Sunday, January 20, 2008

So Much for My Predictions

My friend A and I went walking this morning. A reminded me that I had predicted a warm, wet winter and a warm spring to follow. (She reminded me of this because nights have been in the low 30s for months now, and we were being stung by a breeze that seemed to have come directly to Sacramento from Alaska.) Maybe I'll be right about the warm spring, but I guess I shouldn't claim any predictive power.

The cold nights have been hard on some of the plants. A few of them (like the three hibiscus I developed an enthusiasm for at the end of the summer) were put out of their misery several weeks ago. Two tiny Japanese painted ferns are only a couple of weeks from the garden waste bin, and I think a few others are in jeopardy if the night-time weather doesn't improve soon.

The azaleas, which were early last year, seem to be waiting for warmer weather. The buds are there, but only a few blooms so far. I know when to do the first spring fertilizing--one of my dicentras puts out a little frond. I can see the green, but a frond is likely ten days to two weeks away. Last year it was just at the end of January. It's possible that it will be a warm spring, but I don't think it will be an early one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oh, The Shame

It's bad enough that our government seems to have developed an enthusiasm for yet another war. But the Attack of the Iranian Speedboats has got to be one of the dumbest, most humiliating events to which The President and his minions have subjected us. C'mon, people didn't know the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin for nigh on thirty years. The truth about the alleged incident in the Strait of Hormuz--oh, about fifteen minutes.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cleaning Up After the "Winter Blast"

J and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon cleaning up the front yard after the "winter blast" on Friday. The beloved Claw came yesterday and took away the chopped up pine tree, so that left plenty of room on the street for more garden debris. I cut back almost all of the plants--the agastache, penstemon, incarvillea, coreopsis. Our eucalyptus shed all over the place too, and leaves and branches from all over the neighborhood seemed to have congregated in my front yard. So now there's a new mound of stuff waiting for a visit from the Claw. I told J that we might receive a personal visit from the Claw driver, informing us that he would not be able to come every day to pick up my latest leavings.

But it's not often that I have this much debris. I usually do a big clean-up in early spring, when I toss the plants I decided to reprieve in the fall. Then I do another clean-up at the end of the summer, tossing the plants that failed to perform during the spring and summer. I rarely do a lot of work in the winter, even though I should, and the summer is spent watering, watering, watering. Having cleaned up much of the front yard, I am, however, notifying some plants that a good performance this year will be required or the refrain "dead plant walking" will be heard as the poor subject is transported to the garden waste pile.

The Debates

Last night J and I watched the back-to-back debates on ABC.

What is the Republican thing with immigration, anyway? Yes, people come to this country for jobs. They do jobs for wages too low to attract native-born and legal immigrant workers. They speak languages other than English. Horror of all horrors!

Do these people listen to what they're saying? Do they think about it? C'mon, just because someone came here without proper papers doesn't make her a criminal. That's silliness. I have been known to jaywalk, which is illegal in most jurisdictions. That doesn't put me up there with ax murderers. Get a grip! And the idea that we would deport 12 million people to their home countries, so that they could apply for legal immigration is silly. They'd have to wait ten years to re-immigrate.

What would this mean? Well, many undocumented workers have children who were born in this country and are, therefore, citizens. What would parents who were deported do? Would they take their citizen children with them? Would they decide that the children would be better off in this country and have them placed in foster care? If the children became ill in their parents' home country, would they send them to the US for medical care? If they are Mexican nationals, would they live near the border and send their children across the border to school each day? The children are citizens of this country and would have every right to come here for medical care or education. And if their parents took them back to their home countries, the children would have the right to re-enter the United States at any time. Deporting their parents is not only not a good idea; it's a really bad one.

And while it's possible that immigration has some impact on wages in this country, the political decision to depress wages for the poorest two-thirds of the population has been much more effective. (It's interesting to note, though, that depressing wages, which was supposed to end stagflation forever, appears not to have had the desired effect.) To counter the effect of immigration on wages would be easy--just enforce our labor laws. That means that we don't care whether you're documented or not. Your employer must still pay the legal minimum wage, payroll taxes, social security tax, worker's compensation etc. Workers, whether documented or not, would be protected from exploitation and calling ICE would not protect employers.

How can this be a big issue in New Hampshire, one of the whitest states in the land? You'd think they'd be more interested in other issues.

Now for the Democrats. I always want Hillary to do well, just because she's a woman. I'm not supporting her, but I don't want her to be perceived as hysterical, brittle, bitchy etc.--all attributes of women who are insufficiently deferential to men in public settings. But she did come off as defensive when Edwards and Obama set her up as the candidate of experience and the Old Guard. That set her off, and she came off as defensive AND hysterical. She's not as quick as Bill, and didn't have the sense to let go with some comment like, "I'm a woman running for President. That's not enough change for you?"

There's really not much difference between the Big Three Democrats--all of whom promise to give us some sort of universal medical insurance that protects the big insurance companies and the drug manufacturers, get us out of Iraq some day, and bring joy and good feeling to the land. (None of them seemed to realize, for instance, that the oil-revenue sharing agreement proposed for Iraq is known in the rest of the world as the American proposal to steal Iraq's oil. It's not surprising that even the most sycophantic Iraqis oppose it.) But at least they didn't spend the majority of their time rattling on about the joys of deporting 12 million people.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Winter Blast"

Ah, Sacramento! Last night Obama and Huckabee won their respective caucuses in Iowa. In most of the country this was big news. But not in Sacramento. We had a winter storm and the day's news was "All Rain, All the Time." Channel 3 even named their coverage "Winter Blast." And the reporting went on almost all day. (We missed part of it, as our cable was down for several hours.) It went on so long that the reporters were repeating themselves. They must have showed every downed tree in five counties. Except for the one in my front yard. And they'll repeat the whole thing again at 10 and 11.

It was, however, a pretty nasty storm by California standards. Some of my plant pots are knee-deep in fallen leaves and needles. Tomorrow J and I will spend the day cleaning up the mess and trying to rescue the plants the tree fell on.

I did discover that, while Dash hates storms and hid under various pieces of furniture all day, Emma loves storms and spent the day looking out the windows. She didn't like the wind, but the stuff blowing around was really fascinating to her.