Friday, August 18, 2017

It did turn sunny yesterday but all I did was collect some tomatoes for our supper. I need to water early today as the rain seemed to help hardly at all. We saw a pair of goldfinches worrying at the sunflowers. I plant sunflowers for then and other birds who also like sunflower seeds. A few days ago I saw a cardinal briefly visit. The shadow of the house is almost at the bottom of the fence and by the time the equinox comes by it will be at the top. That puts the garden into shade; not a deep shade since it will still get a good bit of reflected light from the white fence at the corners where the sun will strike morning and evening. Another confirmation that the outdoor gardening season is winding down.

Tom Englehardt has a good post at Tomdispatch titled "Welcome to the Post-American World."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have always loved Margaret and Helen and today's post, the first in a long time, is right on the money.

We have light rain right now. No big gardening jobs today. I will go out between the raindrops to harvest some cherry tomatoes for our chef salad.

I always start really evaluating the gardens this time of year. The heavy work of clearing up for winter is ahead and planning for that actually began about a month ago. Which plants will I try to overwinter in the gardens and what protection do they need. Which plants will I bring in to try to overwinter inside. And always I have to think about my limited space. The little blueberry bush comes inside but the three pots of stevia will go back outside till the frost kills them. I am very disappointed with stevia. The first year I grew it it was wonderful and promised to be a good sweetener in place of sugar. The second year no one carried any transplants so no stevia in the gardens. I tried to start some from seeds but none came up and none came up this year either. The transplants have done well except they aren't as sweet. In fact, we didn't detect any sweetness when I brewed the dried leaves with our tea. We'll stick with honey from now on. I was going to bring in one pot of the lavender but I think I will take some more cuttings to raise grow over the winter. The first set are doing well. I will do the same with all my herbs.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No major tasks planned for the gardens--just some rearranging and clean up. I think I will bring the blueberry inside. After I grind the basil in the dehydrator and check the peach peels for dryness I will cut small amounts of other herbs. I saw several I want to take cuttings for. The ones already started are still doing well. We should have warm temps and sun today but the weather report predicts some unseasonably cool days ahead and a few possible storms. That could, and probably will, change in the next five minutes but it has me wondering if we should expect an early fall and winter. I can see the first signs that leaves are beginning to turn.

Number 45 gave a press conference on infrastructure which quickly devolved into a donnybrook on Charlottesville. The idiot simply doesn't know when to stop talking. And the press, for the most part, doesn't know how to do anything except engineer "gotcha" moments. Which #45 is congenitally incapable of not providing. One thing that was lost in the fracas was this first item on Grist's summary of stories: his executive order, the touting of which was the stated purpose of the presser, which would streamline the process of rubber stamp the approval of infrastructure projects. Question: did he deliberately deflect attention away from his executive order and any discussion of its impact?

An historian (and I can't remember which one) who wrote that the North may have won the Civil War but lost the larger war for the American conscience. Over the next half century the Jim Crow social/political system (American Apartheid) and the share-cropping agricultural system combined with decisions like Plessy v Ferguson re-established a "slave" system without the name. I wonder if we aren't seeing a parallel development in the late 20th-early 21st century. The U.S. and its allies won WWII against the Axis powers including Nazi Germany. But now the grandchildren of that "greatest generation" are marching with swastika flags, chanting Nazi slogans, and demonizing Jews, blacks and others they don't see as part of the "volk." And the Germans aren't surprised.

Amen!! HecateDemeter puts things very nicely. Josh Marshall did also yesterday. Marshall makes a further point by asking just what we are honoring when we choose our heroes. Jefferson is the example he chose but any of the southern founding fathers could have been used. Jefferson, a slave holder, gave us the Declaration of Independence which asserts "all men are created equal." In other words, there is a ledger with a positive side and a negative side and, for most of us, Jefferson's positives outweigh the negatives. What about Robert E. Lee? What is there on the positive side to balance the fact that he was the commanding general of an army in rebellion? It is almost as if the winners allowed the losers to write the history.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We got our grocery shopping done early because we had only one stop and not much to get. Had a nice surprise at the supermarket. I think I said that our usual store was part of the purchase by the family that had started the chain many, many years ago which gave me hope some things would change. We wanted lettuce and for the past several months we passed up lettuce there because it looked awful. Today it was beautiful. We told the produce manager that which made him happy. And yes we did get a head of red-leaf lettuce.

The four quarts of tomatoes that didn't seal are now down to two. Mom made juice out of two of them. We hadn't bought tomato juice for even longer than we skipped the lettuce, though that was not the store's fault. We simply didn't like how much salt was in the commercially produced juice. After drinking a small glass each of what she made up, we won't buy commercial again--ever. Ours was so much better though Mom says she forgot that we put some salt in the quarts when we canned those tomatoes and added a bit more. But that was still less than what is in the commercial juice.

We got some peaches at the same time we bought that last 25 lb. box of tomatoes last Saturday. Mom fixed up a pie yesterday and peeled the left over peaches to put in the fridge in a dilute lemon water. We can use them for our yogurt or what ever. The peels are drying now in the dehydrator along with five trays of basil. I will grind the peels up to put in the mixes for tea.

I cut down the cucumber and bean vines yesterday and got that area cleaned up. I have some other clean up to do but it is already getting a bit warm to do much. I will go out later and water everything but cutting the basil that is in the dehydrator was my limit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A busy day yesterday. We processed another 25 lbs of tomatoes so we now have enough canned tomatoes to last till next summer. The 50 lbs we did up yielded 23 quarts which cost us little over $1 each. That is almost entirely the cost of the tomatoes because we already had the jars and the lids are a few pennies each. I have three jars to reprocess today. That is better than the five I had last week and I hope the second time is a charm. So far the failure rate for the new lids vs. the used ones is about the same. We'll see what happens for the second processing. I had three last week that wound up in the fridge because the second time didn't work either. In case you are wondering, I am a novice canner so maybe this isn't that unusual.

These first two stories I found yesterday and only had time to make the links.

Anti-tourism attacks in Spain. The dark side of all of the efforts various places are making to bring in outside money--and that is what it is all about. We don't watch much TV any more but the ads for tourist spots in a five state area (Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky) have been all over the commercial slots. But then we think about how little we really like visiting such spots. The crowds are too much and all of the "local" souvenirs are made in China.

So the Countering Violent Extremism initiative becomes Countering Radical Islamic Extremism initiative. I noticed this morning (Monday) that the White House Press people are insisting that #45 really did intend to condemn white supremacist violence but somehow his words were taken in a way they weren't meant. I'm sorry but condemning "both" sides when only one side is committing the violence is hard to take the wrong way. And to repeatedly fail to condemn attacks on ethnic or racial minorities by white extremists (or to even call them extremist or radical) indicates a mind that simply doesn't recognize that evil. I have thought for sometime we should do away with the notion of "hate" crime. Vandalism is vandalism no matter what site is vandalized and no matter the motivation. Defacing an office building, or a church, or a synagog, or a mosque (or any other site where people worship) is vandalism. Trashing a place and destroying what is inside (or stealing the contents) is a crime whether it is a school, a place of worship, or a business no matter what the motivation. Calling a person or a group of people vile names is boorish behavior and deserves verbal and public criticism but it isn't a crime unless that speech incites violence in which case the person uttering or writing the words should be prosecuted no matter the venue (street corner, pulpit, newspaper, blog) and no matter the motivation (religious belief, bigotry, whatever). Assault is assault and it matters not a bit if the motivation is religious, racial or pure cussedness. Punish it as such and don't accept any excuses.

Two of the three quarts of tomatoes sealed after a second round in the canner. I am in the process of removing the jungle of cucumber and bean vines. Both are looking more than a bit untidy and spent. I found a half dozen Dragon Egg and four Chicago pickling cucumbers. We have all of the pickles we can put in the fridge so I told Mom to find some new cucumber salad recipes. Over the winter I plan to research ways to prepare canned pickles that will keep them crispy as well as tasty. One of the Chicago cucumbers is very ripe so I will harvest the seeds for next year or the year after since I have some left from this year's seed order.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It will be somewhat busy today so we'll see how much I write.

Mom found a headline that said the first snowfall this season in the U.S. was due this weekend. At first I was surprised. After all, this is only the second week of August which I will admit has been cooler than I expected. Then I asked "where?" In Alaska. I wouldn't have been surprised if the article had said the Rocky Mountain high country. It feels odd to think of snow now but I am already thinking about pulling the sad tomato and cucumber vines. It seems much too early for that. That triggered thoughts about next year's garden: only one plant each of the Ox Heart and Roselle tomatoes and two plants each of the Chicago pickling cucumbers and Dragon's Egg cucumbers.

Friday, August 11, 2017

I have chocolate mint and orange mint to grind and should get the lemon balm cut and drying. The lemon balm by itself should fill the dehydrator. I should pick a bunch of cherry tomatoes. We'll see if I get to it and I need to check some cucumbers. I have several mental notes for next year: no beans--I haven't found a variety yet Mom likes, not even the Blue Lake she suggested one year; tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers will be in their own five gallon buckets; all the mints will be in either the pockets of the soft shoe storage planter or in smaller pots on the wire shoe rack; the strawberries like that soft shoe rack so some will stay in there and in the top tiers of the tower planters.

There are stories which simply cry out for commentary and this is one. I think it proves that the Department of Homeland Security is simply a slush fund. Where is the capitalism the Repthuglicans treat as an 11th commandment? But then there are so many subsidies for the fossil fuel industry that a few billion to keep the moribund coal industry limping along isn't such a bad thing. It isn't like they have roads, bridges, sewer systems, polluted water that needs attention and money, is it?

Now this is a good idea. If companies want to put in robots to replace workers, they can do so but they should kick in to defray the expenses the state (which means the rest of us taxpayers) pony up to cover unemployment and other such costs.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Yesterday I cut back the spearmint and was surprised to find it filled my dehydrator so I put the chocolate mint off to today. We'll see how much I get before deciding what else might be harvested. I still have oregano, basil, orange mint, lemon balm to get to. The next cutting of most of the herbs after that will be for slips to root for next spring. So far the lemon mint, both varieties of lavender, and the lotus vine cuttings I started a while ago are alive and, I hope thriving.

Although I continually assess and think about how the gardens are doing this is the season when I really start contemplating how well the gardens have done, considering where I will put what plants next year, and what new plants I will try out.

And here is a disconcerting surprise: wildfire in Greenland. Small by our standards but, still, Greenland??!! where they say "micro-fires" are not uncommon.

Another interesting and disconcerting story: the average temperature in July for Death Valley was 107.4F which was the highest recorded average for the area, for the U.S. and for the world.

The spearmint I cut and dried yesterday is ground and in its jar. I have chocolate mint and orange mint drying now. I also took spearmint cuttings to root (hopefully).


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

We have had some nice weather lately which the weather people predict will continue for a while: cool mornings and warm (but not hot) days. Nice for tending the gardens and then doing things inside and cool enough we don't have to use the air conditioner.

I follow politics only in passing now that it has become an absurd "reality" show. We don't really follow the news any more. It seems rather removed for the most part. Because of our location we get Illinois/Chicago news though we live in Indiana. Most often we skim the headlines diving into a story only when something catches our attention. Since much is gossip or random violence we ignore most of it. I wonder how many people share our attitudes. It is hard to tell given the echo chamber that is the internet and the superficiality that is broadcast TV (news or otherwise.)

If I don't follow news or politics or economics (which has the same relationship to reality as politics nowadays) what do I read? I will take you an a bit of a tour through my usual reading list.

First up: Nimue Brown. Her piece on "dabbling" resonates with this confirmed dabbler. I also like learning new things often at the expense of finishing old projects. I have books detailing crafts I know I will never try--the books were cheap, the materials for the crafts are not. I have projects that have been off the stove completely for long periods of time for any number of reasons. Some of them will never be finished but I hope a fair number will be as I move them from shelf to back burner to high heat.

Then there is the intersection of technology and society/politics. Hardly a new phenomenon. North Korea has a system totally disconnected from the rest of the world and restricts access to that to only a few carefully chosen and trusted subjects. For years China has been tightening the controls on what their people can access and blocking those companies who don't comply with their demands. After the Arab Spring revolutions several countries in the Middle East demanded internet/telecom "kill" switches to help block the spread of future such movements. "Splinternets?" Yeah, I can see it developing. There are nasty tendencies in our "wild west" internet culture: bullying, hate, trolls, scams, frauds. But we had that without the internet. And I believe that information, like any technology, is a genie that doesn't go back into its bottle once released. It is always there somewhere in the wilderness.

Ronni Bennett is wonderful for discussions of what aging is like. This one is a fun piece that provides a lighter note. I agree with her totally on the sleeveless phenomenon. I don't think I have any sleeveless items left in my closet. I am at the point where if I can't wear blue jeans and a tee shirt or slacks and a pretty blouse with sleeves, I say forget it. My fondest desire is to never wear a dress or skirt again. As I read the last section on the loss of "You're welcome" I had a though Mom said: the full exchange used to be "Thank you for coming (or what ever)" followed by "You're welcome, and thank you for a wonderful dinner (or what ever)." Our interactions, especially verbal ones, seem to have been shortened, truncated. The "you're welcome" is left implied.

Monday, August 7, 2017

We got the tomatoes processed yesterday. I have to put several through the canner again today because they didn't seal but for the most part that batch is done. The week is supposed to be cool and dry so I should have good weather for some garden work. The gardens are at that late season stage where some areas look a bit like a jungle. But on the whole it looks neater than previous years. I need to check the cucumbers and collect cherry tomatoes.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Supposed to be warmer today than it was yesterday which felt like late September instead of early August. We didn't get any more rain. After our visit to the farm market and grocery stores I harvested a nice lot of cherry tomatoes for our chef salads today, two nice pickling cucumbers and two dragon's egg cucumbers. Our favorite veggie vender at the farm market had 25 lb. boxes of canning tomatoes so we picked up one that we will process tomorrow. Just in time because the last quart of tomatoes we put up last year is all we had left. If she has more Tuesday we will pick another. We prefer to do that canning small batches. I will pickle the pickling cucumbers Monday. I also found some pretty, ripe strawberries which will go on our yogurt tomorrow morning.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Had heavy rain last night with more expected today. I probably won't get any gardening done outside. I cleared out a number of the flimsy pots transplants come in. I kept the more sturdy pots for use next spring. I have also started cleaning out some of the fabric scraps I know I won't use in the future. They are too small, too irregular and so on. While I was sewing I simply threw all the scraps into a plastic box and continued. I have always had a hard time getting rid of any fabric because it is expensive.

Newsweek has a new cover that is bound to get #45's blood pressure up. And, if Americablog is reading the accompanying article right, it doesn't do much for #45's image either.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Another cool morning that feels more like fall than summer. The autumnal equinox is still a month and a half away. The weather people predict scattered thundershowers but whether we actually see any rain is anybody's guess. So far those storms have been more miss than hit. I hope it will hold off long enough for me to collect a the couple of cucumbers and whole lot of cherry tomatoes I saw on the plants yesterday.

Found this item browsing the news. So #45 criticized his military advisors for not having a winning position on the war. Considering the fact that, as the article noted, he is the third Commander-in-Chief to flounder around looking for such a strategy perhaps he should be asking 1) whether there is any winning position and 2) have we defined winning in any way that is "winnable." That has been the problem with all of the wars since WWII: what, precisely, are the goals? And the nebulous notions of "anti-communism" or "anti-terrorism" simply don't work. Especially since the definitions are so malleable--any you don't like become an communist or a terrorist.

I will admit that several times over the last 20 years I have fantasized about emigrating because the politics here so disgusted me. However, even a quick look at the immigration requirements for likely destinations (like Canada) demonstrated that legal emigration was not likely. They have a system much like the one #45 has just endorsed--a so-called merit based system. I don't see there is much to disagree with on the broad notions described. The devil is, of course, always in the details and those might be objectionable. I do resent his hyping the program on restricting any legal immigrants from welfare benefits for five years. That is already on the books and has been for almost 30 years. The labor implications are frustratingly complex. How much of our economy depends on low (or lower) wage employees. At various times we have encouraged foreign nurses and doctors because we had a supposed shortage but I would almost bet, though I can't prove it, that the major effect was to reduce wages overall. Which may also be the major result of the high-tech H1-B visas. Will the proposal slash legal immigration by 50%? Who knows and I don't trust anyone's guesses.

Busy morning in the kitchen and in the gardens. Mom did eggplant Parmesan from the last of the Patio Baby eggplants and I pulled the plants. They had almost stopped producing and the fruit was too small to be of great use. I harvested two large pickling cucumbers which are now in brine in the fridge. They completely filled the quart jar and I put two quarts of cherry tomatoes in brine also. I will pull the two patio tomatoes for the same reasons I pulled the eggplants: production slowed to a near stop and the tomatoes are really, really small. Checked over the cuttings and the lemon mint, two lavenders, and lotus vine are all still doing well. Two of the three strawberries, the two with full root growth, are doing well also. I think it is time to take cuttings from the rest of the herbs as well. The prescription bottles with vermiculite seem to do well for rooting cuttings.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

We had a busy day yesterday--much more than we planned. We thought it would be an easy three stop shopping day but it turned into six stops. We took our grocery list to Walmart--not because we like Walmart (we don't) but to explore options because the bankruptcy of the largest (like almost the only) grocery chain in the area left us considering possibilities. We hadn't shopped Walmart's grocery section for a very long time because we were extremely disappointed with on the last visit. Yesterday was another a major disappointment. Low prices--not so much because we are used to paying considerably less for almost everything and walked out with only three items. We were so bummed out we didn't stop at the Walmart gas station opting instead to swing into our usual station whose prices are about the same anyway. Because Walmart's garden shop had already packed away even basic supplies for the season, including what I wanted, our first unplanned stop was Menards for the items I couldn't get at Walmart.

To complete our grocery shopping we went to our usual supermarket, which we intended to bypass, where we had a pleasant surprise: It was shifting to new management. Evidently it was one of the 20 stores sold to a member of the family that founded the grocery chain almost 80 or so years ago and had run it well until they sold out to the company that crashed earlier this year. I hope the store will not just continue but improve. Another disappointment was no store had cider vinegar in gallon sizes--no one. I am in the middle of pickling season and no more gallons of apple cider vinegar.

Our last stop was our favorite spice/herb/tea shop to replenish our stock of tea and walnuts, and pick up a couple of spices Mom had run out of. At least we ended on a couple of pleasant notes.

Ah, well--on to other things. I had never heard of the term "flash drought" before but it describes the situation in Montana and the Dakotas very well. Evidently it is a real meteorological term referring to periods of high temperatures combined with low and decreasing soil moisture. The maps in the article show the conditions developing from late April through today going from normal to extreme drought in almost the blink of an eye. The Canadian plains are experiencing the same conditions which doesn't bode well for either the wheat crops or for cattle.

I got the dried herbs ground and another quart of pickles in the fridge. I found two more pickling cucumbers ready (one a bit more than ready) to pick and process. That is for tomorrow. And found another dragon's egg developing nicely. On my to-do list tomorrow: take the cucumbers and pickle them, pickle the cherry tomatoes already harvested, harvest whatever tomatoes are ready on the vines, and dry some more of the herbs. We'll see how far that list goes. I have said before that if I don't get it done in the morning, it doesn't get done--at least not that day.

We are seeing flashes of lightening and hearing rumbles of thunder. We may or may not get rain. And if we get any it may not amount to much.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I took cuttings from both types of lavender (English and Elegance), the lotus vine and the lemon mint to try to root. I may take some more from other plants today. I have cucumbers to get into brine so they can become pickles and a bunch of cherry tomatoes to pickle as well. We'll see what else I get done today.

I concentrated on herbs I have been neglecting lately and harvested chives, thyme, stevia, and lime basil. Those are drying now. I found a couple of likely strawberry plantlets that I put in wet vermiculite to root--hopefully. I found two nicely developing Dragon's egg cucumbers hiding behind the trellis. That was a nice surprise but the tally of three for that variety is still a bit disappointing. I found two pretty, ripe strawberries so we each had one decorating the top of our peach/walnut/maple syrup yogurt.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Another cool night. The temperatures for today are forecast to reach 80 which they didn't yesterday. It was nice to leave the doors open to the breeze. I need to collect cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and water everything. Other than that I plan to work on some of the herbs. I think the mystery plant I found in the chocolate mint was a calibrachoa. I had them in planters on the fence last year or, maybe. the year before. Evidently one managed to shed some seed.

I checked my e-mail today and was totally bummed out. I had 12 in my in-box and 41 in the junk folder. I do check my junk folder because Outlook has a habit of putting some pieces in there that aren't junk. But it is ridiculous that my junk e-mail outnumbered real mail almost 4 to 1. It is beginning to resemble the snail mail box which is almost all junk.

I found six pickling cucumbers, one Dragon's Egg cucumber, six Patio Baby Eggplants, and a mess of cherry tomatoes. Mom is planning to use the Dragon's Egg and the two smallest pickling cucumbers in a yogurt/cucumber/onion salad we like. The four large picklers will be pickled as will the cherry tomatoes we don't eat with the chef salad today. I don't know what happened to the Ox Heart tomatoes this year because I don't see a one developing. The Dragon's Egg, which has been a good producer in previous seasons, has been disappointing also since I don't see any others developing.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cool this morning--really cool--mid fifties cool. Something of a shock for late July. The calendar is also something of a shock--we have only three days left in July. We are having a problem with computers this morning. Comcast/Xfinity recently changed out our modem for newer model which combines the router and modem functions. We got the computers on with no problem but our printer can't seem to connect to the new modem. Damn! I do hate new systems.

Was anyone surprised Priebus was fired? He had a title but no authority. He had less and less access to his boss who continually humiliated him. At least Sean Spicer avoided the humiliation of being fired by resigning. I don't know how long the few old guard Republicans are left besides Jeff Sessions but I would guess not many. And I wonder how long before Sessions has had a belly full of #45's crap and leaves or is fired also. But Martha Raddatz on ABC News had a throw away line that was key though no other commentator picked up on it: #45 likes to be surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear not what he needs to hear. He likes "yes men." That doesn't speak well for John Kelley, his new Ass-Kisser in Chief of Staff. Nor does it bode well for the country.

Computer update: everything is talking to each other again. The technician on the phone was able to talk us through getting everything back like it should be.

Friday, July 28, 2017

I have been slightly under the weather for the last couple of days which contributed to my general lethargy. Slowly starting to feel better. I need to water the gardens no matter how I feel. What rain we had wasn't enough to do the plants any good. Thankfully, I am retired and don't have to go to a job and try to function no matter what.

Well, the so-called skinny repeal of the ACA failed when John McCain voted no joining two other GOP senators and all Democrats. Again I am struck by how much the Republican program resembles the falling domino kind of sculpture--you know, where the first domino starts a chain reaction of falling dominos to create a pattern. Some of those are awesome but, of course, if the first fails to start the cascade or if a domino along the way doesn't fall right the whole thing flops. Well, repealing (and, maybe, replacing) the ACA was the first domino. The administration depended on the "savings" from the ACA, mainly in the form of reducing taxes for the wealthy, to give them room to tackle the budget and then to tackle tax reform.

A second comment on the Repthuglican antics on ACA repeal and (probably not) repeal. As each vote came along there seemed to be a growing color of desperation permeating the Repthuglican senators. They wanted anything they could be stretched and spun into a "win." They wanted that no matter how many are hurt, how few benefit, how much economic harm is caused or how many of their rules and procedures they have to break. The Repthuglican Party is a party without ideology, without principles, without honesty. Murkowski and Collins are the only Republican senators. I appreciate McCain's vote which was crucial but I wish he would live up to his "maverick" label.

I think a suitable punishment for this jerk is to be force fed everything he contaminated. As an aside, I checked the dates on the original story. It is over a month and a half old. It never made our TV news and we aren't that far away.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

We did get rain last night and it is cloudy now with more expected. I don't feel energetic at all so I won't do much of anything today. There are things I could do in the gardens but they aren't absolutely necessary.

We have been losing contact with nature for several decades now. The situation has become acute enough that, every now and then, one finds comments in the news media on it like this Guardian piece. I saw this when it first aired and could only shake my head. But we do live, for the most part, in man made environments which only allows small amounts of "tamed" nature in. We have our manicured and managed lawns where we spray to keep out untamed nature like dandelions or insect pests. We have our manicured and managed gardens where we decide what grows and how. The Ditzy Druid makes a few comments on the phenomenon and her attempts to teach her children to connect with nature. Her remarks roused some thoughts in my mind about my own journey through this life. Once upon a time I remember collecting plant specimens, leaves and flowers mostly, to identify. But over my adult life those contacts with nature diminished and much of what I once knew disappeared.

Although we are mentally/spiritually disconnected from nature we are all to well connected when it comes to our garbage. A huge garbage patch has been found in the southern Pacific. The one in the northern Pacific has been studied for the last ten years or so. So much of our trash stays around for a long time and there is no easy way to reduce it. We have managed to make some headway here reducing our trash from a full trash tote weekly to a third or less of that amount. We have tried to reduce our plastics and have succeeded to a point.

I don't follow economic theory the way I used to. My reality and that of the economists just don't seem to resemble each other. Jesse's Cafe Americain thinks the same. Unfortunately too many economists try to insist that reality adjust itself to their models. That alone suggests that economics isn't a real science because real scientists would adjust their models to account for what happens in the real world.

I read a couple of articles on the U.K.'s program to ban fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. This piece from Naked Capitalism notes a bottle neck in such plans: the availability of cobalt for the high performance lithium ion batteries. The efforts to shift to EV sounds good but it involves using a technology that requires a scarce input, namely cobalt. And I would have to ask what pollution is created by making the batteries and decommissioning them. We are already aware of the pollution fossil fuel vehicles involve but we might be shifting to something as bad or worse.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The weather report says we should be getting rain later today and into tonight. I have the chocolate mint and peppermint to grind. I may cut some more herbs to dry but right now my energy is rather low but it is early, the sun isn't yet up and that may change. I found a couple of peppers developing on one of the plants--rather meager production this year. It has been a bad season from the beginning for my peppers. None of the seedlings I started survived to be transplanted so what is in the garden came from the garden shop. Everything else is doing well.

Though I haven't said much about politics I have followed events--as much as I could stomach. So much of it seems to be happening in some Bizarro world (which some of you may recognize from memories of old Superman comics.) The press seems to be obsessed with the alleged hacking by Russians of the 2017 election but I can't get too upset about it. After all, is it any worse than the manipulations by the DNC to ensure Hillary Clinton won and Bernie Sanders lost? Or the efforts of Republicans to disfranchise potential Democratic voters on spurious charges of voter fraud? I say spurious because damned few proven cases have emerged of such fraud. Why are the Russians so much worse than the DNC or the Republicans?

The Republicans in the Senate finally got a "win" on health care. I put that in quotes because their definition of "win" seems to be rather loose. And they got it by violating every rule they once insisted the Democrats abide by. Evidently rules don't matter for them so long as they get what they want when they want it--just like their Peter Pan of a President (as in the boy who never grew up.) Soon after the "win" the Senate voted down the "Repeal and Replace" plan and a new idea took shape: a "skinny repeal." That doesn't involve the thorny issues of Medicaid and other popular parts that depend on the funding provided by the parts they want to get rid of (i.e. the mandate that everyone have insurance and that some employers provide it and the medical device tax.) I feel somewhat like Treebeard in the Two Towers: I'm on no body's side because nobody is on my side. Over the last few years health insurance costs and benefits have recurred frequently here. Mom's insurance has changed and become more expensive and with each increase we actively look at what that means for her finances. We have even contemplated what would happen if at some point she had to let the supplemental insurance she gets by way of her deceased husband's union membership go. Then we would both be solely relying on Medicare. Scary thought that when you think that a $10k medical bill of which we would have to pay $2k would wipe out our meager finances. Another aspect of the Bizarro world where somehow or another the immiseration of large numbers of people is considered a good thing--that is if the narcissistic political idiots even think about that at all. Beyond damning the majority of Americans for not being rich.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I got started doing things earlier than I normally do. Got beans and cherry tomatoes harvested. The beans are frozen and the tomatoes are waiting for a salad. I saw a small cucumber I am watching for the right time to harvest and pickle. Got chocolate and peppermint cut and in the dehydrator and then ground the lavender and spearmint I dried yesterday. I brought down the drays for the older dehydrator which fit the newer one so I can load one set of trays for drying while I grind the herbs on the other set. I don't want to use both dryers if I can help it. That makes the grinding and loading awful grueling chores. I decided to grind the few eggshells I had that were dry and add those to the stock of slow release calcium for next spring. I put about half a tray worth of peppermint into white vinegar which is now steeping on my shelf. As I pick and cut  and trim I think about where I will put what plants next spring and plan the order in which the beds will be put to sleep for the winter. Nice thing about gardens--there is always something to plan and think about.

This story makes me glad I am now retired. Obviously I have other notions of what is "the right thing to do" and putting microchips into employees isn't among them. The CEO of the company claims it can't be hacked or tracked but that is ridiculous. If there is enough incentive for less than ethical people to hack or track they will do just that. I recall stories earlier in the year about problems the Chicago transit system had because the machines were misreading cards or reading cards in someones wallets or double or triple charging the cards. The stories also mentioned criminals using readers to read the magnetic strips or the chips while the cares were in the wallets--all they had to do was get close enough--like bumping into you distance.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Nice today--a bit cooler but generally cooler. I have spearmint and lavender drying, and I started a jar with the excess lavender steeping in vodka. I also deeply watered all of the plants downstairs and trimmed up one of the dianthus pots.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Busy morning already. I harvested 10 of the Patio Baby eggplants which Mom got cooked up and ready to bag for the freezer. I was surprised to find several of the asparagus beans ready to pick in addition to the monster that I would swear grew another six inches in the last day. Those are already bagged and frozen. I picked the four pickling cucumbers that were ready and they also surprised me by how much size they put on since I looked at them yesterday. They are in quart jars--one full and the other half full--of pickling brine and spices in the fridge. We will have the dozen cherry tomatoes I found ready to pick with the salads for dinner. The second busy season of the gardens has started (the first was planting season.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Heavy thunderstorms rolled through last night. Rain is still falling though lightly--for how long we don't know. We plan to go to the farm market and do a couple of more errands but can easily put it off till Tuesday. We are postponing the decision for a bit. I can't see any damage nearby from the storms but we have been lucky since the worst of the storm tracks have merely clipped us.

Ronni Bennett has an interesting post yesterday at Time Goes By. They made a movie a few years ago starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson titled "The Bucket List." I used to see memes frequently asking what would be on your Bucket List. I never made such lists because I was always at a loss as to what I really wanted to list. However the "Reverse Bucket List" is interesting but I realize that I haven't made that kind of list either. Over the years my patterns, activities, goals have changed. I never cottoned to "texting" and always thought it a waste. So I never tried to learn it. I always thought Twitter an even bigger waste but, if it floats your boat, go ahead. I won't be following or tweeting. These are a kind of unconscious Reverse Bucket List. But then there are the more conscious additions to the list or rather my recognition of limitations of both time and energy. I will never have the time to read all the books or view all of the movies/TV shows someone or other has insisted everyone must read or view. After years when my reading was dictated by the needs of classes or research projects I read what I want to for as long as I want to and say to hell with the rest. The same goes for movies and TV. In the past my mantra was "been there, done that--no more." Now more often it is "haven't been there, don't want to go there--no way."

We got our shopping done. The rain stopped and we thought it would be safe to venture out. We did go to the farm market and made a couple of other stops before finishing at the grocery store. By then we were pretty well exhausted by the heat and humidity. Mid 80s right now but feels like 90.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Partly cloudy today with isolated chance of showers. It is very muggy so I didn't stay outside long. I will go out in little segments to look at things and see if anything needs water. Some of the big plants might. I found four cucumbers that are about the right size for pickling and that the asparagus beans are producing. I found one bean about 20 inches long. I think I will be taking beans to freeze rather than can. I don't think I will get enough at one time for even a small batch. None of the tomatoes are showing red yet but I think I will have another half dozen plus of small eggplants by Sunday.

The gardens are getting frequent visits now from some butterflies and bees. We purposely included a number of plants they should like and a couple we didn't know they would like so much. I saw several little black bees wallowing in the purslane flowers and visiting the cucumbers. I wish the little humming bird would come back but we may simply have missed his visits.

Also spotted the first goldfinch on the sunflowers. I raise sunflowers just for them--and any other birds that might like to tackle the flowers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It is light enough to see and it is wet with a solid cloud cover that promises more rain. We had some last night along with thunder. No gardening today but then I didn't really have much planned outside. A good day to do some clean up in the sewing/plant room upstairs. The pots of stevia and lavender I moved up there are doing well. I may do only a limited amount of outside work for the next four days which all are supposed to have temperatures into the low 90s with or without thundershowers.

Well, the thundershowers have hit. We are getting a monsoonal rain now which will take care of the gardens till tomorrow. Needless to say, no work outside today.

Proof of the old saying that "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change." We now have bright sun and blue skies. I walked through the gardens and most plants look fine. However, one of the dianthus isn't so I will take it out tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We had a busy day yesterday. Took the car in for its oil change and check up, and then did a bit of shopping. By then the heat was building so I didn't do more than water the gardens. I don't know what I will get done today.

I found this because Mom read a headline about the death of one-stop shopping. The article focuses on Target with a couple of comments on Wal-mart and other chains. The article itself was published in 2014 so something has been going on for a while now--how long I am not sure. But it got me to thinking about my life pattern--especially over the last decade and a half. I remember when the giant shopping malls took off and when Wal-mart and Target expanded to gargantuan proportions. We had a huge mall with all of the major anchor stores (Sears, JC Penney, Wards) and a lot of small stores lining the corridors between. We went to that mall for two major shopping trips and several minor ones each year as well as amusing ourselves on a Saturday when we had nothing else to do. I haven't gone to that mall, or any of the others around here, for years. Shopping there was no longer worth the time, the goods were over priced for the quality, and the crowds annoyed me. When I was a child we couldn't go into one of the anchor stores without coming out with something or leave without buying from at least two or three of the small stores on the way. The last time we went into a mall we came away with nothing. When the Wal-mart in our town became a "super-center" we were delighted because everything we needed would be at one single destination. We quickly became disillusioned with the quality of the foods in the grocery and when the price of gasoline went up we decided to mitigate the pain at the pump by shopping closer to home. Besides the prices weren't low enough to make up for the increased cost of gas. We didn't shift our buying to Amazon. Instead we spread it around to a number of small shops: the local meat market, the farm market in season, the small hardware store, a couple of the dollar stores, a small tea/spice shop. Also we more carefully defined what we needed and have pruned our wants severely. The end result is we don't buy as much. We haven't eliminated impulse buying entirely but we don't indulge very often. We no longer go looking for ten items and come away with twenty-five. Our shopping habits are more complicated now and the old one-stop store doesn't really meet our needs. If there are more consumers like us, it is little wonder the big box, one-stop destination stores are in trouble.

I never worked as a librarian or library assistant but I have felt a nostalgia for the card catalogs. I attended two universities during times when they were phasing our their catalogs and felt a bit of sadness as they disappeared. I spent hours looking up specific books and then following the threads of adjacent volumes (by author or by subject) to other threads connecting other books. I felt a tactile pleasure as my fingers flitted through the cards. I have used the computer catalogs in those university libraries and in local libraries that have gone to computer catalogs but the "feel" simply isn't there nor the joy of following the path from one literary island to another and discovering another just beyond it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

It was another nice cool day yesterday though the wind did kick up in the afternoon. I will check on the tall plants on trellises for any damage but I didn't see any from the door. I spent yesterday trimming, pruning and tying up plants. More general tidying up. I emptied the dehydrator and got that batch of herbs ground and put up. I saw some nice pickling cucumbers developing.

A long but interesting Tomdispatch article by Alfred McCoy on historical parallels and the decline of the American Empire.

I saw a different article on this yesterday. The only surprise in the article is the stunning amount of product recalled: seven million pounds. That is an incredible waste. I remember finding slivers of bone and cartilage in ground beef and sausage. It happened with increasing frequency until a few years ago when we began getting our meat from a small local market. They still employ butchers and grind their own. I would almost bet the company involved in the recall either mechanically separated their own or bought from suppliers that did so. That does get more of the meat off the bones but also gets more bone chips and gristle in the final product. The wonders and joys of our industrial food processing system.

Charles Hugh Smith has a few on point remarks on waste. In our economy it is a feature, not a bug.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Good morning on what looks like will be a cool and overcast but mostly dry day. Good day to get some work in the gardens done. Herbs to dry, herbs to cut, and plants that need trimming and watering.

Nimue Brown has a short post on the value of boredom. She is right on the issue of our eternally plugged in society. Everywhere we go we see people looking at their screens of whatever size. When I used my nook I sometimes carried it especially when we went for a medical appointment or to have the car serviced. Now my library is on an iPad and I don't take it along. Too expensive to replace if something happened. But I have noticed something and I don't know if it is simply me or or if the phenomenon is more general. The eternal stimulation is somewhat boring. We subscribe to Netflix and I haven't found much over the last few months I wanted to see or to see through to the end. The plots are pale derivatives of better movies I have seen before. Often the books are much the same. Every now and then I find something that puts an interesting quirk on an old theme. I find myself revisiting old favorites (Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen, Miss Marple, Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, Heinlein's Time Enough For Love, Frank Herbert's Dune, Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede--you get the idea). It is amazing how well they stand up over time. They all take the time to tell a thought provoking story that we have to expend some time and energy to enjoy. It isn't a passive experience which is what most of the modern media gives us on our so very portable screens.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cool so far this morning though it is way too early to tell how warm it will be. It was deliciously cool yesterday and I got a number of trimming and harvesting chores done. Today is shopping and errand day so I probably won't get more done than watering. We'll see.

I found this almost first thing. Perhaps Ryan ought to get out of the "Daddy knows best" mode and scrap the "dress" code all together. I put dress in quotes because it always seems to be female "dress" that has to be coded. And by men at that.

I have been continually amused by the schizophrenic economic reporting that complains that American's aren't saving enough (for kids' college, for that new home, for retirement, whatever) while bemoaning their unwillingness to spend freely in almost the same breath. This article is in that vein. I love the notion that "saving" is now "hoarding."

Well, it seems that the Republican leadership is so desperate to pass that mangey dog of a "health" care bill they are resorting to bribery. Politics has always involved "horse trading" but I don't think it has ever been so blatant and to gain so little while screwing so many.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hoping it will be a nice day. The forecast predicts a temp that won't exceed 80 and not much chance of showers. I plan on some herb cutting and drying, and taking some cuttings to root out new plants--hopefully.

I have read quite a few articles and a couple of books on the effect Wal-mart has when it enters a community. Now I just read the first article on in a mainstream news source on the effect when it leaves. I did get some glimmering of what the might happen about seven or eight years ago(give or take year or two) when they closed out their fabric and crafts section. I visited a number of quilters' message boards and there were a lot of enraged quilters who had seen the company move in, run out the small shops, and decided to leave them high and dry by closing their fabric sections. The quilters had to go to mail order or drive ungodly distances. That was a pale foretaste of what has happened in towns and counties where Wal-mart opened with a promise of jobs and cheap goods, driven out the local small shops and now are leaving a big vacuum behind. We came to depend on this commercial system of which Wal-mart was a part for far too much. We depended on that systems for jobs to provide us with sufficient money to exchange for what we needed (from food to clothing, to social interaction) to daily survive. We never questioned our dependency.

I had read about China buying farm land in Africa while Saudi Arabia was doing the same and snatching up American farm land. China also made a splash with its acquisition of Smithfield Farms pork raising operation. This is the first I read about China buying chemical/seed agribusinesses. Question: what happens if (when?) China decides that they have to reserve all of the products of their agribusiness companies for themselves? Think Wal-mart closing and extrapolate.

I cut stevia, lemon mint, orange mint, sweet basil, spicy oregano, Thai basil, spearmint and peppermint. Several provided only half a tray of cuttings but the plants needed to be trimmed to remain compact in their spots. If we have good weather tomorrow I will concentrate on lemon balm, lime basil and peppermint.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The sky is overcast this morning. I hope it stays dry enough to harvest some more of the herbs that are growing like the weeds they originally were (and, in some cases, still are). I have six trays of peppermint to grind. Otherwise, we'll see what the weather does.

Charles Hugh Smith had a good piece about the "content free" news we are all subjected to nowadays. Mom used to joke (with more than a bit of sarcasm) that once we had seen the latest fire, vehicle crash, shooting, robbery and political fracas--none of which mattered a damn to us because we weren't any where near most of the incidents and the politics didn't concern matters in our area--we could turn off the TV. We have remarked frequently that we get more from reading news sources on line than we do from the TV and both are really long on the emotion and short on facts. It is little wonder we don't watch much any more.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I did have a productive day yesterday but nothing worth commenting on. I ground the herbs I had in the dehydrator as well as the eggshells I had drying on old pie tins. A blogger I read frequently (sorry I don't remember which or I would give her a shout out) calls dried, crushed eggshells "slow release calcium" for the garden. I sprinkle a nice dusting into the holes I dig for my transplants in the spring. I hope the day stays dry long enough for me to collect more herbs for the drying and to check the eggplants.

I have six trays of peppermint drying and I am only almost finished cutting on the first container. I have another yet to go. I also picked a double handful and a bit of little eggplant fruits. The Japanese beetles have increased their presence and I drowned about a dozen in quick order as I watered the gardens. Our showers are hit and miss--mostly miss. Those that dump a good quantity of rain don't drop enough to keep the plants going for more than a day. I have looked at a monsoonal type of rain fall in the morning but found the plants wilting in the afternoon.

Interesting article on a youth culture in China that is disengaged from mainstream society. I remember reading about similar trends in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the article traces some of the connections between those trends then and the ones in China today. Many of the conditions identified as contributing to the "sang" culture are also familiar: lack of social mobility, lack of economic opportunities, the perception that striving to be successful by socially approved standards is futile so why try.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A bit of a household emergency--our fridge quit. I had thought it had been going out yesterday and was convinced of it  a bit earlier today. Naturally it was loaded because we went shopping Saturday. But our landlord just swapped it out for another. I think we caught it in tine to save everything. What a way to start a Monday.

We had thunderstorms and a fairly heavy rain for most of the morning so no gardening. The sun has been in and out since and I did get out to tie up some cucumber vines that were falling all over. But that was all.

Instead I put a throw pillow back together. It needed new and larger pillow forms and the crochet blocks needed washing. I have yet another but that is for tomorrow.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Every time I think the current administration has plumbed the depths of incompetence (or any other negative quality), they go lower. Case in point: #45 and wife are stuck in a government guest house because their people failed to book accommodations in Hamburg for the G20 meetings. Of course, they are blaming Obama and his people. My question: where were your people? Why didn't they coordinate with the previous administration?

What's the next step, Paul? Burkas?

It has been an unusual couple of days. Friday there wasn't much to comment on except the first comment above. Yesterday we spent the morning shopping. We arranged things so we didn't have to shop for groceries or anything else over the weekend of the 4th through yesterday. We did run out of milk only because it went bad before the original "sell by" date. But that didn't cause any inconvenience because we keep a small stash of canned, condensed milk just for such an occasion. We made a visit to our local branch of the Evil Empire of Wal-Mart. We actually found several items we needed and a couple that were under consideration but hadn't risen to the "need" level. But that was exhausting for two old ladies so I offered to treat Mom to dinner out. We tried a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican grocery and restaurant and were so pleasantly surprised we gorged ourselves instead of bringing half home for another day. We spent most of the rest of the day napping or playing on the computer.

This morning was a different story. We had two fair sized bags of cherries which we pitted, split and bagged into convenient parcels for freezing and Mom got a cabinet of our plastic containers cleaned out and reorganized. And, yes, we still have plastics though far fewer than we once did. Mom is cleaning up the kitchen and I hope to get out and harvest a few dryer trays of herbs. We'll see.

Well, I have three trays each of peppermint and lavender. That is about half of the lavender that I should cut and, maybe, a sixth of the peppermint. More to do tomorrow if the rain holds off.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ah, the scientific mystery of the day: a massive volcano erupts and they can't find it.

I am speechless--totally speechless. The American Way of War: the general population is clueless, and by following 700 steps of decision making the unit commanders can assuage their guilt in sending soldiers to die in conflicts we don't give a shit about, and, because we aren't paying attention, we can go shopping with a clear conscience. I would hope this is sarcasm but.....

Charles Hugh Smith has another good piece. I remember a cartoon from the election where a guy tells the woman he is sitting with that there isn't any real difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. She responds that he is right--except for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and so on down a long list. Unfortunately, those programs and many others over the last 30 or so years have been chipped and whittled down with few vocal protests but little effective action. The parties are obsolete if their purpose was to represent a broad base of voters and their interests. However, Smith is right. They both serve the interests of the financial class, large corporations and the wealthy. They will continue to do so until the system collapses.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A friend on Facebook commented on a story that I had to checkout further. Well, here is a transcript of the NPR piece that triggered the reaction. Back when #45 nominated Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education, I felt we didn't need that nut job to screw up even more an already screwed up "industry." (And let us not deceive our selves--it is an industry that makes a lot of money.) Well, I have to wonder if there is anything left she can screw up more when people can't even recognize lines from the Declaration of Independence.

Here is one for the "Who Knew?" file. So arthritis is the price we pay for our ancestors surviving the ice age.

It seems a lot of people thought the same thing I did reading #45's comment on Kim Jong Un. One fires missiles; the other fires tweets. Oh, I forgot we missiles, too, as #45 demonstrated.

Charles Hugh Smith has a good take on our fragmented society. Our pundits decry our political fragmentation but rarely not how fragmented our economic reality is. No inflation? Well, we see it every time we go to the grocery store and I noted that this year the plants at the garden center we would have paid $1.99 for last year were marked $3.99 or higher. I know there is a technical definition of inflation the economists use but their definition somehow totally dismisses my lived experience.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I was thinking some nasty thought about our annual orgy of self-congratulation but I won't write them out. Most of our holidays have become annoyances with what ever meaning they once had erased. Today is just a noisier such day.

Perhaps we should ask for what we should congratulate ourselves. This perhaps. Well, I guess we can console ourselves that we are still, in some German eyes, their "most important partner" instead of their "most important friend" outside Europe. But are we any more reliable as a "partner" than we were as a "friend?"

From Patheos: the counterattack on the "war on Christmas" has begun early. Another holiday I don't really celebrate except for getting together with my brother's family. Otherwise it has been submerged into and recreated as an orgy of consumerism. Since I a) am not affiliated with any Christian group, sect or church and b) have seceded from the  "Consumerist Republic," it means almost zip.

I decided it was time to reorganize my herb shelf. Actually I shouldn't say reorganize since it was never organized in the first place. That took a bit and I will have to move things a bit more when I start harvesting the spicy oregano. I don't have a place for it yet. Otherwise, the gardens are doing well. I found and dispatched four Japanese beetles yesterday in a small jar of soapy water. I will definitely have to water over the next 8 to 10 days as we aren't expecting any rain and temps in the mid to high 80s. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

We had several minutes of a monsoonal downpour yesterday evening. I shouldn't have to water anything but some of the big plants really suck up the water and may need a supplement.

What happens when you mix poverty, a devastating freeze killing off valuable wild plants, a difficult to police border and international capitalism? Environmental degradation. Perhaps I should say "destruction." And borders don't matter at all.

I saw this headline and though: how petty can you get? The author quotes a British politician who is actually trying to make a serious point that Brexit, especially a "hard" Brexit, is already affecting the agricultural labor market which may lead to shortages of farm commodities, including strawberries. But going for a dramatic headline actually trivializes the problem.

Another good reason to get rid of triclosan products in the home. It is an antiseptic agent to which bacteria are becoming resistant and which facilitates the bacteria developing antibiotic resistance.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The neighbors across the streets on both sides were in full July 4th mode last night. The fireworks were plentiful for at least two hours. I wonder if our next door neighbors took their dogs visiting because we didn't hear a sound from them and they don't like fireworks. They normally make quite a racket when fireworks go off. There are times I really hate some holidays. Most I can ignore, especially since we don't watch much TV any more and don't get the barrage of ads.

This is a longish article which focuses on New York City but the really important part is summarized about half way through.
“By 2040, 70 percent of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, which are also home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities in the country. By extension, 30 percent of Americans will live in the other 35 states. That means that the 70 percent of Americans get all of 30 Senators and 30 percent of Americans get 70 Senators,” Birdsell says.
 Question: what about the House where the members are apportioned by population? And does the author's conclusion that because the the largest urban areas didn't vote for #45 he has no incentive to deal with their problems follow? And what about those urban areas that voted for Clinton but which are in states that went for #45? And what about the states among the 15 largest who voted for #45? After all, California and Illinois are #1 and #4 respectively but sandwiched in between are Texas and Florida.

I harvested sweet basil, Thai basil, lime basil, lemon mint, chocolate mint, a bit of peppermint and orange mint. All are drying now. In a couple of days I can take another cutting of lavender. I think my peppers are a bust this year. All of the seedlings I started failed. The seedlings I got from the garden shop are producing few flowers and no peppers I can see. I have no idea why.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Welcome to July.  The year is now officially half over. I have herbs to grind which I didn't do yesterday because I got lazy. I took my usual very early walk through the patio planning a couple of little chores and drowning a couple more Japanese beetles. July is the peak month for those pests so that activity will continue for a while more.

I found this bit of humor this morning. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

We had some severe rain last night. It is only now getting light enough to see and most of the plants look like they survived well. Some look a bit bedraggled but no serious damage visible.

For a bit of a laugh check out this piece. And not a one of the "terrorists" mentioned was Muslim.

I tied up a couple of drooping cucumber vines. They should find the trellis more easily now. I cut peppermint, spearmint, and chives which are drying now except for the clump of chives I reserved for mom to put into the pasta and ham salad for today's (and probably tomorrow's) dinner. I also trimmed excess leaves off of the tomatoes and the Patio Baby eggplants. Now I can better see the developing tomato and eggplant fruits. We are going to have to fine some new ways to cook up the eggplant if they yield fruit as well as they are flowering.

Interesting notion but I fear #45 might break our bank. We are on a slender fixed income barely above the poverty line.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I am waiting to find out how good a morning it is. It is still dark but I think I saw clouds. I couldn't tell if it had rained overnight but we did have strong winds starting last evening. I got sage, catnip, lime basil and lemon balm dried and put up. I thought the chives are about due. Maybe today.

Well, there is more light outside and there are more clouds than blue sky. No rain yet and no sign of rain so watering plants is definitely on the agenda. We'll see about harvesting any herbs.

I saw this and my jaw dropped (then the expletives flew). After my astonishment faded, my first thought was: why would colleges want students who are, as they are called in the article, "book virgins." I remember semesters when I carried 15-18 credits and weeks when I read 15 or more, often hefty, books. Even now, though I get a lot of information on the internet, I read between 3 and 6 or so books a week. Do those "book virgins" write research papers and essays? If they do, on what do they base their writing?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Good morning on this sunny and, again, cool day. It should be a little warmer but still a bit below normal.

Of course, political news casts a cold shadow. This came to my attention. When our elected officials feel they need armed guards to protect them from us we no longer have anything that resembles a democracy. I am sorry but the idiot who attacked the baseball practice isn't sufficient reason to give $10 million to individual members of the national legislature for the rest of this fiscal year (and additional monies for members to invest in surveillance equipment and to bulk up the Capitol police). So far the most dangerous aspect of their job seems to be sharp questions from their constituents they don't want to answer. That doesn't require armed guards and surveillance equipment just an intelligent  and respectful answer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chilly this morning--only 52F. The high is supposed to reach into the mid 70s. Long sleeves and jeans today I think.

Wired has a long but very interesting article on cyberattacks over the last three years on Ukrainian power systems. Other institutions like banks and government agencies were also hit but the focus is on the electric grid. A couple of years ago Ted Koppel published a book titled Lights Out which highlighted the vulnerability of the American power grid. The Wired article reaffirms Koppel's points and we should all be worried--very worried. And Wannacry is back--big time.

We talk about these stories often here. This morning we started listing all of the things that we would lose if something similar hit here. If just the internet went down all our banking and bill paying as well a good bit of our entertainment would be lost. That kind of a thought, and the fact that my books exceeded the storage capacity of my nook, led me to get an iPad so all of my books are on it not somewhere in the cloud where it might be marooned and inaccessible in such a case. If the electricity went out as well we would lose heating and cooling in the house, the ability to cook on the stove, all electric lights, and the fridge and freezer. We might also lose water and sewage unless the city has backup generators. We have workarounds for water, cooking and lights--for a while. Answering "nature's call"--I guess we would have to set up a bucket. A couple or so weeks ago Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism mentioned her internet went out repeatedly one afternoon and evening making her wonder if we weren't sliding to third world status faster than we realized--especially since the thunderstorms rolling through weren't that severe. Ours went out, briefly, about a week ago and we had no severe weather to blame it on.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Another week--the last of June. This year is half over. OMG!!! how times has flown.

We had a very nice weekend. I cut spearmint, chocolate mint and lavender which has been dried, ground and put up in jars. Trimmed some of the tomato fronds which were threatening to take over a couple of areas. Tied a couple of the cucumbers into place and redirected a couple of the bean vines that wanted to meander over the fence. Tomorrow, if it remains sunny and cool I think a second cutting of catnip and first cutting of sage is due. I snipped three small stalks of lemon verbena. The plant is still small but I hope to prevent it from becoming a straggly monster. I hope to treat it like my rosemary plants to keep it small and suitable for inside.

Really cruel but so true cartoon sums up the effects of the GOP HealthDeath Care bill. DeathCare for any one not in the upper 1%. I have said for some time that the debate isn't really about health care or access to health care. It is about access to health insurance: how much it should cost the purchaser, how much it should of the health costs it should cover and for which conditions. Lee Camp at Naked Capitalism maintains that there really is no debate. To call it a debate implies that there exists two legitimate arguments. There is only one side with two factions quibbling over how much the insurance companies should be allowed to charge us for the privilege of shafting us when we try to use the insurance.

When I saw this I thought it had to be a satiric piece. Evidently it isn't because other U.K. papers are reporting the same info: Major supermarkets are looking at implementing "surge" pricing. Heat wave getting you down? Be prepared to pay more for ice cream or cold drinks. High demand for certain items can result in much higher prices than the customer would expect. They predict the tradition of fixed prices (and probably shelf tags displaying those prices) will be gone within the next five years.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

It looks like it will be clear today so I might be able to get some herbs cut. The temperatures should be cooler over the weekend. I will like that and I think the plants do too. They are looking good and growing nicely.

David Kaiser has an excellent article that picks out something in the political zeitgeist we have been noticing here. Looking at the potential for Dems in the 2018 and 2020 elections we see little of promise, nationally or at the state level. Where are the Dems who have political heft on the national level? I don't see them. Nor do I see the Dems moving away from the "everything is fine; we need to stay the course with a few minor tweaks" message that failed with nearly half of the electorate distributed in a way that gave #45 his Electoral College victory.

I love this. How about sending stenographers along with the sketch artists?

No wonder #45 has such an affinity for the Saudis. Birds of a feather and all that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

We didn't get the thunderstorms and the early rain fizzled out pretty quickly. I didn't harvest anything. By the time the rain ended the heat was building and my ambition went to sleep. It is overcast now and we did get rain overnight. I hope it burns off but more rain is forecast for today. We'll see.

The southwest is baking in triple digit heat but at least someone has a sense of humor.

Huffington Post has a nice concise guide to the House and Senate (faux)health care bills and how they differ from each other and from the ACA. Number 45 called the House bill "mean" while Senator Schumer described the Senate bill as "meaner." I think both understated the situation.

I had thought, for a very brief moment, that the clouds might burn off. Well, the deluge that started a few minutes ended that dream. The major consolation: I won't have to water anything.

Continuing on the health care reform scam, Kunstler has a good piece this morning which takes the discussion from the realm of who gets screwed to give the wealthy even more than they have now to some underlying truths. First, the debate has been couched, both for the ACA originally and for the so-called reforms, in terms of "access to health care." That is untrue. The ACA and the bills to replace it only deal with who gets access to health insurance with what restrictions at what cost. If you can't afford the insurance you need, the Repthuglicans say "tough shit, if you were a good person you wouldn't be sick or you would be rich enough to afford the insurance. Otherwise, Scum, shut up and die." If you have insurance but can't afford the care because of the deductibles--see above. He is also right to describe the medical industry as a racket which is marching lockstep with the education racket and the other rackets that dominate our economy. They are all swirling down the drain together.

It's all smoke and mirrors. Not only should we not pay attention to what #45's says because his verbal effusions (or tweets) are lies, exaggerations or contradicted with the next outpouring of verbiage but we have to reserve judgement on his actions as well because the immediate results (if any) may be ephemeral in the extreme.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It looks like another nice day to start out though thundershowers may pop up later and overnight tonight. I want to finish cutting the second container of spearmint and a couple of more herbs for drying.

It is now light enough to see outside and I may put any gardening off till tomorrow. The rain might be moving in sooner than the predictions said.

A light rain came while I fixed breakfast. No thunderstorms--yet. I am grateful for the rain and I can leave the harvesting of the herbs for a day or two without losing anything. This is an easy time because the veggies are just in bloom and the few small tomatoes are not anywhere near ready to pick.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ah, the Archdruid is back at his new blog Ecosophia. My withdrawal symptoms have eased. Head over there and enjoy an intelligent and witty piece of writing.
Welcome to Summer. The garden is in very good shape. In fact I am more satisfied with this year's garden than any in the past. I did say "welcome to summer" and the hottest part of the season is still ahead but my patio gets its maximum direct sunlight now and from now the days will get shorter until, in three months at the autumnal equinox, it will again be in shade most of the day. Right now the temperature is quite cool--not yet 60F--though it should warm up to about 80. I didn't get the spearmint and peppermint cut yesterday so that is on the list for today. I have been looking at the sage and deciding when would be a good time to collect some of it. Maybe tomorrow along with another cutting of the English lavender.

I did get three trays each of the spearmint and peppermint into the dehydrator. I only clipped one of the buckets of spearmint so I put the other one on my to do list for tomorrow along with the chocolate mint. Depending how much I get I may take some of the lavender also. The dehydrator has, theoretically, seven levels but I like to run only the top six. The seventh is the base and it is more difficult to work with so I simply ignore it. Most of what I wanted to do is done which is good. I often say, semi-jokingly, that if we don't get things done early here we don't get them done at all.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Good morning, all. Another sunny day to start just like yesterday. And like yesterday we may get thunderstorms in the afternoon. Ours made a lot of noise but no rain that I saw. I will water the gardens later and, I hope, harvest peppermint and spearmint (for the second time). But we have grocery shopping to do. so I may delay the herbs till tomorrow. I found and drowned my first Japanese beetle of the season. It was munching on the strawberries. I haven't seen any beetles or beetle damage on the eggplants or the beans or cucumbers--yet.

There are cute stories of revenge and this is one. Lessons here: don't cut down a tree a man has nurtured for thirty years, don't make him pay for the damage your actions caused and don't screw with an arborist.

So Amazon has decided to buy Whole Foods. Bloomberg had this edge of hysteria article today claiming that Amazon will "kill your local grocer." It made little impression on me. A few years ago we realized that we had four choices for general groceries, not including meat which we buy from a small meat market that sources locally. Those four were Strack-Vantills/Town & Country, Walmart, Target, and Aldi. We never liked Aldi and became dissatisfied with Walmart a long time ago. Target is a pale imitation of a grocery store. So Strack-Vantills and Town & Country have been our mainstays. Now however the the company that owns the Strack-Vantills chain (which includes Town & Country which explains why I treat our three stores as a unit) is in bankruptcy and Jewel has a bid in for nineteen of the stores. Right now our three stores are open but how many Jewel will get, if any, is in limbo. Amazon taking over Whole Foods will do little to either hurt or help our local grocery situation since there are fewer than half a dozen Whole Foods stores in the whole state of Indiana and none of them within easy distance of us.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It is a lovely day so far though the weather reports predict afternoon thundershowers. I harvested lemon balm and lime basil which is now drying. The spearmint has recovered from the first cutting well and I plant to cut more along with peppermint. Then it will be time for to cut the lavender again. I am watching the lemon verbena and debating when I should start trimming it to keep it a compact little tree.

Our problem with the printer seems to have corrected itself this morning. We still have no idea of what was wrong but are glad we don't have to replace what has been an excellent little device for us. Once upon a time I could pretty well understand what went on with computers and their peripherals. Not for a long time now. They have progressed so far beyond me.

I found this and my only comment: I would love to roast the trucking companies and all of the companies (like WalMart, Target, Home Depot) who hide behind the excuse that they have no responsibility for the assholes they hire.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday--June 17

Added lotus vines and a heliotrope to the gardens. I do have a couple of additional spaces I could fill but I won't be looking very hard for anything to fill them. The gardens are looking good as they are and I think it is time to let what I have develop. I didn't collect any herbs for drying because of the threat of thundershowers and the errands we needed to do. Tomorrow is a good day to start getting caught up on that. I hope.

Sunday--June 18

We had rain here this very early morning that just stopped a few minutes ago. The weather report says it should clear out and we should see the sun. If that happens I will cut some of the herbs for drying. I put the heliotrope in place of the anemone which suffered from the early heat just after I put it in and then from the cold snap that followed. It never really recovered. I lost several plants to that nasty weather pattern.

I have spent most of the last couple of hours trying to figure out what has gone wrong with our printer. I wanted to print out descriptions of the plants I have in the gardens and easily printed the first. But then it stalled. After trying everything we could think of we finally got it working again by reintroducing it to our wireless router but it stalled again after printing the next two sets. We still haven't figured out what has been happening. The computer says either it can't find the printer or the printer isn't connected. But when we check the printer it says it is. I don't know what is going on but it is frustrating as hell.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thursday--June 15

We had rain through the night but it has cleared off for what may be a sunny morning. I won't have to water another day and everything looks good from the door. Closer inspection will come later.

The Flint, Michigan, story keeps getting worse. We'll never know how much damage has been done to the people of Flint because any retesting can't verify the lead blood levels of two or three years ago. Five officials have been indicted for involuntary manslaughter because of the deaths due to Legionaries Disease directly attributable to the water contamination.

I skimmed this Tom Englehardt piece yesterday at Tomdispatch.com. The people at Foreign Policy in Focus reprinted it today and I decided to read it more closely. If anyone really thinks #45 is going to bring back whatever "golden age" you might long for given his proposed budget (which changes from moment to moment, whim to whim) and his appointments, I have a bridge I would like to sell you. I don't own it but what does that matter in this "Twilight Zone" world.

Another interesting Foreign Policy In Focus article: "The Residue of Empire."

Friday--June 16

The weather predictions for today say scattered thunderstorms. I hope for a clear patch so I can harvest catnip and lemon balm for drying.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monday--June 12

The temperature hit 92F here yesterday and should be hotter still today. These are the kind of days when everything that is going to get done is done early while it is still cool. I will have to water everything well this morning but I don't have anything else to do outside. I will finish working with the herbs I cut yesterday; nothing else is ready to harvest.

Tuesday--June 13

94F yesterday last I saw. I may have gotten a degree or two warmer after I checked.

Wednesday--June 14

We had hail yesterday evening. Totally unexpected. I will check closely to see if it did any damage to the gardens but, from what I saw through the patio door, I don't expect to see any. The hail was small and light. We finally put the air conditioning on and we do feel much better for it. The heat just sucked all the energy out of us. We turned on the morning news, which we rarely do, to see what they had on the hail but found nothing. Evidently it wasn't either wide spread enough or severe enough to mention.

I did just check out the gardens after refilling our coffee cups. I saw a lot of torn leaves and spent flowers on the ground but no seriously damaged plants. My catnip looks a bit frazzled but I expect it will recover quickly. No other damage.

Found this item almost first off. I developed my skepticism about American Exceptionalism over a lifetime and didn't have a base of childhood skepticism. My family, my father especially, was the quintessential "love it or leave it" type. He wasn't too happy with me when I answered his favorite "My country right or wrong" with another quote "My country: when she is right to be kept right and when she is wrong to be put right." The skepticism has fermented richly in my 68 years.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Friday--June 9

Another week gone leaving us wondering where the time has gone and what we have accomplished in that time that seems so very short. The hot stretch of days is still predicted with some disagreement between sources as to how long and how hot.

Saturday--June 10

I found this and absolutely love it. It is precisely the reception the Tweeter-in-Chief deserves. One might argue that such actions are disrespectful of the office of the President. There is always a fine line between respecting the office and respecting the piece of crap pretending to fill it. And how do you show your disdain for the human detritus occupying the position without undermining the dignity and respect the office deserves?

Sunday--June 11

We got very close to 90F yesterday. We should exceed it today. So far we haven't had to turn on the air conditioning. I have a couple of new items to put into the gardens--a couple of creeping Jenny and a couple of purslane. Then the large containers will be full. I still have four spots for small plants in my second tiered pot.

I harvested a tray of stevia, 2 each of thyme and lavender. Those are drying now. I will finish them off tomorrow. Everything is well watered. We actually haven't had rain for about ten days and don't expect any until around Wednesday. The half-to-one inch total they are predicting won't do much for anything. It might be one day I won't have to water.