Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Plants

Spring started springing a month ago, but I haven't been posting lately, so I am behind. I've discovered that my plant palette has changed since we moved to Sacramento from Oakland.  I'm not sure if it's the greater difficulty of getting things to live here or that my plant interests have changed.  My garden is much more deciduous, both because some plants that had leaves year round in Oakland die back here, and because I've developed a weird interest in trees.  I have five Japanese maples and a redbud in pots.  And I took up lilac and mock orange, both of which are deciduous.  (In fact, someone recommended against lilac, which looks like a bunch of dead sticks when it loses its leaves.  I think of him all winter--every time I look at the bunch of dead sticks that is my lilac.)  I've also developed a thing for deciduous azaleas and have two of them.

This means that Spring springs more than it did in Oakland.  My yard goes from a sad, sorry, neglected space to a leafy, green hodgepodge in less than a month.  

This is my Apple Blossom kurume azalea.  It bloomed all at once and then lost its flowers just as quickly.

I meant to cut back this pelargonium before it bloomed, but didn't get around to it, and it started blooming on the leggy bits, of course, so I live with a leggy plant.

And my baby redbud had some redbuds this year.

And one of the laceleaf Japanese maples.  This one is about three years old.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rent Control and Boston

Having control of the press is a good thing for those who control the press.  It means that you get to write whatever silliness you want over and over, and no one ever contradicts you.  One of my personal favorites is that eliminating rent control will fix the housing market.  Yes, when tenants are at the mercy of the not-so-free market and the rentier class can maximize its profits, all will be well.  Builders will build, landlords will improve their properties etc. etc.

One wonders then why the industry doesn't point to the example of Boston, where rent control was ended by state initiative in the mid-1990s.  Rents increased by 75% over the course of the next decade.  But little rental housing was constructed.  The industry had an answer for that one.  It was the housing bubble, and developers prioritized condos.  Then the housing bubble popped and nothing was built.  But now we have a resurgence in rental construction, yes, for the luxury market.  Developers are hoping to push rents to the next level.  In fact, they've built so much luxury housing that there's a glut of stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.

Now I suppose we should await the trickle-down.  Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book List

This has been floating around the Internet, so I took the test.  I'd read 68 of the books, far more than the expected 6.  But I did note that this is a list for my generation.  Two books that would have been required in my parents' generation--Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and George Eliot's Silas Marner--are nowhere to be found.  Now I've prosecuted a decades-long campaign to eradicate Silas Marner from required reading lists (and no, I'm not responsible for its demise), but I see no reason why Canterbury Tales shouldn't be required reading.  But then I have a special connection to the Wife of Bath.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

News of All Sorts

I have a reader in Britain.  My reader is a regular reader.  My regular reader must be often disappointed when s/he checks in and finds that I haven't posted for weeks.  I am sorry, regular reader.  I will try to do better.  My regular reader checks in more often than my husband.  My regular reader is more loyal.  I wish I knew what my regular reader wants to read.  I would try to oblige.

Spring has already sprung.  My corydalis have put up their feathery fronds. My geraniums are budding.  So is my lilac, which makes me happy, as a dormant lilac looks like nothing so much as a bunch of dead sticks.  My bleeding heart, which I thought was dead, is not.  I didn't get 'round to cutting back the pelargoniums, and one of them is blooming on the old stems.  I haven't the heart to cut them off.

Matt Taibbi is leaving Rolling Stone.  He was the main reason for reading Rolling Stone. He's the guy who described Goldman Sachs as a "vampire squid" and explained the LIBOR scandal.  They'll probably replace him with more "100 Greatest..." lists.  Hey, people who read Rolling Stone probably know who most of the 100 greatest guitarists are already. Sigh.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Much has been made of the Congressional Budget Office report that Obamacare may encourage people to quit their jobs.  This is of concern because it may reduce productivity, and Republicans are quite sure that those who quit their jobs will take up reclining on the sofa, eating bon bons, and watching Judge Judy on TV.  Now it is possible that some who quit their jobs will do just that.  But many more people will find something to do that they enjoy more.  One woman quit her job and takes full-time care of her granddaughter so that her daughter, a single mother, can work.  Now anyone who has ever done so knows that taking full-time care of a young child is much more difficult than reclining on the sofa.  It's even more difficult than paid employment.

Now most people won't quit their jobs for the health insurance subsidy. High-wage workers, for instance, don't receive any subsidy.  Many of them also have employer-paid insurance as well.  So we needn't worry that doctors, lawyers and accountants will suddenly decide that a life of leisure is preferable to work.  Single people, with or without children, are unlikely to quit their jobs, although some of them may go from full- to part-time work, depending on how the subsidy works for them.

Who will quit their jobs or reduce their hours?

--Working poor couples with young children, where the partner who works for health insurance makes less than it costs for childcare, or the couple has to stagger their work hours and they don't see each other awake for days at a time.

--Older couples without health insurance, where the cost outside of subsidy is prohibitive.  Also older singles may cut their work hours to remain within subsidy for the same reason.

--People who hate their jobs and decide that they don't have to stay because the job provides health benefits.

What's interesting about all these groups is that they are generally regarded as part of the less productive hoi  polloi, those who make lower wages because they are less productive than the doctors, lawyers and others whose productivity justifies their high wages. Indeed one would think that it might be good, if they are so unproductive, for them to quit their jobs.  We'd have less traffic, less air pollution and such, so the productivity loss might be offset by environmental and other savings. Some people who quit might work at the local food bank, senior center, or other worthy endeavor.  Others might take up art projects that we might view as unfortunate.

But might it be that they are underpaid rather than unproductive, that the loss of productivity might cost more to the overall economy than the loss of an equivalent number of, say, bankers?  If that's true, there's a simple solution--a pay raise.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I don't usually report on my lunch, as I think most people aren't interested.  Not only that, we almost always have simple sandwiches or leftovers at home.  There's not much to excite anyone there.  But yesterday Friend A and I went out to lunch, and Mother's is to be highly recommended.  It's new, so there was a line, but it wasn't down the block.  Some people might be put off by the fact that it's vegetarian (with a few vegan items), but my only objection to vegetarian restaurants is that they try to make things "taste like chicken."  Why?  If you're a vegetarian restaurant, stand up proudly for vegetables.

That's what Mother's does.  There is nothing anyone would claim tastes like chicken.  But there are very good vegetarian dishes.  I had the Capitol Cobb Salad, with avocado dressing (I'd have licked the dish, were that not inappropriate) with various winter vegies and the best falafel I have ever eaten in my life.  In fact, I wished they served falafel as a sandwich or side dish.  Friend A had the Carrot Nut Burger, and her only criticism was that the bun wasn't sturdy enough for the filling, and she had to eat it with a fork.  We also had very good cookies for dessert.

It's a small place, and the tables are close together, so I was able to examine the choices of my fellow diners.  No, I did not ask them for a taste.  But I would suggest that those inclined to try the restaurant order a salad or sandwich, and then share a couple of the small side dishes.  The chicken-fried mushrooms looked particularly good.  And try the lemonade, with a mild infusion of lavendar.

Today I'm having a ham and cheese sandwich on toasted sourdough.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I had been thinking of doing a blog post on one of the sorry Republicans running for Governor, but Matt Taibbi did a much better job than I ever could have, so go here and read.  Then if you must, remember that the other guy running forgot that he had a gun in his carry-on luggage at the airport.