toward what he wants to allow him to claim a biggly victory.

Garden Myths has a good review of a product I once used when I first began trying to start plants from seed--the Jiffy pellets. Actually I should say "peat pellets" because I used other brands as well. I stopped using them for reasons mentioned: they aren't big enough for the larger plants and the mesh that holds the peat together to form the "pot" isn't biodegradable. I dug the mesh out of my beds for several years and threw them away--after emptying the peat into the soil. Last year I started using toilet paper core tubes as my starter pots and will expand my use of them next spring. They soften when wet, help the soil retain moisture, and they are biodegradable. I was parsimonious and cut the tubes in half to make two pots. I won't do that this year because the half size is too small. And I found the roots do make their was out of the pot.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The temperatures are supposed to be a bit cooler today. Right now it is a bit overcast but the chances for rain are low. My brother brought the mini-greenhouse he picked up for me his church's rummage sale so I need to clean up the shed to make room for the old one. I will do that until (if?) it gets too warm to work outside. I got my hens 'n' chicks re-potted. I wanted to separate them but a couple of clusters were so tight I was afraid I would irreparably damage them so I left them as a clump.


I didn't work outside at all. The clouds didn't clear off till around noon and I didn't want to fight the wind.

I found this early this morning--another WTF moment from our dysfunctional political administration. Or, rather, from the idiot at the top. The real difference between the responses to the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico is how dark and how poor the populations are. And I would bet, if I were a betting person, that the richer and whiter sections of Texas and Florida will get rebuilt sooner and more completely than the poorer and darker sections. The pattern was set by Katrina (and maybe long before.) Update: I guess the criticism got to #45. He suspended the Jones Act for Puerto Rico so they can get more fuel and supplies in sooner. It is a sad when it takes public shaming on the internet and other outlets to get him to do what is right.

Well, we have had a busy morning. First, I had to do some cleaning and rearranging in the shed to make room for the old mini-greenhouse which was going to be retired to simply storage shelves for pots. But when we tried to put it in place we found it simply wouldn't go there--the shelves were too deep and I would have no room to move or reach the stuff stored further back. Soooo--we rearranged things a bit outside and it will work there for the same purpose. The new mini-greenhouse is a smaller model which fits in the space the old one used to occupy and leaves more room to get around. I hope it won't get direct sun as the other one did which might prolong the live of the cover. I actually had to cut the plastic on the old one and rip it off the support bars. My next project (tomorrow) is to get into the shed and start getting it sorted out and rearranged. It is amazing what one accumulates. Some we got because we had an idea and we found a cheap way to try it out. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. I found a couple of items from the failed experiments. They will go out in next week's trash.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mom's eye doctor's appointment today so nothing much else done. Her insurance gave us a surprise we are still trying to figure out.

However, that doesn't mean I am not reading blogs and such. Case in point: Margaret and Helen. Amen, Helen. I couldn't say it better. We have been wondering if this is another diversion from what the administration and the congress critters are trying to do to us.

George Friedman has an interesting post today also. Although he does make a good point when he says we should expect the computer industry to take more responsibility for safety as we operate our vehicles (personal computers) on the appropriate road (the internet), we should also remember that we expect the drivers (of cars and computers) to exercise due care. We do expect that the manufacturers of cars build them to function safely though our expectations have been tempered by over 100 years and legal developments--which the computer industry hasn't had. And even then we should remember the air bag failures and break failures and the gaming of the emissions tests all of which made news over the last decade. Nor are we surprised much when some criminal hijacks/steals a car to commit another crime. Or when some idiot gets drunk and wrecks havoc with his vehicle.