Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Crowds of people are coming into the Skagit Valley to view the tulips -- 500 acres of tulips in many colors. It's quite a sight.

The weather has changed about six times so far today, like the sun is trying on clothes and keeps changing its mind. People are looking at the sky to say, "You're kidding, right?"

I have put the garden in good shape. I planted sugar snap peas, onions, and Swiss chard. Why do they call it Swiss chard? Well, if they just called it "chard" nobody would want to eat it.

We bought five pounds of seed potatoes, but not to plant for a few weeks until the soil gets warmer. I figured to buy them now because the store might run out by planting time.

I don't dig if I can avoid it. I had this pile of leaves, getting nice and moldy and full of worms, so I spread that out on the bed, then I covered that with a layer of straw. Later on I'll tuck in the seed potatoes and put on more straw. That should work.

Ralph and Helen Dexter up in Marblemount always gardened that way -- just kept spreading straw on the soil, which decomposes over time. They never dig, just spread the straw aside and put in the seeds. The soil remained soft and fluffy.

I haven't seen Ralph and Helen for some time, but I hear from their son Lane who also lives Up River.

Frog Hospital is famous for dramatic changes in subject matter. I don't do this on purpose, but all things are connected, and talking about the Dexters Up River reminded me of someone else I haven't heard from in years.

The Vatican. Another friend I don't hear from lately is Bill Sheehan. He's a priest. He used to live in Rome and worked for some years in the Vatican library studying medieval manuscripts. I always thought that was such a cool job because I am a great fan of medieval history.

I sometimes wonder who is really running things at the Vatican, but I never asked Bill about this. He probably didn't know, and if he did know he probably would not have told me.

How I knew Bill is that I went to a Catholic college and we were friends back then.

But the Vatican has been in the news lately. I have no comment to make on the particulars, but I could mention some broad outlines that I think are true. The Catholic Church is a very large and very old institution. They are quite capable of very long-range thinking, as if to say "this will blow over in a hundred years."

I'm going to say that this long-range thinking can be a good thing because most of our institutions, governments and corporations can barely think five years ahead.

Next, the Church is the largest, most powerful, and wealthiest organization on earth without a military force. That's a good quality too. As Josef Stalin famously said, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" None.

That does not make the Church harmless, but they are tank-less and bomb-less, which is a good thing.

Finally, the Church is a formal patriarchy. It's run entirely by men. If I said that was a good thing, then somebody would bite me. But that's clearly what it is.

I avoid using the word unique, but this organization is truly like no other that I can think of. We are all accountable in some way, but I have no idea how to hold the Pope to account. I didn't vote for him and I can't impeach him.

I think it's very reasonable for people to criticize him, whether they are Catholic or not. But I don't know that the Pope is compelled to respond.

As I watch this crisis unfold, I don't think anybody is asking the right questions. That's the key -- when you ask the right questions, you're more than half way to a resolution of the problem.

Think Globally but act Locally. Isn't this newsletter a perfect example of how this is done? The Vatican, the Pope, global warming, the war in Afhghanistan and so forth -- all global problems, all serious and worthy of our attention.

And what can do about these things? We can act locally -- we can tend our gardens.

Spring Subscription Drive. Many thanks to those readers who have sent in checks. Your dollars are greatly appreciated. But there is still time -- the spring drive is not over. You can support Frog Hospital by writing a check for $25 made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner WA, 98257. Or you can go to the Frog Hospital blog and pay $25 with the PayPal button. Thanks a bunch.

T-shirts still on sale. Frog Hospital t-shirts are now available in three sizes -- XL, L and M. You can buy them in LaConner at La Crema coffee shop, or order them from me direct.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257

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