Sunday, August 09, 2015

Camellias in Distress

 Almost overnight Donald Trump got too boring to talk about, so I bumped him to the end of the newsletter, and will lead with this garden melodrama.

I had a camellia just up and die -- over at my customer's yard, by her front door. It had looked poorly with yellowing leaves, but then last week it just went south and all the leaves turned brown and crinkly, not a single green leaf. I went into emergency treatment for what it was worth -- I did some radical pruning and made the camellia smaller by half, figuring to lighten the load. Then I flooded it with water.
The radical pruning and flood of water might shock it back to life. Or not.
I figure we're going to lose a lot of trees around here because of the drought. Trees have a way of not showing signs. One day they look fine, next day they're dead. It's like their running on reserve energy and one day the tank is empty and that puts the kibosh.
Gonna lose a lot of trees. Have to plant more trees is all I can think to say.

Drought News. Californians statewide have reduced their water use by 27 percent and this is without threat of fine or punishment. It seems we are all pitching in as best we can. Walking neighborhoods I see many lawns taken out. The water agency gives a cash rebate for lawn removal as an incentive, and that fund is fully subscribed. This is a non-coercive program that is working and saving a lot of water.
California agriculture uses 80 percent of all water in the state. This is a good thing. Farms should get most of the water. It's food, it's fiber and it's jobs. All good. Farmers are facing cutbacks equal to or greater than residential users.
The only crop I have researched fully is the local avocado crop here in Santa Barbara. Having studied the numbers, acreage, crop yield, etc., having interviewed the growers and interviewed the water agencies, I found the facts are clear that the avocado growers are getting squeezed much harder than residential users. Nobody has it easy.
El Nino. The air is humid and the ocean is warm -- signs of El Nino and autumn rain. This could be good.

Work. I have had a hard time finding garden work. My girl friend says it's the drought and people just aren't doing much. I think it's my age and people don't want me to keel over dead on their property. They won't come right out and say that, but I know what they're thinking. I suppose I do not convey youthful vigor. And the fact is that I keep shifting the context -- from hard manual labor to the finesse work more suitable to my senior status -- pruning the roses.

Besides that, I am getting particular about who I work for. Like the lady last week -- I did this high quality pruning job for her which required the ability to speak and understand the English language, so that I was able to do it precisely the way she wanted it done.

When I was finished, I told her how much and she haggled me over the bill,  -- cheapskate!  I don't need that grief, although there is not much I can do about it. Santa Barbara is flooded with immigrant labor and people are used to getting their yard work done for very little.
I'll say it again. When the environmental age comes the gardener will be paid as much as the plumber, but we're not there yet.

Figgie Jam. Fig trees grow at the Mesa Harmony Community Garden where I volunteer. We never water them -- they laugh at the drought and bear fruit regardless. I picked a sampling of figs and gave some to Heidi at the liquor store. She's from Syria, where figs are a staple of life. Her family is from Homs, in Syria where most of the city is destroyed by the civil war. Her family is killed, wounded, in hiding and in exile, and she won't talk about it. But I gave her the figs and she smiled brightly.
The other figs I took home and cut them up, threw them in a pot with sugar and cooked them into figgie jam  --  delicious, tender, green figgie jam.
A few days later more figs ripened. I picked five pounds and brought them to the local Food Bank.
And more figs are coming. Fig trees are laughing at the drought, roots down deep and built to last.

Free Speech. I don't know who makes the rules, and I don't know what the rules are. I know what the rules used to be -- in matters of  polite discourse in mixed company. Even using the term "mixed company" dates me.

There was a double standard, back when there were only two sexes -- one way to treat women, another way to treat men. I thought an adjustment was in order but I can't believe they want to throw out the whole program.

It  gets confusing. Now there's like a quadruple standard for four sexes and countless gender variations. One cannot make assumptions. Like someone calls you and says "This is Ralph."  He's a guy, right? Are you sure?

You have sex in left field and gender in right field, and a hole in the culture as wide as a jumbo jet. Donald Trump just flew right through it. You say he broke the rules -- what rules?

The rules keep changing and people don't know how to behave. There is no agreement and no consensus. There is no arbiter, no editor, no referee,  no captain. The storm is raging and it's every man -- belay that! -- every person for his or herself.
Turmoil. Disruption. Chaos.

The Haircut. I went to the Mesa Barber Shop last Thursday, 8 a.m., for a haircut. I got in the chair and told a Donald Trump joke. "Maybe he's a got a billion dollars and a private jet, but I have a better haircut." Nobody laughed. Maybe it's not a funny joke. Or maybe it's because all the barbers are Mexican, and all the customers too, except for me and they don't like Donald Trump and it's not funny.
Well, I got a good haircut and left a good tip.
It is a hall mark of cultural interaction to make blundering statements. In fact, such blundering, embarrassing statements are an important part of the process. Never apologize. Never rehearse. Just keep going. Avoid sensitivity training at all costs. Don't try to say the right thing -- just blurt it out.
Although saying "you people......" usually doesn't work.
Sweet Santa Barbara. Please disregard any complaints I make. I live near the beach in Santa Barbara with a beautiful woman.

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