We just finished our second round of planting, with peppers galore, some sweet potatoes and sweet onions and tomatoes. It’s going to be a really hot week so we’ll hope they take to the ground. Lots of water from our new rain barrel.
We’ve significantly expanded our gardening this year. Last year, we had a single raised bed with lettuce, peas, spinach, and a few measly carrots, three or four mounds for squash and cucumber, and three extremely fruitful tomato plants. This year we’ve upped the ante significantly:
One raised bed with peas, lettuce, spinach, and green onions ( all but the last are already in the ground and sprouting).
A new second raised bed with sweet onions and potatoes.
three mounds for squash and cucumber (not planted yet)
a carrot patch (not planted yet)
one patch each of rhubarb and asparagus, which won’t yield this year but should in future years.
Three tomato plants and several pepper plants (not planted yet).
We’ve also installed a rain barrel. Of course, in the days before I put it in, lots of rain. After I got it installed, it took nearly two weeks to get some more. But now we’ve got a full barrel to water the garden.
The Animal Garden
Last time they visited, Jenny’s parents gave Avery a book about wildlife in the backyard, full of projects and activities to learn about the nature that’s right around the house. Avery has come to call this the “animal garden” book, and constantly wants to do projects in her “animal garden.” We made a bird bath from an old frisbee, and will likely be hanging a bird feeder soon. So far no birds have shown up.
My favorite moment with the book so far came when Avery explained the nest project from the book. (She closed the page too fast for me to see what the author’s description was, but as far as I can tell, it’s a building project that encourages birds to nest. Like a birdhouse platform):
Avery: We can build a nest and birds will come and egg in it and birds will come and the babies will patch out of the eggs and that will be cool!
So we’ve been eating cherry tomatoes for a few weeks from the robust plants along the south side of our yard. The last couple weeks, I’ve harvested 30 or so each week. Today was the first time the big tomato plants were ready to harvest. Here’s today’s crop. I suspect I’ll bring this many in at least two or three more times yet. Mmmmm, yummy.
There’s a sequence in Max Brooks’ incomparable World War Z in which the interviewer asks the head of redevelopment about the reintroduction of public humiliation as a punishment in the post-war America:
So many of [the President’s] proposals looked crazy at first glance, but once you peeled back the first layer, you realized that underneath there existed a core of irrefutable logic. Take the new punishment laws, those really set me off. Putting people in stocks? Whipping them in town squares!?! What was this, Old Salem, the Taliban’s Afghanistan? It sounded barbaric, un-American, until you really thought about the options. What were you going to do with theives and looters, put them in prison? Who would that help? Who could afford to divert able-bodied citizens to feed, clothe, and guard other able-bodied citizens? More importantly, why remove the punished from society when they could serve as such a valuable deterrent? Yes, there was the fear of pain–the lash, the cane–but all of that paled when compared to public humiliation. People were terrified of having their crimes exposed. At a time when everyone was pulling together, helping each other out, working to protect and take care of one another, the worst thing you could do to someone was to march them up into the public square with a giant poster reading “I Stole My Neighbor’s Firewood.” Shame’s a powerful weapon, but it depended on everyone else doing the right thing. No one is above the law, and seeing a senator given fifteen lashes for his involvement in war profiteering did more to curb crime than a cop on every street corner. (148-9)
I started this post thinking about how the Far Side cartoon above would suit me just fine. As would an alternate sign that says Didn’t Flush.
The modern press is supposed to serve this function. As I read the horrifying and depressing tales of Rod Blagojevich’s (alleged) machinations in the Illinois Governor’s office, I considered how such discussions are the modern equivalent of the pillory or the stocks. The blogosphere serves a similar purpose, with sites like Consumerist bringing hordes of self-righteous consumers to bear on unscrupulous behavior or other assholery.
But it’s an uneven system, with attention being paid to the most juicy, not the most egregious. The result is that appalling abuses of power get little press unless they’re easy to make digestible. Sex scandals get lots of press while corruption gets less and general abuse of power gets hardly any. Larry Craig’s name I remember, but I doubt that, in a year from now, I will still remember the name of the Treasury Secretary who shifted his promises after he got his billions from Congress.
The modern pillory ought to be focused on Bank and Auto execs who are still getting year-end bonuses, flying in private jets, and making multi-million-dollar salaries. I think the terms of the bailouts should demand halving the salaries of anyone who makes more than 200k at any of these companies. Think how many blue-collar jobs could be saved if we shaved a few million off the top end salaries. But such pillories are reserved for sleepy Comcast installers.
It turns out the tree in our backyard is an Ohio Buckeye tree. I guess my choice of University of Florida over Ohio State finally returns to haunt me. I guess if I’d chosen Ohio State, we’d find a gator nest, eh?
I also learned that the Ohio Buckeye tree is also called the American Buckeye, the Fetid Buckeye, and the Stinking Buckeye because its leaves and bark smell really bad if you mash ’em up. I know I’ll be doing that this fall. 🙂