Thursday, May 31, 2018

Planting

It wasn't so much a feep-out on my part, it was more a question of cleverly exploring the alternatives to sacrificing access to the weather radar for an unknown period of time by doing things like 'far too busy to go to the Post Office, maybe tomorrow.' Then, thank goodness, I got the call to arms. The professionals had decided that in anticipation of the Full Moon beginning to wane, which apparently is a guarantee of some kind of rain, the plan was to replant by hand those more cantankerous parts of the Tobacco Field that had failed to sufficiently succor Tobacco Seedlings. Each of the two thousand plus new seedlings would be planted with a dribble of water. To get the water to where it was needed buckets of water would be carried. In context, the entire field was originally planted with around sixty thousand Tobacco Seedlings. And there was a moment from the apprentice that felt the need to suggest that the percentage success rate was pretty damn good, and at the same time the apprentice had a real understanding of the intense depression and personal insult that can be produced by gaps in any row of plants.

In times past a Tobacco Field didn't have to be that big to realize a profit, but Tobacco is a hungry plant, a field soon spent, the ground gets tired, which meant a new spot had to be found or cleared for the Tobacco. A smaller plot was way more manageable. Pests that tolerate and thrive on Tobacco could be hand picked and you could even think about waiting for the last frost to sow Tobacco seed, which are tiny little things, germination temperature for them in the upper seventies Fahrenheit, then hope for a nice long year with no surprises in May or September. More recently to realize profit the size of a Tobacco Field has to take account of costs that include machinery, tractors, planters, pesticides and fertilizers. And it's not just any old fertilizer. If you use the wrong combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium the buyers can tell by communing with it that your Tobacco isn't good quality. And yes, the fertilizer costs twice as much as the seedlings. Either way the general opinion amongst the professionals was to place the blame firmly on the borrowed carousel planter. As I understand it, the mechanics of a carousel planter are such that for it to achieve perfection the ground has to be pretty much a fine, clodless, heavenly tilth, which is not something that comes easy around here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Rain Cloud Encouragement

Good chance of rain in the next couple of days and a very good chance of no rain. For those interested, in such a circumstance of uncertainty I have a rain cloud encouragement technique which others who might also be pacing around waiting for rain might wish to try. Unlike the banality of "Thoughts and Prayers" this technique does require great sacrifice. The very first thing you do is change your internet connection password and write your new password down on a piece of paper which you put in a stamped envelope to mail to yourself. Before you go to the Post Office you disconnect from the internet. It's not easy, there will be major temptations to feep-out, you'll probably get hives, always a chance you might start hallucinating raindrops on the windshield, recognize the hallucination as a symptom of internet withdrawal, which is main reason why some of us maintain windshield wipers that don't actually work.

If your mission is successful and you get home, you'll have forgotten your new password and you'll have no access to weather radar for at least forty eight hours, if not longer. Which in turn means the totality of your Being can become wholly obsessed with a sometimes difficult interpersonal dialogue between yourself and possibilities of rain without any kind of dependence on the interpretations of the often random, frequently radical and sometimes devious thinking from weather forecasting professionals. When you get back from the Post Office, you open all the windows in your vehicle and you open the tailgate. Then you go to your attic, close the curtain and visualize the possibilities of rain drops fluffing up the soil on your neighbor's struggling Tobacco field. And here it's very important to be generous to others with your visualizations, any selfish kind of thinking at this time of year pretty much guarantees straight line winds, tornado and flood.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Older Timers

If you ask the old timers around here, and I mean the old timers, the kind of characters who can recall plowing their Tobacco field with their father's Mule, struggling with the winter flu and still having to milk the Cows morning and night in temperatures well below freezing, you'll find it difficult to determine the extent to which the climate might have changed. Most suggest it was snowier back then, life harder, fewer Turkey and there were more Butterflies, but that's about it.

During the Depression of the 1930's, when time came to take the Tobacco Leaves to the warehouse, where they would be judged, weighed and sold, many growers would take a chicken as a donation to the agents who did the judging, weighing and buying. Many more growers would make the trip home with very little or no gain from their family's year of hard work. With no cash from the crop, there was no money for new shoes, new cloth or shop candy. Back then too, the saying was, "Don't drink the moonshine, sell it." 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Chipmunk

Being a secondary primary caregiver for a proven serial killer can lead to conflict. Not that I'm pure in either heart or spirit, I spend daily hours conducting pogroms against the annuals and have a particular hatred for Crabgrass and its relatives, which this year are attempting to colonize the beds in the Vegetable Garden, and it's easy enough to blame the Voles for introducing billions and billions of Crabgrass seeds into the Vegetable garden, because it offers an opportunity to take solace from the knowledge that the Girl Cat does spend a majority of her waking hours hunting, then torturing, then partially consuming pretty much anything that can move seeds around by design, rather than something like the wind. But the way I read it, the Girl Cat still feels doggedly determined to lead the Kitten into her own gruesome calling. And it was the Girl Cat who introduced the live Chipmunk into the domicile.

 The Artist, who quite frankly is totally besotted by the Kitten, will insist that it was the Kitten who brought the Chipmunk into the house. The idea appears to produce a glow of pride in the more creative of our pairing. For my part I'm not that convinced the Kitten has ever earned her keep. To my mind the Kitten's main role is to interrupt the flow of my day with a series of demands to open doors and gates when she's not angling for a snack or needs to have her pillows fluffed or just wants to be patted on the head. Nor was I taken in for one minute by the Kitten's scampering around the downstairs, bravely rumpling the rugs and bashing into things as she chased the Chipmunk in a manner which both I and the Girl Cat judged clumsy at best. Of interest, Chipmunks appear to be about fifty times larger when they're actually in the house and it would seems that in the Chipmunk community they obviously have the testosterone fueled Stand Your Ground laws, and it's that sort of Spartans at Thermopylae attitude of theirs that lets us secondary caregivers catch them with a bathmat and by so doing get himself  a pat on the head from a primary caregiver.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Effing Wall

You really have to wonder what kind of mind comes up with the idea of separating young children and babies from their mothers as a deterrent to others. And you might even wonder what sort of country produces a mind that produces such a policy. You also have to wonder what kind of mindless person would agree to implement such a policy, but they do.

"....Yesterday, we and the SS were generous. Every Jew we caught was shot. Today, it's different ... They are beaten to death with cudgels and spades...." It's from a letter to his mother and father, written be a young soldier on the Eastern Front in 1942. He goes on to say, the work was difficult at first, but it was getting easier, and he reminded his mother it was his patriotic duty.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Coupons

From bitter experience I can tell you coupons for the Grocery Store are way less straightforward than they appear to be. You can find yourself a prime source of aggravation at check out where there's an overwhelming level of determination to make one customer happy even if it does mean badly irritating and possibly ruining the shopping experience of ten or fifteen others. Indeed if I was a store manager I'd tell a newbie coupon user like me to just go back to the beginning and start again.

My advice when using coupons, practice your comprehension skills for a couple of days beforehand, get a sense of how many ounces there are in a pound, don't just assume you know, put aside anything like an absurd conviction that there can't possibly be a difference between a Dinner Sausage and Breakfast Sausage, take a magnifying glass and try to be brave.  Of the three coupons, I did ace the coupon for free ice cream which was pretty much melted by the time I got home. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Technical Device

Downloading a fix for Windows 10 which has chosen not to speak to me or respond in anyway. Good chance the world will end before this is accomplished. Which means this could be farewell, because I'll not be replacing this wretched machine. And I'll tell you why. Addiction. For a long time now I've realized that I am addicted to the  technical device. "When do you cut Garlic Scapes?" The answer is no longer a reach into memory or a book, instead it's "look it up on Goggle!" "How old am I?" "Look it up on Goggle!" "What's my address and social security number again?" "Look it up on Goggle!"  Nor will I mention Facebook or Reddit or any of those other contributions to the extinction of existence. Then bang! It's all gone to some misconstrued code, there's a sense of panic, there's pacing around, there's foot stamping, and a good chance you'll develop a near terminal case of hives as I did during an adverse reaction to an extraordinarily rational attempt to give up smoking.

On the bright side, this could be a good chance to make yet another effort to improve my social skills. Following the realization that the conversational remarks I have occasionally made in a social setting are often greeted with alarm and confusion, I've successfully reduced verbal communication to the occasional grunt. I'd like to think I'm still quite good at nodding politely even if I haven't actually practiced nodding politely in the mirror, so who knows the impression it leaves. It's also the case the hours I spend avoiding Tics while in the company of Compost Piles might not contribute to the understanding that there are diverse opinions on the planet and my word is not law. Not that anyone takes any notice down there in the shade but it is possible that lack of response is a Compost Pile's equivalent to a polite nod. Either way, to quote the Tangerine, we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Paths

Maintaining paths around and through the hay field can join the cause of agony then leaves the soul refreshed, but it's a tradition with a rich oligarchic heritage that goes back to what could be one single moment of inspiration which when Goggle Earth was black and white struck a chord. In the way back archives you'll find an image of what could be a crop circle in the shape of a series of Mango Patterns, a sure sign of alien visitors or a cry for help. These days it's more plodding, same old paths in the field, where Violet flourish and plenty of Clover blooming for the Bees, and when the hay is high these paths are used by Deer and Turkey on their dainty way from here to there. You might see a flotilla of Quail and their chicks. And too when the hay is high, and you're crouching on a geriatric riding mower you can't see much of the horizon through the brim of your hat, but you have a good view of the path ahead and behind, and usually, following contact with a surfeit of drifting pollen, you can't breath or see well for a day or two afterwards.

Nor is your mower of paths that comfortable around Dogs. Ahead, as he wended his way, he saw what looked like a big puppy. It had that Koala Bear cuteness of fluffy ears and it was just lying there staring at me. One of the things about Coyote they always watch  awhile, decide whether you're edible, whether you're dangerous or whether you're entertaining enough to follow around for a bit. And it's a nerve-racking fact that adolescent Coyote, like the young of our own species, are sometimes beset by an unnatural curiosity. I can tell you this much, it was a relief when he or she endured the thought processes and finally chose to leave the path, disappear into the longer grass. In keeping with path traditions, you mow twice, there and back for a wider swath and to catch the strays. There was a moment in me that did consider a short cut home, but what with the heat, sweat in the eyes and being bound to the iron law of oligarchy I just went for it. On the return there were two Coyote in the path. The one with a look of outrage in her face was definitely not a puppy. I vividly recalled a recent report about pack of wild mixed breed Dachshunds who'd dispatched a teenager in woodland somewhere in California. Must have been a horrible, yapping sort of way to join with the End Time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vines

The other little devil which following a whim might have been introduced to the Vegetable Garden is Cyprus Vine. It's in the Morning Glory family and your looking at fifteen, sixteen feet. In it's hatching weeks it's one of those "don't panic, you'll hardly notice me at all" climbing vines. Don't be fooled by it's eagerness to please, have at it, pogrom away because no matter your diligence by about the middle of September when the mornings begin to cool you'll suddenly become aware of the smothering web of a small lacy leafed plant producing a very small scarlet bloom that seemed to have suddenly appeared as a result of sorcery. As you stand there aghast, it doubles in size.

It'll be up and down fences, pretty much embedded in the last Tomatoes, it'll be running around on the paths and you'll curse, get depressed, seek solace by attacking it and quickly realize, you're far too late. The individual bloom lasts for less than a day, the vine continues all the way to frost but the bloom is chock full of nectar at a time in the year when there's not much around for Hummingbirds engaged in the journey south. By about the end of September beginning of October, you can take your morning cigarette and ash bucket to the Cyprus vine, sit yourself down and spend a happy hour or two watching Hummingbirds quarrelling over who gets what. Best to wear neutral colors, don't wear anything red and take a fly swat in the event of Hummingbird over-exuberance.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Arch

Some few years ago, it was in the Fall, your gardener had one of those notions. What the Vegetable Garden needed, he decided, was an Arch. He must have been inspired by the kind of reading material that Dentists insist on having scattered around their waiting rooms. It's the glossy stuff, a bubble dwelling nightmare of incomprehensible happy talk about perfect people with their absurd passion for gardening, food, slave owning lifestyles and holiday getaways. Either way I should have known better, but at the same time your other reading option in the Dentist's waiting room is one of the newer totally antiseptic translations of the Bible, so in the end it's much better to put your head back, close your eyes and pretend you've been struck by narcolepsy. The point is, that first year I planted Snake Gourd on The Arch. I pictured hanging fruit and quipped with the Mockingbird about the possibilities of people bonking their heads. The white lacy nature and scent of Snake Gourd bloom is absolutely wonderful, the gourds do hang nicely but I guess a person has to gain experience in the art of preparing Snake Gourd for the dinner table, otherwise it just makes you feel ill for a couple of days.

The following year I had what I believed was a brilliant inspiration for The Arch. I decided it cried out for Morning Glory, which for anyone who is remotely normal hangs up there with one of the single most beautiful blooms in all the world. It can certainly bring a flutter to the delicate heart of even the dourest of gardeners, he gets lost in shades of blue as his eye wanders toward the center of the bloom and on a chilly morning he might even be persuaded to see God. But one of the things about Morning Glory where I live, it takes a while to achieve the moment of bloom, and the other thing about Morning Glory, it's seeds do not run true. Ponies from the wild gallop across her stigma and the following year you got a bunch of home schooled. The lesson is you don't plant Morning Glory in your Vegetable Garden, because if you do you spend the rest of your life trying to get rid of an aggressive, incredibly prolific, very sneaky, fast growing little annual vine that's quite sweet, its small flowers are pinkish white, but the vine does nothing for your sense of being in control. And as everyone knows, a sense of not being in control at the busy time of the year is an aspect of the limbic system's knee jerk reactions to the real that does nothing whatsoever for balance, sense of order or a gardener's overall wellness.

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

Fittings

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

Thorns

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

News

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

Planting

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

Marigolds

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

Flycatchers

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.