Posts

Saturday is a special day

It’s the day we slave away in the garden for nine hours yet still not
finish! I have some more corn and my melon and giant pumpkin plants
are ready to go in but waited so long to do it the weeds had come back
since David last tilled. Much gratitude goes to Bro. Ferrin, who
hardly knows me, but enthusiastically retilled it, calling the hour of
physical labor on a Saturday “better than Prosac.” I’d have to agree.
Physical work outside has been a bastion against the crazy for three
gardening seasons now.
I had read that you can plant radishes with carrot and beet seeds 
because they ripen so fast that when you pull them it spaces the other 
root veggies as they start to get going.  I won’t be trying this again 
because 1. Really, who can eat the six buckets of radishes that 
result?  I used six in a salad last night and not even the chickens 
could finish off the rest. 2. By the time I finally got out there to 
rescue the patches from the speedy weeds, some of the radishes were 
gigantic mutants. 3.  Pulling up the weeds and radishes stressed the 
carrots and beets and half couldn’t  stay up without all that radish/
weed support. So here are some monsters.
Potato flowers. Supposedly they are ready to start eating when they 
flower. To store or get the nice hard skin, you leave them a few weeks 
after the plants die. Looking forward to digging me up a treat.
Mayflower pole beans. This variety was actually on the boat!
Inca rainbow corn from Bakers Creek Rare Seeds.

I love getting back in the dirt. Joblessness is sweet!  Thanks Dave!  
(And Happy Fathers Day!  I adore you!)

Sunday Update

Ben and Noah had a great time with dad on the Father/Son Campout this past weekend, despite below-freezing overnight temperatures and Noah falling in the river.  Apparently they went through bags of marshmallows in the traditional “mallow-as-torch” game, and Noah made his own gourmet ‘smore complete with fire-blackened mallows.

The girls got pedicures and dinner and then my sweet mom gave me 18 hours of total solitude, taking the girls home to sleep over.  That was weird and wonderful.  I got all the carrots, radishes, broccoli, more peas, onions and all the potatoes in–7 varieties in all.  So strange to start a task and work it to completion without interruptions.  But of course, we are working on not having the children be seen as interruptions but the project itself, right?

Still, it was great.  We had lots of luck with red potatoes in our first year here, so I did some of those, California Whites, Norkota Russets, and some lovely “All-Reds” with pink flesh.  I talked about potatoes a few years ago, but I am still amazed by the process–a seed potato is just a potato with lots of eyes–you cut each into chunks, at least an inch around, with 1-2 eyes a piece, let them dry in the shade a bit (mine dried in 8 hours with a fan) and pop them in the ground, eyes up.  Each plant can make 6 potatoes, and on many of the seed potatoes, I got six pieces to plant.  Pretty good returns there.

It felt so good to get my hands dirty again, although today I remembered the exhaustion that comes after a farm day.  So tired!  I’m having trouble uploading pics for some reason, so I will do it through email after this post.

Ben is getting into a more pre-teen seriousness, but has finally mastered his paper route (finishes before Scouts without any help from me!) and he’s a good student and a hard worker. I love him so much but somehow am always furious with him. He makes me nuts–probably because he’s so much like I was and I want to spare him the problems I had.  But, I’m trying.  He’s my first little guy and I want the world for him. 

Sophie is a sweet chatterbox.  She helped me get the chick pen split for mother hen to take the other side tonight–not usually a Sunday activity, but I saw a rodent in the coop today because the door was open and was nervous about the chicks being in there another night.  The cats make it so I rarely see those things (alive, anyway) but we do have plenty of fields around us and I know they’re out there.  A rat can eat chicks, although I think the thing I saw scutter by so quickly was a mouse.  But I didn’t want to risk it. Sophie was a great help out there and I really enjoyed her company.  I’m looking forward to more of that.  If I can just keep her home–she is always trying to leave and play elsewhere.  You’ll think I’m being too hard on myself when I say I think it is because we have too much craziness and yelling and inter-kid fighting in our house.  But I think that because she said so much.

Ben and Sophie are starting with a new piano teacher (other than me) next month–we have friends that take from her and she is pretty hardcore, but turns out amazing pianists.  I’m excited about that.  They also are both in Tae Kwon Do–Ben is high-brown and Sophie is orange belt.  They both go to Capitol Hill Academy, which we love, and Noah will start there next year.  I’ve almost finished their website, check it out!

Lucy and Noah do preschool at a popular neighborhood in-home school and go to what we call “Monkeynastics” for some reason.  We’d taken a break for the holidays and are barely getting back to it.  After two weeks in the pre-K/K class, Noah got booted to the 6 YO boy class–he can do amazing things–the fastest cartwheel I’ve ever seen!  Lucy got bumped to the second level Pre-K/K because, they said, “She’s fearless.”  This week we are going to visit a “Twinkle Class” with the local Suzuki violin teacher and get them on her 16-month waiting list. 

I always said my kids would do a sport and an instrument but I have to admit I pick sports that don’t require enormous investments of time or cash.  I cram all the activities on one or two days so I can be a homebody on the others.

Popcorn really is popping all over the trees these days–although not yet on the apricot tree–and Lucy wants to sing that song many times a day.  Sometimes she let’s me sing that instead of Jingle Bells at bedtime.  A nice breather there.

Noah and Ben have their own rooms now, and WOW!  They both have clean rooms!  The roommate situation made for a trashed room 100% of the time.  Apparently they both just needed space.  Finally Noah is free to just build and play cars on his car rug in his own room–it definitely was a good move for everyone.  He is such a little sweetie.

David’s been a bit under the weather but in improved spirits because I am now home to make sure he eats meals and takes vitamins–no kidding, a noticeable change.  I’ve enjoyed having him home an extra week and just want to say that the iPhone is great for a marriage–texting random thoughts, playing the “Words With Friends” app together (you can’t call it Scrabble!), sharing pics of what we’re doing with the kids, or his meal when he goes to a new crazy hamburger joint back East.  Now I ALWAYS know what state he is in–both geographically and mentally.  So, thanks, Steve Jobs!

There’s the family for this week. 

Fall 09

White turkeys are the ones generally sold commercially. I meant to take a picture of both the bronze and whites before, but I just have a white before and a bronze after.

And After II (yes, we cook our turkey’s upside down, it’s part of a very elaborate turkey roasting ritual my husband carries out):

Our white hens that we got last year still lay wonderfully–one big fat white egg a day usually. But, I’m down to 6 now. I had them loose for much of the summer and I guess I lost two to predators.

Cute lucy on the tree ladder.

Lucy and Noah in the back yard.

Mother hen (used to be the rooster I called “sissy chicken”) and her 12 chicks out learning how to forage. She is pretty fierce if you get too close, as you can kind of see in this picture. She’s a great mother, and she does gather them under her wings, just like the scriptures say God will do for us.
I need to take more pictures of the trees here–it is so gorgeous. Yesterday we got the sod cutter rented again and took out more grass for next year’s garden. It seems counterintuitive to follow up my miserable neglected failure of this year with expanded ambitions for next year, but we feel we should try again. The first year was very fulfilling, and we did get some good out of this year’s but I was learning how to juggle the work/family/health/garden issues.

Talk about fall, we picked tons of apples yesterday from the neglected tree way back on the property (you have to commando crawl under a fence to get over there, then pass the buckets back over when done). Some of them were so perfect and huge. If we found a wormy one, we threw it to our neighbor’s (very grateful) sheep. I have applesauce canning on the agenda this week.
Yesterday I also inventoried my food storage, and I’m not so bad as I thought. We are fervently working on that now. I’ll go on record that I think the constant media talk of signs of recovery is just that–talk–and I personally think we haven’t yet seen the worst of it. I realize only 20% of economists agree with me on that, though.
I heard a comment in general conference that perfectly summed up what I’ve been feeling as I’ve been reading about both the economy and studying the scriptures much more than I have before (funny how well they go together!)
It was D. Todd Christofferson who said, “We cannot presume that the future will resemble the past—that things and patterns we have relied upon economically, politically, socially will remain as they have been.”
I think there is a lot of false security thrown about in the name of what has always happened, but real security is in obedience to and trust in God and trying to live by the Spirit.

Fall 09

White turkeys are the ones generally sold commercially. I meant to take a picture of both the bronze and whites before, but I just have a white before and a bronze after.

And After II (yes, we cook our turkey’s upside down, it’s part of a very elaborate turkey roasting ritual my husband carries out):

Our white hens that we got last year still lay wonderfully–one big fat white egg a day usually. But, I’m down to 6 now. I had them loose for much of the summer and I guess I lost two to predators.

Cute lucy on the tree ladder.

Lucy and Noah in the back yard.

Mother hen (used to be the rooster I called “sissy chicken”) and her 12 chicks out learning how to forage. She is pretty fierce if you get too close, as you can kind of see in this picture. She’s a great mother, and she does gather them under her wings, just like the scriptures say God will do for us.
I need to take more pictures of the trees here–it is so gorgeous. Yesterday we got the sod cutter rented again and took out more grass for next year’s garden. It seems counterintuitive to follow up my miserable neglected failure of this year with expanded ambitions for next year, but we feel we should try again. The first year was very fulfilling, and we did get some good out of this year’s but I was learning how to juggle the work/family/health/garden issues.

Talk about fall, we picked tons of apples yesterday from the neglected tree way back on the property (you have to commando crawl under a fence to get over there, then pass the buckets back over when done). Some of them were so perfect and huge. If we found a wormy one, we threw it to our neighbor’s (very grateful) sheep. I have applesauce canning on the agenda this week.
Yesterday I also inventoried my food storage, and I’m not so bad as I thought. We are fervently working on that now. I’ll go on record that I think the constant media talk of signs of recovery is just that–talk–and I personally think we haven’t yet seen the worst of it. I realize only 20% of economists agree with me on that, though.
I heard a comment in general conference that perfectly summed up what I’ve been feeling as I’ve been reading about both the economy and studying the scriptures much more than I have before (funny how well they go together!)
It was D. Todd Christofferson who said, “We cannot presume that the future will resemble the past—that things and patterns we have relied upon economically, politically, socially will remain as they have been.”
I think there is a lot of false security thrown about in the name of what has always happened, but real security is in obedience to and trust in God and trying to live by the Spirit.

Complications II

So I was doing a little better and starting to get up and around, just tired. I was taking massive doses of Vitamin C because they said it would speed healing, and that appears to be true, the incision opening has been healing from the inside out nicely. So when I started feeling flu-like symptoms on Thursday I thought there is no way I could be getting sick with all this Vit. C. But it just got worse, with headaches and backaches and then whole body aches and chills and sweats and then this lump on my stomach above the incision started growing quickly and by last night was big and hard and red and hot to the touch. So apparently I had an infection and had to go back to the hospital. My mom is a chemist/microbiologist at Lakeview Hospital here in Bountiful and she was concerned because infections, especially around your guts (vs. a hand or leg, etc.) can spread very quickly and get scary, so she made me go to the ER. I’m glad I did, because they told me it was a good thing I came in. I had to get some crazy nuclear-bomb style IV antibiotics and they had to cut me open a little bit (1/2″ cut, 3″ deep) to let whatever was in there drain out. They filled it with packing and now I have yet a new hole in my body that needs to close up before I can return to normal ife. Gross, I know. My mom took me home to her house at 2 a.m. after we left the hospital so I could have some undisturbed sleep (something that doesn’t exist at my house), and I slept until 11 when David finished teaching Sunday School and came and got me. We’ve made arrangements to have everyone shuffled around for the next couple of days, because before all this happened David had committed to go to WA state for a quick business trip, so he left this afternoon and is returning Monday night. He feels guilty, but we couldn’t have anticipated this.

Anyway, I am assuming this eventually will end and I’ll feel/be better, but until then, it’s back a few steps.

I did order chicks (they come in two weeks) and got all my seeds in the mail. David tilled the gardens Friday and my mom planted peas yesterday (my mom is so great.) The neighbors who moved in just behind us are going to work with us on our animals and garden, which is a huge help since I can’t do anything but place orders with people right now. A sad thing, because we got all commercial chickens last year (these new ones are heritage breeds) I’m having problems with my fryers that I didn’t kill. I kept 4 fryer hens alive to see if they’d lay, and although they eat too much, they lay gorgeous, huge brown eggs. Well, I’d neglected to think about how fryers are bred to be killed before 12 weeks. Like the huge-breasted thanksgiving turkeys, who literally can’t stand up if they are allowed to live after a certain time and are completely unable to mate and be bred naturally–these commercial meat animals can’t live healthy past a young age because of our greedy selection of unhealthy animal strains for maximum meat. So our tremendously fat, waddling fryers are getting red, raw stomachs from their dragging on the ground. I knew it wasn’t cost-effective to keep them, but loved how funny they look when they run and the gorgeous brown eggs, but now it just seems mean–they aren’t designed to live this long (they are 10-11 mos old). A healthy, normal chicken breed can live 12-15 years. although generally laying hen flocks are replenished each year with new chicks and older hens are taken out of commission after their prime laying years (age 3-4). Anyway, that’s just sad. So, David’s going to have to take them out next week with the help of neighbor Dan, who, although we are novices ourselves, wants to work along side us to learn what we’ve been doing.

All that farmy stuff cheers me up, as I am generally anti-social, depressed and under-estrogened these days, the first two probably being due to the last one.

Anyway, consider yourself updated. Back to bed for me.

Seed order

I tried to stick to heirloom varieties and hope to save some seed, some of these are rare/extinct

Items of interest noted.
MELON AML110 $3.00 1 – Ananas D’ Amerique A Chair Verte (Green Fleshed Pineapple)
This historic heirloom was grown by Thomas Jefferson in 1794. It was offered commercially in the USA in 1824, and it was illustrated in color in France in 1854 in the Vilmorin Album. This wonderful variety has become very rare. The fruit have netted skin and light green flesh that is firm, sweet and highly perfumed. Productive plants can be trained up a trellis.
MELON AML113 $2.00 1 – Banana
90 days. Banana-shaped fruit, smooth yellow skin and sweet, spicy salmon flesh. 16”-24″ long, 5-8 lbs. It was listed in 1885 by J. H. Gregory’s Catalogue, which said “When ripe it reminds one of a large, overgrown banana… It smells like one, having a remarkably powerful and delicious fragrance.” This is one of my all- time favorites, being very sweet and great for specialty markets.

MELON AML123 $3.00 1 – Kansas
A very rare heirloom from Kansas; the vines are vigorous and the yield is great, oval-shaped ridged and netted fruit, the flesh is orange and has exceptional flavor, very delicious! A very dependable variety, fruit weigh around 4 lbs. One of our most endangered varieties and also one of the best. Perfect for farmers’ markets.

MELON AML155 $3.00 1 – Million Dollar
In 1886, the steamship “Cambridge” was slowly traversing through the thick fog, traveling north to Bangor from Boston, along the rocky coasts of Maine, when it ran aground on Old Man Ledge and began to slowly sink in the cold Atlantic ocean. In the days that followed, many of the hardy souls took small boats out to collect the sinking cargo, which included this great melon that was so good that it has been grown in Maine for the last 124 years. Now it is almost extinct, and almost never offered commercially. The flesh is soft, creamy and so fragrant that ripe fruit can perfume the whole garden. A delicious-tasting melon that is medium sized, elongated and faintly netted.

GREEN BEAN BN108 $2.00 1 – McCaslan 42 Pole

GREEN BEANS BN111 $2.50 1 – Mayflower
This is the bean that is said to have come to America with the Pilgrims in 1620. This old cutshort green bean has great flavor and the red/white beans are quite tasty. A long-time staple in the Carolinas. [so it’s a green bean and then a soup bean – VC]

BROCCOLI BR105 $1.75 1 – Waltham 29

BEET BT102 $2.50 1 – Golden Beet
CELERY CE101 $2.00 1 – Tendercrisp

CORN CN105 $3.00 1 – Country Gentleman Sweet Corn
90 days. Introduced in 1890 by S.D. Woodruff & Sons. Sweet, delicious and milky; tender white kernels on 8″ ears. The ears have no rows, as this is a shoepeg type, and kernels are packed in a zigzag pattern. One of the best heirloom sweet corns.

CORN CN135 $4.00 1 – Rainbow Sweet Inca Corn
A beautiful multicolored corn that was developed by Dr. Alan Kapuler. This sweet corn is wonderful cooked fresh, when the colors are still very pale; delicious real corn flavor. Mature ears are great for grinding into flavorful flour, and are perfect for fall decorations. The kids will love this one.

CARROT CR101 $2.00 1 – St. Valery [yes, I got this because of it’s name]
70 days. The Vilmorins of France mentioned this variety in 1885 and said it had been grown a “long time” then. A large handsome variety with bright red-orange roots; smooth, 10″-12″ long & 2″-3″ in diameter. Sweet & tender. Rare. Our favorite!

CARROT CR102 $1.25 1 – Danvers 126 Half Long 70 days.

CUCUMBER CU109 $2.00 1 – Delikatesse (for pickling, comes from Germany)

EGGPLANT EG155 $2.00 1 – Blush
Pretty, banana-shaped fruit are creamy white with a lavender blush that graces each fruit. Stunning to look at and even better to eat; delicious, tender-fleshed fruit are ideal for frying and are easy to slice.

PEAS GP104 $2.25 1 – Lincoln
GARDEN FRUIT GR102 $2.25 1 – Chichiquelite Huckleberry
GREEN MANURE GS105 $4.50 1 – Hairy Vetch [you till this under right as it flowers as a nitrogen fixer and for organic matter. ]
HERB HB175 $2.75 1 – Stevia [a fabulous no-calorie sweetner with no impact on blood sugar–Japanese and Brazilians have used it for centuries, but of course our FDA has pandered to the sugar and chemical industries (big, long, scandalous story) and keeps it labeled as a “dietary supplement” so it won’t compete directly with neurotoxins (asparatame) carcinogens (saccharine) and digestive irritants (sucralose). Get some at Trader Joes if you live in such a lucky place.]

HOT PEPPER HPP103 $5.00 1 – Anaheim – 1 oz. [ I accidentally bought a ton of these seeds, I think we’ll start them all and have Ben sell the small plants this summer instead of a lemonade stand (along with all our extra melon plants and acorn squash, which I also overordered accidentally]

MELON ML102 $2.75 1 – Prescott Fond Blanc
70 days. The most unique and beautiful French melon we sell! The fruit is 4-9 lbs., very flattened and ribbed, with warts and bumps. Melons have grey/green skin turning straw color; flesh is salmon-orange. Once one of the best known melons, it was mentioned in the 1860’s, but it likely is much older. The flavor is very rich if picked at perfection and the fragrance is heavenly. This is a favorite melon of mine, almost unheard of in this country.

ASIAN MELON OML107 $3.50 1 – Tigger

The most amazing melon we have grown. The fruit are vibrant yellow with brilliant fire-red, zigzag stripes, (a few fruit may be solid yellow), simply beautiful! They are also the most fragrant melons we have tried, with a rich, sweet intoxicating aroma that will fill a room. The white flesh gets sweeter in dry climates. Small in size the fruits weigh up to 1 lb. – perfect for a single serving. The vigorous plants yield heavily, even in dry conditions. This heirloom came from an Armenian market located in a mountain valley. It was the most popular melon at our Garden Show last August and makes a unique specialty market variety. Pkt. (25 seeds).

ONION ON113 $2.50 1 – Gold Princess

SWEET PEPPER PP143 $2.50 1 – Jimmy Nardello Italian

This fine Italian pepper was grown each year by Giuseppe and Angella Nardiello, at their garden in the village of Ruoti, in Southern Italy. In 1887 they set sail with their one-year-old daughter Anna for a new life in the USA. When they reached these shores, they settled and gardened in Naugatuck, Connecticut, and grew this same pepper that was named for their fourth son Jimmy. This long, thin-skinned frying pepper dries easily and has such a rich flavor that this variety has been placed in “The Ark of Taste” by the Slow Food organization. Ripens a deep red, is very prolific, and does well in most areas.

LETTUCE BLEND SB103 $3.00 1 – Rocky Top Lettuce Salad

SUGAR PEA SN106 $2.50 1 – Sugar Snap

SPINACH SP101 $1.50 1 – Bloomsdale Long Standing

WINTER SQUASH SQ113 $2.00 1 – Sweet Meat [my friend tells me this big grey monstrosity is the sweetest squash and is better for pumpkin pies than pumpkin]

WINTER SQUASH SQ136 $7.50 1 – Table Gold Acorn – 1/4 lb. [accidentally bought WAY too much–that roadside plant stand is now a must, as orders can’t be changed.]
SUMMER SQUASH SSQ107 $2.00 1 – White Scallop

50 days. A very ancient native American heirloom squash, grown by the Northern Indians for hundreds of years, this type was depicted by Europeans back to 1591, and one of the best tasting and yielding varieties still around today! Great fried and baked. Flat fruit with scalloped edges, beautiful!

SUMMER SQUASH SSQ110 $2.00 1 – Striata d’Italia [a yummy basic zucchini-striped, we did this last year]
TOMATO TM126 $2.00 1 – Amish Paste [a fabulous roma type, for canning]
TOMATO TM132 $2.00 1 – Riesentraube [cherry–supposed to have amazing flavor]
TOMATO TM181 $2.00 1 – Bonny Best [for canning and slicing]
Next step is mapping it all out! I’m excited for my Sophomore year of gardening–sure hope I am up to the physical work of it by the time I need to be.
Even if you’re just doing pots this year, check out http://rareseeds.com/seeds/ for some fun experiments–you may save an endangered species while you’re at it.
This was definitely a task that cheered me up, although with naps and kids, etc. it took me most of the day.

Last Harvest Pictures (See post from many weeks ago)

This was a beautiful day. We literally had 3 HUGE wheelbarrows of squash. Everyone helped all day that day—Sophie and Ben helped pick grapes, Ben chopped down corn stalks, and we all carried our 30 pumpkins around in a festive mood. We have so many kinds of squash I don’t even know what some of them are. (Note to self for next year—Valerie, please WRITE DOWN and MARK all your plants like EVERY gardening book tells you to! Why do you ALWAYS think you are the exception to the most basic rules??!)

Last Harvest Pictures (See post from many weeks ago)

This was a beautiful day. We literally had 3 HUGE wheelbarrows of squash. Everyone helped all day that day—Sophie and Ben helped pick grapes, Ben chopped down corn stalks, and we all carried our 30 pumpkins around in a festive mood. We have so many kinds of squash I don’t even know what some of them are. (Note to self for next year—Valerie, please WRITE DOWN and MARK all your plants like EVERY gardening book tells you to! Why do you ALWAYS think you are the exception to the most basic rules??!)

One last thought

One problem with email posting is I can’t edit—forgive the typos. 

 

Hey, do you remember a week or so ago when in church we were read the First Presidency announcement and they said that principles consistent with the teachings of the gospel are to be found in both political parties and that we should vote for whomever we thought would be a wise leader and whose policies were consistent with our own idea of good government?  That was nice.

 

Wow, posting every random thought is so liberating!

 

Has the Blog Been Given a New Lease on Life?

The reason I don't blog anymore is not because I don't have time or thoughts to share–au contraire!  It is that Blogger is blocked at work, and outside of work, I really don't have time to write or read any blogs.  While at work I take the occassional break to read the newspaper, email a very little, and often have thoughts that I think, "I want to put that on my blog." but alas, I can't.   Then I remembered that I could go deep into the bowels of my blog settings and identify a posting email address—and voila!  The blog has been resurrected.
 
That said, I can't be a time thief and blog all day, so I'll probably should keep posts under control.  But, now that I've lost my entire audience from neglect, I can start posting every random thought I have.  This rocks!!
 
I need to work now, but I'll leave you (that one person who still reads my blog–me?) with two things–first, a great website for self-discovery and a clearer understanding of the political spectrum–left, right, socialist, facist, communist, autocratic, etc… I LOVED THIS.  So far, everyone I've sent it to is with Ghandi, including myself.  I don't know how I feel about that, because I think he was interesting and had some noble virtues, he was also a bit nuts and extremist.  Make sure you look at the US Presidential page after taking the quiz, and if you have even more time to waste, take the quote quiz to see who you think said a list of eye-opening things–that was a shocker on some of them:
 

Lastly, I would like to pronounce intelligent and educated political discourse in this country as officially dead.  Although there are a handful of friends I have where we can still openly discuss the vast sins of both parties along with their respective virtues, it appears that for the most part we are reduced to regurgitating marketing spin, pundit operatives and talk show hosts, and letting the TV tell us what to think because we simply (and truly) don't have the hours and hours it takes to sift through all the sources of information to find the very buried facts. 

As a result, this election season we are left not with two flawed but capable and intelligent candidates who differ on policy, but we instead we have merely the pathetic choice of deciding between a socialist closeted America-hating muslim terrorist plotting to overthrow the country or a wandering, vascillating senile opportunist warmonger devoted to protecting the rich in W's third-term.  People who lean Obama are written off by the other side as uninformed star-struck sheep oblivious to his dark secret intentions and robotically parrot the jingle the right's marketing staffers have carefully crafted, "Who is he?  You can't trust him!"  People who lean McCain are written off by their counterparts as uneducated, gun-toting, racist, judgmental religious zealots blind to their party's abandonment of its founding principles.

The 24-hours newscycles insist upon playing up the most ridiculous details of the political scene and random opinions of random people–all at the same pitch and intensity they announce actual news and people apparently can't tell the difference anymore.  Insane conspiracy theories and fear-as-persuasion abounds on all sides among formerly intelligible people–the blogs and emails are screaming with lies and panic with what each candidate will "surely" do to destroy this country in a few short months.  This country is falling apart intellectually, spiritually, politically and economically.  

It is interesting that conference was so heavily focused on unity–it is surely a lost virtue in our society.

Goodbye, intelligent rational discourse–you will be missed!