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!!