Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Writing in the Yard

I've been sitting in the yard for 45 minutes now, trying to start a comment on Michael Ignatieff's mea culpa in last week's New York Times magazine. Admittedly the piece turned my brain to sludge for a week, but I should be able to churn something out. Yet, nothing.

Perhaps it's that I just can't write serious stuff unless I am inside, sitting at the table. It's not as miserably hot as usual, so I'm sitting in the yard, watching the cats play and listening to the sounds of the Sacramento evening--traffic, traffic helicopters--and watching Dash play with Little Pal from next door. Actually, I have to pay close attention to keep Little Pal from opening the screen door and heading for the cat food corner. He saw Emma open the door once and quickly mastered the skill. Constant vigilance is now required to keep him out.

Oh, yes, and there are mockingbirds and hummingbirds as well. They're noisy, but not as noisy as the blue jay and her adolescent we had living in the privet tree for awhile. The jay was teaching her issue to talk and this required practice. A lot of practice. Practice in the morning, practice in the afternoon, practice in the evening. And the kid didn't seem to be doing very well. So they practiced some more. I've never even considered a pellet gun before, and I'm sure I would never have done such a thing, but... I haven't seen them for about a week, so I figure the kid must have mastered the basics.

Perhaps is just that I don't have anything new to say about Iraq. One of the good things about having a blog of my own is that I have to read serious stuff. No hanging out on GardenWeb reading about tomatoes and aphids. No watching Onion Videos. That's probably a good thing, as I think my attention span may now be 6:02. But it also means that I discover that many other people have the same thoughts I do, and they frequently express them better than I would have. So I keep my own counsel, not wanting to repeat thoughts better expressed by others.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Incarvillea

Playing in the dirt was so much easier in Oakland than it is here. There I could plant almost anything in the nasty clay soil and it would do reasonably well. I planted the traffic island, which had soil only the most tenacious weeds could love, and most stuff flourished. Here the same plants don't survive, no matter what I do. I've tried coddling, tough love, everything, but still the incarvillea is weak. I trashed one as part of the Mass Herbicide in the spring, when I decided to replant one section of the back yard. The two in front have only a month or two to show why they should be allowed to stay.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fog! Oh Joy! Fog!

Once upon a time, when I lived in San Francisco, I railed against the summer fog. Sometimes in the summer the fog would burn off at about 2:00 and return at about 2:30. It was cool--no, cold-- all summer. When we moved across the bay to Oakland, we'd get somewhat more sun. The fog would burn off sometime in the morning and return by late afternoon. Some summers were better than others--meaning that we got more sun for more of the day. The natural air conditioning worked pretty well most of the summer.

Sacramento isn't like that. Here the sun shines brightly all day, all summer. And it's a harsh, ugly light. It's often too hot to work in the yard after noon. And by 5:00, it's deadly. I'm trapped in the house with the air conditioning. Yuck!

But this morning I woke up to--fog. A good thick layer. It may be foggy well into the afternoon. The light is wonderful--soft and damp--the way it's s'posed to be. Perhaps we'll get a full day or two of this delicious fog before the summer heat returns. Greedy! Greedy!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

In Search of Potholders

I had thought of beginning this blog with an introduction, but haven't gotten round to thinking about what I'm going to do with it. So I'll just say that it will evolve. I don't know whether I'll write every day or once a week or lose interest entirely after a month or so. I'll just see where it goes and follow along.

It's probably not a positive to begin a blog by whining, but I've just spent a frustrating two hours searching for potholders. Yes, potholders. When J and I moved here from Oakland six years ago, one of the first things I noticed was that the goods available seemed to be the leftovers from Hayward. Simple things like tapers were difficult, if not impossible, to find. And when I finally found them, I had a "choice" of one style and three colors. Goods available at any corner market in Oakland required a journey to a specialty shop here. And so my search for potholders took me to four stores, all of which had the same style in the same colors.

What gives? Have the powers that be determined that we're potentially another Cuba and decided to embargo us? Or have Sacramentans become so worn down that they accept what they cannot change and make their selections from the meager goods on offer? Or has the population decided to order on the internet? Come to think of it, the Sacramento Bee did report about a year ago that Sacramentans do more internet shopping than any other large city in the country. This might explain why.

Even shopkeepers who should know better try to foist goods on us that should be returned to sender. A couple of years ago, one of our local plant nurseries tried to sell us plants that, according to the description, loved our cool summers. Cool summers? The daytime temperature here is almost always above 90 degrees from June to September and it's often above 100. Were they so desperate for plant matter that they'd take anything?