Monday, July 04, 2011

Sweet Peas and Dahlias

Farm News
July 4, 2011

By Fred Owens

We spent all weekend tearing down thousands of sweet pea vines. We had a bumper crop and sold bouquets by the boat load at the farmers market -- but spring flowers have only their short season for shining. Here it is early July, and the old sweet peas were getting mildewed and haggard and gone to seed.

Farming is so rich with cliches -- "gone to seed" being one of them --

And here at Love House Dahlias, the sweet peas are gone to seed literally. We chose the very best, tallest, most abundant, and most beautiful stand of sweet peas to save for seed. We will let them dry out and die -- they will die because they are annuals -- and then pick the peas -- more cliches -- pea-pickin' -- we will pick the dried peas and save them to plant next year.

Meanwhile the dahlias are set for take off -- 150 varieties, planted in some 70 raised beds, the raised beds being 25 to 35 feet long -- and the dahlias spaced every 18 inches or so......Okay, I admit that we are late with the dahlias -- we got a bit over-excited with the sweet peas and spaced out the dahlias a little bit -- should have got them in the ground a few weeks earlier than they did -- but dahlias are good at playing catch up - all they need is plenty of sunshine and water -- and some fertile ground, and a good defense against gophers.

So that's the dahlia news.

Otherwise we have vegetables -- more than we can eat and not enough to sell -- chard, onions, carrots, turnips, lettuce and so on.

We're adding a greater variety of herbs this year -- like Rue. Isn't it wonderful to have an herb named Rue? It's so Shakespearean -- so old-fashioned -- so politically incorrect. "I rue the day....." Let us celebrate all that we have rued and regretted.

I will sit by the Rue,
Pass my life in review,
And you might too.

So much for the herbs of regret, let us pass on to the Rants of the Moment as the Farm News ends and Frog Hospital begins.

My two Least Favorite Political Women. Continuing the Frog Hospital tradition of heaping abuse all around, we begin with Michele Bachmann from Minnesota.

What ever happened to Minnesota? That used to be Hubert Humphrey country -- lots of Scandinavian socialists, tidy farms and good wall-eye fishing. We rode into Minneapolis on a freight train in 1974 -- they not only put us up at the shelter, but they gave Bartholomew some free dental care -- and he really needed it.

But no more free dental care for wandering bums with Ms. Bachmann in charge of things. We are cursed of Adam's sin and we shall labor by the sweat of our brows and women will give birth in pain if she has her way.

You see, I'm not a conservative. I'm what you call a social liberal, in that all my friends and relatives are liberals -- they have no particular merit or distinction, but they're my people and I am one loyal dude.

Except can't we get rid of Ariana Huffington? I despise her. I refuse to read her web-page. She's rich enough to be a Republican, so why does she hang out with us? I am tempted to use strong language, but I won't. She hoodwinked hundreds of earnest young writers to become "citizen journalists" and write the news for free. Then she sold her web portal to Yahoo for some hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the old days the publisher got most of the money and the reporters only a little -- fair enough, because reporting the news is too much fun and restricting access to the profession is not possible on account of the First Amendment (meaning you don't need a license or the approval of your peers to be a journalist)

But that was the old days. Ms. Huffington has the new model, where she keeps ALL the money, and the citizen journalist, tirelessly blogging, paying for their own lattes -- and they get NOTHING.

Let's Find Two Awful Men. To balance criticism of Huffington and Bachmann, I need to find two awful men, but that's too easy.

Cultural Relativism. This next piece requires thinking. Frog Hospital readers tend to be highly intelligent people, so I'm sure you can handle it.

The powerful and wealthy French minister was arrested for the rape of a hotel maid -- an African woman newly immigrated from Guinea. Her story was convincing enough to bring the minister's immediate arrest and he was held at a very high bail, lest he flee the country.

But she told too many stories, too many conflicting details, and the prosecutors knew they had no chance of a conviction, so the French minister has been let go -- still to face charges, but that seems more like a formality.

This is the sentence that caught my eye and inspired the following remarks:

"Over time, the well-placed official said, they discovered that she was capable of telling multiple, inconsistent versions of what appeared to be important episodes in her life." -- quote from the NY Times, said of the alleged rape victim, an African woman.

I understand this far too well -- having lived in Africa, having lived with African immigrants in the United States -- I very often heard stories, told over and over again, and never the same way. I met people with multiple identities. I knew a woman with two passports, from two countries, with two different names and two different birthdays -- she showed them to me -- this is not remarkable in Africa.

But in America we have facts, and objective evidence, and we struggle through argument and research to come up with something we humbly call "the truth." And we swear to tell that truth in the court of law. And also, but not sworn, in our daily lives. Ours is a literate culture and our law is the English common law. "Facts are facts, Mister Dumbarton." Charles Dickens might have written something like that.

"The Law is a ass." Dickens did write that. But the law is the law, and we cannot support the testimony of a crime victim who presents multiple, inconsistent versions of important events.

I'm telling you this because I argue against any appreciation of cultural relativism. I am a strong opponent of "diversity" and multi-culturalism. Let Africa be Africa, I say. It is a most wonderful people who live there, and they can tell their stories anyway they like to. One name, two names, three religions, four languages, you can be who you want to be today, and be something else tomorrow -- Africa is a rich and varied land.

But not here. Our crime victim -- and I suspect something bad happened to her in that hotel room, and not of her choosing -- will become an American if she stays here long enough. I would welcome her, but she will learn we only tell it one way on this our Independence Day. We are founded on facts and principles. We serve these ideals poorly, but it is our path.

We ought not to become like other people, but to become ourselves better.

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Fred Owens
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