Friday, July 31, 2009


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Potato Woman reports

Planting potatoes is an act of faith, in many ways, and waiting for them to reach the right size can be almost unbearable, since they are buried so deep you really have no clue from the tops as to how things are going down there. From experience with other vegetable crops, Ive learned the hard way that the fancier the foliage, often the poorer the yield, tomatoes being one exception to all of this--possibly because the fruit needs the leaves for shelter, shade, and to bring nutrition to the tomatoes as sunlight.

Peppers prefer one over the other, and usually good leaves and tall vigorous plants mean a really good harvest of leaves but not much else.

And today I decided to pull up one of the sadder looking potato vines just to see what kind of progress was being made. and up came one very small potato and one apple sized potato. this being the end of July, i would say with luck I might get a fair yield out of what I planted.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden stuff July edition

Yesterday I was picking flowers for the house, and wanted it to be a nice mix of various colors of Beebalm, which almost all blend well together. I noticed a color I don't recall from last summer, and thought, well, maybe I picked something up in my last summer's greenhouse shopping frenzy--then off to one side I saw a smaller, dusky orchid, darker than the rest, and realized this too was no color I'd seen before.
aha, I thought, you don't suppose beebalm cross pollinates? I know daylilies do, and columbine, which is why I now have dark purple, white, and a muddy pale lavender columbine mix...and sure enough, one online flower site said that beebalm "cross pollinates like horny bunny rabbits".

Pulled our first carrots yesterday; it was a huge relief to find that there really were carrots down there, and not the dreaded orange strings I half expected. The radishes went that way, due, I think, to lack of sunlight on the leaves, and that made me fear for the potatoes and carrots as well. Raised beds for root crops is the way to go, you betcha. In this ghastly New England hardpan/stone mix, a nice six inch deep former compost bin produces amazing veggies.

The potatoes seem to be almost totally insect free (cold summers are not a bad thing, sometimes), and yesterday the first pair of Japanese beetles appeared. I shouted at them, and flung them to the ground.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

warm puppies got nothing to do with it

happiness is opening the fridge and finding a forgotten piece of pie or the second half of the mushi chicken or last nights pizza, at exactly the right time.

happiness is knowing no one else will eat your favorite food because noone else likes it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On my way out today...

I passed a small church in Chichester which always has interesting messages on its marquee--for nearly a year it proclaimed, baldly, "BLESS GOD, AMERICA!" which seemed a nice blend of hubris and enthusiasm. Im sure God appreciated the help.

Today the new one proclaims, "IF YOU DO RIGHT

which gave me something to think about for quite some time--it bothered me, at some level, and then I realized why. Who decides what 'right' is? Equally important, who decides what "wrong" is? Im sure all those good-hearted earnest missionaries at the turn of the last century believed to their very core that what they were doing in Africa, saving all those heathens from damnation by giving them smallpox and Jesus in equal measure, was 'right'. As one of them put it, "They may die, but at least they're going to their Maker."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cog Railway--there and back again

We reached an agreement, finally. The Mister has always wanted to ride on the Cog Railway, a slow train that travels up and I do mean up the side of Mt.Washington by means of a special kind of wheel that doesnt ride on the track but is more of a toothed gear. Most of the trains at this time are coal/steam engines, with one diesel. I so did NOT want to go, but I felt bad about him making that two hour drive alone. So we compromised. I went with him, but he took the train and I had three hours to go elsewhere. it worked out very well...
This is how the train looks. Going up the mountain, the engine pushes. Its tilted to accomodate the steepness of the climb.

this is the path that goes over that far ridge and on up to the summit.

Almost back to the bottom again.

On the other hand, I got to see this (mystery) I'd say we both enjoyed ourselves, and had stories to tell one another later. All in all, a pretty good trip.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ruminations II

Thinking about what i wrote yesterday, I am reminded sharply of those people who say, "the past is the past, it isnt important now. I never look back." It could be that these are the people who keep repeating the same mistakes and wonder why. Or do something that puzzles them, never realizing it has roots maybe 30 or 40 years old.

If you never look back to see where you came from, and what propelled you forward, how do you know where you are now? Of course, there is a fine line between people who dwell there, like cave creatures, barricaded from all personal progress, those who refuse to look back at all, (perhaps afraid of what they might find lurking), and people who see what was, and try to understand what happened then that makes now what it is.

I don't necessarily subscribe to reincarnation, an afterlife, or heavenly hosts. Much of that is talking into the dark to comfort us on the long nights. How much easier to believe in heaven than it is to know we only have one very short life and darkness afterwards. That, my dears, is truly terrifying.

But also, feeling that we truly only have one shot at all of this, I think it behooves me to do the best I can, leave as few bad footprints as possible, and realize that you do touch people along the way. Even people you might meet only a few times who remember you. Or you them. If this is all we have, we need to tread lightly.

Part of that light tread, at least for me, is being able to understand if not forgive what came before. If I can figure out What Happened and Why, then i have a measure of insight into my own reactions and behaviors now. Granted, poetry and writing makes a lot of insight possible, it tells me things I never knew I knew. But still, there is always more that surfaces like bubbles in a swamp, surprising the hell out of me.

That's when I go back to the mental photo album, and eventually find the section that explains much if not all. Not that it will matter much in the long run (which is getting shorter year by year), but it matters now, and to me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


its been a good life, with more than a few bumps and heavy winds along the way, but good nonetheless. Looking back with that damned Yankee common sense and logic, I can see that it's probably a better life, in many ways, than it could have been. I'm in a place-- both physically and emotionally-- that works, and that's not bad. Im not ungrateful nor am I unmindful of that, and of the other side of the coin, possibility wise.

We don't always get what we want, and sometimes what we want is not what we should have, like the kid who wants to eat dessert instead of veggies all the time. But sometimes, like now, when the weather is cold and dreary and looks to be that way on into August, the mood dips a bit lower than usual and all those maybes and regrets start to surface.

"What would have happened if..." is a scary place to go, and I try not to go there more than I can help. But as an exercise in emotional logistics, it has a certain grim fascination. Whatever paths you take, no matter if you chose them or they were chosen for you, have no way back. The life lived is the life experienced, and you can only take one road.

Friday, July 3, 2009

continuity and connections

One of the things that's lacking these days is continuity between the current generation and the next, and the next. We are all sort of clumped together with invisible walls of memory separating us.

at this point the only thing that binds us at all is shared music. Many kids listen to and really dig "grampy's music", and many older people can find something in newer stuff that appeals. However.

One of the biggest boons to connecting the generations that I can remember was the TV. Not because of the inane programming that gave us the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy, but the fact that TV was so new no one had anything to put there, so they plugged in an Afternoon Matinee and a Saturday Matinee and on Sunday you would get a classy movie on Hallmark Hall of Fame. no current ones, there was some sort of time differential there and the studios were reluctant to part with the good ones just yet. There were weeks when you could probably watch four movies a day and two at night. That is a LOT of movies, folks.

As a kid I watched any movie that was on TV--all the way from silent movies with Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin to Mae West seducing a very young Cary Grant to Hepburn and Tracy. Even something called "Hitler's Children" which was apparently about eugenics and quite chilling. What it gave me, and any other kid who watched these things, was a sense of what it was like before us. Oh, granted, prettied up or dramatized, but the clothes, the styles, the way the world looked, and mores and morality, even the way people talked, all sunk in. This was different, this was what it was like, and we understood that things change, and a lot of it was familiar on a personal basis because of our parents, grandparents, and even older sibs. The connections stay with you. Movies don't create stuff, they mirror it, and it's the small details that resonate.

We looked at the family photo albums, pictures of groups of women ('that's Aunt Alice and Aunt Sarah and I'm in the middle, didnt my hair look funny") that turned out to be your mother and her sisters, or a little boy who grew out of his knickers and leather cap, and is now Daddy. We sang songs that had been sung for lord knows how many generations, and all of these things connected us.

I saw an interesting ad not too long ago, suggesting that the family that uses electronic 'toys" is a close knit family. However, if you study the ad you will see that the boy is at the computer, daughter is texting someone, mom is on the cellphone, and daddy is watching TV. Being in the same room with three other people is NOT bonding, not if you are all doing something that requires your full attention elsewhere.

And where once your family included the very old and all the ages in between, sometimes right next door or across the street, now more often than not you grow up never having truly interacted with anyone over the age of, say, 35 or 40.

We've lost something important, and that's kinda sad.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Something important is happening here

This is in response to Mike Snider's post, linked above. In it, he states that poets don't strive for the 'big poem' or the meaningful one any longer--and I think he has taken note of a very important trend, perhaps without realizing what he's seeing (although knowing Mike, he sees very clearly, sometimes); when a culture teeters on the edge of Being Over, as Im pretty sure this current Christian culture is, what goes first is the creative stuff--art, music, sculpture, poetry.
It's still produced, for a time, as good or better than anything that came before, but as Mike pointed out, after a certain time the creation slows and then stops, simply because the patronage has disappeared (as much as we dislike knowing that, it's a fact) and then the impetus to create dries up too. It becomes an "Oh what the hell" attitude, and we pass off what we do as modern art, language poetry, creative architecture, and dissonance. Put a large enough price tag on it,
and people will buy it. After all, it's art, right? It must be our fault if we don't see what the artist intended. Art with attitude, I guess you can call it. And artists of any stripe who work this way have a way of suggesting that it's you the viewer who is missing the point.

And it may be a two edged sword, here. Write the meaningful poem, the Big One, and it gets rejected by magazines who prefer something less deep, less Important. Or prefer Language over Coherence or Ordered thought.

Those of us who do care, who do strive to write an important poem (rhymed or unrhymed) about what matters, find it's a one way stream and we seem to be heading the wrong way