Wednesday, July 28, 2021

OMG, Y'all

 My granddaughter just came out as gay!!!!!!!!


She is in her early teens, and God bless her, she was the last one to know.  I get to say the following here because this is my blog:  She is the cutest most adorable baby dyke EVER.  She got her side-shave swag haircut and her bad Doc Martins, got her jeans all cuff-rolled, got her pocket T-shirt on, and I could not be more enchanted or proud.  I just got the picture and I am over the MOON!

All of you on here, who read me, I want you to  know:  You all helped make the world safe for my granddaughter to live in.  All of you.  And I thank you.

  

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Quaint Vignettes From My Charming Rural Idyll

 OOO, I made a Conservative pissed off today...!

The Biker and I were doing a little Saturday afternoon recreational spending and we went to a church-run charity shop in Lynden to look around.  It wasn't until we got to the checkout stand that I realized that I had worn my 'Frankie Says Relax' t-shirt with the huge lettering; and I only realized it because the other checkout clerk was shooting me looks, and then quickly turning away when I caught the glance. And this kind of exchange took place about seven or eight times in rapid succession, and I was thinking 'Oh God, I've been riding in the truck all day with the windows rolled down and I have crazy cat lady hair' until glance number eight (or nine) landed on my shirt, and I busted her fair and square just glaring.  Then she realized the bust and turned her back on me completely.  Did I do the dance of my people on my way out to the parking lot?  I did! Oh yeah I did!

Really, this is how ridiculous it gets here in the Reddest Corner of the Bluest State.  This woman's face was just contorted in distaste. Just glaring at my shirt, and her lips just all pinched up like a butthole. Which was in keeping with the theme, but come on.  

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I was riding my bike around this morning when I crossed over the small pedestrian bridge we have over the creek that runs through town, and there in the low water below I saw something colorful.

Now my first thought always goes to 'human body parts' because I grew up in Portland Oregon where that kind of thing is something of a tradition.  But as I looked carefully into the water, the upside-down image resolved itself in my mind's eye, and I found myself looking at a very nicely done statue of Ganesh.

This is not what you expect to find in a rural creek.  You expect old shopping carts and tires and body parts, not lovely painted statues of Hindu elephant gods.

My second thought was an outraged 'That doesn't belong there!' and I imagined that someone had picked it up at a garage sale and then threw it off the bridge just to be a dick. I had ideas of fishing it out and bringing it home, too, because, frankly, it's a very pretty statue.

Ah, but then I had the presence of mind to Google it, and sure enough, there is a tradition of immersing statues of Ganesh during a particular festival in August,  just as some people throw holy medals or statues into wells in the Catholic tradition.  (My upbringing comes in handy at the strangest times, y'know?  I never would have thought of that had I not been raised Cat'lick.) I'm glad I did, too, because I would have gladly donned my barn boots and gone wading after that statue and disrespected one of my neighbors' traditions, not to mention their religious figure.

My third thought was 'Wow, the water is really super clean here.  I could see every single rock on the bottom!' 

 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Muk At The Movies: American Horror Story (And Others)

 Once again I come late to the game with American Horror Story.  That shit is played and done.  But here is what I got out of it:

"Coven" starts out strong and end up in a lot of unnecessary racism, gore and bitch-biddy bullshit.  It lapses into the "No group of women can create a strong group with a central goal and carry out that goal to a successful completion because they'll all get their periods and cry and have tantrums" sad played old stereotype, which was a sin and a shame to see so many great actresses have to flog.

"Freak Show" is absolute GOLD.  You cannot predict where the story is going, there are tributes to Tod Browning and David Bowie and....WATCH IT. WATCH IT HARD. WATCH IT NOW BABY NOW!!

The rest?  Asylum?  FUCK DAT.  There is no way in hell that my mentally ill ass is watching 'Asylum'.  'One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest' was rough enough for me.  This shit?  This Dr. Chenard, House on Haunted Hill - messed up nasty medical shit? No, buddy.

"Murder House"? Yawn.

"Cult"?  Been there, done that, it wasn't entertaining.

The rest?  Kids, I said 'Life is too short.'

You start to notice repeat themes.  The 'stabbing someone 300 times, and doing so like a Dunking Duck on high speed' scene.  The 'group of people chopping and stabbing the fuck out of someone like a Dunking Duck on high' speed scene. The 'barfing' scene. (People are just upchucking all over the place in American Horror Story.  I promise you there is not that much barfing going on in America.)  The 'group sex' scene. The 'horrifying misuse of  a child' scene.  The 'bobbing fluffy bottom of the male top' scene.  The 'random reversal of loyalties' theme.  The 'hysterically and dementedly rapid fucking' scene.  And the 'spiritus ex machina' shit is just rampant.  I mean, nobody's ass can stay dead in 'Coven'. 

Man, watch the hell out of 'Freak Show'.  It's brilliant.  You do not know what's going to happen next and the characters and script are astounding.

Skip the rest.

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Muk at the Movies II:  A surprise winner, a little hidden gem, simply entitled 'Monster'.  It takes place mainly in Mexico, and concerns aliens, Trumps' Wall, and aliens.  An excellent and scary little film.

Hidden gem 2:  'Dolly Parton:  Here I Am.'  I am not a country/western fan, and I am not a big fan of the female singing voice.  It's Dolly herself that shines here, and I was absolutely captivated.  The woman is an undeniable talent, but it's her titanium professionalism that comes through.  This woman is in complete charge of  her image, and plays to the cheap seats, unapologetically - and boy, did she know what she was doing.  Thinking about starting a company?  Take Dolly's attitude as your North Star. Give absolutely nothing of yourself away. Utterly divorce your private self from your public self.  Get multiple boob jobs.

Hidden gem and guilty pleasure 3:  'Cat People', a limited documentary series.  The first episode is about batshit weirdo nutty people from Portland Oregon, which I am all about.  The rest of the episodes are entertaining as well.  Interestingly, in 'Cat People' the stories are all about the cats.  In the limited series 'Dog People' the story always revolves around the owners.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

CAUTION: Another Garden Post ABOUT ROSES

This is going to take longer to read than will be to absorb and use, so get the fuck over it and read it.  I'm doing you a favor. 

ROSES MAKE EVERYTHING PERFECT

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Everyone thinks 'Roses are so DE MAN DINGGG!" and I am here to give you realness:  They are no more demanding than any other garden plant.  

Here's the thing - roses are so popular and have been so loved by so many people over the centuries that there is a metric buttload times ten butts worth of information out there about roses - and it's been accumulating since the Dark Ages, kats and kittens.  They aren't difficult - they just have a lot of press.

A rose, just like any other plant, is a monster in the right place.  Here's how simple it is.  In fact you can take these rules and apply them to all garden plants, perennial or annual.

To Do In The Dead Of Winter, Before You Plant - You PLAN.    

There are five things to know about roses, or any plant you plan to purchase before you purchase:  

Culture, PH, water and light requirements, and USDA zone.    

1. Determine your soil type. Is it a high PH or a low PH?  Is it sandy loam or heavy clay? Go to Daves Garden.com and read up on what I mean by that shit, I'm not your mother.  

Soil is not just stuff smeared all over the planet like peanut butter.  Different locations have different - let's call it  "Ingredients".   Before you plant ANY PLANT you must learn about your local soil type. 

You see, the plant that you buy growing in high-nutrient growth medium (what you look at and think of as dirt there in the pot) is sitting in very different stuff than what you have surrounding your house. 'Growth medium' is a highly processed material filled with things that you do NOT want to know about, like 'growth limiter' and 'pest drenches' and - but you don't want to know about it.  Take my word for it - the stuff is a combination of disparate natural and un-natural ingredients mixed to support the root system of a plant and enable it to survive shipping and mistreatment on the store shelves.  It's nothing whatsoever to do with soil.

Now.  Go to the nursery and browse. Take time to fall in love.  Experience the ravishment of the senses that only a rose can provide and open your soul to beguilement.   

Now.  DO NOT BUY ANYTHING.  Just take the name of the rose you love down, and better yet; steal the tag (I do this all the time. Catch me if you can.) and then look up all that information online.  

Can't steal the tag?  Copy down the name and the brand, then look it up.  Here's why:   They used to put all that info on plant tags.  Not so much these days.  Similarly the USDA zone info is also now missing from plant tags so do what auntie FN tells you - take down the name and brand of the plant, and then look it up online and you will eventually find this absolutely, all-important information.  It's the difference between a living and a dead plant, kids.

-Bravo!  You did it! You have a zone 6-8 rose that can grow in full sun/light shade in acid to neutral soil!  Look at you and your research skills!  Of course you don't know what the fuck soil PH or soil type are.  Well then.

You can find out what your Soil PH and Soil Type are by calling  the Agricultural Extension Office, which is FREE, and either telling them where you live, or telling them where you live AND bringing along a sample of your soil to their office.  There are actually things called 'soil maps' of where you live that you can access online after a lot of fucking around, but they're pretty technical.  It's just easier as a beginner to call up your local Agricultural Extension office and ask for a soil expert, and explain your issue and get an answer.  \

Or here's the fast and dirty route:   Roses want acid soil, and they like a little clay in the mix.  You have no idea what I mean by that.  Look it up online.

2. Determine your USDA zone.  Hella simple.  Chuck 'USDA zone' and your town name into Mr. Google and you will get an answer to that question jiffy quick.  Why do this? Because big box store and hardware stores and general retail PLANTS ARE SOLD BY USDA ZONE.  And you cannot always trust their information.  What is a USDA zone?  LOOK IT UP ONLINE.  (Note:  Home Depot  doesn't give a flying fuck about you or your garden.  They'll carry things like Confederate Jasmine, Flame Lilly and Bougainvillia here in zone 7 and figure you'll blame yourself when those zone 9 - 10 plants die, and then buy more to replace them. Fuck you, Home Depot. And their roses are garbage.)

Instant replay of information already given follows:

So go to the nursery or big box store, or just look at pretty pictures online, and FFS take a notebook and write down the name of the rose you just fell in love with, and then look that bastard up online BEFORE YOU BUY.  That's where you'll find the information you need on culture, ph, water, light requirements, and USDA zone. Enter the name of your darlings into Google Images, find your beauties, click through and read the USDA and soil PH requirements on MULTIPLE SITES because it's easier to find retail sites and culture info this way.  If you don't find them on one site, you will on another, or on Daves Garden.com.  Make a note of these favorites in your bookmarks or by copy/pasting the links to a document so that you can go over them in the long cold months of winter.  Go to every site that has a reference to your dream rose and read every single thing you can about it.  It won't take long, and it will save you time, money and heartache come spring.

3. Starting out, buy in person from a REPUTABLE nursery.  This is the hard part.  Go online, hit Yelp, get those recommendations.  Hit up your local Garden Club online and ask them. Connect with people who live in your USDA Zone  - within a 25 mile distance of your ass - on Daves' Garden.com and ask those people.  Or just, like, if you know your neighbors, ask them. 

4. Do not buy the roses that you love and want. Exercise some self-restraint. SELECT ROSES THAT WILL GROWN ON YOUR SOIL AND IN YOUR USDA ZONE.  Now, if all three elements happen to coincide, well that's good karma!  And lacking good karma, you can still get really, really close to what you want in the rose world these days.  There are roses bred to grow in Canada and Alaska!  There are roses bred to grow by the seaside in high winds and shitty, sandy soil!  There are roses that will grow in swamps, and roses that will grow in deserts.  There is even a climbing rose!  There are roses that never get any bigger than a guinea pig, and roses that will grow to the size of small houses over time.  And all the blossom forms and colors!  Wahoo!  It's a smorglasferd!

5. THINK ABOUT THE COLOR OF YOUR HOUSE.  If your house is duckie yellow or peachy peach, there are colors you should avoid.  Green, of course, will be the bass note in your symphony.  Green is a mix of yellow and blue.  Add the color of your house.  That's three colors you now have to work around.  Go online and check out the Pantone Color Wheel, which will tell you what colors will go with your house paint and what colors will blow.  (My personal bitch to pick is  the combination of a hard, hard red rose out in front of a white house.  No matter what color of red it is, the white will suck all the life out of it and it will look black to the passing glance.  GAAH)

OK.  You've spent maybe an hour all told on this shit out of the whole winter, period. You have dreamed, fallen in and out of love, and learned amazing things.  Now, armed with this information, go forth and SPEND come the first hint of Spring, and get there early.  Us plant nerds are dangerous animals come early spring when the first shipments of David Austin and Jackson and Perkins roses are put on the ground, just waiting for our lust to engulf and devour them.

Digression follows.     

This is a tale of living and learning.

Rosa 'Intrigue' will grow like gangbusters in a solid zone 7 location with a regular application of well-rotted horse manure, because rosa 'Intrigue' is what's called a heavy feeder. It wants rich, rich soil.  It will beguile you with it's perfect, imperial murex purple color and continuous blooms. It has a 'true rose' fragrance. The blossom form is classic, a whirl of petals, high-centered, just gorgeous.

Go on Google Maps and look up Deming, WA.  Rosa 'Intrigue' will grow into a generous, beautiful igloo of fragrant purple blossoms in Deming.  

22 miles away here in Sumas? Fuck off and die, bitch. 

I am talking about a distance of 22 miles, people.  22 miles between the Sumas USDA zone 7 and the geothermally warmed soil of  USDA Zone 7 in Deming.  Locally Deming is referred to as 'The Banana Belt' by old fuckers for this very reason.  Just a small area in the foothills, but only 22 miles makes the difference between a live, sexy 'Intrigue' rose and a languishing clump of thorns that hates you here in Sumas, where I live.  So, half the reason that this rose died was out of my control.

The other half of the reason it died was because I was ignorant of it's specific needs.  It wanted full sun, horse manure and lots of elbow room in a solid USDA Zone 7 garden.  I gave it half a day's shade, compost tea and crowded it with bluebells and calendula in a Zone 6 microclimate garden because I fell in love at first sight and whipped out my debit card.  And I learned my $35.00 mistake the hard way because I didn't do my reading.

You will make mistakes.  

Digression Ends.

A note on traditional rose tips and tricks:  

Some people give the soil around their roses a little Epsom Salts (for magnesium) and a little sulphur (to acidify the soil and kill fungi.)  

Some folks will put used coffee grounds around the base of their roses (to acidify the soil) and mix in banana peels (for potassium.)

Some folks will put a banana and a an old rusty piece of iron in the planting hole to add, well, iron, and potassium.

Some folks will put three smelt in the planting hole of a new rose (to enrich the soil just generally, because there really isn't any other use for smelt.)

All of these things Do Work Absolutely.  Now they don't work miracles, but they provide a boost, and they are safe, and a strong plant resists disease.  I would not do all of them at the same time, and I would err on the side of too little.  

I swear by epsom salts and sulphur.  It works, and you can't tell me any different. Experience and my 23 years of records stand to prove the fact. 

 My father swore by the 'smelt' method and we had a fantastic landscape.  My grandmother used the 'handful of rusty nails and a banana' for her roses and they were man-eaters!  

Now go online and see every single one of those methods debunked by some mook. 

 And you may wonder to yourself 'I wonder if some Big Chemical Company might be paying that alleged garden blogger to say those things?'  And you may ask yourself ' What is that beautiful house?  And you may ask yourself 'Where does that highway go to?' And you may ask yourself 'Am I right?  Am I wrong?" And you may say to yourself 'My God! Enough with the Talking Heads references!'  

But pay attention to what I've written here.  Roses are not difficult!  My roses are fuck off and die sluggers.  They'll steal your car and make you write bad checks.  And it's because I chose the right rose for the right location.  When people bitch about roses being difficult, it's because they fell in love at first sight with something not suited to their location and are now a slave to the chemical corporations and the shovel and the watering can, trying to keep their high-maintenance bitch happy.

And that's all you really need to know about roses.

Except for pruning...


Monday, July 19, 2021

Me and Mr. Cleese

 Me and Mr. Cleese.

We got a thing going on.

We both know that it's wrong

But it's much to strong

To let it go.

Actually I'm the one that has the hot Jones for Mr. John Marwood Cleese.  I'm sure he'd be squicked out to know that my 61 year old ass was still crushing on him, but I am.  And I will.  I've told my children that he should have been their real father, and they were both grossed out by my frank admission of thwarted carnal love, and said 'Too much information, ew."  

I bought a buddleia because it was named 'The Black Knight'.  Fine, it's also beautiful, but if it had been named 'Really Dark Purple' or something else, I would have walked by.  The 'Holy Grail' reference was the kicker for me. 

 I've seen John Cleese perform live.  One man show.  I still have the ticket stub.  

He is glorious.

And yesterday out of nowhere, the Biker presented me with a t-shirt with a picture on it of the Black Knight himself, bleeding all over hell, proclaiming 'Tis but a scratch!'  and I slept in it. I am wearing it now.  It smells.  I should wash it. I should change shirts. I won't, though.

I've had this crush going since 1973, when PBS began broadcasting 'Monty Pythons' Flying Circus.'  At first, I was all about Eric Idle, but Johnny...was it the tar-black vitriol, the mania, or the genius?  I submit that it was all three, plus I am a sucker for a cute, balding, long, tall drink of water with a British accent.  The fact that he'll get naked without a second thought is just...well, nowadays it'd be icky, but back then, I was  just all like daaaaaaaaaamn, six foot four and a half, and worth the climb! Yeah baby, yeah!

It hasn't been a smooth ride.  I've been mad as hell at him on and off for years.  He'll say something or do something so shitty that I'll just go on a Cleese strike.  Fuck'im.  But I always come crawling back.  I even watched a children's animated movie recently because he did the voice of an evil walrus in it.

The thing I like about the Black Knight is the fucker has no quit in him.  Not an ounce.  Cut off all his limbs, he'll gnaw on your ankles.  And that's a lot like me.  I'm absolutely indifferent to the futility of my situation, but I have no quit in me, and I will gnaw on your ankles.  So I will wear this shirt until it rots off me, just like I wore my John Cleese concert t-shirt until it rotted off me.  

That's not an overstatement. I was forbidden to wear that shirt off the property.  I did anyway.  My psychiatrist remembers watching it age over the years.  I finally had to consign it to the flames, because there was more hole than shirt.  I could not just throw it away, no. NO no no.  I gave it a Viking funeral. (Well, a Sumas funeral, burned in a tractor wheel covered in waste paper with some gasoline to get things whuppin'.)

I don't know how he's thought about in in the UK, particularly since he defected to our side of the pond.  What I know is that in 1973, all we here in America had to hang onto in the way of smart, funny comedy was the Flip Wilson Show.  One show.  One. 

 ONE.  

...until the public access station started playing Doctor in the House and Monty Python's Flying Circus.  And you had to stay up until 10:00 on a Thursday, I think it was, to catch them.  

My mother adored Doctor in the House.  I have her to thank for turning me on to British Comedy, in fact!  She had a crush on the character Michael Upton.  I liked the Eric Idle character, the ridiculously wealthy 'who gives a fuck' professional student.  And the Monty Python show came on right after Doctor In The House.  That came right at moms' bedtime.  It was a long while before she ever saw 'The Queen Victoria Races' or  The Battle of Pearl Harbor by the Batley Townswomen's Guild.'  

I owe a good part of my sanity to John Cleese.  Remember that 'funny' and 'smart' were for the most part mutually exclusive terms on this side of the Atlantic back in 1973.  We had shit like 'Green Acres' and 'My Mother The Car' and 'Gilligans Island' over here.  Y'all had The Goon Show, The Two Ronnies and Marty Feldman.  

And Python.  Let's all sing:

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as sloshed as Schlegel
There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed
John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill
Plato, they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram
And René Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am"
Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker
But a bugger when he's pissed!

Never in a million years would something like that have made it on to television in the U.S.  Oh, maybe Steve Allen might make a quick reference to Paracelsus or something, and Dick Cavett might host a wry, witty soul and banter a bit, but it was for the main part all pratfalls and pies in the face here, Hee Haw and Dukes of Hazard, without relief.  Now perhaps if you lived in New York you might have gotten some broadcast that appealed to the intellect, but I did not live in New York, and neither did most people, as I dimly recall.  To this day, New York can only hold so many people.

In a way, MPFC saved the sanity of a whole generation over here.  

It was and still is to a large extent a very 'Gentleman C' culture, where being smart and showing your intelligence is considered rude, and making a joke that requires advance book larnin' to get is just rude.  Now right here my impulse to assure everyone out there that I am by no means a genius is - see?  I just slipped it in under cover.  I'm not even talking about college level stuff here - just anything a high school senior might get.  Our popular culture was under the pall of the advertisers creed for so long (all viewers, generally taken, average out as about eight years old in terms of sophistication and learning, so aim that high and no higher) that it poisoned our outlook and, I'll argue, our culture at large as well. When it came to television, nobody had to be educated. Nobody had to try.  Nobody was in danger of feeling stupid.  All in the name of selling Rice a Roni, the San Francisco Treat, or what have you.  My parents were fed that shit, and I grew up on it.  And then, suddenly, miraculously, in the middle of all that horror there was a funny, quirky show that only the Public Access Station would dare show, late at night, and every single kid and adult that could keep their eyes open (in Oregon) would stay up just so they could watch this amazing, miraculous, insane prodigy of wtf humor, nailing the 1970's zeitgeist, and satisfying our hunger for something that wasn't approved by a fucking committee.  I saw my first televised full frontal nudity on MPFC.  God Bless Them.

So anyway I love John Cleese.  Would I have him as a neighbor?  Oh fuck no.  Imagine the complaints. ("This woman threw a deceased snail over my fence.  Am I allowed to hire someone to beat her or shall I simply set her garage on fire?") I imagine him lighting firecrackers and throwing them on my roof.  Or buying a sack of ammonium nitrate and sprinking the word 'bitch' in large letters on my lawn (do this at night, and come the morning sure, try and wash it off.  It will come up in block letters greener and taller than the rest of your lawn for about three years.  If you have a neighbor you hate, take note.)  I know he is that petty and devious.

But oh Lordy the crush I still have on him!  Even as the godhorrid bastard Basil Fawlty.  I LOVE THIS MAN GOD HELP ME.  His mind!  His humor!  His ability to throw his entire self into getting a laugh!  And that he did a good part of it in that cultured, educated accent just melts my shorts, y'all.

Here is how much I love John Cleese:

Back in the 1980's I printed out a picture of 'The Announcer Wearing A Bikini' , folded it into four and put it into my wallet.  It's gone with me on ever job interview and into every difficult situation for years now, because when you have a picture of John Cleese in a bikini in your wallet, nothing more insane can happen to you, in America.  I'd think of that picture, sitting waiting for a job interview or a doctors appointment or what have you, and it would smooth me right out.  

I still have it, in fact.  And it still helps.



 



Friday, July 16, 2021

Submitted for Your Approval

 I've been bragging about this rose for years, and here it is in all it's glory:  Improved Josephs' Coat.



Now the other flowers you're seeing down on the bottom are, from left to right : pink campion, outhouse bluebells (that's what they call 'em) and mini 'Wave' petunias - the red things with the dark throats. Also to the upper right are a small drift of red mop-heads; that's bee balm, and some yellow hangy-downy podlike things - those are tiger lilies that have not opened yet.

Focus on the rose.  The spent blossoms, the leaves, the canes, and all.  Most of all, focus not on the glorious cloud of multicolored blossoms, but on the sheer perfection of the leaves and canes.

Regular, bog standard 'Josephs' Coat' is a notorious bastard of a rose.  It has all the glam of a floribunda and the drama of 'Tropicana' and all the disease resistance of a malnourished Victorian infant.  The plants are usually nude of all leaves by this time of year, and those that remain are horrible objects covered in leprosy and black spot and what have you. Similarly the ultra-thorny canes.  Just awful, and not worth the few colorful blossoms you might get. 

I found this rose, as I've said probably four times by now, in a little privately run 'curated' specialty nursery in Sequim, Washington.  It was a hot, dry day, the wind was terrible, and there was one tall cane jutting up out of the container with a truss of blossoms, and that was it.

But it was PERFECT.

And so it has continued to be.  I have been graced by the Universe with this flawless wonder of a plant.  If you can find this rose anywhere, I cannot urge you strongly enough to purchase it at any cost.  I paid ten dollars for this one.  It laughs at dry weather, strong wind, sudden rain, and hellish temperatures.  And it's just glorious.  The leaves are a matte apple green, the blossoms are doubled, and have a wonderful, hoydenish form.  The petals change color by the hour - literally.  You can almost set your watch by when each blossom opens, then goes from bright scarlet through the apricots to clear yellow, pale yellow and finally pink- and every possible tint on that spectrum.  One hour! I have literally timed it! Yes! makes the difference between a scarlet rose and an apricot orange one on the same truss!  

It holds it's petals well, and after three days any given blossom is done.  Keep the hips popped off for the next month, and then let the last ones stay on the plant.  That is an old-time trick that actually seems to work - the plant 'senses' the presence of seed-bearing bodies lingering on it's life support system and 'remembers' to make more of them next season.  They're called flowers, kids.  

If you have a very old variety of rose, like Zephyrine Drouhin, Crested Moss, The Fairy or Celine Brunner, treat it the same way.  Cull the spent petals and clip the first hips away once the first flush of flowers has gone by to get a blossom here and there for the rest of the summer on these 'one time' bloomers.  And leave that last crop of hips alone!  Cut them away, and you'll get bupkis for flowers the next year - Zephyrine will go into a two-year sulk.  Those old, old varieties are so close to wild that they really depend on the action of the natural world to regulate their systems.  You are just there to keep them from eating small children and dogs, and to clear away the deadwood.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Failed To Solve The UK, Was Promoted To Pet Status

 Yesterday afternoon I was chilling on the couch, reading some H.P. Lovecraft, when the Biker called to me "There's some people here who want to see their gardener!"

And so it was that I was summoned forth by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

"We're here because we haven't come over for awhile," announced one.  The other two nodded.  "We didn't come over because-" and things devolved into the usual mix of chaos and fantasy.  There was something about a crazy cat lady and a travel trailer and needing to sleep in a tent and I don't know what all, and meanwhile they're roaming around inspecting the place.  I'd just pulled up a lot of things that had gone by, and I was informed that I'd made quite a mess.  "But you'll clean it up," said the oldest.

OK.

They discovered my bicycle in the shed, and were absolutely amazed by it.  "It's SO OLD', they marveled.  "Why's it got a basket on it?  Can you do a wheelie?"

And somehow I ended up riding out with Death, Famine, War and Pestilence.  Since there are only three consistent Horsemen and the fourth position is usually taken by a random kid or kids, I got to be...I dunno, Pestilence, I guess.

I really needed to ride my bike slooowlyyy up and down the sidewalk in the middle of the hottest part of the day with three little boys, lemme tell you.  The littlest doesn't know how to use the brakes on his bike so he crashed into me to stop, and I was told to expect this because "That's the only way he wants to stop, you know."  Back and forth we wobbled, mostly in a tangle.

Somehow in the middle of all this, I went from being Mrs. FirstNations to Firsty.  This is when it suddenly occurred to me:  They are not my pet Horsemen.  I am their pet old lady.

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We are being given a break from the second heatwave, thank God.  But I look at Oregon on the weather maps and you can see where I grew up, the Willamette Valley, show as one long and very distinct streak of red - and that's how I remember it during this time of the year. So hot that everyone stayed up until midnight or later and all the little kids ran around the neighborhood with flashlights, or slept on towels at their parents feet; and people wandered from house to house in the dark visiting.  It's one of my favorite childhood memories.

But the days were hell.  The Willamette Valley gets heat inversions (I may  have that name wrong.)  What it means is that one layer of air covers over the valley from side to side along it's entire geological length, and the air beneath just sits there and gets hotter and dirtier and more humid and the wind doesn't blow - not even the hint of a breeze.  

The days were horrible.  The air over Portland turned a lurid sienna color, and it smelled like smoke.  Of course there was always a burn ban on, but everyone would have a bonfire at night, and of course folks were barbecuing and grilling outdoors; and there was usually a wildfire going on up in the Cascades - and that smoke just laid there.  The moon would come up magnified to insane proportions by all the crud in the air, like the initial dome of fire in an atomic blast, and everyone would gather outside to watch it rise, blazing orange or bright scarlet, over the side of Mt. Hood.

There was a benefit, although it was kind of eerie - that kind of weather made all the plants just continue to grow and get bigger and fatter and  more full of juice, because the wind didn't take the humidity out of the air, and the humidity was seldom below 90%.  It would get positively Amazonian toward the end of August, the wild grasses growing six and seven feet tall, trees with their limbs hanging from the weight of the leaves, the fruit, and new, water-fat growth.  To stand under an apple tree was like standing inside a terrarium that smelled of apple leaves and fallen, oversweet apples going by, and you could feel it on your skin, the damp.  It was shade, but it was weird, freaky shade.

The wild things and the perennial things grew like crazy, but everyones' lawn was dead white in August.  Even the people with in-ground watering systems ended up with perfect round spots of green around each sprinkler head, surrounded by dead grass.

There's a nice breeze blowing here, and I've had to learn to compensate for it by watering in the evening to avoid windburn during the day.  That took me by absolute surprise.  I had this body memory of the Willamette Valley and it just seemed so weird and wrong to be watering in August.  In Oregon, your vegetable garden would be going nuts; the tomatoes would go rogue, everything got huge and Frankensteinian, and if you watered, those garden plants would rot.  Different story here entirely.  Everything waits until August to jump, and then you better be ready with the hose every evening or the next afternoon it will have fainted, coughing it's last, like a Victorian lady with a tight corset.

I hope that wherever you are, the weather isn't sucking.  If it is, take care.