Monday, November 11, 2019

November 11

Happy Veterans' Day

We have snow today. It started about 5am for us and is supposed to continue through out the day. Tomorrow they say will be the coldest day in the season thus far. We, however, are snug and warm with nowhere to go or anything to do--so we won't go anywhere.

Instead it is a day to read and do needlework. Oh, and do several loads of dark clothes.

First up for reading was this piece by Ronni Bennett. I have curtailed my "news" watching because I can't stand more ad nauseam coverage of yet another outrageous action, tweet, or verbal flatulence.

Friday, November 8, 2019

November 8

Quite cold this morning--in the teens. The weather reporter on the morning news said the temps were quite normal----for January. The plants that survived the last cold snap are pretty much gone now. Time to start planning for next season. I just ordered the new Baker Creek catalog. Should be getting several more soon. 'Tis the season.

Speaking of seasons is anyone else bummed out with the Christmas themed commercials that have sprouted like mushrooms? We hadn't even said goodbye to Halloween and the "Black Friday" ads popped up. Are we even having Thanksgiving this year? Can't tell by the ads.

I have become increasingly curmudgeonly (Scrooge like?) about our so-called holidays which our commercialized society has turned into buying orgies. I think Tom Lehrer said it well in this parody of Christmas carol.

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say "when."
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.
On christmas day you can't get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.
Relations, sparing no expense'll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
"just the thing I need! how nice!"
It doesn't matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What's important is the price.
Hark the herald tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!
So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend kris kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don't stand underneath when they fly by.

Source: LyricFind

We aren't exactly non-participants but we don't use it as an excuse for a buying binge. Especially not for stuff we don't need and (usually) don't want. For Mother's Day and Mom's birthday I usually treat her to a dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. When it comes to other family we opt for modest amounts of cash so they can get what they really want or use it in whatever way they see fit. 

On to other things. This year is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. David Kaiser has a good take on the event and its aftermath. Morning Joe had Tom Brokaw on for his reminiscences as the only reporter for a major news outlet on the scene. It was a interesting discussion.

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 4

Goodness!! It has been a while since I posted anything. Here it is--day before Election Day. The campaigning has been heavier than usual here. Our mayor of 16 years has opted to not run again though I could bet he would have been re-elected if he had decided otherwise. He has done a good job. The man from his party (Republicans) who is running to succeed him touts his close association with the soon to be former mayor but I am not convinced that is enough reason to vote for him. And I don't see much difference between his platform and the Democrat. However, the challenger is basically running on a "time for change" platform which given the last sentence means not much change. Also he doesn't specify what needs to change (besides the party in office) and what he means by a city government that works for all. Again--not much inducement to vote Democrat. They only strong feeling I have on the matter is that alternating parties is--generally--a good thing. I guess I will wait til I have the ballot in front of me to see how what ever spirit moves me. Given what I have seen of the campaign signs in yards I would place a small bet on the Republican.

The weather has turned decidedly colder of late. It feels like someone (or Someone) flipped a switch taking us from 70s and 80s to 30s and 40s. We had snow on Halloween. Along with hard rain and heavy winds. I think the snow and low high temp on Halloween threatened a record that had been set in the 1880s. The garden is pretty much gone now even though the chives, spearmint, peppermint, dianthus are still hanging on. I have done as much clean up as I intend to do and what plants are left will remain as a protective cover on the soil. The hard rains we have had over the last few years tends to splatter mud all over.

I haven't planned much on the gardens for next year. All I know for sure is that I am striving for one that provides max enjoyment and least work. And which can withstand what has become a brutal summer, partly because we are having more 85+ days and partly because heat tends to concentrate and magnify on the patio where the temperatures can be as much as 20 degrees higher than our official temperatures.

I don't write about politics much and I try to limit my exposure to a lot of what passes for political news nowadays. Some amusing thoughts have passed through my not-quite-fried brain. So many of the talking heads talk about Biden as the candidate votes think will reset our society and politics to something they consider "normal." I think they are living an illusion. Too much has been broken over the last 50 years and the last 3 under #45 are just the tip of the iceberg. Ain't no way we are going back to anything like what we once considered "normal." Finally, this morning on Morning Joe Pete Budiguige (a.k.a., Mayor Pete) said that though in a softer, kinder way. Evidently, according to the pundits, Wall Street is really scared of the prospect of a President Elizabeth Warren. Why escapes me.  After all being elected is no guarantee that she will get her various "plans" enacted. I am glad she is running and that her various criticisms of our current bastardized "capitalist" system are getting more discussion than normal. I still wish Bernie and Joe had decided to sit this one out. Several of the lower tier candidates deserve more than a chance to issue a sound bite. Elizabeth and Pete are the only ones who have been able to get any attention from those two.

I will let this end for now. Just thought I would let the world know I am still here.

Friday, October 4, 2019

September 21

OMG!! It has been a long time since I posted. The days pass so quickly and then meld into each other. Before you realize it a week has passed and then a month. Or more.

It seems that I was just  putting in the gardens (a bit late because of the Spring that might as well not have been) and here I am putting it to bed for the year. As usual the gardens I imagined in the spring are not the ones I ended up with.

Ronni Bennett has an interesting post on time management as you get older.

September 25

Another post that hits home. I have pretty much given up on vegetable gardening also.

October 4

Another OMG moment. I had intended to come back and finish the two previous posts but we got busy with other things. We have had errands and appointments for almost every day since.

The temperatures have turned definitely towards fall. However, I did get out and pulled some weeds in the containers. We had some heavy rains over the last couple of weeks so those weeds have flourished. A couple of the flowers have also done nicely so far. I brought the lemon grass, stevia and all my rosemary pots in for the season. My dehydrator is full of cuttings from those. When I get the dried herbs out and into jars I will take the trays out and scrub them down. The next time I trim the stevia I will try to root them.

Garden clean up is going slowly because the weather has either been high summer hot or monsoonal rainy. One of the gardeners whose blog I read often said some time ago that as she gets older (she is a bit older than I am) gardening in rain and cold is definitely not enjoyable. I concur totally. The link I had on the 25th describes another change in my habits. That writer described his decision to give up on veggies as a "heresy." Five years ago I might have agreed with that description. What has changed is I am five years older with less energy and the temperatures on our patio are not good for veggies. The early season greens bolt and the tomatoes and peppers don't set fruit. I will put in flowers and herbs.

The Ronni Bennett piece ties into this. Though a number of bloggers have noticed that as they have gotten older they have to manage their time more carefully. Ronni simply puts it very clearly and concisely. We, at MaryContrary's house, try to get all our errands and appointments done early in the day when we are most alert and energetic. The same goes for gardening. What I don't get done by 10am probably isn't going to get done until another day (or ever depending on how urgent the task is.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy 4th Of July

Well #45 has his ego masturbatory celebration of himself under the masquerade of a salute to the nation. Anyone who has read any of my holiday posts of the past 16 years know that I don't much like any holidays. Most have been co-opted by our commercial overlords to encourage us to blindly consume anything they are selling. And the "holidays" seem to go on forever. Christmas extends from Labor Day to January 31 (including the "return" extravaganzas). Somehow Thanksgiving simply shrank to a mere footnote to Christmas centered on gluttony rather than gratitude. I could go on but I will let you fill in the rest of the list. Once upon a time a holiday was a time for workers to relax with family and friends but now many (most?) have to work. The last 20 years have pretty much nullified any patriotic feelings I had--a process that began with my slow reassessment of our country's actions across the globe which have cause more damage than benefit while showing clearly our collective abandonment of what ever principles (beyond greed and self-aggrandizement) we every claimed.

We did watch half the Democratic debates--the first hour each day. They reinforce my notion that the process is much too drawn out. I would love some way to shrink it to a much more reasonable time frame--perhaps 6 months before Election Day. We had hoped the lesser known candidates would get more time to make their case but that didn't happen. They remain almost as much of a mystery as before. The pundits were amazed that the first night the candidates made few overt references to #45 but each candidate criticized the policies of his administration. The second night was totally different and I have to wonder if those candidates read the commentary of the night before. The moderators were effective in keeping the candidates on time--the second night they totally lost control. Before the debates I firmly believed that we need new ideas and new people--afterwards I believe that more firmly. I wish Sanders and Biden would simply step aside. However, I don't think they are simply "too old." It isn't a "generational" thing--a passing of the torch as  Swalwell put quoted. We need ideas that go beyond the push-button words ("capitalism," "socialism," "free market", etc.). We might watch part of the next debate but I don't expect much.

On a much more pleasant topic: the gardens are finally filling out but we seem to have moved from March to September in terms of weather. I have already harvested lavender twice, lemon balm, spearmint twice, and peppermint. The tomato has finally bloomed but I hope they didn't get too hot to set the fruit. The snake beans have also finally taken off so I hope they will bloom soon. If they match the pictures I saw they will be spectacular. This year has been brutal and it shows in sometimes surprising ways. We have two churches within several blocks that have community garden patches--or perhaps I should say "had." One hasn't any plots planted and the other has only about four out of about 16 planted. About five years ago I looked seriously at renting one of the plots in the nearest garden but decided not to go that route. The temperatures climbed early and high--much too high for me to engage in gardening in a space which had no water supply other than what one could transport.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday, June 24

Well, the spring that wasn't quite spring ended over the weekend. The weather people are promising more seasonal weather with warmer temperatures. I will believe it when I see it. We had monsoonal type rain yesterday for a brief period during which we got almost an inch. The gardens, which I finally got completely filled in, survived it nicely.

I harvested quite a bit of spearmint last week--enough to, when dried and chopped, fill three quarters of a pint jar. I used the remains of last year's peppermint and lavender for a herbal tea mix. I also chopped the lemon grass I harvested a couple of weeks ago with the remains of the hibiscus tea and added that mix to some hibiscus/lemongrass mix I got from my favorites morning herbal tea supplier. That gave me about a pint of that mix so I won't have to add it to my list of teas for our next shopping trip.

We have had on-and-off again sun and clouds so far today with more thunderstorms this afternoon. However, I got out to pull some weeds and do a few other small chores in the gardens. A major task though was pruning my large rosemary. I don't know what happened but about a third of it died back. It was the side I had facing the window in the living room and it was constantly brushed by the curtain when the wind blew while the window was open. I checked to see if the pot was well watered and it was so water wasn't the problem. I cut off the dead parts and generally pruned it before giving it a really good watering. All my rosemary plants are outside for the season unless we get a severe, unseasonal cold spell.

My agenda for harvesting, when I get some dry and sunny weather, include lavender, chives, lemon grass, catnip, and lemon balm. That last was a surprise survival from last year's garden.

Coming soon: pictures of my latest projects as soon as I get them off the camera and onto the computer.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thursday, June 13

Goodness--here we are half through June. My containers are only half filled. In years past I would have had the entire garden planted and be harvesting herbs almost every day. The plant offerings at all my usual sources are dismally uninspiring. However, I can report that the last snake bean transplants have revived and we may get to see those spectacular blossoms. The Black-eyed Susans I started in the garden (after the transplants failed dismally) are also growing as well as the two tomato plants (Black Russian). I found creeping Jenny and purslane--the first is already in a pot while only two of the others have found a home in one of the large pots with the verbena. I added lemon basil to the two sweet basils. The peppermint, spearmint, thyme, sage, lavender, and chives are all doing well.   I have some marigolds that need a home soon if this weather breaks.

I am glad I got out to get some weeds pulled and a couple of plants (stevia and lemon basil) situated because today is beastly. We have had high winds and steady rain since we got up. The forecast says it should break and be merely windy and cloudy for most of the day. We have a couple of errands to do today and so would welcome that.

The morning news commentary concerned #45's interview with George  Stephanopoulos where he said he saw nothing wrong with taking "opo-research" from foreign governments even equating Poland (Nato member and sort-of ally) with North Korea (and the unstated Russia). Nor would he feel compelled to inform the FBI. Nor could he be bothered to get upset at foreign meddling in our elections because (the old six-year-old's excuse) everybody does it.

The commentariat dwelt on the legality (or lack of it), the immorality of it, etc. Me? I had a series of flashbacks and concluded that #45 is very much the apex of moral degeneration in this supposedly Christian nation. First flashback: college organic chem lab where an ambitious male student sabotaged the work of two other (female) students so they wouldn't get higher grades than he did. After all, he wanted to go to Med School and his grades in chemistry, math and physics counted heavily with the admissions offices. Second flashback: the student who wanted me to let her crib from my test because I was getting As. She was upset when I said no and sat as far away from her as possible. Third flashback: a news report on college students cheating--buying term papers, stealing test answers, copying answers on tests, etc.) complete with an on camera interview with students who brazenly admittedly cheating and saying they would be glad to do so again if they "needed" to. Fourth flashback: the numerous cheating scandals at several elite schools including the service academies. There were other flashbacks but I think you get the idea. I remember thinking, after reading a report on cheating by military officers (not cadets) on exams concerning their proficiency with respect to the nuclear weapons they would have had charge of, that their conduct wasn't surprising given the society they came out of. We have a family of grifters in the highest office in the land but they have come out of a society where grifting is increasingly shrugged off. Where, all too often, amorality or even immorality pays handsomely.