Tuesday, September 30, 2014


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

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

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

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

Monday, September 29, 2014


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

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


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

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 26, 2014


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

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

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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