Thursday, May 28, 2009


Freecycle peony is the gift of a family facing foreclosure. Claire Jacquier climber draped over a support built last year.


River Landscape with Ferry, by Salomon van Ruysdael, 1649. This is a new acquisition of the National Art Gallery, in Washington, DC.

Did you ever face a problem that seemed to expand until it touched every aspect of your life? How did you cope with it? At the moment, I am doing research for a story on credit card debt. I have just added a post on credit card debt, loan applications to Twitter, soliciting stories about loan applications. I would like to hear from people whose credit card debt had a serious impact on their lives. How did they manage? How did credit card debt affect the quality of their lives?
The story is in the seminal stage. Its crux is what happens when a society geared towards consumerism does exactly what it is programmed to do then crashes. More on this later.
Dutch painter Salomon van Ruysdael ( 1603-167t) lived during the Dutch Golden Age. Rampant affluence, courtesy of the West India Company spice trade, allowed greater social mobility New riches . Flush with profits from the Indies, the nouveaux riches elevated consumerism to a quasi-religious position. Paintings from that period reflect an affluent society represented by burgers bedecked in lace and jewels. Landscapes are tranquil and idyllic, still life paintings give an illusion of unending riches, posh brick houses are "as solid as ennui." Their iconic stability seems to speak for the entrenched power of Dutch bankers. But did poverty and debt lurk behind these fortress-like facades? I know that Holland occasionally exported its poorer citizens to the Indies. One of my remote ancestors ended up in the Caribbean along with several underprivileged fellow Jews--not all Sephardim did brilliantly in the spice and sugar trade.
Not all Americans got rich during our Golden Age. I wonder who will paint the America of the Eighties when abundance seem eternal. Will their art last beyond this century? Who will pain the anguish of those who were lured by the sirens of acquisitiveness only to see that prosperity was just a bubble on the verge of bursting? These are the people flocking to banks, begging for loans. How do they face the schadenfreunde of whose circumstances allow them to weather the crisis comfortably? The economy will rebound, according to predictions. By next year, the job market will supposedly improve. Credit card companies will no longer have as much latitude as previously. But at the heart of the problems is the American attitude towards ownership--I own, therefore I am. Will that have changed?

Friday, May 22, 2009


Butter rum cake with strawberries


My friend John has a strange predilection for the likeness of pigs. So much so that his collection of pig-like objects has grown larger than his artistic sensitivity can abide. Consequently, he has issued a moratorium on gifts of a swinish nature, which leaves me in a quandary. What am I to do with the tea towels I embroidered with a sweetly retro piggie munching on a candy cane and the porcine Fred Astaire doing the soft shoe routine? Who uses tea towels anyway? They are a nostalgic remnant of a time when women whiled away long winters at hearth. No one whiles rime away anymore. In Little Macondo, most folks I know rush about doing the things they used to do when they were part of an affluent society. Repose is for those have no jobs, own no homes, have no social position to maintain. Being middle and upper middle class is full time chore hereabouts. It does not exclude the sorrows common to the proletariat, but it obscures lesser worries such as the water bill, the cost of gas, ailing lawn mowers. Middle class people do not worry. They delegate. They do not do manual labour. They outsource. For all that, they have little free time and if they want a little chunk of nostalgia, such as tea towels, they head to Anthropologie.
I know the ways of the middle class from personal experience. For the past few years I have been learning a simpler lifestyle that marginalises me more than being an immigrant ever did. Living simply has not yet caught on in Little Macondo as the cool thing to do. I am patient. I embroider tea towels using saccharine patterns from yesteryear because they straddle the line that separates the hideous from the homely cute. I also bake, on occasion though I understand that what is truly middle class is to get one's baked goods from a little Jamaican baker no one else has heard about. In a pinch, there is Trader's Joe. Me, I bake my own cakes. The one above is a plain yellow cake drizzled with a glaze made from melted butter, rum and confectioner's sugar. Add strawberries Romanoff and it's pig heaven. Neither tea towels nor cakes make me into a superior person, but they are certainly less labour intensive than clinging to the social ladder.

Sunday, May 17, 2009




Hello Ryiad, Rabat, Barbastro, Jerusalem, Teheran, Mega, Rouen, Lisbon and Pawpaw! It is rainy and cool in little Macondo by the Potomac. Roses, irises, oriental poppies, spirea and sweet rocket are blooming, asparagus is ready to harvest and it is time to plant more strawberries. I am about to have a slice of freshly baked corn cheese bread and a cup of espresso. How about you? I am assuming that you also have breakfast, wherever you live and I hope that you have plenty to feed yourself and your family, plus a few extra pennies to blow on books, a box of chocolate, flowers, a bottle of good wine, music, movies, and whatever you like and your religious beliefs permit. Out there, in the big world of realpolitik, things are not so pretty. People are killing each other in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Darfur, and Sri Lanka, among other places.

I suspect that some of you might think that killing is not such a bad thing. Some of you might believe that you go boom-boom and you fly straight up to where your seventy virgins await you. That is your thing. I confess that I do not understand it. It is not that I am that terribly afraid of dying. I just happen to have seen enough death to gather that it is dadblasted final. Besides, there a few features this side of paradise that I would like to enjoy a little longer.

Being on the sunny side of sixty, I belong to a group whose peers seem to be departing life all too often. Two of mine died within the lat couple of months. A couple of days ago I helped bury a good friend. Actually, some of us who love her scattered her ashes in the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, below Harpers Ferry. It was a sunny afternoon. The sky was as clear as the best aquamarine. Gold flecks shone on the cool river water and and on the hills, the old trees had the achingly beautiful green of new saplings. A gentle breeze turne the surface of the water to a froth of lace. A Pawlonia tree showered us with it royal blue flowers.
After we had scattered ashes and roses into the river, a pair of wild ducks made its leisurely way to the shore. A swallowtail butterfly, old quaint old buildings of the town seemed to huddle together arund gardens where e pink clematis yellow roses bloomed. In the hour long trip home we saw more wildlife than we usually see in a week. Baby turtles sunned themselves on a log on the Potomac. A trio of groundogs played in the grass. Deer watched us from the woods. A great blue heron fed in the shallows. Mourning doves sang in the wheat fields. All about us there were reminders that in the midst of death there is unquenchable life.
I think that you out there in Rabat, Teheran, Rouen, Jerusalem, and I, in this little town in West Virginia are good neighbours. We have more in common than you imagine. We hve known love, loss and we have learnt to carry our burden of grief with dignity. We know that some of that grief could have been avoided if only we could have chosen wise leaders. As it is, we have to do goes on when our best as individuals. We cannot determine the results of the talks between Obama and Netanyahu. We cannot prevail upon Ahmadinejad to stop rattling his nucler saber and bringing the world closer to complete disaster. We cannot stop floods in Brazil, nor keep the swine flu from spreading globally. What we can do is to respect each other. Life is short. We can do nothing better than to honor our shared humanity and tend the seeds of peace as carefully we tend our gardens.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Cottage garden design is a populist concept. It requires no vast tracts of land, no armies of gardeners and none of the expenditures associated with the prim landscapes of baronial holdings. True cottage gardens have no formal design. It is a style that evolved from of working people's hunger for beauty and their need to supplement meager diets with homegrown vegetables. Since land ownership was limited to the elites, workers were limited to the exiguous space immediately next to their homes. There they planted edible crops intermingled with flowering plants culled from the woods. This kind of intensive gardening helps minimise labor since it suppress weeds that might compete with flowers and vegetables for water and nutrients.
There those who consider British artist and landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll the quintessential cottage gardener and it is true that in her writing she referred to cottage gardens as one of her source of inspiration, but so were the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement--design unity, joy in labour, regionalism and individualism.
I don't know about design unity since these very words contradict everything I have learnt about cottage gardens. As for joy in labour, I have little to say, what with the gnats on full battle mode, heat and humidity making a mockery of last week's cool interlude. For all that, the gardens of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle evidence plenty of and individualism. While they evolved from the British model, the vigor of native flora alone would preclude duplication of, say, a garden in Yorkshire. In my little garden, Virginia creeper, mayapple, wild ginger and solomon's seal are a rampant challenge to most imports. Even so, I have been able to grow flowers traditionally planted in cottage gardens--roses, columbines, dianthus, daisies, hollyhocks. Mid-May, they come into their own as shown in the photos above.

Monday, May 11, 2009


R. Cecile Brunner
All the roses of my childhood were French. Cecille Brunner, a mini poliantha bred in Lyon by Joseph Pernet-Ducher, grew in its original shrublet form in the torrid gardens throughout the Brazilian sertao. So did the Alba Amelia, released by Parisian rose breeder Jean Pierre Vibert, in 1823 and Guillot's La France, the first hybrid tea ever, introduced in 1867. Today, I grow these and many other French Heirloom roses in West Virginia garden where summers are humid, black spot is a menace and Japanese beetles an ever present nuisance.
I would like to know how these French beauties travelled to Brazil. My sister theorizes that they arrived with immigrants from Madeira. She might be right. I prefer to think homesick Norman pirates carried them to Brazilian coast, tending them lovingly so that they could present the blossoms to a dark eyed Brazilian beauty. I admit that such a theory belongs in a romance novel complete with a picture of Fabio on its cover, but it is my theory and I am sticking to it until a scholarly rosarian out there traces the history of French roses in Brazil. As for the Cecile Brunner, in my WV garden, why, it came from The Antique Rose Emporium, in Texas. I have the climber, a sport that popped up in California in 1894. In a few weeks, I will be planting the shrub form along with Amelia and La France. I hope they come with a Norman pirate who will cosset them when they sulk. They will need him in this climate.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Manet, Peonies

There is a gizmo on my blog that tells me who has looked at it, how how he accessed it, how long he spent reading, which server he used and much more. I know, for example, that someone in Rabat, Morocco who is a client of Maroc-Telecom gained access through a peculiar site that links Rotring pens and Zionism. This unexpected visitor did not linger, which does not surprise me. I write about many different subjects, but my emphasis is on West Virginia. Though I happen to own a couple of Rotring pens they were given to me by a dear friend who comes from an Episcopalian family with no links to Israel and zero interest in Zionism. I am sorry to disappoint my Moroccan visitor, but these are regular sketch pens with no connections whatever with the Mossad. At least if they do have Israeli intel connections, they are not telling me and that is a good thing. I have enough to think about without getting mixed up in international intrigue.

Life in the lusty little village is sufficiently exciting. As this goes to press, the municipality continues to perpetrate something called Streetscape, a project that supposedly will make main street sidewalks ADA compliant. Well and good. I am all for adding access ramps for wheelchairs to our sidewalks. However, I question the wisdom of going beyond that to build uproot mature trees and replace them with the ugliest bump-out ever to disfigure a town since the demise of Soviet architecture. I fear that to add insult to injury, the municipality will plant the shopping mall trees and characterless landscape roses in the bump-outs. If that does not raise hackles from here to Rabat, something is wrong with the citizenry.

There is much that the municipality could consider doing for the environment. For example, It could build a butterfly preserve, plant pawpaws, which are the favorite food of the rapidly vanishing zebra butterfly. It could choose native plants and wildflowers for the horrible bump-outs instead of ugly unscented roses developed by French corporations. It could transform parts of existing park into wildlife shelters. It could limit car traffic in green spaces. Gosh, I could give the mayor a long list of what could be done, but he would only refer me to a committee and committees seem to spend more time talking than doing.

So, you there in Rabat, unless you garden, cook and fret about West Virginia politics, I've nothing of interest to contribute. To you guys at Fullerton, Ca, LA, CA, Woodbridge, VA, NY, NY, Ranson and Nitro, WV, Winchester, VA, Washington, DC, Waltham, MA, Drexell Hill, PA, Atlanta, GA, Quincy and Lena, IL, Oklahoma City, OK, Vancouver, WA, Berlin, Germany, SP and Rio, Brazil, Cheonan, Korea, Toronto, Canada, Torrevieja, Spain, Campbell River, BC CT and Stockolm, I thank you and Google Analytic thanks you for stopping by. Happy Mother's day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


There remain poppies, lilacs, tree peonies. Those do not seem to please Bambi and family as much as hosta, creeping phlox, and day lilies. The Turkish tulips are gone along with lily of the valley. Those made up a feast for the resident voles, whom the cat Ha Motzie pursues almost incessantly and whose sad little remains she brings to my doorstep. The garden is a battlefield and slugs make up the latest wave of insurgents. What am I to do, pledged as I am, not to use pesticides or any sort of chemical ides? Should I try diplomacy? Would Ban Ki Moon mediate a parley with these creatures bent on destroying my less than perfect paraideza?
My garden is not my castle. The constitution does not guarantee my right to hosta. I could poison the heck out of this little space where I try to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables. I am fairly certain that poisoning gardens is every Americans constitutional right. That poses a bit of a problem for those of us in Macondo by the Potomac. Our geology is one that makes it possible for the great limestone Swiss cheese that lies beneath our houses to leach poison from the soil and send it into our water supply, so tells me my friend Bob who knows what is what about geology and clean water.
Why struggle to garden organically when the municipality creates environmental havoc with the little park across the street? This is a question I repeat along with my plaintive refrain about the frequent violations of my community's right to quiet. I think it all comes down to personal responsibilty. I cannot control what the Town Hall does, though the mayor and Town Council are said to represent my neighbours and me. All I can do is take care of this little piece of land as well as I can. That means that I have to make peace with the fact deer eat hosta and voles eat most bulbs--daffodils are an exception. As for other environmental problems, maybe I should tend my garden and ignore everything else. Who needs the tsuris of dealing with politicians, academics and all the big folk who run little Macondo? Why not stop worrying about anything besides deer and voles? Ah, that is the big question every citizen must ask herself. Does anyone need to challenge authority when authority clearly neglects the welfare of the community it represents? I don't really know. All I know is that it is an exhausting business. If it did not sound so pompous, I would say that it is a Sisiphean struggle. The good thing is that if enough of us put our shoulders to the boulder we might stop it from rolling back. Hope springs eternal, no?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009




How does the average citizen live in little Macondo by the Potomac? Does she spent her entire time speaking truth to power? Does she have no life beyond tilting at windmills or does she cultivate friendships, tends her garden, bakes cakes, works on her murder mystery novels where she can kill very bad people in amusing ways? Reader, she schmoozes, she gardens, she bakes and she writes. Yeah, verily yeah.
The garden is nearly submerged after three days of rain. Tree peonies droop, lilacs shiver, roses refuse to unfurl their leaves. The Oaxaca tomato seedlings plead for rebozos and the Bulgarian pepper seedlings sulk. It is a soggy, time.
There is much one can do in soggy times. One can start one's annual re-reading of War and Peace, skipping the military battles one so disliked the first time round. One listen to the notion that Monopoly should last forever and that chess games should end quickly. One can cook Persian chicken with sour cherries to be served with red Himalayan rice and a nice Pinot Grogio. One can write a check to Magen David Adom or one's charity of choice, such as the Heifer Project. One can watch a movie, though not the Vietnamese Buffalo Boy which is as soggy is all get out and possibly even more boring than the soporific The Scent of Green Papaya. My own choice would be the delightful Blame it Fidel.

When it rains incessantly, one can write distant friends real letters in handmade Italian paper, penned with a fountain pen loaded with J. Herbin ink. One can transfer all of the photos on one's hard drive to Photobucket, Picasa or Flicker. One could study quantum physics, Sanskrit, The Art of War. Conversely, one can bake pear bread.

Butter a bread pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Take two mushy pears, peeled and seeded and squish them into a pulp
Add three peeled bananas and squish them into a pulp
Add one teaspoon double vanilla
Three tablespoons vegetable oil
Add one cup sugar
Add two eggs
Beat the above ingredient together. Reserve.

Sift together one and a half cups flour, one tablespoon baking powder, half teaspoon salt, one teaspoon Saigon cinnamon, half a teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. fruit, flour and sugar mix. Beat thoroughly. Add one cup chopped English walnuts. Decorate with with rose geranium leaves. Pour mix into bread pan and bake for 50 minutes. Invite congenial friends for tea and serve with copious amounts of Lapsang Souchong. Do not discuss noise pollution or global politics.


"...the CIA suspended self-described “enhanced interrogation techniques." “Enhanced interrogation techniques,” according to an unnamed CIA official, are... “light and noise bombardment,” “sleep deprivation..."
Mark Semmel, Assistant Professor Department of Criminal Justice Sacred Heart University.

Citizen's arrest
Definition: an arrest made not by a law officer but by any citizen who derives the authority to arrest from the fact of being a citizen Under common law, a citizen may make an arrest for any felony actually committed, or for a breach of the peace committed in his or her presence.

Also see the American bar Association site for more information,
This, from Google's Legal dictionary,
"The two types of nuisance are private nuisance and public nuisance. A private nuisance is a civil wrong; it is the unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful use of one's property in a manner that substantially interferes with the enjoyment or use of another individual's property, without an actual Trespass or physical invasion to the land. A public nuisance is a criminal wrong; it is an act or omission that obstructs, damages, or inconveniences the rights of the community.
Public Nuisance
The term public nuisance covers a wide variety of minor crimes that threaten the health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience, or welfare of a community. Violators may be punished by a criminal sentence, a fine, or both. A defendant may also be required to remove a nuisance or to pay the costs of removal. ... A public nuisance interferes with the public as a class, not merely one person or a group of citizens. No civil remedy exists for a private citizen harmed by a public nuisance, even if his or her harm was greater than the harm suffered by others; a criminal prosecution is the exclusive remedy...Some nuisances can be both public and private in certain circumstances where the public nuisance substantially interferes with the use of an individual's adjoining land....
Private Nuisance
A private nuisance is an interference with a person's enjoyment and use of his land. The law recognizes that landowners, or those in rightful possession of land, have the right to the unimpaired condition of the property and to reasonable comfort and convenience in its occupation.
Examples of private nuisances abound. Nuisances that interfere with the physical condition of the land include vibration or blasting that damages a house; destruction of crops; raising of a water table; or the pollution of soil, a stream, or an underground water supply. Examples of nuisances interfering with the comfort, convenience, or health of an occupant are foul odors, noxious gases, smoke, dust, loud noises, excessive light, or high temperatures. Moreover, a nuisance may also disturb an occupant's mental tranquility, such as a neighbor who keeps a vicious dog, even though an injury is only threatened and has not actually occurred.
An attractive nuisance is a danger likely to lure children onto a person's land. For example, an individual who has a pool on his property has a legal obligation to take reasonable precautions, such as erecting a fence, to prevent foreseeable injury to children.
Trespass is sometimes confused with nuisance, but the two are distinct. A trespass action protects against an invasion of one's right to exclusive possession of land. If a landowner drops a tree across her neighbor's boundary line she has committed a trespass; if her dog barks all night keeping the neighbor awake, she may be liable for nuisance.
Legal Responsibility
A private nuisance is a tort, that is, a civil wrong. To determine accountability for an alleged nuisance, a court will examine three factors: the defendant's fault, whether there has been a substantial interference with the plaintiff's interest, and the reasonableness of the defendant's conduct.
Fault Fault means that the defendant intentionally, negligently, or recklessly interfered with the plaintiff's use and enjoyment of the land or that the defendant continued her conduct after learning of actual harm or substantial risk of future harm to the plaintiff's interest. For example, a defendant who continues to spray chemicals into the air after learning that they are blowing onto the plaintiff's land is deemed to be intending that result. Where it is alleged that a defendant has violated a statute, proving the elements of the statute will establish fault.
Substantial Interference The law is not intended to remedy trifles or redress petty annoyances. To establish liability under a nuisance theory, interference with the plaintiff's interest must be substantial. Determining substantial interference in cases where the physical condition of the property is affected will often be fairly straightforward. More challenging are those cases predicated on personal inconvenience, discomfort, or annoyance. To determine whether an interference is substantial, courts apply the standard of an ordinary member of the community with normal sensitivity and temperament. A plaintiff cannot, by putting his or her land to an unusually sensitive use, make a nuisance out of the defendant's conduct that would otherwise be relatively harmless.
Reasonableness of Defendant's Conduct If the interference with the plaintiff's interest is substantial, a determination must then be made that it is unreasonable for the plaintiff to bear it or to bear it without compensation. This is a Balancing process weighing the respective interests of both parties. The law recognizes that the activities of others must be accommodated to a certain extent, particularly in matters of industry, commerce, or trade. The nature and gravity of the harm is balanced against the burden of preventing the harm and the usefulness of the conduct.
The following are factors to be considered:
Extent and duration of the disturbance;
Nature of the harm;
Social value of the plaintiff's use of his or her property or other interest;
Burden to the plaintiff in preventing the harm;
Value of the defendant's conduct, in general and to the particular community;
Motivation of the defendant;
Feasibility of the defendant's mitigating or preventing the harm;
Locality and suitability of the uses of the land by both parties.
Zoning boards use these factors to enact restrictions of property uses in specific locations. In this way, zoning laws work to prohibit public nuisances and to maintain the quality of a neighborhood.
In an attempt to escape liability, a defendant may argue that legislation (such as zoning laws or licenses) authorizes a particular activity. Legislative authority will not excuse a defendant from liability if the conduct is unreasonable.
A defendant may not escape liability by arguing that others are also contributing to the harm; damages will be apportioned according to a defendant's share of the blame. Moreover, a defendant is liable even where his or her actions without the actions of others would not have constituted a nuisance.
Defendants sometimes argue that a plaintiff "came to a nuisance" by moving onto land next to an already operating source of interference. A new owner is entitled to the reasonable use and enjoyment of his or her land the same as anyone else, but the argument may be considered in determining the reasonableness of the defendant's conduct. It may also have an impact in determining damages because the purchase price may have reflected the existence of the nuisance.
Redress for nuisance is commonly monetary damages. An Injunction or abatement may also be proper under certain circumstances. An injunction orders a defendant to stop, remove, restrain, or restrict a nuisance or abandon plans for a threatened nuisance. In public nuisance cases, a fine or sentence may be imposed, in addition to abatement or injunctive relief.
Injunction is a drastic remedy, used only when damage or the threat of damage is irreparable and not satisfactorily compensable only by monetary damages. The court examines the economic hardships to the parties and the interest of the public in allowing the continuation of the enterprise.
A Self-Help remedy, abatement by the plaintiff, is available under limited circumstances. This privilege must be exercised within a reasonable time after learning of the nuisance and usually requires notice to the defendant and the defendant's failure to act. Reasonable force may be used to employ the abatement, and a plaintiff may be liable for unreasonable or unnecessary damages. For example, dead tree limbs extending dangerously over a neighbor's house may be removed by the neighbor in danger, after notifying the offending landowner of the nuisance. In cases where an immediate danger to health, property, or life exists, no notification is necessary.

Land-Use Control; Tort Law.
Sources=Sources 8388608;weal()
West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
nuisance n. the unreasonable, unwarranted and/or unlawful use of property, which causes inconvenience or damage to others, either to individuals and/or to the general public. Nuisances can include noxious smells, noise.... If a nuisance interferes with another person's quiet or peaceful or pleasant use of his/her property, it may be the basis for a lawsuit for damages and/or an injunction ordering the person or entity causing the nuisance to desist (stop) or limit the activity.
A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.How to thank TFD for its existence? Tell a friend about us, add a link to this page, add the site to iGoogle, or visit webmaster's page for free fun content.
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Monday, May 4, 2009

The mayor tells me that he is on the job. He and the po-po have spoken sternly to the hooligans. Problem is that they have not been able to collect evidence, therefore no arrests have been made.
My representative says it ain't his jurisdiction. Thhat leaves the Huffpo, the Washpo, the Right to Quiet Organisation, The Ggeorgetown Center for Social Justice, and the Noise Pollution Clearing House.

Yo, Homeland Security! Any interest in catching a bunch of noisy jocks? You can use them to torture enemy aliens. I will sell my house cheaply, if you need a torture center, the jocks can shatter the decibel meter, enemies will cave, I will get money. It is all good, no?

A town is only as good as its citizens. Restore the social contract!

Sometimes I feel compelled to speak truth to power although in my experience all i get out of it is the satisfaction of having spoken out. Today I sent this e-mail to the ombudsman of The Washington Post. What do you want to bet that I will get a response--a buck? I am not holding my breath. Big city media has bigger fish to fry. In fact, small town media is not frying this particular fish at all and I am afraid that citizen journalism has yet to register on the consciousness of town officials. Anyway, here it is is, such as it is. Wait--is that a Post reporter knocking on my door. This is not about me, mind you. This is about rich and poor, voiceless and vocal, town and gown, city and small town., This is is not Darfur, but it is, damn it, in its own way, universal.

"Dear Mr. Alexander,
The Post has given Shepherdstown much positive publicity in the past. I feel that it has played a role in attracting tourists to with its coverage of the Contemporary American Theater Festival and by painting an overall rosy picture of the community.
I wonder if you would consider calling your reporters' attention to the fact the Shepherdstown has a whole 'nother side that might be of interest to readers of your paper. I call your attention to the article about athletes in the current issue of Shepherd University's The Picket. University students' hooliganism and its effects on permanent residents of this community is just one of the ugly little truths yet to get any air time in Post. Add to that the drug trade,untrained, ill paid police force--Shepherdstown does not have 27/7 police coverage. response time is said to be thirty minutes minimum-- the push to gentrify neighbourhood to the exclusion of the elderly, the poor and racial minorities and these folks from the met area who see only the cute sight of our little Brigadoon might be better prepared to make an informed decision when they look for housing in our little Brigadoon. For example, due to unplanned growth, town residents will have to pay for a new water plant in the near future. The cost has to be absorbed not only by transplanted DC are DINKS but by residents living below the poverty level."
cc: Shepherd University President and Board of Governors, Mayor and Town Council, and our representative, at Charleston, WV. Gotta go. A bevy of pols is on a fact finding mission to find out if we actually have crime in the lusty little village. This, I gotta see.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pastel pansies interplanted with physocarpus ( ninebark) Diavolo and heuchera (coral bells) Plum Pudding.
Self-seeded White Czar viola serendipitously partners variegated vinca.

French Edith Cavell one of three white lilacs in my garden.


There are times when my garden makes up for every disappointment it has visited upon me throughout the years. This is one of them, thanks, mostly to a rampant Chinese wisteria planted twenty years ago along with cedar trees, vanilla scented Clematis montana, May Queen and New Dawn roses. The clematis and May Queen rose have perished and so have two cedar trees that were meant to frame the lily pool facing the rose arbor. The New Dawn rose and the remaining cedars seem to be tough enough to survive the wisterias suffocating embrace and on cool cloudy days their reflection on the dark water pleases the selective eye.
Mine is a nearly wild garden with no discernible design. Whatever I have tried to grow in this half acre where there were at first only wild cherry, maple and sugarberry trees, either dies a quick death or grows with such vigor I fear that someday visitors will have to hack a path to my door. Rosa fortuniana, found in a mandarin's garden by one of the first Englishmen to visit China, is not meant for West Virginia, according to the nurseryman from whom I bought it.
"It will not survive Zone 6 winters," he said.
He was mistaken. Fortuniana has grown steadily, clinging to a brick chimney to sprawl on the roof of my two-story house. I find its tenacity inspiring.