Romance Dies from Unnatural Causes

This was passed along to me recently…

Although the reports are that Romance died this week from unnatural causes, some suspect the fickle candle of life flickered its last flame due to old age. She spent her last years in the Happy Valentine Assisted Loving Facility where, in later years, her visitors were few and far between. Some came to mourn her, while others came to encourage her to hold on. Still others came merely to pay their last respects, knowing the end was inevitable.

Romance’s absence will leave a hole in our hearts, but she will be especially missed by her friends Tenderness, Grace, and Forgiveness, who were there even when she was wrapped up in her own dalliances.

Maybe more than anyone, Romance will be missed by her longtime sweetheart and dedicated companion, Humor, who stayed by her side through thick and thin till the very end. Their chemistry was legendary, even accounting for the rare spat when Romance felt she wasn’t being taken seriously. Their occasional bit of discord was always dissolved in laughter.

Romance is survived by her mother, Love. Her father, Logic, who left before Romance could walk, was last spotted wandering the streets of Wisconsin, looking dazed and slightly confused. While, over the years, there was talk of a possible reunion, somehow the timing never was quite right.

There will be no wake or special services for Romance. She wanted to go the way she came, quietly, so you couldn’t peg the moment of her arrival but once there, you never wanted her to leave.

Theories abound as to the source of her demise. Some say neglect from her larger social circles played a part. Others point to the tin soldiers of technology and their arsenal of gadgetry. An older acquaintance of mine used to say concealment is sexy. Assuming that the case, the creation of the tools of endless access must certainly take a bow here. No more waiting by the phone, or wondering if he, or she, or they are thinking about you; our feelings are cracked, split, and splattered on the plasma screen, if not by ourselves, then by the incessant observers.

Still others say she simply felt useless. It’s true she hadn’t danced of late. All the movies did was frighten her. And she was distracted during dinners out by the number of fellow patrons openly snapping photos if their food. She found it unappetizing. So she and Humor stayed in most nights, dining on cold pizza and drinking the occasional bourbon.

They say that true Love never dies. Romance being the only child, maybe she inherited that trait. Listen for her closely. Her knock is very soft. If you’re lucky enough for her visit, make sure you let her in. She just might’ve brought her old friend with her. Let me tell you, they make quite the pair.

The Cherry Fairy

We went cherry picking in the backyard Sunday, June 3.  I’ve had the tree several years, but this was the first year there was a real harvest (in past years there have only been a handful of pickable non-mealy ones).


My partner and I climbed the tree with paper bags slung over our arms.  He took the upper branches.  I braced myself between the fence and the lower branches.


I saw a lot of cherries fall.  I caught some.


I dropped them into my bag as fast as I could.  A little girl, probably about six-years old, in the row of houses behind ours sat in the window watching us, while her mother cooked dinner in the kitchen behind her.  At one point I had to lean over, nearly into our neighbor’s yard to reach the cherries on the farthest extending branches.  She giggled as she chewed on some candy, watching us.


Some of the cherries were not ripe.  We probably could have waited an extra day or two.  But it was Sunday, my family was in town.  We had food on the grill, and gardening getting done.  In the end, we got about two big bags full of cherries.  There were still more higher to the top.  I wanted to climb up high to pick them but my partner told me to leave them, saying, they’re God’s tax.  I let them be.  He thinks he’s pretty funny.  He usually is.


We’re going to make cherry ice cream but for now, we have about two large soup containers filled and three gallon freezer bags.  We ate some and are saving the rest.  I might put my new canning skills to test.


Putting Your Weeds To Work

Out of curiosity and in a baby step toward frugality and self-sufficiency, I have started a weed garden composed of the varieties of “weeds” that occur most prominently and persistently in my yard. I have uprooted them and transplanted them into containers of a variety of sizes to observe them only slightly removed from their natural habitat. I want to identify/classify them, learn about them, and figure out how to make them earn their keep. It’s not a renter’s market, and real estate in Brooklyn is not cheap. On top of that, with all of us being told we can become backyard farmers by trading in our $300 skinny jeans (which I personally never have owned but whose presence is nonetheless ubiquitous) for an equally priced pair of torn, ripped, and patched and otherwise used and abused vintage workerman’s dungarees, my little plot of land is screaming for the showiest and most table worthy vegetation gentrification.

With that in mind, I am cleaning house on my weeds, trying to identify the ones taking up the most space and putting them all to work. Of course, many are already paying their dues, serving as decoys for the unwanted pests and attracting other, beneficial, ones. I don’t want to disturb the equilibrium and natural state of things too much – just want to be trying to get the most out of my yard’s inhabitants.

That said, I’m starting by looking at a very common to this area plant, by the name of plantain, though it’s not the banana variety.

Wildman Steve Brill recommends against eating it, simply because it’s not that tasty, but it’s widely hailed as a cure all for skin intrusions from mosquitoes to minor scrapes and burns. It’s best if used within 10-15 minutes of a bite; within that time, a quick treatment can fully cure a bite by removing the poison. Take a leaf, crinkle or smash it up between your fingers, and place it directly on the bite for a minute or so. The relief should be felt almost immediately. One thing I’m unsure of — anyone? anyone? — is if it is still effective when not immediately plucked from the plant. In other words, if you’re hiking and spot some, and want to take it along as an impromptu first aid kit, how long will it maintain its healing properties? This may be a question for the Wildman himself.

Plantain is also a worker weed because it is deep-rooted and can help open up and break up soil to help water find paths to more fragile rooted plants. This is especially helpful in areas such as ours (NYC) where the soil is so heavily clay-like.

Plantains? They’re keepers. Leave some in your yard close to more delicate plants (or try transplanting them), and keep some in a pot on your deck or near your front or back door for emergency aid when the mosquitoes get hungry. I found mine are thriving in planters (while other weeds are not do keen on such domestication).

QUESTION: how are you putting your plantains to work for you? Go ahead … Gimme the dirt!