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Archive for July, 2007

Quite a while ago I read a blog entry about a blog project regarding a movie called “The Girl in the Cafe.”  I was just intrigued enough to join the project, and commit to watching the movie and writing a review about it, and then sending the DVD on its next stop on its tour. 

I got the message that the DVD was on its way to me right before I left for Colorado.  When I got back, it had not arrived yet, and so we jumped right into processing the garden sass that is trying to inundate us.   It is an intense time of year here, much of what we eat vegetable-wise during the year comes off this place out of our garden, so when the harvest is happening, we tend to stick to business.

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On Saturday morning, we had already picked tomatoes, and started a second batch of pickles after processing the first batch, in addition to putting up the serranos that Jim had picked.   When we went to get the mail, lo and behold, “The Girl” had arrived.   After we had finished fooling with garden stuff, we decided to watch the DVD. 

There were certain difficulties in playing the DVD.  It has been a lot of places and been touched by many fingers.   Fortunately, cleaning the fingerprints off of it caused it to resume playing.  

I spent most of Sunday as I was processing chard and kale thinking about what to say about this movie.   I continued my cogitations through Monday, and also today.  I have been worrying about just how unpopular I might make myself by pointing out what I consider to be a flaw in the logic of this movie.

First, I must say that I think this film is well written, and well acted.  I enjoyed the fact that it was in black and white.   I think this genre has been ignored far too much in our modern, technicolor world.  There are no chase scenes, beautifully implied sex, and a very simple plot.  The message of the movie is that one person can make a difference if they have the courage to speak up and out, even at the risk of making other people uncomfortable.

I find this laudable.   I can also see why this film has made a strong impression on many people.   It is billed as being part of the MakePovertyHistory campaign.   I am not sure that the G8 nations are going to actually accomplish this feat, even though there was much earnest and sometimes acrimonious discussion of this subject in the movie. 

However, one of the things I found most disturbing about this movie was that all we saw was talking.   I never saw “The Girl” actually DO anything to alleviate poverty, nor did I see any suggestions of actual meaningful actions a person could do to do this.  (I would have liked to see a list of things like The Heifer Project that individuals could contribute to, for example.)  The implication of the movie was that somehow it is the responsibility of the Governments of the Eight Big Powers to solve all the world’s problems by throwing money at them.  I would submit that as long as those G8 nations’ governments are being elected using money contributed to them by PACs, corporations, and lobbies, nothing is likely to be done about world poverty.

I find it ironic to watch this movie telling me that my country (The USA) should be responsible for solving the crises of poverty somewhere in Africa, when we are not even capable of figuring out how to provide health care to our own people.  We have our own starving children, right here.   We have our own homeless people, right here.  We are rather far down on the list of literacy.  Our rate of children dying in childbirth is higher than something like 30 other nations, we do not have the highest life expectancy either. 

Yep, as a nation, we are rich, and we drive our disgusting big SUVs and consume, consume, consume.   But our national debt is now in the trillions of dollars, largely because our arrogant, illegal, ought-to-be-impeached administration is burning and blowing up billions of dollars every day over in the Middle East.   I wonder why “The Girl” wants us to start solving problems for the third world.  There are times when I observe our record in Iraq that I think the developing nations might be better off without our tender attentions.  Call me cynical.

“The Girl” makes a passionate speech about children living in abject poverty dying.   They die while we grow too fat for our nice clothes.   She tells us that 30,000 children die unnecessarily every day; that amounts to one every three seconds.   What is not ever stated in this movie, and what I feel needs to be pointed out is, that the world population is growing by 78 million people every year.   That is an increase of 213,699 souls every day.   If you do the math, you discover that while one child is dying every three seconds, five are being born every two seconds.   The irony is, most of these children are being born in the very third world countries where the starving children “The Girl” is so concerned about are dying. 

It seems to me that while it is true that compassionate people in the developed nations ought to be concerned about children dying, perhaps we ought to be more concerned about the excessive amounts of children that are being born.  The World Overpopulation Awareness website has a great deal to say about this situation.   The following is a direct quote from their “Factoids” section.

The UN reports the world’s population is expected to increase to 9.1 billion people by 2050. The majority of the increase is in developing countries. The increase is equivalent to the combined populations of China and India today. The overall trend shows a lower rate of growth, confirming that the population is slowly stabilizing. In developed nations declining birth rates means little or no population growth except in the U.S. which benefits from a high number of immigrants, who tend to have more children. Industrial countries are expected to see little change in their population of 1.2 billion. A decline is forecast by 2050 in Germany, Italy, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. Populations in Europe would fall further were it not for immigrants, estimated at 2.2 million each year. The population of developing nations is expected to climb from 5.3 billion in 2005 to 7.8 billion by 2050. Very rapid growth is forecast in the least-developed nations. Between 2005 and 2050, the population is projected to triple in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Uganda. In each of these countries, women would like less children, if they had the choice.   (Italics are mine. HMH)  By 2050 India will have surpassed China in population and the two will account for 50% of the world’s inhabitants. Women in India have an average of 3 children compared to 1.7 children in China. The AIDS pandemic and other diseases are slowing population increases in about 60 developing countries. In southern Africa, where AIDS is prevalent, life expectancy has fallen from 62 in 1990-1995 to 48 in 2000-2005.      February 25, 2005   Times on Line (UK) 012959 

If this movie causes people to think about what we as a species are doing to this planet, if it causes people to rise up and speak out against political policies and religious dogmas  that block access to birth control where it is most needed (and, apparently, wanted), then it might actually accomplish its purpose. 

Meanwhile, I must pack the DVD for its next leg of its trip, to Chile.  Then I have a gallon of green beans to trim, cut, blanch and freeze.

God speed, “Girl in the Cafe”  May you continue to make people aware and make them think.

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”                              Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I am home from my Colorado adventure.   If you were paying attention, and I know you were, you will realize that I am home considerably earlier than planned.   I can’t talk about it right now, mostly because I don’t know what to say.   But, I have images.  

I will let them talk for me.

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This is an image of Meeker Peak and Longs Peak taken from the top of Estes Cone.  Meeker is on the left, Longs on the right.   To get to this view, we hiked up 4.8 km that gained 606 m, after which we climbed a “stairmaster” that was 1.1 km long and rose 212 m in that distance.   My heart rate was, well, aerobic.

Along the way, I was captivated by the wood grain in the stumps of the bristlecone pines that were along the “trail.”

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The day after we made that hike, we motored over Trail Ridge Road.   There are wonderful images from that; all of them are in my brother’s camera because I stupidly forgot mine.   I will be posting some of them later.   There were elk, and a Mama and Papa marmot with three Child marmots.

The next day we drove up Mt. Evans.   Along the way, we saw Little Pink Elephants.   And no, we were not drunk.  Neither are you.

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Up on top, we found the rock garden of the Master Gardener.

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The little blue patches are Alpine Forget-me-nots.   I had Dad put his finger next to patch to give them some scale.  They smell deliciously of almond extract if you get right down close to them.

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Up at the summit parking lot we experienced a visitation by a group of three Mountain Goats.   There was a park ranger there to sort of facilitate the experience.   According to him, the goats visit the summit parking area on a daily basis because it happens to be their natural salt lick.  We were lucky; they were there in the afternoon and there were no dogs around to make them uncomfortable.   This is the dominant billy of the herd on Mount Evans.

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In the picture below, the gentleman in the red vest and hat to the far right of the image is my father.   As I was taking this picture, I mused as to which was truly the dominant old goat.

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Finally, a cone flower with bumble bee, taken in the meadow near Lily Lake after we descended from Estes Cone.

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Maybe tomorrow I will write more.  Maybe not.

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We have been running around like crazy people for the last couple of days.   The garden has really started kicking in.  

The green beans are producing, for one.  It never ceases to amaze me how they go about the start of production.  The vines will sit there, and there will be blossoms, and then you will see little beans that are  maybe 1 inch long at most.   And then they will sit there, seemingly doing nothing in particular.  All of a sudden, one day when you are watering, you will notice that there are green beans that are seven inches long and need to be picked TODAY.  That is exactly what just happened in our garden, and I expect that in the next couple of weeks, at least two gallons of beans will be picked, cleaned, blanched and frozen for future reference.

Meanwhile, we have a whole crisper full of cucumbers, both the Oriental Express and the West Indian Burr Gherkins.   The OE are extremely tasty, long and crisp and sweet, and burpless.   The gherkins seem to be burpless also, resemble nothing so much as tiny spiked melons.   There are two quarts of them already, which is quite a lot considering that they are around 3 cm long when ripe.   They are destined for the pickle jar.

I sliced and grilled about a gallon of zucchini yesterday.   That is in the freezer on cookie sheets ready to be put into zip lock bags, also for future reference.   We have decided that this is the best way to prepare summer squash for winter consumption.   You slice it about 1/4″ thick, toss it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little olive oil.   Fire up your charcoal grill, and put the vegetable grilling sheet over the fire.   Grill the squash until it is cooked.   Spread in a single layer on cookie sheets for freezing.   When solid, remove from sheets and store in ziplock in freezer.   This can be used as is at room temperature, re-heated in the oven, or thawed, sliced (or diced) and added to salad, soup, or tossed with pasta.   Excellent.

The tomatoes are also coming on.  

While all this garden craziness is starting, I am getting ready for a short break for personal maintenance.

My dad is out in Colorado, getting accclimated to the high altitude in Rocky Mountain National Park.   My brother and his wife are arriving at Denver International Airport on Saturday morning.   I will be there to pick them up, and then we will be joining my dad up at the campsite he has just outside the park.  

We intend to camp at Olive Ridge and hike in the high country for a week.  Then I’ll be back home, just in time to celebrate my 22nd wedding anniversary before Jim heads off on his own trip.  He’ll be heading out to New Hampshire to take another Windsor Chair class.  This time he will be learning the Continuous Arm chair.  

Anyway, this is just to let you all know that I will be off the air while in Colorado, and I notice that I will be missing my first blogoversary while I am gone.  

However, I will be coming back with pictures, hopefully some of them will be totally awesome.  

Meanwhile, keep cool, stay safe and I’ll be back in about 10 days.  Gotta go pack now!

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 There has been an interview meme going around the blogosphere.   It is a wonderful meme because you can tag yourself!  It is a meme that promotes personal growth as well, because it requires patience as you wait for your interviewer to look at your blog and decide what they want to ask you.    Of course, if you tag yourself then you have agreed to have other people ask you for questions.   But this is a good thing, it gets you visiting other blogs more in depth.  

I visit Aphra Behn’s blog, and admire her writing, her wit, and her interview questions to other bloggers.  So I plucked up my courage and brashly asked her to interview me.   Following are her questions, and my answers.  I have thoroughly enjoyed answering these very thought-provoking questions, and I hope you enjoy reading the answers.

1) You have built a labyrinth with rocks from all over the world.  What was the moment when you first had the idea of building a labyrinth in this way and how long was it from conception to completion?  (As a private supplementary, have you read The Crow Road by Iain Banks, which mentions in passing a mound of earth with soil and stones from all over the world?  It’s a good book which you might enjoy.)

I have not read The Crow Road, but will immediately go out and locate it and read it. 

Now, about the building of the labyrinth.   Get a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and sit down for a bit, children, for this is a very long tale indeed.  It begins in Berkeley, California, in the year 1991.   At that time I had a circle of friends who met to celebrate the full moon every month.   Generally, we gathered at someone’s house and drummed, but on occasion we did other activities.   It came to our attention that the winter solstice and the full moon were going to coincide, and we all agreed that it was imperative that we do something particularly special to commemorate this.  One of our group knew about a labyrinth that existed up in Sibley Park in the Berkeley Hills.  (If you visit that site, scroll down and you will see a picture of the actual labyrinth.   We walked to the first one in that article.)

Up until that moment, the only time I had heard the word “labyrinth” was in the legend of the Minotaur.   The woman who knew of the existence of the labyrinth in Sibley Park expalined to us how a labyrinth can be used in meditation or ritual, and how it can be a paradigm for life and problem solving.  We didn’t take much convincing, and we decided that we would walk out to this labyrinth under the full Solstice moon and do a ritual there.

It was a cold and windy night when we gathered at the trail head.  As we began our walk through the hills, the moon began to come up from behind Mount Diablo.   When we finally arrived at the labyrinth site, the moon had risen high enough that it illuminated the small circular valley that contained the rocks.  After we had admired the pattern from above, we walked down to the labyrinth, and each one of us was given a candle.   We were to walk the pattern with our lit candle, and when we got to the center think about a habit, thing, or relationship that we wanted to let go of.   The wind was not any help in this task.  It gusted around us, mischievously whirling around the circular valley the labyrinth lay in.   Trying to keep a candle lit while walking the twists and turns of the labyrinth in that wind was a huge challenge.  Most of us did not succeed, but there were two women in our group who managed to protect their flames and keep them lit until they reached the center.  I was not one of them, I am sorry to say.

But it didn’t matter.   The quiet concentration, the full moon, the ritual work performed to let go of the old relationship with my first husband, all of these made the night an amazing experience.   After we had all walked the labyrinth, we drummed for a while.   Eventually, it became time to leave and we climbed out of the valley.   As we turned away to walk back to our cars, I looked over the edge at the labyrinth bathed in moonlight, and at that moment I said to myself, “Someday I will have one of these.”  I did not know when, or where.   But I knew that someday I would own property that had a labyrinth on it.

The very next day, I was at a bookstore in San Rafael, and next to the cash register there was a pile of post cards with the pattern of a labyrinth printed over an image of the stars of the Milky Way galaxy.  ” Dromenon –There is always the dance,” was written in beautiful script.  I bought that card, and it sat on every desk I used after that.  Eventually, I put it in a frame to protect it.   I used it as a reminder of the feeling I had as I walked up out of the labyrinth in Berkeley, and the vow I made that night.  (I still have the card, by the way.)

Every once in a while, I would mention to Jim that it would be really cool if we had a labyrinth.   It took a while before the time was right.  It was in 2001 that we actually finally built the labyrinth.   I had been to my favorite bookstore, Renaissance Books and Gifts, and had seen a book on labyrinths.   I did not buy it, not feeling all that wealthy that day.   Several days later, I got the flu.   I am not good at being sick, since most of the time I am rather sickeningly healthy.  When I was finally convalescing, Jim made a trip to Springfield.   When he got back, he came and laid a book in my lap as I was lying in bed.  “I’m not sure if this is the book you saw the other day.   But I thought this one looked good.  It seemed like you needed cheering up.” 

The next day, I felt a lot better.   I had also read most of the book, which contained detailed instructions on how to lay out a labyrinth.   Over dinner that night, Jim asked me where I thought we ought to put a labyrinth if we were going to have one.  I told him out in the open field to the south of the savannah seemed right.  “And if we were going to build it, how big should it be?  How wide should the paths be?” he wanted to know.  I said, “As big in diameter as will fit across the space.  The paths should be at least 24″ wide.”   “What do you think we should make it out of?”  That I didn’t know, but rocks seemed the cheapest alternative to outline it with.  There were certainly lots of them on my mother’s farm.

The next day, Jim came to me as I was resting on the couch and said, “I want you to come outside.   You need some fresh air, and I have something to show you. ”   What he had to show me was our wheelbarrow, full of over 200 stakes, each a foot long, every one of them with a sharpened end.   There was also a rope, with 15 knots tied in it, one every three feet.   It turned out that Jim had measured the available space, and there was room for an 84 foot diameter circle out on the designated field.  Armed with the stakes, the rope, a hammer, and the book, we laid out the twelve circles of the labyrinth.  After we had the stakes set, we outlined the pattern with a quarter of a mile of string.   All of this was done “just to see” how it might look on the field next to our house. 

Well, once the strings were there in the labyrinth pattern, which only took one afternoon to accomplish, the pattern took on its own energy.   It loudly demanded to be outlined permanently.   So we began the task of driving out to Mother’s farm, filling the pickup with properly sized rocks, driving them back to town (a 50 mile round trip), unloading them, and placing them to outline the paths.   Jim, Jesse (our son), and Alan (a young man we were foster parenting at the time) collected the rocks, and delivered them to me.  I placed every single rock in the labyrinth myself.   It took over 20 loads of rock; Jim estimates that there are 18 tons of stone outlining this labyrinth.  The paths are spaced far enough apart that a 20″ push lawn mower can be used to mow them.

It was while I was engaged in the task of outlining the paths that I began to think about what I wanted this pattern to be “for.”   I thought it ought to be a place where I could meditate, where people could find healing, where I could meditate on healing the energy of the Earth, promoting world peace.   And it was during the weeks of hauling and laying rock that I realized that I should place rocks in the inner circle that were from all over the world and from every state in the US, to act as energy nodes to send the healing meditations all over.   They would also act as foci for energy coming to the labyrinth as well. 

It actually took about 5 weeks to actually haul and place all the stones.   Once they were all there, I collected all my “world rocks” and placed them in the center.  I realized as I did so that in addition to rocks from 9 or 10 countries, I already had rocks from half the states in the US.  It wasn’t much of a leap to decide that I needed the rest of the states represented, and as many countries as I could accomplish.  

In the years since the main portion of the labyrinth has been completed, friends, strangers, and my clients have all contributed rocks to the center circle. Every “world rock” gets walked through the pattern of the labyrinth to the center circle.

The labyrinth is a work in progress, for rocks are still coming to us.   I’m not sure it will ever be “completed.”

2) Your list of previous employment is, shall we say, eclectic.  Of your previous jobs, are there any that you think should be a part of everyone’s education and any that you think no-one should have to do?

I will answer the last part of this question first.   Of all the jobs I have done in my life, I can’t think of a single one that no-one should have to do.    Actually, what sort of job should No-one “have” to do?    One could get very philosophical about this point.   If there is a job that needs to be done, and there is someone who is willing to pay to have it done as well as someone who is willing to do the job for the pay offered, then what is the problem?  ( I draw the line at murder for hire or other criminal acts.)  There are plenty of people in this country who apparently don’t want to work very hard.   It is hard to find people who are willing to do stoop labor like picking strawberries, for example, which is why we have so many illegal aliens here doing those sorts of jobs.  That situation does not exist because no one should have to do that sort of work; it s more a condemnation of the lazy people in this country.

On the first point, of all the jobs I have done in my life I believe that everyone should have to be a baby sitter at some point.   Preferably, this should happen in their early teens before they have ever had a sexual encounter.  The job should entail providing care for a colicky baby or an unmanageable and creative “Little Terror” for at least a couple of weeks.   This would be a wonderful incentive for responsible family planning.  

In addition, I think that it is valuable life experience to have been a waiter of some sort, unless you are the sort of person who NEVER goes out to eat.   This can give you some insight into the vicissitudes of providing food service, and may allow you to have mercy for the wait staff when your food is not up to your expectations.  If the service is bad, then adjust your tip accordingly.   But if the service was great and the food not, don’t punish your waitron.   (S)He was not responsible for the food preparation.  

Lastly, I also add hotel maid to the list of jobs everyone should have to do.   I don’t think you have to do it very long, a few months is sufficient.  Being a hotel maid will enable you to develop a knock that will wake the near-dead.  Additionally, you will learn just how fast and thoroughly you can clean a bathroom, dust and vacuum a room, and change sheets.  This can be a very good thing later in life as you try to juggle career and child care at the same time as keeping your nosy and critical mother-in-law from sneering at you after she has been over for the afternoon.  It also has the potential for providing you memorable moments involving naked people to turn over in your advancing years.

3) Are there any plants which your soil or climate conditions mean you simply cannot grow, but which you would like to have in your garden (yard)?

Oh my, where to start?  I am not limited by soil so much as climate conditions.   Soil can be amended, and if there is a certain acidity or amount of organic matter needed by a plant, you can create that sort of conditions in a pocket large enough to sustain a specimin or two.   With enough attention, you can even create proper soil moisture conditions.  

What you cannot do on a large scale is change your climate.   When it is 90 degrees outside and there has been no rain for two weeks, a plant that likes a moistly cool coastal climate is going to suffer greatly.   In the same vein, if it is -10 degrees and the wind is howling and there is an inch of ice on every tree, a plant that likes the tropics is going to turn up its toes and die.  

I have come across several plants in my life that I would LOVE to have growing here, but cannot because of our extremes of climate.   I love the heaths and heathers, and had a whole collection of them growing in my garden in Bremerton, Washington.   I tried them here, and watched them die a horrible death in the August heat of the Mid-west.   It was sort of like a horticultural burning at the stake.  I am not really into torture, so I have not tried that group of species again.

My wonderful mother-in-law had night-blooming jasmine growing in her yard in Marin County, California.   The magic of coming through the gate next to where it was planted on a warm and still summer evening, and having the delicious spicy scent envelop me as I walked down the path is an experience I will never forget.  I can almost smell it now as I inhale deeply.   On the rare occasions that they had hard frost out there, it would be nipped right back to the ground.   I know that this tender sub-tropical plant would be killed during one of our winters here.   Someday, when I have a greenhouse, I will have night blooming jasmine planted there.   For now, I simply dream.

I have the same dream about lemon trees, and Kaffir limes.

4) You are a bang-on-the button Baby Boomer.   What do you see as being good and bad about being a Boomer? 

Before I read this question, I never really thought about being a Baby Boomer, or whether being one had good and bad points.    

My parents were not typical of the parents of the kids I grew up around.   Most of them had televisions, but my parents felt it was important for their children to be able to read well enough to make a real choice between entertaining themselves and being entertained, so we did not have a TV in our house until I was nearly 16.   My father bought one then because Neil Armstrong was going to walk on the moon and he felt that the televising of this event was important enough historically for him to break down and let the One Eyed Monster God into our home.  

My parents also insisted on real sex education for us as we grew up, also an atypical attitude for parents of Baby Boomers.   We also did a lot of wilderness back packing.  On occasion, we were encouraged to testify at Congressional hearings on various subjects.  For these events, we were taken out of school, as my parents felt these were educational experiences.  We also were encouraged to write “Letters to the Editor” of the local paper.

Because of these  and others things, I  don’t think my childhood experience really qualifies me as being a “real” Baby Boomer.

So what was bad about being a Baby Boomer?   One of the things that was really pretty bad was I was in the slug of kids that hit the schools when the districts were not prepared for such quantities.   All through my early educational years, the teachers were stressed, the classrooms crowded.   There frequently were not enough textbooks to go around.   Even when I was a senior in high school, the school I attended had a flock of about 20 trailers installed out near the athletic fields that were refered to as the “Portable Classrooms”.   There wasn’t enough room in the choir room for the whole choir, the orchestra room was also very tight quarters.  No one actually got their eye poked out by their stand partner’s bow, but it was always a possibility.

I was lucky about the name my folks chose for me.   Even though Mrs. Roosevelt was really well known, her name didn’t catch on.  (I was not named for her, however.  My mother informed me I was named after Eleanor of Aquitaine.)  It was not a popular name then, and still isn’t today.   My two sisters weren’t so lucky.   Barbara and Judith were The Most Popular names the years they both were named.   This seemed to be a problem for a lot of Baby Boomers.   In my class in Colorado, we had two Debbies.   There were only 10 girls in the class, too, so what were the odds? 

I also live with the guilt of being a member of the population explosion, which has stressed our environment to the point that if we aren’t careful the Earth will become unliveable for humans as well as many other species.    This situation has been exacerbated by the incredible self-centeredness of the majority of the members of this generation.   It truly was and is a “Me” generation.

So what is good about it?   Well, gosh, I have lived through some incredible technological advances.   Sometimes I step back and shake my head in amazement.   When I was a little girl, Eniac was the big news.    Nowadays we have personal computers that make Eniac look like a giant adding machine sitting on almost every desk.   And they can interface wirelessly, too!   When I was little, all phones had cords, the tape recorder was just starting to show up outside of recording studios, and cameras all had film in them.  Seat belts in cars had not been invented.   A lot of the stuff that is commonly used for entertainment now was the pipe dream of the science fiction writer.   Sometimes, my mind just boggles. 

5)  If you could give advice to your 17-year-old self, what advice would it be?

“For God’s sake, don’t take yourself so damn seriously.   Lighten up already, and have some fun!  And remember, “This too shall pass.”  Also, when you meet Jerry Shurtz, just keep on riding your bike and don’t get into bed with him!   He is a complete loser and user, and will give you gonorrhea, an experience that you really don’t need to have to make your life complete.   Also, when you and Jim discuss whether it would be a good idea to buy 100 shares of Microsoft in its IPO, try to believe that software will actually catch on and  BUY IT!!”

Now, if you would like to participate in this meme, you may demand a set of questions of me.  Just follow the instructions below:

DIRECTIONS FOR THE INTERVIEW MEME

  1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Please make sure I have your email address.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

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I have the perfect alibi for why this entry into GBBD is a day late.  Anyone who is interested can read yesterday’s post, and the one from the day before.   We were awfully busy.   Excuses offered, and I hope accepted, here is my entry for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for July.

First of all, I think I must win the award for the most certifiably insane shrub this side of the Mississippi.   I was absolutely flabbergasted as I walked by my forsythia bush today as I was in search of things to photograph for this post.  The silly thing has decided to bloom.  In July.   Not as heavily as it does in the spring, but there are blossoms scattered all through it.  Maybe that freeze in the spring was more confusing than we thought!

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The day lilies are on their last blooms, they will be completely finished in a couple of days.   Perhaps some of the re-bloomers will grace us with their presence later.   This picture shows that my autumn sedum has decided to join Carol’s, and bud out just a tad early.

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What is done or almost done:  daylilies, hostas,  gladiolas, lance leaf coreopsis, mexican hat, sweet cicely, fleabane, rugosa roses.

Coming into bud: autumn sedum, prairie coneflower, sun flowers of all sorts, corn, asters, goldenrod, roman wormwood

In full bloom:   Everything else?   Oh, you want a list.   Butterfly bush, bush roses, hardy hibsicus, Queen Anne’s lace, tansy, thyme, oregano, blackberry lily, echinacea, garden phlox, black eyed susan, cleome, squash, peppers  are what pop to mind.  

And now the tour.   This is the front yard, sporting garden phlox and black eyed susans.  Right in the middle you can see perovskia blooming. There is echinacea and thyme  hiding in this garden, as well.

16july07-front-garden.jpg

Out in back, the root cellar is looking splendid.   On the right the hardy hibiscus are blooming like crazy.   In front of them is the fig bush, which is starting to put on figs like it means it.    The left side is wearing lavendar, butterfly bush, roses, garden phlox and the wild cleomes we collected seeds of is in the background.

16july07-root-cellar-left.jpg

16july07-root-cellar-right.jpg

I felt like a couple of the gals deserved close-up portraits.   I know I did this one a couple of days ago, but the blackberry lily is such a stunning plant I felt it deserved to be featured once again.

16july07-blackberry-lily.jpg

And the rose out on the root cellar is being a stunning debutante right now.

16july07-rose.jpg

There are several volunteers in the yard.   One is the catnip plant that seeded itself in front of the sauna.   Mike and Smokey like to go out and lie on the deck and do some inhalation therapy.

16july07-catnip.jpg

In one of my permanent “annual” pots that adorn the bird feeder, I had red salvia last year.   Imagine my surprise when I noticed it had reseeded itself.   Now it is blooming too.

16july07-salvia.jpg

Another plant that startled me by wintering over is this dahlia.   This is its fourth season blooming in the front yard.   I originally planted it with the intention of it being annual color, because I was certainly way too busy to dig it up and store it come fall.   It has tickseed coreopsis blooming in front of it.

16july07-dahlia-and-coreopsis.jpg

We have two kinds of cleomes growing in this yard.   One is the normal domesticated one.  I have an amusing story about that particular plant.  I had a 75 year old grandmother  coyly inform me that she knew that that plant was marijuana because the sherriff’s deputy and told her so.   I didn’t quite die laughing.  As far as I know, cannabis sativa does not have huge pink flowers:

16july07-cleome-domestic.jpg

The other cleome was one that was blooming one summer as we were travelling through Eastern Wyoming or Colorado, coming down off the plateau into Nebraska.   We kept seeing clumps of pink flowers blooming out in the sand between the sage brush, and so we stopped to see what they were.   This is one of the things I love about travelling with Jim.  He doesn’t think it the least bit odd to stop to identify a flower that is growing along side the road.   Or to pick up a nifty rock.   Or to just stop and look at the stars.   Anyway, it took some doing, because we were travelling just as it was in full bloom and it didn’t have a lot of seed heads ripe, but I managed to find seeds to collect and established this in my yard.   Definitely a cleome, but definitely a different sort than the domesticated one.

16july07-cleome-from-eastern-wyoming.jpg

Last, but certainly not least, is this tomato which we are going to eat for our lunch today.  The variety is an heirloom open pollinated sort called “Mortgage lifter.”  Jim picked it immediately before I took this picture.  It weighs 2 pounds 8.3 ounces (1.14 kilos for you people on the metric system).

16july07-mortgage-lifter-tomato.jpg

Gotta go!  Lunch is ready.

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