Wednesday, July 30, 2014


More unseasonably cool weather so far today--lower 50s.  We only got to the mid 60s yesterday with a lot of non-productive clouds.  No rain at all.  The weather people predict low temps and possible rain over the next couple of days.  We'll see.  Nothing planned for the gardens except picking a few strawberries.


We did get rain last night so I shouldn't have to water anything except the beans and largest pepper.  Those two dry out faster than anything else.  I hadn't planned on any work in the gardens but found two more little pots of creeping thyme at the farm market.  The portulaca I had on the spiral hanger in small pots wasn't looking very happy so I moved them to a bare spot in one of the large containers and replaced them with the thyme.  Today I need to check over the beans and harvest some of them.

The news provided a bit of irritation this morning.  Evidently some idiot decided to conduct a poll asking if Americans approved of the job John Kerry is doing in the Middle East.  Evidently not many approve of his "handling" of the Hamas/Israel conflict.  Why am I irritated and why put that word in quotation marks?  I am irritated at the underlying assumption that our Secretary of State can in fact "handle" (as in solve) the conflict.  A real solution demands each side be willing to compromise and, so far, I don't see any ground for compromise between two antagonists with irreconcilable demands and whose attitudes are the definition of intransigence.  And, of course, our media points out none of this.

We really enjoy watching the birds in our little garden patch--especially the hummingbirds.  They have visited several times already this morning.  They seem to be feeding very frequently and spending a good bit of time at the feeder or working the flowers.  One came in this morning and visited the borage, wonderberries, melons, lemon basil, and beans.  At one point we had two playing ring-around-the-rosy at the nectar feeder.

I have seen a couple of other stories on this and I absolutely love it.

Monday, July 28, 2014


A bit foggy this morning.  We had clouds off and on yesterday but no rain.  All the severe storms went well south, west or east of us.  I watered the gardens well just in case.  I have stevia and peppermint drying and steeping in vodka.  I hadn't planned on doing more than harvesting stevia for syrup but I had enough to fill two dehydrator trays as well as the quart jar.  I prefer to run the dehydrator full with all seven trays so I decided to cut the peppermint.  It did need cutting.  I filled the remaining two trays in the dehydrator and had a fair bit of mint left.  What to do?  Hmmm--if I can extract stevia with vodka, why not the peppermint?  We'll see how it turns out.

I think this could stand as a prime example of a failed investment.


The wind was howling last night.  It is still dark and I can't see if anything was damaged in the gardens.  We didn't get any rain yesterday.  Unless we got a good bit overnight I will have to water everything well today.  I saw a streak of red on one of the tomatoes yesterday so we should have our own ripe tomatoes soon.

Update: It is light outside now and overcast.  We didn't get any rain overnight and the wind is still high.  I am not in any hurry to get busy so I will continue reading my blogs and news.

My first thought reading the headline (and nothing else) was "Coober Pedy."  And I was right.  Never heard of it?  Well it is worth a look.  I first heard about this Australian town some quarter-century ago on a TV program with a segment on opal mining.  That what started the town.  It has certainly developed since then.

Update 2:  Just finished grinding peppermint and stevia.  Always amazed by how the taste and smell permeate the area when I am grinding herbs.  The other day Mom wondered if I was drying something.  I wasn't but we had the patio door open.  I have four basil varieties, peppermint, two rosemary plants and lemon thyme near the door.  Just the breeze coming in bring a hint of the herbs with it.  Checked the stevia and peppermint steeping in vodka.  Both developing a good strong flavor. The stevia will be ready tomorrow but the peppermint should "age" for one to two months before I drain it and rebottle it for final use.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I thought I had posted my last scribblings yesterday but Blogger was hanging up and I didn't realize it hadn't posted.  Oh, well.  After a bit of thought I posted it and started another.  Let's see where this day goes.

No damage at all from the wind we had Wednesday.  However, I got lazy and didn't do more than water a couple of pots that tend to dry out quickly and drown a few Japanese beetles.  Our temperatures were quite cool yesterday--in the mid 70s--and probably won't be much warmer today.  Good weather for doing all the little chores and for harvesting some stevia and peppermint.  I used some of the previously harvested spearmint and peppermint for tea a few days ago.  Very tasty!!  We watched one of the little hummingbirds working at the lemon basil.  Wonder how many other plants they have visited.

Interesting indictment of U.S. system of higher (mis-)education.  Parallels my own experience in the academic jungle.


Good post from David Kaiser this morning.  For some time I have wonder if the demagogues and would-be demagogues spouting their endless stream of crap could really believe what they spout and whether their followers could rally believe that crap.  Kaiser explains how that can really be the case. I remember a quote attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynahan which claimed everyone was entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.  Facts were facts and were the same for everyone.  Well, evidently not.  I spent a lot of time in academia and a good part of that time was spent reading history--including race, gender, and class history.  But I remember that the historians I read at that time didn't argue the facts.  Rather they argued that the facts, i.e. what happened, had differential effects on the experiences of different people depending on their gender, race, class.  I don't know if that is still the case since I have been out of that environment for some time.  If it isn't then Kaiser's remarks explain why we can't seem to agree on anything--politically, socially, economically, or in any other area of our lives.

Just heard an interesting little snippet--the book which contains the injunction "Thou shalt not steal" is not only the best selling book in the world it is also the most shoplifted.  Go figure!!  (Note: I don't know where the information comes from or how valid it is.)

Another first in our little garden--we saw the first cardinal we have ever seen in this area.  It was bobbing around examining all of the structures and the plants very carefully.  Perhaps he will be back.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Margaret and Helen hit the bull's eye on this.  Rather reminds me of the idiot child congressman (sorry, his name is totally forgettable) who went with a group of other idiot children congress critters to Honduras and Guatemala but rarely left their luxury hotels because it was too dangerous.  But, according to the idiot, the conditions are not too dangerous for the children crossing the American southern border.  Mother Jones covers it well.


We had a busy day yesterday.  Or, rather, a busier day than usual.  We found some nice green beans and strawberries while shopping on Tuesday.  So Mom got the strawberries cleaned, split and in the freezer right off the bat.  Then we headed over to the local Comcast office to tackle our latest bill which was $12 more than it should have been.  It is never fun to deal with Comcast but that was dealt with quickly and to our satisfaction.  They tried to charge us for HBO which we aren't getting.  It had been part of a package they tried to sign us up for but we rejected.  I don't know what the clerk thought when Mom told her that we have been very close to canceling it because there is so little we want to see.  Then when we got home I cleaned the beans, cut them up and packaging them for the freezer.

When the sun comes up I will get out in the gardens and see how the plants did in the wind yesterday.  It was brutal.  My green bean tower was whipping all around.  I have rarely seen winds affect my gardens because we have a six foot fence enclosing the area.  But the wind yesterday dipped in and swirled around.  Hope nothing has any damage.  I also have to water everything well because that wind would have sucked the moisture right out of the plants.

Our news this morning featured a couple of reactions to Walgreens plans to move its corporate headquarters to Switzerland to avoid U.S. taxes.  An activist group delivered petitions with a couple of tens of thousands of signatures opposing the plans and one of Illinois' senators wrote a "scathing" letter to the CEO.  I don't think those actions will help much to convince the company to stay in the U.S. and Illinois in particular.  What is needed is a strategy that will hit its bottom line.  I don't know if such a strategy will be developed by on an individual level we decided that, if Walgreens does move, we will move also--move our business to one of the small local pharmacies.  That, by itself, won't do much to hurt Walgreens.  We are only two people and spend, perhaps, $1000/year which includes Moms prescriptions.  But we don't see why we should support a company which doesn't support return the favor.  What companies like Walgreens is saying by moving is that they don't want to support this country.  But the situation doesn't really surprise me.  I have said for some time that our major companies, those that have gone international, have cut their roots and no longer belong any where and have no loyalty to any one or anything--except, of course, to squeezing as much money out of a captive market, which we are thanks to our bought and paid for legislative branch of government.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Got seven trays of spearmint cut yesterday.  I will grind that batch and try to get the peppermint cut and drying before the heat of the day.  I also need to water everything early today.  Otherwise, the garden is going along nicely.  The wonderberry is blooming well so we should get to try some this year.  Last year none of the seeds I planted sprouted.  I saw several bees (carpenter, honey, and bumble) in the gardens working on the borage, melons, and wonderberries.  More bees at once than anytime in the last couple of years.  The hyssop is beginning to bloom and should draw even more.

Another good post from Tom Englehardt.  I am five years younger and have felt the same way--often.


I don't know about you but I am tired of this grandstanding idiot.  Does he really think such meaningless gestures make him look presidential?

 Tuesday in the Gardens.

Thought I would show you some of what is growing this season now that we are mid-season.  This is the Angel's Perfume geranium from Burpee.  Two of the three survived shipping and transplanting.  They will spend the winter inside.  The do have a beautiful scent as well as very pretty flowers.
Meet the Pesto Perpetuo.  It is a 'sport' which doesn't flower so you don't have to try to keep it from bolting.  I have read some assessment which say the flavor isn't as strong as the flowering varieties but the variegated foliage is interesting.  This is another plant that will spend the winter inside.
Borage and, if you look carefully at the black spot in the lower center of the picture, you can see one of the bees that are visiting the gardens.  I have seen more bees this year but not as many as we had two and three years ago.  I plant borage primarily for the bees.
Overview.  What all is in the garden this year.  Well, the usual tomatoes (Martino's Roma, Patio Princess, and Biltmore) and Peppers (Albino Bullnose, Lipstick, and Cornu di Toro Rosso).  My usual herbs (rosemary, stevia, borage, hyssop, sage, chamomile, shiso, lavender, spearmint, peppermint, lemon basil, sweet basil, purple basil, pesto perpetuo basil, bee balm, summer savory, lemon balm, creeping thyme and lemon basil).  A couple of flowers (rose, red and purple petunia, geranium, and portulaca) and strawberries and wonderberries.
Oh, I almost forgot--the Ms. Mars sunflower, another Burpee variety.  I wasn't all that happy with the early blossoms.  They were rather pale and washed out.  But the later ones showed the vivid colors that attracted me when I ordered them.
Purple hyssop just beginning to bloom.  Another plant I put in primarily for the bees.  It has an added advantage--it makes a nice tea.  The flowers elongate to about four fuzzy inches.
 Two rosemaries and the variegated basil.  The upper rosemary is looking absolutely fantastic now.  Over winter I babied it along expecting it to die any time.  I hope I can keep it and its friend in better condition over this coming winter.
 Wonderberry in bloom--those little white blossoms.  I am looking forward to finding out what they taste like.  That will determine if I will continue planting it in future gardens.  This is the first year I have been able to get it to germinate and grow.  I think it needs warmer temps than we have in the winter in our house.  Next spring I will try it on a heating pad and see what happens.  That is, if I decide the flavor makes it worth while.
Another overview by our gate.  The rose is hidden in the back behind the sunflowers, hyssop and petunias.  Next year, if it makes it through the winter, I will plant some smaller plants where the hyssop and petunias are.  The sunflower is in a separate container.  The birds enjoy that little birdbath.  I tried it in the large container but couldn't find stabilize it.  We decided to put it on the patio cement.

That is all the garden news for now.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Beautiful day yesterday.  Temperature might have barely kissed 80F with a lot of sun.  I cut back the gold leaf lemon thyme--which badly needed cutting--and have that in the dehydrator.  Later I will strip the leaves off the stems.  I also got the eucalyptus transplanted.  I forgot to tell you all I got that last Tuesday at the farm market.  I know I shouldn't look at plants because I am a sucker for plants I haven't tried before.  I took four of the green tomatoes which we fried up for supper.  The strawberries all went on our cereal.  Saw an eastern swallowtail butterfly for the second day in a row visiting our petunias and sunflowers.  The info I found says they are common but this is the first time we have seen them here.

David Kaiser has another on point post.  Our foreign policy is incoherent and has been for a very long time.  You can't blame Obama entirely nor can you go back to George W. either.  We have spent most of our energies since the Spanish American War trying to make over other countries and their peoples into imitations of what we thought we were and are.

Money does, indeed, make the world (especially the political world) go around.  As the King in the Wizard of Id said: Remember the Golden rule--he who has the gold rules.  And what trickles down to the rest of us we really don't want to trickle down on us.  I really hate cleaning up someone else's shit.