Sunday, May 20, 2018

Demand Side

Very tempted to explore recent reflections on Demand Side Economic Theory that's beginning to find a path into the rainbow of our elites. The theory is brave because it suggests that government cannot run out of money. The criticism has so far been that governments who spend prolifically pretty much guarantee a destructive inflation, which means we're all looking to replace wallets with wheelbarrows. The response to this criticism is that monetary policy, interest rates and so on, rather than the gold standard, are the more flexible mechanisms to control inflation. Of the gurus in this brave new Keynesian world, the canoeing enthusiast Stephanie Kelton is renowned for her assertion, "Money doesn't grow on rich people."

The reason that branch of the disgustingly wealthy who aren't dumb, who don't openly practice eugenics, who understand productivity and the challenges of technology to the common man, find this iteration of demand side economics appealing is that if accurate, then to ease the burden of living for the rest of us and by so doing prevent us from roaming the streets looking for wide eyed, troll-like saviors to return us to the 19th century there will be no requirement to raise taxes on the absurdly rich. As well, there's the crassness of the Political Class for whom a path to power is to manipulate the ideas of often un-saintly Economists to either promote social change or put an end to it. Have to wonder when it might be time to go boldly again.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Most Fascists struggle with paranoia. Convince themselves of all sorts of things and then they wallow in the conviction that something or someone is deliberately out to get them. And it's a well known fact that a good percentage of gardeners struggle with the conviction that weather forecasters and the weather itself have basically combined with the manufacturers of hose pipes and hose pipe fittings to make a gardener's life so totally miserable it's almost pointless. It's the wet Fagin gloves and leaking that finally does it, and it's a trip to the hardware store for replacement fittings. Not a good day for anyone.

One of the things is this. Some of us, through fair means or foul, might be in possession of what's called a 3/4 inch hose pipe and being miserly this 3/4 inch hose pipe is attached to a 1/2 inch hose pipe that some few years ago was also released from an unnatural and cruel servitude. Classically the sad fact is that most hose pipes are 5/8 inch which means finding fittings for anomalous hosepipes is not for the sort of person who finds the more recent iteration of what passes for hardware stores far too jovial and a little stressful. What happened to the dark counter with a grumpy little old man who knew everything behind it? Like the President, I blame Amazon.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Blackberry in bloom, fairly certain it's early and when it blooms it can remind a person of Hawthorn, which is a low stubborn and sometimes angry tree that once upon a time dominated the European hedgerows. It was in the Hawthorn you'd find Finch, Robin and Thrush nests. There was an art to hedging Hawthorn, the hedger would cut almost halfway into a two to four year old branches, bend them without breaking them and pretty much weave them. It was a style called layering. Over time, the resulting hedge could keep a Rampant Bull contained, it made mincemeat out of anything like a dachshund chasing a Squirrel. The other thing about Hawthorn, in the early part of the year it has a very gentle and inviting looking leaf, and for a novice jobbing gardener taking back control of a Hawthorn hedge looks like very tempting and easy hourly rate, then he discovers the thorns that protect those leaves. Those thorns are a hundred times worse than the Blackberry, but not as terrifying as the medieval instruments of torture Honey Locust produce.

 It was in the older gardens you'd still find Hawthorn Hedges. Proud new property owners deemed them useful to keep the view of rurality and fertilizer at bay before the field beyond was sold to the builders and then a Hawthorn Hedge did sterling work against nosey neighbors and their yappy dogs. Invariably home owners get old, bad tempered, short sighted and prone to falls. So the Hawthorn Hedge is released to the wild, it's a riot of white bloom and insects in May and bunches of red berries as the year declines. Usually in those urban settings it's the next door neighbor who complains about the hedge, some pathetic feeble excuse about it casting too much shade on the roses or sunbathing teenager. Not a word for the travelling Redwings or the homebody Thrush that feast on the plenty Hawthorn provides when the leaves fall. And funny thing there's always a bird table in the neighbors garden. Usually in sight of the kitchen window. Coconut and peanuts, bread crusts laden with salt from the breakfast table to fatten the Sparrows and a pussy cat with a pointless name to take their fledglings. Either way, here where I live, there could be a valiant attempt to mow Blackberry picking paths.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Lumper

The Irish Lumper is a Potato. It was the more prolific variety of Potato, it grew anywhere and everywhere. In Ireland the Lumper wasn't the only variety of Potato but it was the Potato most people grew as their prime source of sustenance. It was an interesting looking Potato apparently, it was lumpy, not easily peeled, it came in all sorts of shapes and had its reputation survived the Irish Potato Famine there'd be no way mechanized Corporate Agriculture would grow it today. Today's Potato has to lend itself to the machine, particularly to the machines that churn out frozen chips, or frozen French fries for the deep fryers in fast food joints. In the saga, the Potato Blight that caused the famine came in an all consuming dark, glooming, sooty mist that had its source somewhere in the Irish Sea. Some reckoned it was the "sins of the people," others "mortiferous vapors" emanating from volcanoes in the center of the earth. Back then on the east side of the Irish Sea, England had its Trump Country which thought the blight was a heaven sent blessing that would finally transform the troublesome Irish. Prime minister Robert Peel tried to increase the availability of food by attempting to reform protectionist laws that kept out cheap foreign grain, but the English Gentleman Farmers would hear none of it. Meanwhile around a million people died of hunger in Ireland.

I know about the Lumper because I once earned an hourly rate down by the docks near the late night bars and dance clubs. It wasn't a large establishment, more of a hole in the wall establishment, and raining or not, most of the eating was done by drunk people, eating out of newspaper in the streets outside, between the hours of 10.30 pm and 3.30 am Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My job was to get there around 9.00pm and put the Potatoes into a Potato Peeling Machine. It had an electric engine that made a loud noise in a confined space, the Potatoes whizzed around and around for a couple of watery minutes and when they looked as though they had most of the peel rubbed off them I'd stop the machine, release peeled Potatoes into a bucket full of clean water. Then my job was to press one Potato after another through a device that cut them into the thick chips. The kind of chips that lend themselves to being deep fried in lard. Greasy, hot, limp and soggy, delicious sprinkled with salt and vinegar. My employer might never have known a moment of sobriety, he knew a lot about the art of battering fish and sausages, his hygiene was appalling, he was very picky about the quality of his Potatoes, and he did rather go on about the pace of change, progress, the Lumper and the killing mist. He always paid me at the end of the day in cash.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Some of us might be old enough to remember when the important daily news was all about Sharks biting scantily clad people at the seaside, toddlers dying from heat after being locked in cars, Grannies getting mugged, film stars getting arrested following erratic behavior, tornadoes in somewhere like Owensboro, the inevitable nonsense about disease resistant Tomatoes. Sometimes you might read about the President and occasionally there was something positive, if a little suspect, such as a Cat rescuing a Budgerigar from a burning four story building.

Then suddenly it was 21st Century. I remember the panic, the world was going to end because someone had failed to advise technical devices that following the 1900's the 2000's would happen, and as a result banks would fail, clocks would stop, satellites and airplanes would fall out of the sky and we'd all have go back to 1900 again. Mind you in November of 1918 the First World War ended, so we got that to look forward to and in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted which meant girls could join us boys at the voting booths to elect Warren Harding who dies of a heart attack in 1923, which leaves us Calvin Coolidge and the slide toward the Great Depression to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Compost Piles

Inching toward a curse laden diatribe addressing billionaires, old white male politicians, slime-balls and portly white men generally, blond, orange presidents, anyone called Nunberg, cheeseburgers, Democrats and the GOP.... and the list does go on a little. So it's probably just as well I spent the late morning letting off a little steam with the Compost Piles.

Compost Piles really are so understanding, they take it all in, nod wisely, tell me I know exactly what I'm talking about and remind me that in the long run we're all dead and rotting. I would move a chair down there, hang out more often, but sadly there's something far too inscrutable about them and I'm beginning to suspect their motives.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Inclement Conditions

Average high temperature for the month of May here is 77 Fahrenheit. Average low for May is 54 Fahrenheit. These are ideal conditions for pretty much anything that grows in a vegetable garden and they are perfect for gardener's own sense of being as he goes about his important business. But, the first weeks of May in the year 2018 have been running a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The cooler weather plants, like Lettuce and Cabbage, particularly those in full sun, are endeavoring to be brave but will crack sometime very soon, they'll bolt or apparently just develop peculiar little colorful halos, turn into angels and wither away. This morning at around 11.30 am, or 10.30 sensible time, your gardener withered quickly and he bolted for the indoors.

 It was fairly pathetic sight, kind of like deserting his post, running away to hide. The Tomato didn't care, as long as they get their evening water. Uncle Eggplant remained stoic. With Peppers you never know, hot weather or not they're like deep blue Mercedes Liberals, always on the verge of sulking about something. But there'll definitely be a white feather or two in the mail from the Victorian Snap Peas, most of whom have incredibly brave, if distant, relatives in the Hussars. More ominous there's a patch of Foxgloves that lost their shade to a sudden and terminal sootiness in a Redbud. Pretty certain they blame me. And well worth noting, seeing halos around objects are amongst the symptoms of Foxglove poisoning, so sometimes it's not all about the heat.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


They reckon it was a three hectare field, give or take a boundary dispute. As an apprentice I'm not really expected to know what a hectare might look like, but I can tell you this much, by around noon on a very sunny day touching the nineties Fahrenheit, with hotter gusts from the south, a single hectare feels like the size of Rhode Island and by around three in the afternoon two hectares begin to look like the size of Texas. By five in the afternoon you're basically wondering where the Nubian Vultures and the Long Legged Buzzards are because you're in the Sahara Desert keenly anticipating a visit from a Zoroastrian Saint.

A two seat carousel planter towed by a tractor. The planter dug a shallow trench, it applied a stream of water, deposited a seedling, and then mounded soil back into the trench. The individual seedlings had to be individually plucked from the flats and manually placed into the turning carousel. As an apprentice my job was to join the walk behind the machine, fixing errors such as planting occasional missing plants and regularly re-setting improperly planted plants. I'm told that planting 70,000 Tobacco seedlings is the easy part. Next will be hand weeding the rows, probably after hay making.

Friday, May 11, 2018


I could bore the pants off people by going on about local issues, the heat, total lack of rain, wilting Peppers and the rumor about Epsom Salts, the stress of Tomato planting and the first sighting of what could be Hoppy Bug, that dreadful little demon which quite frankly is yet another example of the far too many errors in creation many more of whom were waddling around, log jamming the aisles buying Mother's Day plants. Nothing cute about it!

If I was a mother that last thing in this world I'd want on my special day would be anything like a plant, a bottle of Gin and a week off would be more like it. And there I was looking for Marigolds to help keep Bean Beetle, Squash Bugs and Thrips at bay, and would you believe it the only flat of Marigolds I could find cost far more than they needed to. The flat had an unnecessarily expensive handle, decorated with pink hearts and upon which was written Happy Mother's Day. Rightly I got a definite sneer at the check out counter.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Big Strawberry

I think the better analogy is a Mockingbird's rapacious approach to ripening Strawberries. It's classic spoiled brat mother's boy bottom behavior. A couple of pecks and on to the next one, leaving a gardener to struggle with his passions as he surveys the damage.

 So if there is anyone wishing to pay me absurdly large amounts for an opinion on, and how to influence, the thinking of the current President of the United States they are very welcome to. Currently accepting the Azerbaijan Manat, the Albanian Lek, Rubles and the North Korean Won.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

You are what you eat

Deeply suspicious of the weather. All this fancy talk about lows in the upper fifties and mid sixties Fahrenheit into the foreseeable future means nothing, until humidity reaches unbearable levels. We had a Dogwood Winter at the end of last week, it was a long chill that followed rain and it's name comes from it's coinciding with the bloom of Dogwood. Sure to be a Blackberry Winter at the end of this month, it's a combination of ridiculous atmospheric conditions that guarantees blight, associated poxes, and an extended period of ennui for a gardener who has to suddenly hunt down his woolly hat. Not to mention thunderstorms, possible tornado, hail, the inevitable straight line wind, and a political climate hell bent on pursuing pogroms on anything that isn't a waddling, white, English Speaking, protestant male who's been unable to see his toes for about thirty years. So what with one thing and another, it's entirely possible I'll not be putting the Tomato, Eggplant or Pepper out until probably end of June.

 But Basil is a different and more complicated story. The Basil have now been waiting in their pots for such a long time, and they got so excited by the very high heat of early last week they've decided to give serious consideration to blooming in May, a something they shouldn't even think about doing until at least September. Nor are Basil immune from the plagues brought on by a Blackberry Winter. Some years ago on the other side of the Appalachians it was an inclemency of patterns and a dank chill in the early June that robbed them of their Basil. That year our Basil had never looked better and as a gesture of solidarity we were able to ship care packages of Fresh Basil to those struggling under the boot heel of totalitarian impulses. The other thing is this, it's a well known fact that right wingers aren't that big on vegetables unless the vegetable in question has been stewed with a ham hock for at least four days, so as an experiment I'm going to just go ahead and put out the Basil, and if they succumb to anything resembling a pox I'll know exactly why.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Moon Flower

If you like dangerous blue sky, drifting fluffy clouds, a cool breeze with temperatures in the mid to upper seventies Fahrenheit, then it was a wasn't a bad day.  But if you're something like a Moon Flower seedling who might have been casually dragged outside to harden off and get ready for the great adventure, then today was pretty much a nightmare of withering, leaf scorching, blinding sun and high, desiccating wind.

 Invariably a gardener feels the burden of guilt, he makes soothing noises, promises a dribble of water and the sirens blare as he rushes Moon Flowers toward dappled shade. But always best to remember that in times of high emotion "rushing" a tray of Moon Flowers anywhere is an error. A person could trip over a watering can and fall, which does nothing at all to promote a Moon Flower's confidence in the quality of her caretaker or her prospects for the future.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


The Kingbird is in the family of Flycatcher. Rumor has it that while amongst the quick sunsets, hobnobbing with Parrots and enjoying a cocktail with the Palm Trees, while the rest of us endure winter, a Kingbird primarily eats fruit. I don't know how true this rumor is, but I'm beginning to believe it. Phoebes, also in the family of Flycatcher, have been nesting since almost March, and they only pretend to fly south. It's possible that through the winter when insects are scarce Phoebes also eat fruits, seeds and berries.

There's no doubt when you see a Phoebe snatch a Cabbage White Butterfly from the grasp of a Kingbird that the Kingbird could be out of practice in the finer arts of ridding the wild cabbages, in abundance this year, of a primary pest. Mind you The Phoebe has nestlings to feed, the Kingbird is still far too interested in looking splendid to have yet engaged in the nightmare business of nesting. The other thing about Phoebes is the quality of their sneakiness. Don't be fooled by their name, or their "pity me" call, they are high end scoundrels and there's nothing cute about them.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

When in Rome

On this day Thirty Two years ago in Northern Virginia the Wisteria Bloom had been and gone. "OMG! What an incredible memory you have!" I hear the call. "Well, thank you," I humbly reply. At the same time it is the case that a few moments stick, most do not and yet others just kind of float around looking for somewhere useful to cause trouble. Sadly, I am one who remembers, often with clarity, the least important of moments. So it's kind of dull to go on about the difference between a torch and a flashlight, a sidewalk and a pavement, a socialist and Stalin, or to even suggest that not even the Romans knew what Rome was, rather they knew what they wanted it to be. I have no evidence of course, but strongly suspect that not every Roman thought it a fine entertainment to toss the more virulent  Christian to a hungry Lion, and entirely possible that not all Romans knew how many Senatorial Provinces there were, or what the difference was between a Senatorial Province and an Imperial Province.

Unlike being pompous, some things never belong to instinct. The eight times table is a good example, the difference between a nickel and a dime is a better example, and yet I do remember, maybe forty five years ago, an urchin aboard an endless Greek Ferry trying to persuade me that the larger ten lepta coin was worth more than the smaller twenty five lepta coin. I lacked his guile and entrepreneurial cunning, but the difference between the Hindu-friendly 10 and 25 marked on the respective coins was so much Dutch to him. On that same ferry were two back-packing United States Boys, who moaned like hell when at our destination there was a long walk to a waiting taxi. My Greek Urchin friend knew the short cut and wanted to introduce my bus-fare to his sister, never been sure why. Oddly enough in the past thirty two years I have been asked on more than one occasion, "Do you have Television in England?" Nor has assimilating into anyone's Roman Mould/Mold ever been comfortable. On the bright side, more recently I have learned when referencing vehicle tires to emphasize "Tar," which in my view is satisfactory progress.