Friday, February 20, 2009

Quick thoughts on the ending of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”

I loved the ending -- “She would talk to him sometimes about God.” The family “carrying the fire” reminds me of Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization. Even through the darkest of ages and the chaos associated with collapsing civilization one of the greatest tasks that the remnant must perform is the preservation of humanity. I would argue this is done by preserving not only civility amid anarchy, but the preservation of the arts, the skills of writing well, the definitions of words and ideas such as liberty and tyranny, and the morality and doctrinal integrity of the church. The Road also reminds me of the movie The Children of Men. Humanity must be preserved. The torch must be carried. I’m reminded that there is hope even if we ourselves don’t see the sunshine. No matter the circumstances we have our duty. There’s a story that Alexander Stevens wrote in Book II, Chapter 3 of History of the United States: Among the chaos of the War for Independence, with the pastors and prophets declaring Armageddon -- with the armies of the Anti-Christ (the redcoats) burning down homes and churches, murdering wives and children, on the 19th of May 1780 “the heavens became darkened by a dense vapor . . . . It was the opinion of some that the Day of Judgment was at hand.” A motion was made in the Connecticut Legislature that they adjourn. A Colonel Davenport opposed the measure declaring that: “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I desire to be found doing my duty.” The following night, of course, the “extraordinary phenomenon” passed and the next day was beautiful. Stevens writes: “Hope again revived in the breasts of the desponding.” The Revolution continued and we won our independence.
(I'd like to expand on these thoughts later.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Garden report: 15 Feb. 09

Spring’s just around the corner. In the raised beds we’ve planted more Bloomsdale Long-Standing Spinach and Vivian Romaine. We’ve also planted a bunch of Evergreen Onions and Cherry Belle Radishes. In seed trays, which are warming in our small greenhouse, we planted the following varieties of lettuce, nightshades, and herbs: Vivian Romaine, Red Sails Lettuce, and Bibb Lettuce, Neon Lights Swiss Chard, Tah Tsai, Dark Opal Purple Basil, Bush Spicy Globe Basil, Common Thyme, German Chamomile, Sorrel, Rose Orach, Burpee Hybrid Eggplant, Sweet Banana Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Volcano Peppers. Chinese Giant Peppers, Taxi Tomatoes, Costoluto Genovese Tomatoes, Super Suncherry Hybrid Tomatoes, Lemon Boy Hybrid Tomatoes, Giant Tree Tomaoes, and Jetsonic Hybrid Tomatoes. I planted far more than usual. What I can’t use here at home I will be able to plant in the large garden at the nursery where I work.

Over the years I’ve had a hard time germinating and growing spinach. I haven’t had much luck directly planting into the ground nor with seed trays. I’ve tried several varieties. A few months ago I tried planting into a small crate filled with potting soil and compost. The crate is about two feet by three and about a foot and a half deep, with plenty of drainage all around. I just scattered the seed and turned under by hand . The seeds germinated with amazing success. I thinned the plants and began cutting leaves for dinner about a month ago. Recently I added to my garden several raised beds with potting soil and compost. Yesterday I planted a lot of spinach there. We’ll see what happens. Below are pictures of the spinach project.
Little Caeser Romaine

Various Lettuce in a raised bed

Bloomsdale Long-Standing Spinach

Spinach growing in a plastic crate

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Depression Cooking with Clara

Evidence that there is still good stuff on YouTube. I came across this series of nine videos and really, really, wish that someone had thought to do this with my great-grandmother before she passed in 2000 at the age of 98 (although no one was ever able to duplicate her chicken 'n dumplings even when shown multiple times). Clara reminds us that simple, cheap food can be wholesome and good. It got me thinking again of how the Internet has become a repository for cultural lore that used to be passed down in families and circulated among (physical) communities. In Episode 4, she mentions that back then, everyone had backyard gardens and chickens, but she doesn't think it's allowed anymore. She also tells of when she caught an uninvited neighbor picking produce from her garden. I'm thinking that very soon, her memories are going to become much more than just quaint little stories.