Tuesday, November 29, 2016

That Time of Year

Has it really been 3 weeks since I last posted?  Shame on me.   All I can say for myself is that it is "that time of year".

You know the time of which I speak.  In theory it seems that everything should be slowing down a bit as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.  Of course, that is not reality.  The reality is that while the days may, indeed, be getting shorter as in "less daylight" but the demands on our time seem to remain ever vigilant.   PLUS...holiday preparation rears it's demanding little head, nagging us to be strategically planning for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanuka/Kwanzaa and/or whatever holidays you have going for you.

Currently I am sporting a bit of a cynical attitude.  ( I know...shocking isn't it?) I am feeling a bit saddened that Thanksgiving got over shadowed by Christmas decorations and the anticipation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  While this has been going on for several years, it appeared to me that Black Friday is now usurping the whole meaning of Thanksgiving and hogging the month with weeks and weeks of  PRE-Black Friday deals and steals.

With all that being said, I am clearly in the minority here with my negativity on the subject.  A early analysis of the numbers tells us that 154 million people were out shopping over the weekend.  The fact that since all the pre-black Friday advertising began (supposedly) people have spent around 36 Billion (yea...billion with a B) dollars.   

I have to think that perhaps I am not alone in my inner conflicts.  It seems to me that the whole country talks about the season of love and thankfulness in the same breath as they are spending hours scrutinizing the Internet and paper ads looking for the big bargains that they are hoping to get on more STUFF.

Not to be a total party-pooper, I typically find my holiday spirit in holiday baking, Christmas music, and all the pretty holiday decorations. OH and I do love a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies.  Sure you can say they are sappy, but I think they are sweet.  I am prepared to immerse myself into holiday movies to remind me that everything about the holidays is about love and joy and has the added bonus of a happy ending.  Not reality you say???

Reality is a thing of the past according to the rise of virtual reality head gear.  I was reading an article about the newest techy devices on the market to stream VR programming.  Let me be the first to say that I would totally embrace a virtual world where children are awestruck by the lights and sounds of the holidays.  I suspect though that just as with many other things, young children are so inundated with the commercialism of Christmas that they no longer even notice how special the decorations are let alone the meaning of it all. The added component of decorations coming out in August (or is it now July?) doesn't help foster awe.

I know this picture is grainy as it is 60 plus years old but this is a picture taken in Kankakee, Illinois.  It was, in fact, taken nearly a year prior to my birth but Schuyler Avenue remained pretty much the same through my childhood.   I LOVED going Christmas shopping and seeing all the Christmas lights.  Sadly, the wreaths that were put on every light pole are not terribly pretty in a black and white photo but to my little child eyes they were magical. It was looking not so differently 17 years later when I got my engagement ring at Edward's Jewelry...also at Christmas time. 

Anyway as I was saying...where is the magic?  If we  now require head gear to live in alternate, virtual reality shouldn't THAT be magical and wonderful???

In the same paper that was talking about the choices we now have for virtual reality head gear there was a separate article about  a virtual reality program that allows you to actually feel what it is like to die in a traffic accident.  Yeah, how much fun is that?  I can hardly wait to ask Santa for some of that escapism....well that is if I can't find it online in a POST Black Friday give away. 

The placement of Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving seems questionable.

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and have plenty to be grateful for. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Scratch That Itch

I was reading the USA Today and it said that 52 percent of the US population is experiencing stress related to the election. Really?  Only 52 percent?  I would of guessed more but then they didn't ask me my opinion.  Will anyone other than me, be glad when the election is over?

Although...if I weren't being irritated by the landslide of political ads, articles and junk mail telling me why or why not I should vote for or against someone or something, I don't know what I would fill my time with.  I am currently playing on a pretty flat field of "boring".  Autumn lull, I guess.  I am sure that this post will reflect on just how little is going on in my life right now. Yes,  I defy anyone to ask me what I am  currently doing  for fun and expect an answer anytime soon.  If being dull was classified a sport, I am good for the gold.

Autumn around here usually has me working out in the garden getting things pruned, mulched and prepared for the cold weather. The first "freeze"  usually arrives around late October.  This year, however, the cold isn't anywhere to be seen or felt, as the case may be.  Despite the fact,  it has been feeling a lot more like summer than fall,  the leaves are doing what leaves do this time of year. They are falling by the bushel into never ending piles that regenerate as quickly as I rake them up.   In years past, I might say that I enjoy tending to my gardens in the Fall and find a measure of serenity in tidying things up for the winter but this year there is a rub. Actually, it's an itch.   A beyond human endurance kind of itch thanks to an infestation of a nasty pests that go by the name oak leaf mites.  Often they are called itch mites for obvious reasons.

Over the years, I have come to a certain understanding that Kansas is intent on driving gardeners mad in a number of ways.  There are four seasons that are respectively: tornado, flood, drought and blizzard that make growing things a bid tricky here but on top of that, we have a climate where cool weather grasses can't take the summers and the warm weather grasses can't stand the winters.  Are you starting to see a bit of a problem with gardening here yet?

Well...there's more.  Just when good gardeners have done all they can to to add cubic yards of compost to the clay so they might be able to break ground without the aid of a jackhammer and backhoe, and have planted the short list of plants that can survive,  we now are the recipients of an unexpected (and dare I say?...unwelcome) guest....the aforementioned oak leaf mite.

Daily...and I do mean daily..there are articles in the local papers talking about the infestation of these microscopic pests that float through the air and land on people without their knowledge.  Four or more hours later the person (or landing strip  if you prefer), will find a lot of  blistery welts that itch like a mosquito bite times a billion.  Yeah, like that.

According to the articles we should cover up our arms and legs, limit our time outdoors, use DEET products liberally  and shower immediately after coming indoors.  As much fun as all that sounds, none of it is working all that spectacularly.  Of course, it's hard to say if the numerous bites that made their way onto our spot-riddled, itchy hides are just from mites or is it a combo pack of chigger bites, mosquito bites and the oak tree mites.  They all seem to have had a banner year here.

SOOO..with all that being said, these pests are sucking the joy (and body fluids) out of gardening. The up-tick is that the first hard freeze is supposedly going to take care of them.  Should I be happy about their impending demise?  Maybe that makes me heartless.  It most assuredly makes me less itchy though. 

Hope you all are itch free and having fun.