Friday, May 21, 2010

Catching Up

We’ve been so busy preparing the house to go on the market that I’ve neglected this blog. I really miss it, too. I enjoy writing it, but also think I need it for my mental health! I even sleep better when I’m writing regularly. But we’re done with the hard labor, having our first open house on Sunday, and I’ve got a backlog of ideas for posts. The first is a quick “catching up” entry.

Happy Hatch Day!
I meant to do a special post for the chickens’ first hatch day, and somehow let it slip by! I got them as day-old chicks on May 12th last year, so as far as I can tell, they were hatched on May 11th. What an interesting year it’s been. I’ve gone from being someone who never had or wanted any pet or livestock, who was a bigger “chicken” even than the chickens, easily spooked by their sudden movements and fearful of picking them up, to someone entirely comfortable handling them and fairly knowledgeable about their care.

I planned to experiment with putting up videos using one of them as baby chicks and one I just took the other day. However, I can’t find the baby chicks video. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I deleted it one day out of embarrassment. I was talking away to the little chicks on it. Now I’ve really gone over to the other side and don’t care what people think about me talking to the chickens.

So here is a still photo of the baby chicks, followed by a video taken a few days ago of the girls all grown up. (The photo was taken when we still had the ten chicks. When they were two weeks old, I gave six away because we’re only allowed to have four in the city.)

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Current state of the Garden

Look at these cherries – aren’t they gorgeous!!! I’m lucky they’re still so beautifully healthy. According to the books, I should have sprayed by now. But my preferred fruit tree pest control product, Surround (kaolin clay) isn’t locally available. I called everywhere I could think of and most didn’t even know what it is. One sales person, assuming I didn’t understand what I was asking for, patiently explained that they didn’t carry it because customers didn’t like the look of it! Isn’t that the American way – style over substance? It’s true that covering your lovely trees with a fine mist of white clay is less visually appealing than glossy green leaves, but hey, I’d rather do that than eat chemical pesticides.

The only way to get it is to order it online, and it’s clay – it’s heavy - the shipping costs almost as much as the product. The smallest quantity I could get was 25 pounds, which will last years and years with just a small number of trees. But I took a deep gulp and finally ordered some because before we move, I really, REALLY want to taste at least a few cherries off those trees we have worked so hard to nurture. We should probably go all out and have some champagne with those cherries – they’re going to be the most expensive ones we’ve ever eaten!

The strawberry plants are loaded with fruit, as are the blueberries, and the raspberries are covered with flower buds. Tonight I’m planting out my tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, cilantro, parsley, basil, and eggplant. I’ll put up some photos afterwards.

The “It’s for Everyone” Argument and Social Control
The other night I was flipping channels before going to sleep and found the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest playing on TCM. Of course, I had to stay up late and watch it all the way through. It’s an amazing film. On one level, it’s about institutional control over individuals and crushing the human spirit. Jack Nicholson’s character, Randle McMurphy, opts for a mental institution to get himself out of a hard labor prison sentence. But he finds himself in a new kind of prison.

Anyway, the incident relevant to this post occurs when rebel McMurphy politely asks during group therapy session whether the work schedule might be changed to allow the men to watch a World Series game. Nurse Ratched explains in her calm, controlled, and steely manner, that a lot of thought is put into the schedule, that changing it may be upsetting to some patients. The schedule, like the constant anesthetizing music, she says, is for all the men on the ward. But she offers a vote on the matter, confident that the men are too cowed by her to side with McMurphy.

The vote fails, but on a subsequent day, Cheswick, who voted with McMurphy, asks for another vote. Irritated, Ratched reminds Cheswick that they had a vote. Cheswick presses the issue, pointing out that there is another game on today. Ratched allows the vote; this time all the men vote with a jubilant McMurphy.

Ratched looks around the group at calmly before telling McMurphy, “I see only 9 votes. There are 18 men on this ward.” The other nine she refers to are too out of it to even participate in the group therapy sessions or understand that a vote is taking place. They orbit around the dayroom, lost in their own worlds. McMurphy later complains to the doctors that Nurse Ratched “likes a rigged game.”

I woke up the next morning thinking about how the argument that the schedule could not be changed because it was for everyone was like the argument that we can not have a community garden in the park because the park is for everyone. It’s an argument that seems, on the surface, like ethically based opposition to changes in the system. We are looking out for everyone. You are asking for changes that will only benefit you. Don’t you see how unreasonable and selfish that is? Democratic rituals and phrases are used to uphold the system and enforce control. You are the crazy one, if you don’t see and appreciate the fairness and rationality of the system. I’m still thinking through the full implications of the analogy.

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