Friday, August 29, 2014

Where Have All the Peaches Gone?

I haven't had a really decent peach in several years. I used to be able to by peaches at the supermarket that were just fine and peachy, even if they were shipped in early from the Carolina's. Lately they are either hard as rocks  or stringy and mushy and flavorless. I know this has been a bad peach year because of the harsh winter, but this not good peach thing has been going on for a number of years
One of the joys of August used to be the beautiful, ripe, juice running down you chin peach. I spent my childhood in the peach state, Georgia, where the fruit is , or maybe was, delicious, but even Ohio has had good peaches. We also used to get Monet- painting worthy Red Haven beauties from western Pennsylvania. Even  if you find a few good ones now, when you go back for more, they are no longer as good. Local orchards have peaches about the size of a lime, which is not the size a peach was ever intended to be.
It is a puzzlement. Maybe it's divine retribution for all that genetic manipulation of the food supply.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I have a  friend , Nancy, who calls herself a COW, as in Cranky Old Woman.  It applies to many of us, at least to me and many people I know. My friend Caroline  was a COW, but she was also a Cranky Young Woman. She was the kind of person who was not satisfied with the way things were in the world.  However, unlike many of us, she did not just complain or whine.  
 Caroline used her energy, her talents, her fierce intelligence, and her voice to tackle problems and  issues  that she saw as reducing the quality of life and hampering the public good. She did not suffer fools gladly, but firmly believed that  understanding was possible through respectful dialogue with those who disagree. She was a terrific writer of essays on a variety of subjects, mostly focused on national and global issues, essays which were published in our local paper, but many of which were picked up by the online journal Common Dreams.  These essays are well thought out, carefully researched and liberal. Her views infuriated the local Tea Party, the leader of which seemed to be convinced that she was a C0mmunist.
Caroline worked for Senator John Glenn for many years as an assistant and writer, a job she love and did well. Here in Kent Caroline was involved in the Kent Environmental Council,  an early volunteer group which literally changed the environment in this community. Un deterred by snarky  "tree-hugger" comments, this group made our community a leader in cleaning up the environment, including the Cuyahoga River through actually getting themselves muddy and wet, as well as by  promoting legislation.  She served on the school board. She served on the Social Services board. She worked at the county clothing center, sorting out donated clothing which is given to those who are in need.
Although we were both students at Kent State at the same time, we did not know one another then. I knew who she was, since she was in a number of plays during that time. We both ended up back in Kent years later. We got to know one another when we were both Teacher Guides in the Experimental College. Caroline instituted,  a new class in that program -  prescient topic for the mid 70s: problems for the digital age. At this time, IBM was working on those room-size computer, with the PC yet to come.
Caroline was an educator, a musician and composer, and a poet. Every Christmas, if you were lucky, you would receive a little chapbook of poems, songs, and lovely small nature essays. They were little treasures. (If I got any of this wrong, I shall expect a ghostly poke some night in my sleep.)
In recent years, Caroline was one of the Lunch Ladies at Baked in the Village, a local eatery with plain good food and good conversation. She has not been with us for about two months, suffering a return if the cancer she has fought for the last year and a half, and she has been, and now will continue to be, missed. She died this past week, in hospice. I had only seen her once during this time, too early to say good-bye. But how do you say that anyway?
The picture is not of Caroline, but I did it because years ago, she photographed a blue heron down by the river, and it was used on the web site of the Kent Environmental Council. So my heron is in her honor.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Feline Dignity Affected

OA couple of weeks ago, Sixto, the resident Burnell cat, was obviously feeling under the weather. He was off his feed. He sort of crouched and his beautiful black coat had that dull, ruffed up look that cats wear when they lack that feline spark of well- being. In short, the beast was ailing.
 John took him to the vet, who checked him over and decided that whatever it was was beyond her expertise. She recommended  a place in Akrom which is the Cleveland Clinic for animals, a state of the art facility that operates 24/7.
The experts there started a process involving four different specialists in sick cat medical practice and lots of money concommitent with their their medico-scientific wonderful ness. Their actions involved IV infusions, and x- Rays (but no cat cat scans) looking for some sort of intestinal blockage. They kept him overnight, so that the odd specialist could study his condition, come up with a diagnosis and treat whatever it was.i
Sixto is a most agreeable cat, affectionate, friendly- he greets company at the door in a very un- catlike, semi- doglike manner - but at this upscale vet clinic he began to hiss and strike out with extended claws at these practitioners. John decided that they were more interested in conditions than in animals. He was also tired of waiting for each specialist to show up and pontificate on a diagnosis. Finally, since they couldn't find anything specific, and Sixto was indicating that he didn't much care for their attitude, that they saw him as a collection of symptoms instead of a particular animal. John decidided to bring him kome.
That seemed to work just fine, because whatever it was, it no longer is, and Sixto is fine, eating well again and looking sleek - except for his legs. In order to perform the IVs, they shaved his front legs and one of his hind legs. He looks like a damn poodle-cat. I am embarrassed for him. God knows what the other cats are thinking. The fur will grow back, of course, but for now, he does look strange indeed

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wet Tomatoes

This has been an unusual summer here in Ohio. Instead of the hot, humid summer days and nights, we have had pleasant, warm, sunny and breezy days and cool nights. July was like August, with blue skies and fluffy clouds, and , so far, August is like September, with cool mornings. This is fine with me, since I do like like the usual summer weather of Ohio. I completely lose the will to live. I sweat. I wilt. I droop. I toss the cat off my lap. Air conditioners help, but I feel locked in with the windows closed and the fresh air filtered, and the sound of machinery whirring. Since we have window units, at night I cannot hear if a serial killer maniac is breaking in. It is better than tossing about in the horrible humidity, when a serial killer would be a relief, actually. This summer of cool nights is preferable.
Along with the coolth,  we have had a lot of rain. It is raining as I write this post, and has been doing so since early afternoon. It has rained a lot on these cool nights. The problem for us tomato growers, is that tomatoes do not like too much rain. My poor plants look like late September has sneaked up on them, with leaves turning yellow at the bottom of the stalks, and all the tomatoes stunted. We did plant some aromas, but even they are smaller than they should be, and misshapen. Pitiful. A friend who is a very experienced gardener and has a huge vegetable garden said that she has just pulled all her tomato plants out because they were so waterlogged from all the rain. This was the year to do container planting, I guess, because people seemed to have more luck with sheltered container planted tomatoes. The herbs have done well, so I have lots of basil, but not enough tomatoes to serve it with.
In the meantime, everything is very green for this time of year. jut like the tomatoes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

O Happy Day

Forty years! It seems like yesterday that I spent weeks glued to television, watching a political process involving the kinds of statesmen long since gone from Washington, D.C. Senators and Congressmen and women who were thoughtful, judicious and sure of their Constitutional duty. Senators like Howard Baker, Lowell Weicker, Daniel Inouye, and the magnificent Sam Irvin; Congressional representatives like John Sieberling and the magnetic Barbara Jordan with her God voice - these people became my heroes that summer.
I had been waiting for years for the weasely Mr. Nixon to get what he had coming to him. He had an aura of the sneak about him, putting his ambitions above all. His paranoia became increasingly evident the more politically powerful he became. His response to the tragedy at Kent State only increased my distrust and dislike. His speech that week pretty much blamed the students for their deaths and injuries. ( That happened to be the prevailing response right here in Portage County, which was thereby reinforced by the man actually responsible by moving the war into Cambodia unconstitutionally.)
So the summer was instructive for me and destructive for the president I did not vote for and did not like. There are still those out there who believe he was a victim of a Democratic conspiracy, and there is no way to convince them otherwise. You could lock them in a room and force them to listen to the damning tapes, and, still, they would stand by their idol. The sad thing is, he did some good things for the country, but that positive legacy is swamped by his ignominious departure.
In comparison, the harm to our country and the world perpetrated by Bush and Cheney is far greater than anything Nixon did or did not do. Yet they remain unscathed, Georgie boy painting sad pictures of Iraqi children, and Cheney offering unwanted advice to the government. How do they sleep? When will they be held accountable for the damage they have done?