Yesterday’s Statistics Today

Happened to come across these yesterday, and they stood out to me, so I thought I’d share them here.  I’m a little late, up a little late, and so yesterday’s statistics, it turns out, are today’s:

- In 1964, just 4% of footwear in the United States was imported.  Today, 98% is.

And, in unrelated stats….

- North America sends 106 billion pounds of organic waste to landfill each year; that’s the equivalent of 200,000 garbage trucks creating 37 billion pounds of greenhouse gases each.

- As of July 1, 2015, NYC will require hotels with 100 or more sleeping rooms and large-service businesses such as arenas, caterers, and food wholesalers to dispose of food waste through composting or another means that keeps this organic matter out of landfills.

Rock on, NYC.  What do you think — will it be enough, or too little too late?  Go ahead, gimme the dirt!

Sometimes It Snows in April

But I still can’t believe I’m seeing snow and ice outside. The buds on my peach tree had just begun to bloom. I want to go out there, dark and cold as it is right now, and wrap myself around her like a big warm late spring blanket like it should be. *sigh* glad the only planting I’ve gotten around to are four egg cartons with various herb, tomato, and flower seeds.

How about all of you? I hope no one suffers any setback from this late temperature drop – not sure if it’s enough to really count as a frost.

Go ahead … gimme the dirt.

Believe You, Me, Macy’s?

Macy’s said it was a magical garden they’d erected behind the glass wall that separates the corporate fiefdom from the peasantry passing by. The same glass operates as a kind of carefully constructed capitalist sticky fly tape to catch the multitude of tourists snapping their pics and clutching their bags of conspicuous consumerism.

I was on my way to a meeting when I saw the bountiful blooms. I read the description that described these as magical gardens and suggesting one wait and watch to see if they might catch some plants swaying on their own. I waited a moment and didn’t see it so I figured these were displays still under construction and eventually there’d be some high tech gadgetry designed to enhance an already sufficiently impressive landscape.

So I snapped a shot and moved on. What I saw when I looked at it later surprised me. I don’t know if this odd fellow – whom I didn’t see at the time – appearing to peer out from the blooms is a reflection of a person on the street or some carefully planted Macy’s “magic.”


One More Walk

Thankfully yesterday was sunny. She can’t see it, but the sun I think provides a sense of safety and comfort to my newly blind animal companion. If you recall, she has been my cohort on many late nights checking out recent developments in neighboring gardens and yards. She happily kept me company while I snapped shots to share here of the evidence of the best and worst of the surrounding humanity.

I’ve been her alpha human friend since our other cohort was put down after a short, valiant, and intense bout with bone cancer four years ago. He was from a local breeder, and she was a “rescue” dog we added to their pack (a pack of two) four years after I got Jay. So I had ten years with Jay and, assuming things proceed as I believe likely this week, it will be ten years with Abs.

My favorite times were when we were together in the garden. I remember Jay used to get wildly excited when I would dig a hole in the dirt. He’d start hopping around – all 110 lbs. of him – and whimpering like he would implode if I didn’t let him help too. Then Abs – all 60 lbs. of her – would join in the excitement until they were both in full frenzy mode as I dug my little trenches. Sometimes they would get so excited about me digging in the ground I would have to banish them until I was watering plants (and they would jump to catch and lap up the water mid-air) or doing some other task less exciting than digging in the ground. Who knows? Maybe they thought I was going for their buried treasure. Multiple times, bones I thought were long-gone goners would resurrect after several years.

Later, when it was just Abs, she would be happy sitting silently in the sun as I quietly worked the ground around me in the front yard. She was the exception to my general rule of abiding the solitary nature of a gardener’s work. Then again, she was the exception to so many things.

When I brought her home she had all kinds of behavior problems. I didn’t know if it was going to work out to keep her, with another dog already and a very demanding job. But then I learned that she had been turned away and returned to the shelter before. She had a history that remains a mystery to me, including puppies (which I found out only after taking her to the vet for what turned out to be a false pregnancy) and something that caused her to growl whenever a certain spot on her neck was touched. I don’t know the genesis of these things but I do know they made her a more complex creature and sometimes harder to love but always worth the effort. She taught me patience and a certain compassion I never expected to know.

Since Abs had never really had a home before, I couldn’t justify letting her go. I let her stay, and we were worked through many challenges between us. I always thought I was closer to Jay, having gotten him as a young puppy. But as was the case with Abs, the harder won relationships can surprise you with the deepness of appreciation they foster between two beings. I’m sure that’s at least some of the reason it’s so hard now to say good-bye. I don’t want to abandon her in the end as she was at the beginning. On the other hand, I don’t want her to be sad or suffering either. Intellectually I know that one consideration is more me and the other more her, but intellect doesn’t reign supreme when tough decisions dominate the path.

It’s in these times I try to take it day by day and now hour to hour. Yesterday probably was the last walk. I stay grateful for the little things: the moment she needed to rest and we turned with our faces to the sun. I knelt beside her, my arm around the back of her neck. We stayed like that, quiet, for close to five minutes, just breathing and being on the path. We stayed quiet, soaking in the essence of one more day, one more hour, one more moment, one more walk.

I knew things were bad last week when I shook her chain and she barely rallied to get outside. Normally it’s like being on the back end of a bulldozer when she knows we’re getting ready to go out. As much of a rush as she’s in to get out, she’s always been patient with me whipping out my camera to take pictures I post here. In this way we’ve all been on these walks together. I think Abs would thank you for coming along on what’s been quite a ride.


This Just In

Spotted today, springfully apropos! Brought in some soil – oh how I loathe purchasing dirt but what’s a gardener to do before the first turning of all that’s in the compost bin. Any suggestions for an alternative to buying soil and/or recommendations for your faves (going generally for organic here – though I’m open – and preferably w/out artificial stimulants and other such mishigas). Go ahead … Gimme the dirt!




Winter Breeze Makes Me Feel Not So Fine




I’m used to the cold. I’m used to snow. I was a kid in Wisconsin in the 70s and 80s, and would be woken up by my mom early mornings to scrape ice inches thick off the car windows. I reveled in snow days and more than once thought about wearing snowshoes to get from the front door to the school bus waiting at the end of our drive. Winter doesn’t bother me. Snow and ice do not frighten me. As a teenager, in the snowiest months my sister and I would try to find a semi-truck to drive behind both to save on gas (less driving against the wind) and to clear the road ahead of us as we drove away from our home out in the country for a big night out on the town (in the nearby metropolis which boasted about 35,000 residents – a Mecca to us then). As uncomfortable as some of those winter-life adjustments may have been, they were normal and nearly painfully predictable.

So what has me and others calling this the winter of our discontent should come as no surprise. It’s the fact (no longer question or issue) of climate *change*. I wondered as I watched the State of the Union address last week whether it was the first time a President has referred to climate change in such a nonchalant way, like talking about oil and gas prices, education, unemployment, and other standard areas of common concern. My worry is that now that it’s a given, there seems to be a resigned acceptance. It’s like those fighting the battle to stem the tide of global warming had the wind taken out of their sails defending its existence and what they called it (global warming vs. climate change as if that makes any difference to the birds and seas, or to you and me). So wrapped up in the political fight(s), they got little done in time. And no one, it seems, really knows if it’s too late. And if it’s not, how to reverse the damage.

Here we are with summer in January in the should-be coldest parts of the world and winter sitting in the lap of the normally mildest. In January, it got colder in Chicago than in the South Pole. In Juneau, Alaska, flowers bloomed out of season. Water in the North Pacific is up to seven degrees warmer than most years. Meanwhile, more than 36,000 flights were cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, three times more than in the past two Januarys. An early count shows more than a thousand local records were set for snowfall in January in the United States, while California is shutting down ski resorts for lack of snow. A recent survey found that the water content of California’s snowpack is at just 12% of average, the lowest it’s been since record-keeping of the measure began in 1960. As a result, the state has announced it will not distribute state water supplies to its 25 million customers and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland unless there is an abundance of wet weather by May 1. These cities and farms that normally rely on state supplied water will have to look elsewhere. They will have to tap underground reservoirs, if they have any, and ask other districts to buy or borrow some. No doubt there will be significant costs involved, something municipalities in cash-strapped California and already facing the economic blows of drought can ill afford. Mandatory rationing of water has already commenced in some areas. If one thing is predictable, it’s that the painful effects of California’s drought, and I’m sure other consequences of aberrant weather, will be far reaching this year.

Welcome, I’m afraid, to the new normal.