Monday, May 19, 2008

The Fate of a Cardboard Box

Any large odd-sized cardboard box—the one from the new ‘fridge, washing machine, television, etc.—proposes a unique challenge. What to do? I faced this dilemma with the 4 x 4 inch x 6 foot box used for shipping my trees.

Some might try to crumple, fold, compact, and then attempt to force it into the recycling bin. Others might try to fit it into a burning barrel along with other trash. Still others might take out a box cutter and reduce it to a flat sheet—a solution that only perpetuates the issue. Does the box now go to the compactor? The barrel? The recycling bin? My dad, an amateur mechanic, would probably save it to lie on while working on his back under the car.

I, however, fortuitously hit upon an elegant solution. After a brief attempt to extricate the trees by lifting them out, I realized I’d have to open the bottom and pull them out roots first. Once this was accomplished, and the trees safety housed in a five gallon bucket, I considered what to do with the leftover shipping container. Then it hit me.

Cat toy. Two cats and a 4 x4 6 foot tunnel. Even better—a ping pong ball, two cats and a tunnel (one of my cats can follow the ball through the tunnel as fast as I can roll it. I pity the mouse that attracts THIS cat’s interest.).

Cue commercial music. An assortment of trees—insert current cost. Expedited interstate shipping—include average cost. A cardboard box for two cats? Priceless.

Until they decide they’d rather sit on it.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Days of Trees and--Nuts

A month ago I decided to expand my orchard to include nuts and some more fruits, so from an outfit in Wisconsin, I ordered Japanese Walnuts (I have Black Walnut), some Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans (I love pecans), Peanuts (I know, not a tree), Golden Apricot (My one apricot tree is lonely), along with Kiwi and three varieties of grapes (Again, yes, not trees). Just for the hell of it, because you can never have too many of these, I also ordered a handful of tomato and broccoli seeds.

Two weeks ago, I received a small box in the mail—my tomato and broccoli seeds. All else was backordered. Deep sigh.

*Ring—ring—ring* Not many people I know are morning people, so the early phone call on a Saturday yesterday morning was a surprise. *Hello?”

“Hi! This is Doug at the Post Office.” In a small town, we all know each other. “Hey, I’ve got a tree here that’s not gonna fit in the carrier’s vehicle. Can you pick it up?” I sighed. Yesterday I was home all day, a nice sunny day. Saturday I had a rehearsal and a concert out of town—not a day I could plant. Oh well. “Sure—be right down.”

He had two cardboard boxes, one 4 x 4 inches x 6 feet, the other 2 x 4 x 24 inches. Both had labels from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Apparently, my supplier had the trees shipped directly to me. I opened the tops just to see what had come. I pulled out an invoice.

Everything. Huh? I looked down. I expected roots wrapped in plastic with cord or rubber bands. Nope. Pots. Pots! Those “cardboard” nursery type, half filled with soil—as nothing secured the plants from moving about nor the soil from falling out as the package was handled. Cheese heads have different ideas about shipping plants than we do in New York, I guess—the box wasn’t even labeled “This end up” – just a small felt pen marking, “Please rush—planting materials.”

Well almost everything—they shipped the female kiwi plant, but backordered the male kiwi. I opened the small “planting materials” box—and found the male kiwi. I looked at my watch and headed for the hardware store to pick up the stakes I’ll need before I would have to leave to rehearsal.—the hardware stores would be closed on Sunday, and EVERYTHING planted must immediately be fenced,, or the rabbits will eat it right down to the ground. (They even eat the needles off my Austrian Pines! It’s a running battle—I’ve become Mr. McGregor.)

So today is the day for the digging of holes and planting, fencing and watering of trees. Probably tomorrow too. Rain or shine.

Maybe I should pick up some extra ibuprofen…


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grading Papers on a Spring Term Evening

Whose words these are indeed I know;
His seat is by the window, though—
He will not see me sitting here
To read his essay, filled with snow.

My little house must think it queer
To stop with other work so near;
The only sound I hear’s the creep
Of anxious dog (the cats—asleep).

My plans are many, lovely, deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And piles to grade before I sleep,
And piles to grade before I sleep.


Monday, May 12, 2008

The Saga of Me-Eye Wonz and the Icy Grey Maze

Or, why spelling and punctuation matter (not to mention lines, rhythm and meter):

Ah! Wretch-like, Me-Eye Wonz was lost.
But, now…um…Found was blind, but—
Now, icy, a maze, in greys. How?
Sweet. The sound—THAT saved!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hilary should be grateful for Obama

Overall, I like Hillary Clinton. She has been (and continues to be) a great Senator. I’ll vote for her again. But I can’t support her for President.

I believe she’s well-meaning. I believe she has good ideas. I believe she’s talented. And I even remember way back to when Hilary Rodham was one of the lawyers in the Watergate case. But she’s not a President.

And I believe Obama has saved her ass.

Granted, politics has been (and continues to be) an ugly business. Silly attacks trump reason and substance, not just now but historically. But the thirst for power at all costs can damage those victors.

Take George Bush. He and his party went to great lengths to win the 2000 election on a technicality. Later, investigating journalists agree that he would have narrowly won Florida anyway (though he’d still have lost the popular vote nationally, but that’s allowed in the current rules). Had he taken the high road, he’d have become President with far less bitterness. [Yes, he and his administration have amply demonstrated since then that they are entirely about power and using it for their own agenda, public be damned, but at least he’d have been off to a better start.]

Hilary’s thirst for the White House has led her to throw ethics out the window as well. Stretching the truth at first, for example, regarding her “experience” over Obama—they are both junior Senators, period. Does anyone think Laura Bush’s time in the White House counts as Presidential experience? Then outright lies—like landing in Somalia under sniper fire. But what bothers me most is her drive to win the nomination at all costs. If that means overturning the will of the voters via superdelegates, fine, presenting the clearly flawed argument that the states she narrowly won over Obama will go for McCain in November.

Particularly distasteful is her insistence that she “won” in Michigan and Florida, where Obama followed the rules and stayed away, while she forged ahead and claims this one horse race as a “victory.”

If she somehow managed to win this thing, she’d come in flawed from the start, as another candidate who won only on technicalities.

We’ve seen enough of that shit. I applaud Obama’s consistent insistence on keeping to issues and a better vision, even though he clearly knows what his opponents will throw at him. He’s saved Hilary from an unnecessary disaster of her own design.

And I sincerely hope he’s the next President of the United States. I believe he can help pull us from the economic and military messes Bush will leave behind, and I believe he can help lead us to new heights.

I would like to be proud of my country again.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where to Meet Single Men

While I struggle with finishing the school term, and while I’ve briefly started other posts, I thought I’d fire off this one.

Meeting people in the course of our busy lives has become preposterously difficult. The fear of sexual harassment accusations, for example, has bizarrely overshadowed fear of STDs, eliminating (or at least complicating) all those work place alliances—with work where we spend most of our time.

The Internet and the local paper, in theory, with their dating service opportunities, should help, right? However, people offer only a line or two of information in their quest for a match (?????), and, well—people lie.

Many, many books purport to address and solve this conundrum, but they’re rarely even remotely helpful. [Most book sales, incidentally, are for self-help books—and only 5% of those books get read.]

But if you want to meet responsible single guys, go to the laundromat Sunday morning. I’m quite serious.

No moms struggling alone with screaming kids. No partiers hungover from Saturday night. Just guys getting things done.

And you can tell a lot about a guy. Does he needlessly park across three spaces like an asshole? Does he hold doors to help out others? Does he help keep the machines clean, throw out his trash?

I’ve heard that guys should take aerobic classes and women should take karate classes to meet members of their opposite gender. Those approaches all are pricey, however, and further, pretending to have interests you don’t really have doesn’t much help. I’ve heard talk of the grocery store, too—but doesn’t that just seem a little creepy? [Hey, nice melons! Or hey, nice beans!] Or hang out at a church—where mostly couples and their children participate (and a definite problem for atheists). Other organizations can be prohibitive for other reasons—hiking clubs typically ban dogs, for example, a problem for dog owners who would never hike without their dogs.

Sunday morning laundry. Trust me.