Monday, August 31, 2009

A Sure Sign

I cleaned my stove last night.  It's an unpleasant chore, one that I duck until the situation reaches Defcon 5.  But I visited some amazingly clean appliances over the weekend (clean because they were still in the store) and when I came home to the horror of my own stove, I was forced to take action.

I also cleaned the floors and scrubbed the bathrooms.  All this tidiness is a sure sign that I am returning to school this week.  Usually I reserve all my Ms. Clean action for Labor Day weekend, per the example of my school-teacher mother, but school is cranking up earlier this year.  And so I poured a Pine Sol cocktail and celebrated in the way my people have been partying since time began.

I know how to live.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food Friday: Grilled Portabello Brie Burger

I am a big fan of sandwiches and this sandwich, based on a recipe I found at Tasty Kitchen, came together quickly and was, as advertised, most tasty. The fresh basil was a perfect addition; somehow that taste always spells summer for me.

I sliced up the veggies before I put the sandwich together and served it with cole slaw, sliced tomatoes and some fresh melon.  It was the perfect meal for a summer evening and will certainly show up at my supper table again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


On Monday afternoon, after 10 days away, JT returned home.  We've been through this routine a few times now and so I know what to expect.  The moment we two are alone in the house, he grabs hold of me and starts to cry.  For the next 15 minutes, he clings to me while I hold on to him.

We don't really say anything, we just hold one another tight and we both cry.  I think it's an expression of the pent up emotions of the time away from one another.  There is a strain involved in making do in the midst of the irregularity that life apart brings us.  And once we return to one another's company, we can finally exhale. In those moments, our mutual relief is palpable.

Though it happens every time that we are apart for more than a few days, the intensity of the return to our life together always surprises me.  That I have deeply missed him while he is away is a given.  Life without the boy around is so very different that it feels unrecognizable.  I hope that when he is away from me his life doesn't feel uncertain or incomplete.  I know that he's not afraid to leave, and I am glad of that.   That he's happy to return is equally certain.

In that certainty I can see how blessed I am to be JT's mama.  And I am glad for it.

Update: Blogger and I are getting along just slightly better, and I would be pleased except that I don't know what I did to unify the font.  Gah.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adirondack Improvement

These Adirondack chairs have been on my back porch for the last three years. I gave them to my then-partner as a birthday gift. I thought they'd be a comfortable set of chairs for us to enjoy in our backyard for years to come.

When she de-camped, I kept the chairs. They started life as two bright cherry red chairs, but the paint faded to a dull yellowed red and then peeled because I left them outside for several winters. Not good.

The chairs are still quite sturdy and they certainly deserve better than that. So last weekend, I carried them out to the yard for a little renovation action. They were badly in need of a good scrubbing and that was the first step. I sanded the rough spots where the paint had peeled.
Next, I hosed them down to clean off the dust from sanding. Then I tipped them over to dry.
A conversation with the folks who made the chairs (Lands End) had yielded the advice that I use spray paint to fix them up and that's exactly what I did. I picked a darker color for the chairs; a high gloss version of the cranberry trim on my house. Three cans of spray paint later, the chairs were left to dry in the backyard.

And now they are back on the deck, looking most welcoming. They'll be outside for a few more months. Then, when winter comes I will carry them to the garage for storage away from the elements.

Though my spray paint can trigger finger was sore for the next two days, the project was mostly easily to manage. From start to finish it took just three hours to make the improvements on these chairs. Not bad.
Blogger and I are still working out our font issues.....and so far, Blogger is still winning.  Word Press is looking better and better.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hibiscus Blooms

I've had this pink hibiscus plant for three years now. In the cold of winter, it comes inside to stay in the study. But come the summer, the plant heads outside and usually grows thick and lush on a corner of the back deck. My only challenge is to ensure that this water-loving tropical plant gets enough water to keep the blooms coming all season long.

This summer, Mother Nature has handled the watering duties and I've seen the largest flowers yet on the plant. In the summer sun, with up to a half dozen of blossoms at a time, the plant looks downright blousy and gaudy.

It's a most happy development.

Note: I see that my blogger font troubles continue. Grrrrr. I'll get to work on this straight away, but I make no promises.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nine Year Boy Sought for Light Duty

Must be able to shuck corn (note: the previously successful applicant was a born and bred cornhusker, so the bar is high).
Perform forbidden headstands on the sofa.
Willingness to stage art projects in the front yard.
The successful applicant must be willing to pet sassy cats who insist on sitting on his lap.
Job is heavy on the hours required, light on the allowance. Generous fringe benefits include a lifetime provision of guacamole tacos and fudgesicles, a warm soft bed, good books, excellent Halloween costumes, laughter, and the adoration of a doting Mama.

The post has been vacant for 10 days and needs immediate staffing.

I've quite bravely endured the quiet that has filled my home in the last week but enough is enough. I expect the boy to return home this afternoon. Whomever it was who said "absence makes the heart grow fonder,'" must have been the mama of a nine year old boy.
Note: I have tried - repeatedly - to standardize the font on this post. But Blogger does not love me today........I'll try again when I have more patience for trouble-shooting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Clean Living

When I moved away to college, I distinctly recall that my mother ordered me to leave my room a mess. Coming from a woman who was obsessed with cleaning, I thought it was a strange request. It had certainly never been an option in the first 17 years of my life.

Years of therapy later, I came to realize that my mother liked cleanliness and order because it was about her dual allies: structure and control of emotions. I'm able to express my emotions (yes, you're saying to yourself, I read this blog and know that you are a persistent over-sharer). Even so, in my own life, cleaning has served the purpose of permitting me to manage my anxieties in a mostly functional fashion. In the last week, with my son away and out of contact with me, I have been a cleaning machine. My usual cleaning tasks were dispatched with efficiency and then I turned my attention to other matters. It's a very efficient way to keep my demons and anxieties at bay. And the end result is a tidy home.

First target: the kitchen pantry. Here's how it looked before.
And afterward it was most lovely.
Next up: the family bulletin board that hangs in the hall between the kitchen and the living room, directly across from the basement door. Please note the before chaos.....
And after.
Look for a post next month on the bulletin board project, which entailed a little more than simply cleaning off the old papers.

And then I worked on my most challenging task yet: the large (and very full) bookshelf in the study. The before photo says a lot, mostly that I have delayed this task for far, far too long. Also, in a more promising interpretation, that I like to read.
During....Please note that the feline wildlife had completely fled the room and might have left the premises if they were allowed outside. They did not find cleaning enjoyable.
And after.
The boy will return tomorrow. He may or may not be impressed with our newly ordered life, but he'll certainly benefit from the fact that all this ordering helped to keep his Mama sane while he was away.

By the way, the nice people at Blogger report to me that this is my 1100th post. I had no idea I'd produced quite that much drivel in the last three and a half years.

Update: Nichole is right...I have a grits problem. But when you mix a cup of cooked grits with a cup or two of grated cheddar cheese and a few chopped pickled jalopenos and then bake the lot in the oven for 20 minutes, then you will understand why I love the grits.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I'd been reading Michael Pollan's writings for a couple of years before this past spring, when I finally sat down and read The Omnivore's Dilemma and An Eater's Manifesto. At that point, I officially made the conversion and now consider myself to be a Pollan disciple.

When Pollan talks about the process of putting a meal on the table, I recognize my own point of view. I like to garden and cook because I like to eat good food. For me, these things are linked to one another. The process of collecting fresh ingredients, making them into a meal, and setting them on the table for myself, my family and my friends is enormously fulfilling for me.

Most nights, my son and I sit down together and we eat a homemade supper. In fact, even when JT is away, I cook. I'm not heating ingredients that come pre-processed, I am making actual food. It happens only because I plan for it to occur. I make a list of the foods I want to cook and then I head to the market to buy the necessary ingredients. In a recent New York Times article, Pollan discusses why this is so important: actual cooking requires actual ingredients, not the processed foods that fill our grocery store shelves. And the result is healthier in a myriad of ways. Naturally, I concur. As I was reading his essay, I was struck again by the satisfaction I derive from the process of cooking. The orderly assembly of quality ingredients into a tasty meal is the best way I know to relax at the end of the day.

After being out of town for four weeks this summer, I was eager to get back into the kitchen. I made plans to cook meals that require a good deal of chopping, because that's my favorite kitchen activity. And last Sunday I lured some friends to the table to enjoy the fruits (literally, as it turns out) of my return to the kitchen.

The Menu:
- fresh cherries
- Mediterranean chop salad
- Summer tomato pie
- Spicy corn fritters
- garlic toasts

And for dessert, we had a slice of grasshopper pie. The satisfaction of planning and cooking a meal feels timeless to me. Maybe that's why I enjoy my garden and kitchen so much.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Twenty Years

August never passes that I don't reflect on the ways that my life has often changed in the eighth month of the year. August is my month for moving house. Twenty years ago this month, I left California for grad school in Nashville, Tennessee. Five years later, in 1994, I left Nashville for a job in rural Nebraska. And yet another August move was made in 2002, when I left Nebraska for a new job in New Jersey.

I generally think of myself as a Californian but I've lived in the West, the South, the Midwest, and the East. And the place I love best is Tennessee. I wouldn't say that I'm a drifter, but I certainly have tried a fair share of places. My son was born in Nebraska but he left at the age of two and isn't really a midwesterner. New Jersey and the East Coast are his home; the place most familiar to him. I am always surprised to realize that JT's most familiar place is not native to me.

I'm a bit of an outsider, I guess, in that I view my new home through the lens of someone who has lived elsewhere for a while. I've always come to see the place I live as beautiful; as places that fed my heart and felt like home. When I think of mountains, I still think of the immense grandeur of the Sierra Nevada range in California; no other mountains can hope to match up. I loved the woods and green hills of Tennessee and the vast sweep of the prairie in Nebraska. In New Jersey I've found satisfaction as well. In the woods where I go walking and on the front porch and in the backyard of my home, I see a restful beauty that is at odds with the stereotypical impressions people have of this state.

I'm not moving this month; I expect that I'll be in New Jersey for some years to come. But I've been thinking often of the ways that home has been a moving target for me. A friend of mine used to say that home is where you keep your clothes, and that's certainly true. But for me it's more than that. Home is the place you choose to make your own, where you find comfort and sustenance for your heart and soul.

And in my case, these days, home is the Garden State, a state with plenty of opportunities for retail therapy, replete with Jersey peaches, the best pizza in the world (and you'll want to call it a pie when you call Giuseppe's for takeout), and a Dunkin' Donuts at every corner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smack Talk

On our last night in California, I joined JT and my nephews in the swimming pool for some games. We ended up armed and dangerous, playing a game whereby the children shot at me with water cannons and I sought to evade them, shooting back as necessary.

They are young and quick but I like to believe that I was a worthy enemy. Worthy enough to frequently disarm the most smack-talking of them all, my nephew S, who repeatedly announced, "You just got served, Auntie S," most often shouting that just as I relieved him of his weaponry (a scenario we repeated several times).

I like the way kids can seamlessly slip into a game they've never played before, quickly organizing for fun, as if that is the very reason that we exist in the first place. It was nice to leave adulthood behind and play along. And a reminder that I need to have fun more often.

And though I say it myself, I still think it's true: You boys got served by JT's Mama.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parenting Time

This week, for the second time this summer, JT is away from his home and his Mama, to spend some time with my ex. It's always strange for me to be in this position. Every day, when I wake in the morning, I listen for the breath of my son in the next room. This week I hear a silence. And then I remember that he is away and I know that's why I feel oddly untethered. The legal arrangement that made this a necessary part of our lives calls my ex's time with my son "parenting time."

Its clinical tone makes it an apt characterization. Though I don't deny that my son loves her and I dearly hope that that she loves him back, since she walked out on our family I don't think of her as a parent. Parents are the people in your life who are there every day, the folks who pack your lunchbox, wash your clothes, set down to eat supper with you, and love you in person. They are present for the laughter and the tears and everything else that makes up daily life. It needn't be biology that unites a child with his parent. But I believe that being a parent is in the actions and the words of a life lived together.

And together takes time; together doesn't adhere to a schedule.

The people who come every other weekend, who sometimes return you home with the announcement that "we were too busy to get his clothes washed"; who don't know the names of your friends; who have no idea where soccer practice is, let alone when it happens; who aren't there when you cry and miss them at night.....they are something, no doubt something meaningful. But they are not a parent.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Latest Addition

I have already written about my collection of Margaret Hudson figurines. This quail is the latest addition to the collection, and like most of the rest of the clay animals I have, it was liberated from my Mom's house while I visited last week.

It's happily settled on the table in my dining room, doing its part to make my house a home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Worthy of the Name

Though the heat and humidity have finally arrived with a vengeance, we've had a wet and cool summer in my corner of New Jersey. It has wreaked havoc on my plans for a lush, fruitful garden. I planted in the last week of April, but the cool, wet weather has slowed down my expected growing season. I did get my lush garden but it's also one that has been very slow to ripen.

I had hoped for an abundance of tomatoes to be eaten in July. But Mother Nature had different plans and so I've had to wait until this week to reap the rewards of my garden work. On Thursday morning, our first full day back home, I walked outside to check out my garden and I found the abundance of tomatoes that signifies summer.

Along with some colorful zinnias, I finally have a bowl of tomatoes that are quite worthy of being called a harvest.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Household Happiness: Grandma's Afghan

I know that the heat of August doesn't quite lend itself to the need for a warm afghan on your lap, but being in California reminded me of family, and it got me thinking about my afghan.

My grandmother Dorothy, an expert knitter, made it for me. When the weather cooled, she could often be found with a knitting project on her lap. I almost wrote slowly covering her lap, but that's not quite accurate. She knit with precision and speed and her work was exquisitely exact, quickly spreading itself over her lap and overflowing on the floor as her latest project neared completion.

I received this warm afghan blanket more than twenty years ago, when I was in college. From dorm rooms to apartments and houses, it has provided warmth and comfort in my life ever since. It's so essential to my idea of home that when I first moved to Nashville, it came in the tiny car with me. Since then, it has been at the foot of my bed or on a chair in my living room. The afghan helps to make my house a home.

It washes easily and is a favorite of cat and child. My mother and sister both have a version of this blanket in their homes. In the winter, without even asking, I can be sure that my mother is stretched out on her sofa, tucked under her afghan with a book in her hand and a cat on her lap. JT and I take turns doing the same in our home.

He met her once, but JT never got the chance to know his great grandmother Dorothy. Though she was in her 80s, she died unexpectedly in 2000. Earlier that year, both my sister and I had given birth to two baby boys and after the birth of my nephew S, my grandma wrote me a letter (we wrote one another often). It was filled with a few newspaper clips and a note in her beautiful handwriting that reflected on meeting the newest baby in the family, Spencer, who was yet another blessing in her life. As my grandmother wrote that April, "My cup runneth over with three great-grandsons."

I enjoy the thought of those great-grandsons growing tall underneath their great-grandmother's blanket. Some day, they will pass it on to their own children. And then their grandchildren. This afghan is made to last.


Today is the 15th, the day of the month when I post pictures of something from my household that makes me smile. And I shall do that as soon as I find a replacement cable to connect my computer to my digital camera. Best I can tell, the cable that came with the camera got left in Denver. When I consulted the manual for information about obtaining a replacement cable it instructed, "use only the cable that came with the camera."

Good advice, albeit advice that I cannot follow because, as I believe I mentioned before, that cable is on an extended dance mix vacation in the Mile High City.

However, if there is one good thing about living in New Jersey, it's the retail opportunities. I have no doubt that somewhere out there is a pimply-faced, tech-savvy young man who will smugly advise me as to a replacement cable.

And then I will return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Perils of Modern Air Travel

After 8 days in the land of Cousins & Grandparents, JT and I reluctantly returned to the real world yesterday. Our return to the land of Traffic & Humidity required two flights: one from Fresno, California to Denver, Colorado and a second from Denver to Newark, New Jersey.

All things considered, this is a pretty decent flight plan combination. And I much prefer a stop in Denver to a stop in Dallas. A flight across the country is bound to take some time, but, hey, that's the reality of traveling 2000 miles. On the other hand, being all Sunny-Eyed Optimist isn't any fun and I live in New Jersey now, so I have a Constitutional right to complain. And complaining about air travel, well, that's just downright American.

I shall offer my complaints in the form of a list. Let's call it Troubling Elements of the Trip Home. In no particular order, I offer my air travel grievances.

1. People who cannot wait in a queue. Why would anyone cut a line in order to be the first to confine themselves in a tiny little cabin? Who knows, but if you're getting on a plane, please be assured that someone will jump the line. This is particularly dangerous with a crowd of people heading to Jersey, but some jackass will always take the risk.

2. If you can't hop-to and move it with your Enormous-Wheeled-Carry-On, then I feel we should be able to cast you from the plane.

3. Eight days in the dessert that is my hometown left my entire person moisture-free. The trip home, in the company of eight hours of dry, pressurized air, further stripped my nasal membranes of whatever moisture remained. Who doesn't love a bloody nose in a confined space?

4. Explaining to the ipod listening-JT that Mama downloaded the grown-up version of Liz Phair's song "Supernova" and no, he can't sing that word out loud (to be fair, this error should be charged squarely to me, but still).

5. The sullen Slavic woman sitting next to me, inexplicably ordering endless cups of hot tea. In August. WTF?

6. Clothing fail. My skirt crept up my legs and past my waistband until it was choking me to death as the plane circled Newark.

7. Turbulence. Lots of it. I like a little rocking and rolling as much as the next girl, but I prefer it the old-fashioned way (get your mind out of the gutter...I mean a roller coaster). All that bumping and jostling in a plane is tiresome. Also: there is absolutely no call for screaming when the plane abruptly seems to drop. I know that people were startled. But let's be clear: Screaming DOES NOT HELP.

It's nice to be home again.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Ultimate Stuffie

Around my house, all the stuffed animals are referred to as stuffies. Big boys of 9 don't play with stuffed animals as much as they used to. But my sister's dog, Murphy, is an adequate substitute. He's goofy and charming, with a propensity to eat catalogs (though he's been known to leave the one with dog toys unmolested). He's large enough to leap the sofa in a single bound. And, at just 18 months old, young enough to try it more than once.
Update: Murphy is considered much less charming when he eats shoes. Auntie KO is not amused, Murphy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

All Cousins, All the Time

As happens whenever he comes to town, JT has seamlessly slipped himself into life with his cousins. Other than the occasional sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's (he can highly recommend the bacon for breakfast), he lives and breathes with the boys.

We've taken out the bikes and ridden to Sonic for lunch.
Then we took the bike trail back in the other direction, to check out a new park. The boys spent nearly two hours there, trying out the play equipment and generally having a big time.
Last night, some friends came over and they enjoyed a little night-swimming action, some fun that I recall from my own childhood. Something about gliding through the darkened pool makes you feel superhuman. I could hear them laughing and splashing in the backyard and an instant I was transported to that time in my own life, a time that doesn't feel nearly as long ago as the mirror unfailingly reminds me it must be.
There is something deeply satisfying about watching my child and my nephews as they enjoy being kids together. It could make a mama wish for an endless summer.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


On our first full day in sunny California, my sister and I set off for the local water park. We met her friend J and as the boys and J's children toured the slides, we sat in the wave pool and relaxed. As the afternoon wore on, the kids persuaded us to try our hand at a water slide. So we waited in line, hauled a giant inner tube up the hill, and rode down the slide screaming. Just as one does at a water park.
And that was so much fun, that I tried my hand at another slide. This one was aptly nicknamed "the toilet." After a quick ride down a darkened tube, the slide shot me into a spinning bowl and then dropped me into a deep pool. More fun.

After my success at the fancy slides, it seemed fitting to try my hand at one of the basic mat slides. I grabbed a mat and headed down the slide. As I started down, it occurred to me that the mat wasn't as well situated underneath me as I might like. But, no matter, I figured. It would be fine.

Two turns later, the slippery mat and I parted company. Within seconds, my speedy downward slide was halted. By which I mean completely halted. I wasn't moving. And so for the last third of the slide, I tried to hold on to my flip-slops, and re-position the mat underneath me, all the while creeping slowly downward, aware that there were other, more competent sliders, still on their mats, hurtling down the slide behind me. Not to mention the people at the bottom of the slide watching those of us coming down, witnesses to my complete incompetence.

In my case, there were three people waiting for me: Auntie KO, her son C and JT. They came into view as I slowly struggled downward and I looked up to see their caring faces. Those faces were suffused with laughter as my family bent over and busted a gut laughing at my bungling progress down the slide. Thus reassured of their abiding affection for me, I continued my creeping slide downward, by now resigned to slipping slowly into the drink, to be followed by my mat and the many people whose own slide I had stymied.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Harvest Notes

Last fall, my father sent me three dwarf fruit trees for my garden. I dutifully planted them and have happily watched them grow. Though I shouldn't rightfully expect a harvest until next fall, one of the trees got to work this spring and we had two apple buds. As we watched the apples grow, JT and I mused about the shared apple snack we would soon enjoy.

Earlier this week, on the same day as I finally had my first tomato of the summer (more on that later this week), the apples fell off the tree, ready to eat. And eat them we did.
Next fall, I'll have more apples and pears. Maybe enough for a pie in addition to a few snacks. It's a most happy thought to contemplate.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Real Life Conversations with JT: Fearsomely Cute edition

The backstory: JT and I play an occasional game, the goal of which is for me to catch and subdue him by tickling him until he screams for mercy. Generally, when we play this game, he puts on the head portion of the cat costume his Grandma made him two years ago. I don't know why he considers this particularly fearsome, but he does. The other morning, as the game commenced, he had trouble snapping on the cat hat and the following conversation ensued:

JT: Will you do the snaps?

Mama: I actually said nothing, just raised my eyebrows as if to question this need.

JT: I know, I know. It's not very scary if I need you to do the snaps. But desperate times call for desperate measures, Mama.
I ask you: who can resist that face? If he knew how charmingly cute I find this game, we'd never stop playing.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Critic

As a result of something he saw on the telly, JT now dines at my table in the personae of "the critic." As the critic, he speaks of himself in the third person and is a stern presence at the table, one prepared to rate his meal with exacting language.

I am nearly always castigated for my slow service and poor attitude. In my defense, I must note that the critic never pays his bill nor leaves a tip. Conveniently, the critic does accept whatever meal I set before him and, providing it is accompanied by potato chips, I receive stellar reviews. The critic offers them with a grudging generosity. He wouldn't want me to get too big for my britches.

For some reason, I mostly find this amusing, though that is perhaps because I treat the critic with a manner of surliness that gives as good as it gets. Like most of JT's imaginary games, the critic will likely be short-lived. In the meantime, I am plotting my next move. I may dare to offer the critic a slice of peach with his standard chips. My reviews will surely suffer, but, as they say, if you can't take the heat, one should get out of the kitchen.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Calling It As I See It

In the circles of those who discuss healthcare reform, use of the phrase "rationed care" is like dropping a bomb on civil discourse. The idea of rationed care (which implies that we'll have to make decisions about providing care ----- a sort of cost/benefit analysis method of providing medical services) raises all sorts of red flags of the panicked variety.

The implication of rationed care that one's beloved Grandma might not get a hip replacement because some heartless bureaucrat will take a look at the paperwork and say, "Hey, she's 85 and doesn't have much longer to live. No new hip." The canard also suggests that rationing means you wait in line for care, as in: "Well get that heart by-pass on the calendar for next month as we're fresh out of by-pass bucks at this time."

The American political culture of individualism gives no truck to notions that we might have to wait for medical care; that we might have to make difficult decisions in the provision of care. The reality, that our current healthcare system is in the rations business (as in: no insurance, no ration) is typically rejected by critics as an over-simplification of the situation.

That's nonsense, of course, as anyone without access to healthcare can tell you. My biggest concern about healthcare reform is that as we move to a system of national healthcare we must also get in place some cost controls. To cover the 45 million uninsured in our current system will bankrupt the nation because the current system is doing just that without covering all of us. So I'm distinctly in favor of a national, single-payer model with cost controls. The 45 million uninsured would get coverage; the under-insured would get coverage, and employers would be able to buy into a system of insurance that doesn't bankrupt the business. We'd be done with the exclusions of pre-existing conditions and other efforts to keep the sick out of the insured pool. Our commitment would be to provide healthcare for every single person in this nation. End discussion.

And yes, I think that we need some kind of rationing system and I'm willing to use the forbidden phrase. And having come right out and said that, I can already hear the screeching and yelling. I'd been working up an argument in favor of rationing when philosopher Peter Singer did the work for me in a recent NY Times magazine article. Thanks, Professor Singer. Read this article, please, and then imagine me nodding thoughtfully and saying, "yeah, yeah, what he said."

Because Professor Singer is spot-on. Let the rationing begin.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

August 1 Hostas: The Look of Summer

My hostas have bloomed and are now looking a bit like plants who could use a bit of a rest. It was hot around here last week (or so the weather service implied), though by no means was it unusual heat. And given our cool summer, for the garden it was a welcome heat. But mostly, it's been all kind of rainy in my corner of New Jersey.
And not just the welcome summer rain and fresh breeze that relieves the heat of summer. From the looks of my rain gauge and the zinnias in the garden, there has been heavy, pelting rain. So the hostas, who do not enjoy much covering, have taken a rainy beating.

But they are standing firm and waving in the breeze, well-watered to face the steamy August that lies ahead.

I have – finally – had a tomato from the garden and a few more are along the way (these tomatoes are yellow-orange when ripe; a variant called Jubilee). So we'll enjoy some bacon and tomato sandwiches as we sit on the back deck and admire the hostas this weekend.
As far as I am concerned, a warm garden tomato is the very taste of summer. And the look of summer is the lush green of the hostas lined up against the garage.