Monday, February 13, 2012


             Ever wonder what goes on in someone else’s mind? Ever pick up somebody’s journal and start reading? Would you interested in a peek at mine?


February 2, 2012
Dear Diary,
The International Food and Agriculture Organisation  
classifies clear-cut monocrop plantation sites,  
like this one, as “forests.”
What is wrong with this picture? Literally?
            After a long spell of silence, the Irish-by-way-of-New-Zealand Cathy Fitzgerald churned out two An Art and Ecology Notebook posts in four days. As blogger, filmmaker and Green Party activist, her focus is the plight of global forests. She worries about the contributions human short-sightedness and greed make to the health of “our finite biosphere.” By continuing to buy (cheap) wood products from countries whose logging practices—including clearing old-growth areas—are unsustainable, Western economies are essentially financing what is becoming known as the sixth great extinction of species, habitat and cultures, the Anthropocene Age. (See “In Other News,” Nov. 7, 2011.) Immediate implementation of sane, long-term forest management policies could slow our pell-mell rush toward rendering Earth uninhabitable, Cathy says.

            She quotes Derrick Jensen, author of A Language Older than Words:         

I thought… of our fundamental inversion of all relatedness, of how we nearly always ask the wrong question—What can I get from this?—and so rarely the right one—What can I give back? Even when we try to learn from others, it is from the same spirit of acquisition: What can I learn from this forest ecosystem that will teach me how to manage it for maximum resource extraction? Rarely: What can I learn from this forest community that will teach me better how to serve it?

I don’t know. It’s rare in human history that doing what’s right trumps making a profit. I find solace in that the planet will heal itself once the last money-grubbing, self-involved poophead is gone… hard as it is to believe that could actually happen, especially in an election year. 

February 3, 2012
Dear Diary,
            Note to self: be sure to thank Joseph Cooper-Silvis, who signed up to follow the blog yesterday. Stupid Google won’t allow me to log in to send a personal email through friendconnect, and won’t say why. Yeah, I’ll sign up to put my life in the hands of cloud computing. Just not in this lifetime.

            Anyway, Joseph, I do thank you for signing up. Comments, questions and constructive criticisms are always welcome. And that is one yummy-looking cake in your picture. Is that a frozen chocolate-covered banana on top? Do you bake? Do you sometimes mail goodies to friends?

February 6, 2012
Dear Diary,
            The Grow-Bags have arrived from Gardeners Supply! I broke the news to Tim that they’ll be adorning our front yard in all their cylindrical blue, orange and tan splendors, filled with potato, tomato and pepper plants. Whether or not they produce potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, however, remains to be seen.

            Peas are up in the back yard, but somebody keeps nibbling away the leaves as they open. Too dainty a bite to be deer: bunnies maybe? Covered most of the sprouts with leftover Remay scraps. Perhaps it’s time to set up the bird-netting fences, so the poor darling peas have half a chance.

Fall-planted potato harvest
            In anticipation of a package from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, I dug up the experimental fall-planted crop of potatoes. Not a bad harvest, considering I broke all the rules. What rules? Why, The Potato Rules:

1.  Never use grocery-store potatoes for seed. They’re not certified virus-free!
2.  There’s no point in planting in September: seed eyes go dormant in the fall.
3.      Plant in full sun, not in the shadow of a hedge.
4.      Plant six inches deep initially, then hill, hill, hill.

Okay, so I only pulled in enough spuds for half a loaf-pan of Tim’s famous au gratins: but the experience of digging potatoes in February—priceless. Besides, I’ve never been good at rules anyway.

February 7, 2012
Dear Diary,
            The moon goes full this afternoon at 4:54 EST. In folklore, February’s full moon is called the Hunger Moon, with good reason back in the day before the advent of 24-hour supermarkets. We are so freakin’ spoiled.

            Another little marker on the way to global warming occurred today. The new 30-year “normal” (average!) temperatures for Wilmington, NC, showed that both the “normal” (average!) high and low for this date are one degree warmer than the previous decade’s readings. You may recall I said (in “Scientific Citizen,” Jan. 8, 2012) December “normals” (AVERAGE!) had grown incrementally chillier: well, that’s true, too. What does it all mean? No one really knows.

Sweet box (Sarcococca hookeri var. humilis)
February 8, 2012
Dear Diary,
            In response to yesterday’s post, “Do You Smell Something?” my dear friend Judy out in Bothell, WA, wrote to tell me her sweet box is blooming. Only she—show-off—used its botanical name, Sarcococca. That’s Sarcococca hookeri var. humilis, to be preciser (if not grammatically correct). She rekindled the flame of my Sarcococca envy. I’ve never lived anywhere where this shiny-foliaged, vanilla-scented, evergreen beauty was common. I may have to order one or two from some Oregonian nursery to plant here, just to prove to myself they really don’t care for our 16 consecutive weeks of miserably hot nights.

February 9, 2012
Dear Diary,
Oh, goody! New books!
            Despite the overloaded night-table and jam-packed bookshelf beside the bed, Amazon sent me two new books today: Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants by Brit Richard Mabey; and Marlene Zuk’s Sex on Six Legs: Lessons in Life, Love and Language from the Insect World. Bugs and weeds—as fodder for the blog gristmill, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Fungus gnat, we hardly knew ye
February 11, 2012
Dear Diary,
            Didn’t water the houseplants this week. Didn’t water the houseplants last week either. The tapeworm fern looks a bit end-crunchy, off-color and out of sorts, but everyone else seems fine. I mention this for two reasons. One, no unintentional drownings have taken place in the three months since overwintering began. Two, the fungus gnat population is ’way, ’way down. When I cleaned house, not a single fungus-gnat carcass was found peppering any light bulb element. I brush my teeth and wash the dishes mostly unobserved these days. No one “bugs” me (haha) when I read in bed at night. The few stray gnats still around cling to windows, looking out at… what? Perhaps Marlene Zuk (see yesterday’s entry) will enlighten me. Just as soon as I finish reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

            Our neighbors across the street moved out a few weeks ago—he got a job offer he couldn’t refuse in Harrisburg, PA—and they bequeathed us a bunch of potted plants. Two figs (!), a blueberry, an Alberta spruce (?), a Korean boxwood in a bulb pan surrounded by Asian jasmine, an Endless Summer hydrangea, various other bits and bobs, and a tropical collection: a five-foot-tall ti tree (Dracaena something-or-other), a good-sized double-stemmed ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), and a sago palm (Cycas revoluta).

My newest best plant-friend, the ponytail palm
These last three are now crowded into the kitchen with the leafless Tibouchinas and the self-resurrecting Solanum pseudocapsicum. Isn’t it wonderful how things you never would have chosen if left to your own devices get thrust upon you; you grudgingly accommodate them; and come to love them to the point you can no longer imagine life without them and the things they have to teach you? How do people divorced from the plant world manage this?

February 12, 2012
Dear Diary,
            Tonight is the opener for Globe at Night's February 12-21 Worldwide Star Count, featuring Orion the Hunter. During four annual winter-to-spring observation periods over the past six years, more than 66,000 citizen-scientist reports of night-sky brightness have been submitted from 115 countries.   Why bother to document light pollution? Because too much light at night not only impacts energy consumption levels, but affects the health of humans and wildlife.

            Who’d have thought it? Apparently not being able to see the stars drives us bonkers. That certainly explains a lot.

            So there it is, 10 days inside the rambling thoughts of yours truly. Now, feel free to share some of yours. And Joseph, you feel more than free to share a slice or two of that cake.

Thanks for dropping by.