Friday, October 10, 2003

A Base Pleasure
The California election has given me much base pleasure: watching Republicans turn themselves into pretzels in order to support a serial sexual assaulter with centrist politics is the stuff of which great black comedy is made.

But finding myself in agreement with George Will is...a tad unsettling.

There's a disease in Latin American politics called caudillismo. It's a complicated phenomenon, with many sub-varieties, but it usually manifests itself in the national stage in the election of a "strong man" by a disgusted public looking for solutions. The caudillo is seen as the "new broom" that will sweep "those corrupt bastards" out of office and re-establish the Republic. For a while, it works, because the caudillo can make things happen just on momentum, especially if his advisors have some smarts. In the long range, though, the whole thing is a disaster because the caudillo is not interested in the Republic. He's interested in the power that comes with it. And given a choice, he will screw the Republic every time.

Welcome to Latin American-style politics, Californios. Enjoy your stay.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

How Does Your Garden Grow?
It started as a charitable impulse: my mother's roses were in sad shape due to blackspot. After much consultation with my gardening-freak best friend, a number of websites, and the gardening section of the public library, I developed a treatment that actually keeps it under control (blackspot is like Ann Coulter, it will always be with us and take the bloom of roses!).

Then my sister was holding her wedding reception in our house and yard, so I set out to make the entryway a little more presentable by planting New Zealand daisies and coleus by the front porch. Then, I took over my father's VERY LARGE island bed. Now I'm working on the two beds on either side of the gate leading to the side yard.

I still ask myself in my more rational moments whatever possessed me. It's backbreaking work, and the weeds are always one step ahead. Nevertheless, I keep going.

Gardening is a matter of discovery: our big island bed has turned out to be, quite accidentally, a butterfly garden. Originally I had put in dahlberg daisies and red and blue salvia, but filled in with other things like begonias, gerbera daisies, and zinnias. Well, the begonias and the red salvia were a bust, and I had all these big holes to fill, and the local nursery had pentas on sale... Then the summer annuals started to die off and the local nursery had lantana on sale.... Then I thought it would be nice if there was something to hold down the weeds, and herbs do a decent job of that, so oregano and red sage made their appearance..and today, I got three big porter weed plants, more gerbera daisies in fuchsia and pink, and more dahlbergs (they don't last in Miami so I pulled out the old to plant new)...

This last purchase was more of a bow to the inevitable than part of a grand plan. Butterflies it is.

Another unexpected gift has been the lizards. The gerbera daisies and some of the zinnias have to be staked or the weight of the blooms will break the stem. Little green-and-brown lizards have taken to sitting on the stakes to perform their red-sail throated calls. Every morning you can see one or two perched right next to the delicate pink of the gerberas...

There are two rose bushes in the bed that were terminal but are doing better and several miniature roses and portulaca and some ginger (or are they miniature heliconias? They were presents from the nameless-but-pretty section of the nursery, and I can't yet find the exact match). There are even some pinks that are growing quietly on the shade of the palm tree...

On one of the side beds I have a huge rose bush that is usually covered in blooms no larger than a man's thumbnail; it doesn't tolerate much companionship, so several marigolds and zinnias are coming out to make space for dill and parsley and other herbs. Behind the rose, on the chain-link fence there's a morning glory which is having a hard time due to the torrential rains, but a little sprinkling of seeds right under the fence should take care of that.

On the other side bed there is a white bridal bouquet rose and a red climbing rose, some mexican heather and yellow ground orchids. This bed is rather messy and I'll be tangling with it the coming weekend. The red climber is getting a tuteur and the bridal rose, which had to be cut back to five inches off the ground will get trained on the chain link fence.

And, of course, the mum season has started. I love the bronze colored ones...