Monday, May 30, 2016

Why shouldn’t we know?

Laura spent the weekend with a girlfriend, swimming in the pool and eating her way through a kitchen of snacks. She could eat her weight in sugar weekly, left to her own devices, and knowing what would happen, we stopped to buy a bag of snacks on the way.

I waited at the checkout and in a bit she appeared with an armful. I saw a bag of cashews dangling between two fingers, but the rest was blocks of processed and prepackaged. “I got healthy granola bars,” she announced. I turned it around to “nutritional information,” and pointed out 12 grams of sugar.

“Divide that by four grams per teaspoon and you are swallowing three teaspoons of sugar per bar.” She shrugged; I bought the lot, and she had a wonderful weekend.

Last week I listened to three folks I know, in a bitter discussion of regulations. One owns a food distribution company. It services vending machines, for instance. Apparently the machines must now display the nutritional content of every product in the machine.

“Why not?” the damn bleeding heart liberal dropped into the conversation. “Why not!” sputtered the right of red conservative food distribution company owner. “It will cost too much!”

And there you have it. As a population, we have fallen for convenience. Insidiously, since the Great War ended, convenience has consumed us. We, down here at the very bottom of the chain of distribution, have sent our dollars up the food chain in order to shoot bullets of salt, sugar, fat and unknown chemicals down our throats.

If processed food were not available, we could not buy it. Parents would buy carrots and celery at the grocery store, teach the children how to clean them and carry them for a snack. That’s not an oversimplification. There is no reason people should not spend the time on life’s basics as on, for instance, soccer games and texting.

I am quite fond of the fellow who must spend big bucks telling consumers what he is selling them. However, we are years and years beyond laissz faire. I don’t think this man has grown rich from his business. I do think he’s invested a life time in his business, and I also think people should know the ingredients of their food purchases.

He could lobby the food industry to print the labels large enough to be read through the fronts of vending machines. Then the only expense would be wiping down nose prints.

Unnamed granola bar label

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why we didn't raise the iris today, and some nice pictures

When the 17 year cicada nymphs emerged seventeen years ago,
a family of fox camped out in our yard.
Parents and kits, spent a week gorging.
No such luck this year, though we have heard the foxes yipping across the road.

A blade of grass, saved by a cicada.

More. I don't need to tend to Solomon's Seal this month.

And, the iris may be planted too deeply until fall.

This is the first round of cicadas.

They're around about a month.

Can you find this one?

Enough! More of Laura's little rose.
I believe it's a kind of tea rose.
No good to pick, but nice to look at.

A tiny moss just moved in. It grows on various old wood structures, like our retaining wall.

I probably shouldn't like chipmunks so.

Aunt Beth, Caroline and Laura, bagging up plants they liberated last weekend, before the cicada invasion.

A sunny day through sheers.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Too hot for May, but not for flowers

It was so cold for so long, most flowers curled in their toes and waited.
Now the white mandevilla has dropped the first round of blooms and the second set will open soon.

Pink mandevilla seem the madcaps of the genius.
They have been blooming since hung, only growing slowly.

These balloon flowers migrate around the triangle garden.
At the other end one summer, up here the next.

Toad made way for Laura's little herb garden.

Pig's nasturtiums have no blooms, yet.

Over to the serious growing!
My plan of crowding out the weeds is working.
Look how hard the grasses have worked to get through the pinks.
Come Monday, they will rue the effort.

Laura picked out this rose four years ago. 
A tiny bush back then.

The rose on the trellis, beginning its ten foot climb.
That's the last of my dad's oriental poppies. It should be blooming now, but isn't.

Columbine. They have stayed contained for three years.

 The flower tower is coming along. I added a sweet potato vine.

There are at least six fifteen dollar bearded iris growing here.
In three years, only one has bloomed.
I'm commencing to have a bad opinion of them.

The last anemone of the year.I am so pleased with all the little ground covers I've planted, most of whose names I do not recall.

This purple flowering plant was intended for a ground cover, but I'm finding it rather aggressive.
The coral bells have started flower spikes.

Aunt Laura's iris, over in the corner, and the bleeding heart.

The foxglove.

And, that's what's growing this week.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Life changes come. Inexorable. Easy. Hard. Desired. Resisted. Accepted. Overwhelming. Natural. Unbearable. Every feeling at once, and more.  Or, none.

Since the day I dropped Emily for her first band camp and watched the stocky little body disappear into the crowd, I had little fear. There have been battles, some epic, but she has built a good persona to test the world.

The last sister will leave for band camp in six short weeks. The enormity of her future only came to Laura this past school year. A lot of change to absorb. Her constant about to be absorbed into a different orbit.

One constant in these two girls’ lives is a blue guitar. It was a gift to their oldest sister, from an enthusiastic boyfriend. Neither interested Becca; the boyfriend left, the guitar stayed. Becca played baritone in her marching band, but developed no interest in the guitar.

It passed on to Emily, the flute player, whose interest level was no higher. For four years, with an intermission of two lessons, it collected dust in Emily’s room. The little trumpet player, the youngest ever admitted to the jazz band, coveted the blue guitar, but was rebuffed by that sisterly admonition, “Don’t touch my guitar!”

Three weeks ago, such squealing and jumping in the little bedroom hallway. The guitar was gifted! “I think it’s an apology,” Laura confided to Grandma, who smiled, and said nothing. Laura sat cross legged on her bed, strumming noises coming from her room. I looked in from time to time and commented the sound was pleasant. “I’ve figured out three chords,” Laura said. “But, I don’t know their names.”

I realized the guitar had no strap. “That’s because it only has one button,” the little strummer explained. We went to get a button and a strap. We tried the music store in Hudson, and it was not open, on a beautiful spring afternoon. We discussed the foolishness of stores that did not bother with customers as we headed off to the other music store we knew of.

That store is just a hole in the wall, which definition I had to explain to Laura, and she agreed at once. There is one narrow aisle left down its middle, the walls and floor space on either side packed with stuff, and guitars. We had been there before; the owner sent us away knowing a red rubber toilet plunger was the mute Hamilton needed for his trombone, and far less expensive than anything he had to offer.

We stepped into a store empty except for the proprietor, who asked Laura how he could help her. I was not needed and retreated to a stool between two packing boxes. For more than an hour I watched an irrepressible man acknowledge the ability and progress of a little girl, who was both confident in what she had figured out and insatiable to find what she didn’t know.

When two customers appeared, much, much later, Laura had two lessons under her belt, a book with marked up chords, a tuner, guitar picks that were not old CD’s, and a strap. “You don’t need a strap button,” he explained. “Use a shoe string.”

When I put the bill away later that evening, I saw he had discounted it by half, and certainly did not charge for the lessons. A kind man took the trouble for a little girl facing big changes he knew nothing of. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A graduation last night

First cake,

And prezzies
(Laura made the poster),

A backpack,

A filtering water bottle, because Hiram's water is "just awful",

A Hiram hoodie,

Some pictures.

The mortarboard art.

The grandma.

The dear friend, Linda.

Off to meet the wizard.

From the nosebleed seats, the best I could get.

But, Emily graduated. Summa cum, by the way.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Best laid plans gang aft astray, a bit

 Everyone is out of doors,
 the line begins,

and so does the rain.

I've made up all sorts of conversational quotes for this picture.
Try it, it's fun.

Back into my little house, seven promsters and at least ten additional adults.
Some of us just stayed in a corner.

The parents seemed well versed in staging prom photos.
First the girls.
Then the boys.

Then the girls and the boys.

I didn't catch the names of any of the three remaining poses.

Fun, nevertheless.

Good sports, all.
And then they were off.