A horribly beautiful, terrible but remarkable, and yet pretty amazing thing happened last week: our water heater died. One may well ask, “how can the death of a water heater conjure so many adjectives in one sentence?” Of course, one (or even two) may not ask that at all. I mean who really cares, right? Water heaters croak… new ones are only guaranteed for 6 years and are expected to last for maybe 10 to 15 years.
So what’s the big deal? Well, we knew our 80 gallon Hotpoint water heater was old when we bought the house way back in 1982. This was when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people communicated over long distances with tin cans connected with string. What we didn’t know until this past Monday was that our trusty old water heater was built in 1952!!! I mean, this thing was born before us!! Sixty-five years ago!! I told the installer, “hey maybe we should keep it, it’s eligible for Medicare!!” One friend on that BookFace thing on the interwebs said it might be a world record for water heater longevity.
As I watched the poor “kids” (when you’re in your 60s, “kids” are anyone 30 years old or less) haul the disconnected monster out of the basement, I couldn’t help but reflect on the throw-away world we’ve built around us. Too many things have obsolescence built into them; because hey, business depends on sales, and sales don’t happen when things last forever. That may be good for sales but it’s not very good for our planet.
However, I do know from experience that there are a few companies on this planet who make things that last a long time; but in my professional opinion those are few and far between. Toyota is one of those companies. They believe that business should be sustainable; not just growth oriented. Toyota makes some of the longest lasting cars on the road; and that’s what brings customers back. They certainly sold me; the 2003 Corolla I bought brand new has well over 300,000 miles on it. We don’t know how many miles it’s gone exactly, because a factory defect for that model year prevents the speedometer from going any farther than 299,999 miles. The body is still in very good shape, and it runs like brand new.
Lots of folks chase the newest, shiniest toys: cell phones, cars, TVs, etc. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I are happy to live in the Stone Age with our old cars, landline phone, and antenna TV. So basically we are weirdos; and we like it. Our favorite thing about all our stuff is that we own it. We have zero debt. Nada. Zip. Nibbit. Blazoo. Well OK those last two “words” aren’t words, but as I said, we are weirdos. So now if my Honey Pie is reading this I’m gonna get in trouble; so let me clarify: she’s very practical and I’m the weirdo. After all, I’m the one who makes up silly words and flings them out on the interwebs for all to see.
I rather doubt this new water heater will last 65 years. Maybe, just maybe, it will outlive us; but I’m not counting on it. No, they just don’t make ’em like they used to… and sometimes that’s a good thing. They don’t make music like they used to either… and now it’s time for me to share some of my favorite “oldies” with you.
Ever have a time when you think you’ve heard everything, then another weird announcement buzzes about on the news and the interwebs? A very sad announcement that came out recently was the addition of the rusty-patched bumblebee to the endangered species list. Unfortunately, climate change, the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and destruction of habitat does not exactly render this announcement as mysterious.
One of the weirdest follow-ups to the endangered bee story was the proposal to use robotic “bees” to aid in pollination of crops. I’m not kidding about this; there are actual efforts in progress to perfect a robotic bee!! This announcement made me even more sad than the prospective loss of bee populations. While some might find robo-bees to be a fascinating credit to modern science, my strong belief is that such inventions do much more harm than good to our environment as a whole.
Human nature, it seems, is always looking for a magical way out of difficult and complex problems. I’d much rather hear more information about how to save our bees; not replace them with machines. After all, our bees, along with many other species, are endangered because of the poisoning of our planet. All the man-made materials used to make robo-bees and other drone type flying machines are produced at no small cost to the environment.
One report I read speaks about using robo-bees in conjunction with real bees to achieve better coverage of crops needing pollination. Seems to me these “geniuses” are missing something very important: robo-bees have tiny propellers. What happens when they collide with a real bee? I’m guessing the bee loses a leg or two, or three, or an eye, or… well you see what I mean. So, we’re already losing bees to other environmental stressors, and now we have scientists who want to surround them with tiny little helicopters?? Oy yoy yoy.
Thankfully, when people learn that bumblebees are endangered, lots of folks want to know what to do to save them. At least, I sure hope they do. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been raising food organically for going over 40 years; so many of the techniques are second nature to us.
Here are some simple things everyone can do to help bees thrive:
Buy organically grown produce whenever possible. This ensures that pesticides and / or herbicides were not part of the farming process. In the past, organic fruits and vegetables were an anomaly at the stores, now they’re very commonplace and price competitive. That’s because normal folk became interested in knowing how their food was grown.
Plant wildflowers and / or flowering trees. Simple, right? Seriously, plant flowers, especially away from where you’re going to mow. Everyone knows that will help the bees. Try to be especially sensitive to the fact that bees need to feed all season long; so different types of flowers can be selected to ensure there is food available during the entire feeding season.
Weeds can be very beneficial. Say what?? That’s right… a lawn full of dandelions or clover is a veritable buffet for bees. Many other, taller growing weeds have flowers that bees depend on (please refer back to item # 2).
Do not use pesticides or herbicides in your garden or lawn. These are poison to many forms of life, of which bees are a small group. Too much of the public has been bombarded with chemical solutions for pest and weed management. Speaking from a gardener’s perspective, I would rather see a crop fail than to use poisons to control pests. However, by learning techniques like companion planting and crop rotation, I’ve been blessed with many beautiful harvests of all sorts of vegetables.
Work to preserve habitats. You know that old hollow tree out back? Should have been cut down years ago, yes? Well maybe not: hollow trees provide shelter for bees and other pollinators. Bumblebees will burrow into the ground, so if there are any mounds or abandoned burrows from rabbits, etc., pay attention; the bees may be nesting there.
Long story longer, if we just take a little more time learning about what Mother Nature needs from us, we can help her stay healthy. And if our Mother Earth is healthy, there will be no need for robo-bees. So please, don’t bee a robot. Don’t assume that pesticides and herbicides are safe. If you don’t grow your own, learn where your food comes from and how it is grown. And by all means, let your representatives know your concerns about keeping our environment clean and healthy for all creatures.
Sorry, science kids, robo-bees are notnatural!!
Maybe if all bees could be like the one who stood up to Donald Duck; they’d have a fighting chance…
Today’s political hoopla gave me deep sadness… I’m still not finding any sense in it all. A womanizing, bullying egomaniac with deep insecurities rose to the highest office in the land; and those who elected him are somehow able to be completely oblivious to his deep-rooted character flaws.
So far, the only cabinet pick I’ve seen who’s anywhere close to being qualified is General Mattis. For someone who claimed to want to “drain the swamp” when coming to Washington, President Trump surely has picked some nasty leeches for the rest of the cabinet. For those of you who don’t know, leeches are blood suckers who stick to your legs when you go wading in the swamp. Unfortunately, too many of Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks are rich people who know little about the office for which they’ve been selected; but they all have an agenda that, if left unchecked, will likely undo a mountain’s worth of progress that’s been made since World War II ended. Don’t let them fool you, they don’t care what we “little people” have to say. Rather, they are all out for personal gain.
I’m beginning to feel numb inside… but I’m not going to allow that to fester. None of this makes sense to me; but then again all of it does. My Mother used to jokingly say “no sense, no feelin’ “ if one of us fell down but didn’t react much from the pain. Well much of the politics these days makes no sense. But for the no feelin’ part… well… as you may have guessed this post is not gonna be a very Happy Friday.
So I’ll make this short and sweet: I believe it’s our duty as free citizens for EVERYONE to please pay close attention to what’s going on and be ready to speak out loudly and repetitively when our values start getting dragged into the swampy muck. We all need to speak up for equality and decency, and speak OUT against hatred and division.
Some of us remember a similar time; and we have songs, many of which are still being sung today, to remind us.
Gonna be a long four years. Long Time Gone…
Let’s work together.
We don’t want to let it slip through our fingers.
We don’t have to be famous to make a difference. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
I have come to the conclusion that snow induces seizures in many automobile drivers. This I am knowing because of the spastic manner in which people navigate their jalopy zoomers as soon as the weather changes. Now the reader must appreciate the sheer folly of this, because we live in Michigan and snow is not exactly a foreign substance here. It comes to visit us every single year, and every single year many snow belt residents seem to lose all their winter driving skills and commence to having seizures while driving just as soon as the snow arrives.
Of course, these seizures are self induced, a direct result of drivers only looking as far as the end of their noses while assessing traffic situations. This is coupled with the idiocy factor, which seems to compel people to navigate their street rods as if they are the only person on the road. The end result is truly dangerous behavior that becomes very unsafe for them and all who might be around them. Of course, the idiocy factor is present all year long. Then the weather changes. Autumn brings rain, and as autumn slides into winter, the rain begins to freeze and then VOILA!! Snow. What a shocker, huh? Ya right… this is very normal for Michigan and all the rest of the Snow Belt.
So you have all these clam-headed tringlenorks behind the wheel who drive as if they have absolutely no clue about a simple yet amazing concept: snow and ice make the road slippery!!! Now who would ever have imagined such nonsense?? Well it’s true!! And hey, you know all those road hogs who think they will never get where they are going unless they go 98.36 mph?? Well they seem eager to zoom around even when it’s winter outside. Consequently, we see many of them in the ditch; or even worse, they get to enjoy testing the structural integrity of their car by doing a nice rollover or two. We saw exactly that on the way back from Grand Rapids tonight… we were on the interstate and some poor driver rolled their car. Hopefully everyone was OK.
It’s rather scary at times. I do my best to avoid getting stuck in a chain of cars. That’s a pile-up waiting to happen. So I keep my distance and keep the speed at a safe level. Then comes Mr. or Ms. HineyHugger. I’m sure what appears to be going through their minds is: “Oh, now that the snow has arrived, I must try to lick your bumper with my hood ornament at every possible opportunity.” This appears to be the mantra of tailgaters; who very soon enjoy crying and rolling in the ditch when the person in front of them has to hit the brakes. And all too many hit the brakes because of something like: “Holy Mackerel I Can’t See With All This Blowing Snow!! Oh Gosh There’s A Deer Or Maybe Not!! Who Just Sent Me A Text Message?? Where Is The Rest Of My Breakfast Burrito??!!” Suddenly they are sliding wildly; which increases their enjoyment of the early snowy morning drive. They are especially happy after learning the effect that saplings have on the underside of their car. Unfortunately, however, these yo-yos may get hurt but also may drag other unwilling participants into the ditch party.
So I would like to close with a plea: Please, no matter where you are, drive safely to and from your home and / or your non-home universe; especially if you live in an area that enjoys seasonally frozen precipitation (not to be confused with seasoned waffle fries) and misinformed people who think they are excellent drivers but are actually eels in a small bowl of Jell-O with a nice lint frosting which is complemented by a run-on sentence just like this one.
You will know the eel-people by their affinity for car hiney hugging. Let them pass so they can enjoy their ditch races. It’s ironically wonderful when they are hopelessly stuck and try to drive out anyhow. Oh yes, they do enjoy the drilling of their tires into the muck so the wrecker has to bend its winches when trying to remove them from their itchy ditchy playgrounds.
Also, please PLEASE PLEASE never fight with other drivers!! ROAD RAGE KILLS. It also makes dead people out of living ones. There are people on the planet who will actually use their car for a weapon! Please be careful!
OK, enough of my venting. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and lots of people are bringing wonderful things for the taste flavors of your face and mouth parts. Please enjoy your everything and especially that nice treat that Whosamajigger brought for Holiday Face Stuffing Day. I like to rub cookies on my belly. Very good enjoyment, I’ll say.
Above all, be kind to everyone you meet. Even the wacko driver ninnies.
Perhaps some of us could get out of our cars and meet at the skating pond…
Here we go again, the holiday season is upon us. In the U.S. we start the ball rolling with Thanksgiving and continue on through Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Lots of celebration and material giving, lots of TV commercials, lots of crazy sales, lots of parties.
Personally, I find all this commercial everything just as distasteful as the political ads that lead up to election day. Now that I’m an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude, the holidays mean a whole lot less about all the stuff and a whole lot more about all the people I carry with me in my heart, both here and on the Other Side.
I’ve finally made it to the point where I can delight in the good times of childhood and let the not-so-good times fade away. Although it took me way to long to understand, I get it now: our parents did the best they could with us kids. They did the best they knew how. I can honestly believe that today and miss them with love rather than hold on to resentments. Of course, I’m a spoiled American so I do indulge in the material gift giving. But as time marches on I find myself getting increasingly gooshy about how fortunate I am.
That’s right, I said it, SPOILED AMERICAN. That’s me. I have plenty to eat; a job, a home, family and friends who love me, even cars that work. When I focus on those areas I become very aware that I’m rich beyond measure really.
So this time of year I find myself saying Thanks to God, whoever THEY are. A good friend of mine once gave me a bumper sticker that read: “God is too big to fit in any one religion.” Well amen to that. When you look at the similarities in all the various faiths; it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re all praying to the same Divine Spirit.
Yes, I truly am an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude. I “keep the faith” that we humans will eventually get our act together to wage peace rather than war, and harmonize with Mother Earth rather than rape her. I pray for these things often, and as one of my favorite people often sang, “I’m not the only one.”
Here’s wishing all of my friends and loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope we can all take a moment to help those less fortunate than we are. Speaking for myself, I know that this Spoiled American could donate a lot more. Every little bit helps. Maybe put an extra buck in the Salvation Army kettle so the bell ringer can have something to do besides watch people walk past. Or maybe donate to the Red Cross. The opportunities are pretty much endless and the need is great.
Above all, don’t give up. Try to be happy, it’s what God wants for all of us. Work, pray, and vote for peace, love and a healthy planet. Embrace the Golden Rule. It’s never too late. Persistence will pay off, I believe this with every fiber of my being. And for those of you who think maybe I’m Somewhere In Dream Land; well I’ll just keep praying for youse, too.
Can we call a do-over for the election please? Seems like both sides settled for some seriously flawed nominees. Hillary was immensely qualified; but there was that pretty big e-mail thing; and yeah some other trust things. Also, try as she might; she didn’t connect very well with all the frustrated folks in the so-called “rust belt” and elsewhere. Then of course you have Mr. Trump… who is… um… well… Mr. Trump.
All kinds of emotions played in my noggin during all of this; and none of them were very happy; especially when Bernie lost the primaries. I am, however, very grateful that both candidates assumed their new roles pretty gracefully and even humbly. Hillary gave a whopper of a concession speech; and Mr. Trump spoke more humbly than most of us have ever heard before. Whether our nation can heal effectively depends on what happens next; and I truly hope we can all pull together to make that happen.
Anybody listening? I truly hope we can all pull together. Lots of protesting in the streets these days by disillusioned citizens. While I agree with many of their sentiments, I can’t help but ask, “where was youse kids before the election??”
So, enough about all that (for now). This is supposed to be another installment of “Happy Friday!!!” and I’m gonna try to make it something that will produce a smile or two. Therefore and to-wit (that’s legal talk), I’ve decided to appoint myself King for a Day. Tomorrow, you can be King. Unless of course you’d rather be Queen; in which case you are probably much more powerful than a King because of all the cool moves you can make on the chess board. So the next day someone else can be in charge, and it will be a rotating kind of thing. Kings and Queens, Princes and Dukes; run around in circles till everyone pukes.
Now of course it’s time to steal some lyrics from a Three Dog Night Song:
“If I was the King Of The World,
I’d tell you what I’d do.
I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the war
And make sweet love to you.”
Perhaps I wouldn’t make love to you; because I don’t even know you. Besides, my Beautiful Girlfriend allowed me to be her lover for many years; and I don’t want to mess that up you see. She’s my One and Only. I don’t care how much candy you have in your glove box or how much pickled herring you “accidentally” left in my fridge; my lovin’s are reserved for my Honey Pie and nobody else. Get it? OK, cool. Yes, I’ll give you hugs and love you unconditionally. Just not in a married kind of way. Am I making myself clear? Do you get where I’m coming from?? Do you know who this is?? Do you know who you’re tawkin’ to???
OooK… sorry I got sidetracked. Alright… make-a-believe I’m King of the World. First order of business: everybodyhas to be nice to each other. NOW!! Don’t make me say this again!! Do I have to stop this car?? Do you want to go in the corner?? Whatsa matta wichyoo?? Anyhow??
Sheesh. Just be nice awreddy.
Second order of business: this home we call Earth is getting pretty doggoned dirty with human garbagey pollutiony thingies. Poisons! Broken stuff! Single use plastics!! Oy yoy yoy!! Time to clean up or no more play time!! You see these toys you like so much? Huh?? You wanna play with them ever again?? Well you better listen up and clean your room!! And yes, by your room, I mean Earth!!
That’s a pretty big room…
Third order of business: BE NICE TO EACH OTHER!! Oh wait… I said that awreddy. Well I’m sorry… but youse kids have me all fired up here and now you got me tawkin’ like I’m still livin’ on Long Island.
Fourth (and last) (for today) (I think) order of business: keep a close eye on all these elected official Bozos (and Bozettes). Remember that silly statement, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people?” That means us… it’s our responsibility to make things right. The people we voted for are merely representatives; and we need to keep them accountable. Sure that takes time and effort; but if we don’t do that we’re letting the foxes guard the henhouse.
Ooops!! One more order of business (then I’ll let someone else be King) (or Queen): one of the strongest, most effective votes we have is how we spend our money. Buy locally, think globally. Pay attention to where your food comes from and how it was produced. Give the locals first chance at your dollars. We need to support each other!
Now is the time for the extra long sentence which I forgot to include in many previous “Happy Friday!!!” installments because I was either too cribbly boo or perhaps too forgetful to remember (oldtimer’s disease?) that such sentences often bring joy to those who like to see grammar mangled into a small moldy piece of cheesecake in the bottom left corner of the refrigerator; which of course reminds me of the fact that although I know how to pretend to spout off orders as if I were King, I don’t know anything; I never did know anything; but now I knowI don’t know anything. I used to think I knew lots of stuff; but that was before I got learnified via the pains of growing older and wider (<— not a spelling goof there) and realized that the more I learn the less I know.
Knowing that I don’t really know much makes me wonder if I’m now qualified to run for office.
Say what?? Many of us in the U.S. are already pretty sick up and fed with election crap, and really ready to leave all that junk alone and move on with life. Doesn’t matter which side you’re on; there is sure to be much more activism and mudslinging between now and November. Either way, political rhetoric has already reared its ugly nostrils and is sniffing in the deliciously annoying media compost bins. Many of us will march to the polls and cast our votes, and some who complain the loudest will abstain (sigh).
As my good friend (not) Mr. Nixon would have said, “let me say this about that.” We need to determine what kind of planet we want to live on, and more importantly, what kind of planet we want for our kids. So, we all need to rock the vote. Again and again. Not just with ballots, but with each dollar we spend. Now, I can’t tell anyone what to do, but here are just a few examples of how I “vote” and why:
Chemical Fertilizers, Pesticides: I do not buy them. Ever. Why? Fertilizer is available naturally in most places where plants grow naturally. Composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure are good examples of soil building materials, and are natural fertilizers. I do have to consume some energy to retrieve these things. However, much more energy is consumed mining, processing, packaging, and shipping fertilizers and pesticides. A lot of petroleum is used to support this industry in the form of fuel for energy, and petrochemicals for processing. And let’s not forget how they are packaged, either in paper bags (bye bye trees) or plastic bags (petroleum again!). And even more wonderfully, the factories that manufacture these goodies pollute, and when it rains their products also pollute. And don’t even get me started on “weed and feed.” Our lawn gets mowed, that’s it. The neighbors probably cry when my dandelions are in bloom. We think they are pretty, and the bees love them.
In the garden, we get some pretty awesome veggies that we grow organically. We do not spray any crops to keep the bugs off, but rather we use crop rotation and companion planting to keep insect damage to a minimum. I’ve heard some folks say, “without fertilizers and pesticides you would not have all that wonderful produce you see at Meijer.” Well that is simply a crock of moose juice. Anybody notice the proliferation of certified organic produce at the supermarket?? Huh?? Guess what? Those growers are doing pretty well these days.
Packaged Meals: First of all, blech. Sodium, ingredients I can’t pronounce, sodium, and more sodium. Most packaged meals are packed full of chemicals, which are made by chemical plants. Chemical plants consume energy and pollute. More petroleum. The chemicals they make pollute our bodies. We try to eat fresh whenever possible. Oh, and not to forget the packaging: plastics and paper. More dead trees, more dinosaur juice.
Automobiles: One of my all time favorite hot rods was a Toyota Corolla. I get 35 miles to a gallon, sometimes more. When our son’s car died, I passed it along to him; albeit with a “serious defect”: the odometer won’t go any farther than 299,999 miles. It’s a known defect and the only way to change it is to buy a new instrument cluster. The stupid thing still runs like brand new!! My lovely wife has a Toyota Matrix, which will also get over 30 mpg. Thankfully, these days I work closer to home so I don’t have to burn so much dinosaur juice. Our planet has a finite supply of oil, and cars are just a small part of the consumption of it. Call me a “tree hugger,” or whatever other radical environmentalist label you like; but Hummers and Escalades and the like should be illegal (in my professional opinion).
Electricity: “Turn the lights off!! Whaddya think, we own the Edison?? That’s what your Grandma and Grandpa would say ya know.” My beautiful wife would shout this at the kids to remind them that power costs money. She used “the Edison” to refer to the power company because when she was a kid growing up near Detroit, that was the name of the outfit that ruled the electrons. So she echoed her mom and dad when yelling at our kids. We must have raised them right, they both confess to be habitual light switcher-offers (technical talk). Here again, electricity generation relies a lot on fuel, whether it’s coal or natural gas or whatever. There is more and more alternative energy available these days but the percentage is meager compared to the output of fuel burning plants. More demand equals greater dependency on petroleum, either directly (burning to generate power) or indirectly (shipping coal). During the Arab Oil Embargo in the seventies, Mr. Nixon (holy cow, I mentioned him again) urged everyone to conserve. Businesses were urged to turn off all lighting except that required for security or safety reasons when they closed up shop for the night. Drive past any shopping mall and see if this is the case these days. I think just a couple people are leaving the lights on!!
Think Globally, Act (buy) Locally: “Everything’s made in (expletive deleted) China!!” That’s the refrain my lovely girlfriend and I chant when we go shopping. Never thought I’d actually say it, but I do my best to buy goods that were made locally or at least as close to home as possible. And yes, I do find myself looking for the “Made in USA” label. Of course, we buy things that are made abroad, but having some awareness is vital. Keeping the dollars at home help our communities thrive.
Well, I could go on and on, and this could become a very very long Happy Friday. Suffice it to say that I would see more people join a movement of “Let Every Dollar I Spend Send A Message.” And yes, I’m sure there’s much more that I could do… I sometimes spend my money on crap just like anybody else.
Of course, I’m not so naive to think that voting with dollars is the answer. Rather, it’s the tip of a very large iceberg. Decisions we humans make have deep and lasting effects on our Mother Earth and all the Citizens of Nature (that includes all of US). There IS positive change in the works, but it is woefully under-reported by the media.
My friends, we need to stand up for what’s right, but learn to disagree without being disagreeable. We can do this. Together. With Love!!
There I was, in the U-Scan (self checkout) at our local grocer the other day, and a young lady in the other aisle said, “tomorrow’s Earth Day, Mom.” Being the smarty pants that I am, I blurted out, “EVERYday is Earth Day.”
What can I say? I just can’t help it. Every day really should be Earth Day, right?
Can it really be that today was the 46th Earth Day already? Holy Carp I’m getting up there. I was 16 when Earth Day was first plopped onto the calendar in 1970. Seems like last week! I wondered what ever became of the Earth Day flag. I found a picture of it on line, but I can’t post it because it has a copyright warning and I’m too lazy to ask permission. However, you can click on this link and go look for yourself:
I’d love to say I’m all warm and fuzzy about the progress we’ve made, but there’s so much more to do. I want to scream every time I see someone with bottled water. Of course, I’m not interested in banning bottled water completely. There are times when it’s the easiest way to get safe drinking water like during a disaster, etc. But most of the time, bottled water is a big fat waste. Many times the source is municipally treated water. In other words, it’s tap water in a plastic bottle (made from petroleum), which gets shipped many miles to a place that already has municipally treated water.
Then you have all the waste from that silly crop way too many people are raising at home: the lawn. Chemicals, water, exotic seed, and machines to make it grow and cut it down are consuming ridiculous amounts of energy and causing unnecessary pollution. You may ask, “so, Mr. Tree Hugger Hippie Freak, are you for banning lawns too?” Well let’s put it this way, I’m married and my beautiful girlfriend likes to have a lawn. So yes, I’m for banning lawns but I’m too chicken not to grow one at our house. Fortunately, though, we’ve made a truce and we don’t use any chemicals at all, but we do mow it. Still, it makes absolutely no sense to me that we humans spend so much effort raising a crop we don’t eat.
As far as crops we DO eat, the chemical companies and large agribusiness firms are doing their darndest to keep a strangle hold in the food business. However, farmers markets are thriving more and more each year, and the customers are favoring organically grown veggies and fruits. At our house, we’ve been growing produce organically for almost 43 years (which coincidentally is how long we’ve been married). I can’t help but think the chemical firms and the large corporate farms are suppressing news reports about organically grown food. Once in awhile though, you actually hear the “scientific discovery” that organically grown food is healthier and much more Earth friendly.
We are getting a little better with more efficient cars. However, we are also still affluent enough that several of us humans choose monster trucks and fancy cars that are not meant for fuel efficiency. Compared to Europe, our mass transit system barely exists. We could conserve a lot of fuel by switching from semi-trucks to trains. Here in the U.S. we’ve converted way too many railways into bike paths. And no, I’m not trying to ban bike paths, but trains are a very efficient means of transport. We’re still way too dependent on fossil fuels, but we’re making progress there (albeit painfully slowly).
And what about turning of the stinkin’ lights when they’re not in use?? Not just at home… Mom and Dad always yelled at us to turn lights off so most of us are pretty much conditioned to do that. Ever go past a shopping mall after 9 p.m. (or later)? The lights are all going full blast. Holy Carbon Footprint, Batman!!
I could go on and on, but here’s one more completely wasteful human activity: WAR. What a huge waste of energy, natural resources, not to mention the terrible toll on human lives. You may ask, “so, Mr. Tree Hugger Hippie Freak, are you for banning wars too?” OH YES!! YES PLEASE!! War, pure and simple, is a form of hell on Earth and must be banned forever.
OK so I’m a dreamer. It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it (yell about banning war I mean). And I’m sure I’m not alone on that one.
Well folks, Happy Earth Day, Every Day, Every Year. Please do something nice for your Mother (Nature) very soon. She loves you, you know.
Some of you kids may remember this song. The video is a bit fuzzy, but it appears to be made by Spirit, the same band who recorded it way back when.
If bean plants could talk, they’d ask the onions to leave the premises immediately. This is for real, people! They’d pinch their noses and shout thusly: “Hey! You wid da face! You’re pudding a big hurt od by doze! Gid oudda here awreddy! Can’t lib here wid dis stinking.”
The onions cry. After all, they can’t help the fact that they were born with a natural fragrance that bean plants find offensive. Not to worry, the cabbage family is happy to have onions in the neighborhood. Must like that Italian cooking, maybe?
Forgive me while I indulge in this good stink / bad stink talk. In these parts, It’s time to start the garden up, and I get to thinking out loud about who goes where in the dirt. Companion planting, the practice of growing plants that benefit from each other, is a cool thing for us organic-type gardeners. That’s because if plants can be happy together, they are much healthier. Having healthy plants means more yield and fewer problems with bugs and diseases.
Onions exude chemicals that prevent beans, peas, and other legumes from making nitrogen in the soil with their toes. If you’ve ever yanked a bean plant out of the dirt, you might have noticed the rhizomes (little round bumps) on the roots. Well, the beans do NOT have tumors. The rhizomes are where the action is: bean-friendly bacteria live there and make nitrogen for the bean plants and anyone else who happens to be nearby. That is, unless the onions are in town. Then they just sit there, remaining all tiny and twiddling their toes.
Cabbage and its relatives (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc.) love those onions, because they help keep the cabbage butterflies away, and also keep the aphid population down. Both of those bugs love their cabbage, but, like beans, most bugs also hate onion breath.
Another example of companion planting is when corn says thank you to the beans and peas for being there and doing the cool nitrogen toe jam thing. The beans and peas give the corn a high five for wind protection and some shade. Corn plants also make nice poles for peas and runner beans to grab. Between the corn rows, squash or pumpkins get the shade they like, and they in turn shade the corn’s roots and keep them cool. Everybody happy.
On the other hand, you have marigolds. OK, maybe you don’t; but those can go near anything. All the vegetable clans love marigolds, and they even stimulate growth. My kinda plants!
Grandmas and Grandpas used to know lots of this stuff, and Native Peoples were very much in tune to companion planting. Farm and garden chemical companies would love for you to forget all about that stuff though. Those fancy commercials showing folks winning cool prizes for big veggies do tend to get one’s attention. Unfortunately, chemical companies are conveniently quiet about the nasty stuff flowing into our lakes and streams when herbicides and pesticides are washed out of our dirt during a good rain.
But fear not, organic produce are finally becoming more mainstream. People are “discovering” that when the pilgrims found the Indians were growing pumpkins in their corn, it was no accident.
Back to the beans a second (uh-oh, he’s gonna get weird again). I know some people who agree with beans about the onions. Some folks just can’t stand onions or the smell of them. If you like raw onions, your sweetie might say something like, “No kissy face for you until you brush them chompers!” Onions and beans are great food things. I love them together, and regard the combi as almost cosmic. Of course, there is a by-product of eating too much of either: methane. In its natural state, methane is colorless and odorless. When generated by human food eating machines, it is often released with a “PHOOT!!” noise and can have a rather diSTINKtive odor.
HOLY COW!! I JUST HAD A BRAIN-FART!! We may be able to achieve world peace with this combination! Get regiments of bean eaters, right? March them into enemy territory two or three hours after the whole bunch of them cram a few truckloads of bean burritos laced with onions in their faces. No troops in their right minds would try to fight against anyone during such a gas attack. We’re talking victory with no chemical weapons here! Peace could be had without firing a shot, except for the occasional audible report from those burrito eaters. The only hitch would be to strictly enforce an important rule, which would need to be posted with very large placards:
ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING ALLOWED.
So the moral of the story is: if you must plant beans and onions together, plant them in your tummy, not in the dirt.
And please, always remember to visualize whirled peas.
So if you find any of these beans, please save a couple for me!
A most remarkable occurrence sprinkled itself into my life this past Tuesday. I turned 62 for the first time in my living life!! Well OK, this will be the only time I’ll turn 62 as far as I know. There was a time when this boy pondered the likelihood of living more than one life on this Earth; but I’ve long since veered away from the concept of reinfestation. Or is that ream in carnation? I dunno… my wife likes carnations. Perhaps if I lived many lives I’d be reinfested with carnations?
On the other hand, a completely different occurrence showered itself into my life in 1962: our grandmother gave me an 8-transistor radio for my 8th birthday. That has absolutely nothing to do with being 62, but that event did indeed change my life forever. That beautiful receiver opened up a world of music to me, specifically rock and roll, which was all the rage in those days. Our father hated rock and roll, he was a classical music junky. Didn’t make him a bad person or anything… but his FM receiver really didn’t get much else in those days; and that’s the way he liked it.
I distinctly remember falling asleep with the radio carefully perched on my head so the speaker was right on my ear. Sounded much better than the earphone, and you didn’t have to turn it up very high to hear well. However, too often I’d wake up to a dead battery. That would have been a very sad thing; but Mom always seemed to make sure I had a battery for my radio.
For us kids, growing up on Long Island meant that there were two radio stations that really mattered: 77 WABC and 1010 WINS. We’d listen to DJs like Cousin Brucie and Murray the K with just a touch of echo added to their voices as they spun the latest records to our waiting ears. Artists like Bobby Vinton, Chubby Checker, Dion, The Everly Brothers, Elvis, Little Eva, and The Shirelles were just a few of them… and a couple years later a new band called The Beatles entered the scene. The 1960s evolved into a decade of immense social changes, and of course the music often reflected the spirits of us young punks. Some of us became hippies, some of us kept the hippie spirit alive deep inside but stayed entered the work force to raise families.
So all that to say how happy I am to be 62 years old?? Well I could probably write a book about all of this stuff, but suffice it to say that this old hippie working guy is, believe it or not, very happy to have traveled around the sun a whole 62 times. First of all, I’m blessed beyond belief with family, amazing friends, and a pretty decent job. Secondly, I’m getting closer and closer to retirement; which to me means: FREEDOM!! Yes!! And if I lose my job tomorrow, I’m old enough to start collecting Social Security!! Is that cool or what??
Never thought I’d hear myself say that…
Went to a retirement party today for a friend and work. I am very happy for her, and also very jealous. My turn will come. I’d love to work a few more years yet, but that may not happen. No such thing as a sure thing these days.
So my friends, here’s to old age. It ain’t so bad!! Life is very good for us really. Oh… and you know a cool thing about living for 6 decades?? We got turned on to lots of good music. Not just rock, but when we were growing up there was lots of stuff on TV and radio from the 1920s, 1930s, and so on. Some pretty cool stuff back then!! And yes, today too!! This week, I’m posting some samples of what I’ve grown to love over the years. Hope you have a chance to check them out.
PEACE, LOVE, AND HUGS TO YOU ALL!!! You young whippersnappers!!!
Let’s see… how about a little Cab Calloway from 1934…
Maybe some Laurel and Hardy… HUH??? Just watch.
Anybody remember Judy Canova?
Carmen Miranda… oh my I had the hots for her…
Like Peter, Paul, and Mary, I Dig Rock ‘n Roll Music.
Mojo Men… with a woman drummer in 1967!!
Here’s one I sing at work some times… Devo says it’s Time Out For Fun
Maybe by now you’re saying, “Lord!!! Enough already!!” OK… one from Lorde, and that will be enough already.