Monday, August 1, 2011

First-of-the-month roundup, Part I

Like many of my fellow citizens, I've spent a lot of time recently tracking the progress (or lack thereof) of debt-ceiling discussions -- more about that in Part II. First, I want to hit a few other topics.

The U.S. has more than its share of white, Christian, right-wing nutjobs who prefer that anyone who doesn't profess the same xenophobia be exterminated. So when I heard that a likewise-addled Norwegian murdered 78 innocents on July 22, I didn't wonder if such a massacre could happen here -- I pondered how soon it will happen here.

Hot as a pumpkin patch
I'm not handling the heat well this summer. The last time I felt this way was in mid-September, when a day of pickin' punkins kicked my aging, out-of-shape ass.

Truth is, I've become way too accustomed to air conditioning. And strangely enough, the fix for my heat-intolerance is to spend more time working outside. That's easier said than done, considering, but I'm working on it.

Our garden grows...and grows...and grows...
The aforementioned bounty of cucumbers is taking over our small garden plot, threatening to take over my life. Now three tomato plants are trying my patience -- and I was warned.

A while back, my neighbor told me of a spring morning many years ago, when she witnessed our home's previous owner, standing on a stepladder in his garden, setting ten-foot stakes. When asked why, he replied politely that this was especially fertile soil, insisting that the absurdly tall stakes were quite necessary to support his tomatoes.

Later that summer, according to my neighbor, the optimistic old gardener was proven right.

This season's tomatoes are following the same path skyward, today nearly eight feet tall, so heavy with fruit that they're pulling their cages from the ground. I've supplemented the leaning wire enclosures with six-foot bamboo stakes and string. I'm not sure that'll be enough.

I'm also having a love-hate relationship with some "volunteer" vines -- gourds or pumpkins, I think -- which sprouted from seeds that survived composting. I've pulled hundreds of seedlings from our raised beds since May, choosing to leave a few that came up outside the fence. Now, despite my pruning, they cover a hundred square feet of lawn.

Fertile soil, indeed. We haven't used a speck of chemical herbicide, pesticide or fertilizer, by the way -- nothing but hand-weeding and home-cooked compost.

Sneak peek
I'm dropping a placeholder here for the next installment of my Urban Resources series.

If there's one resource that most of us take for granted and mismanage horribly, it's water. I've become particularly aware of it this summer, partly through gardening and partly because every month I have to pay the village for what I use. I've been exploring ways to conserve, extend and even harvest water -- stay tuned.

After the circus leaves town
A couple of flatbed trucks rumbled up the street late yesterday afternoon, carrying rolls of canvas and aluminum poles -- the last remnants of our village's annual festival.

For four days we'd been treated to heavy traffic on the street and sidewalk in front of our house. The sounds of live music, some great and some absolutely awful, drifted over our yard from the big concert stage. There were carnival rides and games-of-chance, fair food and a beer garden, a classic-car show and, naturally, a parade.

No fireworks this year, though. Budget cuts, don'tcha know.

We made the three-minute walk to the festival grounds on Wednesday evening, again on Saturday afternoon for a funnel-cake fix, and finally on Saturday night for the traditional closing concert -- a performance by a gray-haired pop star that festival organizers can get cheap.

It may be a weenie little festival, but this is home. We like it fine.