An intriguing time of year. Like the squirrels, we have an instinct about saving up, putting away, sorting. The leaves die and fall; many of my closest relatives reached the end of their lives between Labor Day and Thanksgiving -- was it because so many other things were ending? The harvest, the leaves, the monarchs, the hummmingbirds? Actually the harvest is always a wonder time and the inspiration for spicy chili, tomato soup, pumpkin bread, apple pies, onion soup and a batch of boeuf bourguignon. The boeuf is harvest-connected because the recipe calls for leeks, and I grow enough to make a couple of batches of the tasty beef that freezes so well. Once upon a time, shelves in the cellar were full of things to eat in the winter. Now it's all in the freezer for grabbing when it's just not the right day to cook, or when someone comes to dinner. While lavender petals fall from the windflowers out front and the stems of grasses turn tawny, the kitchen takes on a series of aromas attached to fall.
Onions and potatoes
Garden favorites in late August, early September, are what's underground -- potatoes, onions and carrots. You plant one little chunk of a seed potato and dig for treasure at the end of summer, perhaps just two giant ones, perhaps a cluster to be dug out. Onions are right on the surface, fat and yellow, bulbous and white, round and purple. The purple ones are frequently called red onions, but they are definitely purple, and this past year, they kept well in the cellar until April when they were all gone.
Carrots are not as dependable as onions and potatoes. Sometimes they don't even wake up and come up. This year every seed came up, thinning was essential but didn't do enough. So some are fat, some are small, all are sweet either cooked or raw, unlike the tasteless but long and perfect ones in the supermarket. (The long won't work here. The clay soil likes stocky carrots that don't have to grow six or seven inches into the ground, which is apparently too much work for a carrot.)
And this year, a perfect sugar pumpkin stands out orange in the vines that ramble wherever they please. If the wandering turkeys don't whack at it, it's a prime candidate for pie or spicy bread. Weather and temperature permitting, several more are growing there.
As for the turkeys, they create little dust bowls in the garden this time of year, supposedly a way to get clean. Odd to take a bath in dirt! And they relish the seeds on the weeds that seem to get a new lease on life in August.
French onion soup, carrot ginger soup, leek and potato soup -- backyard helpers for days of ice and snow to come.
Roe v. Wade
We were getting somewhere. Despite my basic belief that I should have autonomy over my body, Roe v. Wade assured that for American women. It's gone with the sweep of opinions from five men and a woman (!) on the Supreme Court. One of those men, Chief Justice Roberts, wrote an opinion unholding the Mississippi law but did not want to toss Roe v. Wade. But he voted with the others: the mystical and somewhat mysterious devout Catholic Amy Cony Barrett; Clarence Thomas, the justice nominated despite Anita Hill's credible testimony of sexual harassment; Brett Kavanaugh, appointed after Dr. Ford told her heartbreaking story of being sexually attacked by him when they were teenagers; Samuel Alito; and Neil Gorsuch, who in his interview asserted his devotion to things like precedent and settled law.
Beware of Thomas. He wrote that contraception was in his sights. I remember when women had to go out of Massachusetts to get a diaphragm because it was illegal in the state founded by Puritans and politically dominated by Catholic doctrine in the middle of the 20th century.
I don't know what century we're in now. The ruling certainly puts us in an earlier time! But I do know that the Court has created a mess as tangled as one of my boxes of unused yarn. States accusing other states of crimes, no uniformity of rules, suits, quarrels and -- most troubling of all -- perhaps an explosion of the unwanted baby population, infants pushed into foster care or adoption. To be clear, I'm not in favor of abortion. I'm in favor of choice -- and in cases of rape, incest or a question about the life of a mother, I think women should make their own decisions.
We live in a country that has never dealt well with sex issues. So we don't admit that rape can happen in the bedroom between husband and wife or live-in partners. We don't explain stuff well enough to our children, and many of us oppose sex education programs in public schools. It's a mess. And the Supreme Court has just made it messier. When will they take away our right to vote?
Perhaps we'll just pay $5 a gallon or whatever and not grouse about it. It's a small hardship in our world where gunfire is limited to our own police officers and our own criminals and our own madmen -- not invaders. Ukraine is proudly and doggedly defending its heritage, its land and its freedom. And the price of gas is part of what we pay for their continued resistance against the enormous and misguided power of Russia's Putin. Ukrainians live in Russia, Russians live in Ukraine -- this is a terrible war in which cousins may be going against cousins, shared culture against shared culture. Can Putin decide too many body bags are coming back to Russia and too many young people are protesting in his streets? Time will tell. But determined dictators don't have a good reputation for clear, long-term thinking. Their creed is win. Their desire is power.
Will Ukraine be rubble before he's done? A country not worth having except to say, "I won?"
It was heartening this morning to hear Mitt Romney say he wants some election reform. It was disheartening to hear him say he had not been invited to the White House to provide input on voting questions. It was also disheartening to hear the NAACP representative totally dodge a newsman's question about whether common ground could be found across the aisle in an effort to find items that would be acceptable to Republicans. His non-answer just reiterated what's in the bill that Republicans won't vote for, thus dooming any change.
We can't work this way. Being adamant is the wrong road. Being a doormat is the wrong road. Somewhere between stubborn and knuckling under (i.e. giving up) is elasticity. Progressives lost momentum in the House of Representatives for Joe Biden when they for so long held the infrastructure bill hostage, insisting that reps pass the Build Back Better bill first or in tandem. They eventually allowed the vote on roads, bridges, broadband and some climate matters on the promise that BBB would get the votes it needs. And two Democratic senators have dug in their heels to deny passage of BBB -- because no Republicans will vote for it.
Perhaps Mitt Romney should insist on a meeting at the White House. Despite his strange history of stands and candidacy, he's a principled, intelligent man who takes his job seriously -- and has few worries about keeping it. He's the father of the Massachusetts health system that led to the Affordable Care Act, and he's also the man who pushed Acting Governor Jane Swift aside after promising her that he wouldn't run for governor. And that was a run that meant he had to figure out his tax situation because he had declared both Massachusetts and Utah as his permanent residence! He named Massachusetts -- and now has switched to Utah. He has been openly critical of the former president, who excoriates anyone who drives a chink into his ego.
In a recent address at Brigham Young University, Romney urged more attention to issues surrounding China, climate and the nation's debt. He's more interested in country than self, unlike too many of his colleagues who consider re-election their major reason for being.
How hard this is, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the Donald Trump nightmare can end. And the almost instant ability of Repblicans in the Senate to immediately abandon things they considered PRINCIPLE -- waiting until Americans have their chance to tune in by voting -- and say let's get a dependable conservative in there right now. We usually expect Mitch McConnell to be turn whichever way works, but maybe, just maybe, not all of his Republican folowers will fall into line. Lindsay Graham turned hypocrite with no problem, but perhaps this time Susan Collins will find her soul and not order the roast beef sandwich. (You can look that up probably.) And we go over the 200,000 death count right now from coronavirus. They slide past that so easily, the Senators never yelling at the president that he needs to DO something. We have reached a sorry place, including Bill Barr's comparison of virus rules like staying home and wearing a maska as secondonly to the "restraints" of slavery. The president should be invoking one of his fasvorite phrases: "It's sad." Yep. Lots of sad.
We said goodbye to Tracer on August 2, 2019. That day has turned out to last longer than most -- he was what my parents might have described, when I spent hundreds of dollars on his chemo, as "just a dog." Not so. He was just Tracer, every day going about his routines as if they were religious ritual -- the watch over food prep, the interest in the dishwasher, the hour at the hall window after breakfast in hopes that a rascally chipmunk or dashing squirrel would appear, the appearance in front of me at 9 p.m., the time of day when (after Milt's death) when I had habitually said "time for TV Tracer," and off we'd go to drop the blinds, turn on the TV and watch and snooze and watch. Around 11, before the chemo started, he'd get up and stare until I moved to take him out and put him to bed iin his crate. For 12 years, with a few memorable exceptions, he slept until his humans got up, or he waited quietly. He's in every corner here, and yet he's not. And the weeping of August 2 goes on, sometimes rushing out without warning. Like when he should be there to get a Frosted Mini Wheat, or two or three. Or the end of the banana.
It's hard to know when exactly "elderly" starts, but certainly I've tried to hold the term at bay Read More
Too much in view
Now it's apparently high fashion. And the pants are much lower. A guy bends to pick up anything, and there's the beginnings of his butt. He stands up, hitches up his pants and goes on his way. But the pants are too big, the belt nearly useless, and one wonders how seemingly hipless males are able to keep their pants from just falling to the ankles.
It happened at the post office the other day. Too much information. Not fashion. Perhaps, given the falling-down possibility, not even comfortable. At the risk of being labeled "fuddy-duddy," for which I qualify easily in age, I don't like it. Didn't even laugh the last time the plumber came. Read More