June 2018
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Stephanie C. Fox

Goodreads

Iris Blossoms, Peonies, and Global Footprint Calculations.

Sometime last week, I received an e-mail from the Global Footprint Network that said that this year, Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 1st.

Global Footprint Network

It gets earlier every year.

Next year, we’ll have it in July. Yay, humans, for depleting a year’s worth of the Earth’s resources earlier and earlier each year.

I try to relax when I think of such things – and I insist upon thinking of such things daily – by enjoying my garden.

May and June are the best times of the year for flowers, in my opinion, because my favorite colors and flowers bloom then.

That means iris blossoms, peonies, and other wonderful pastels of pinks, blues, and lavenders.

I have my usual sign up for the insecticide demon, telling him not to poison the place. I want the bees to visit!

The sign and the e-mails I send out to the condominium association’s management company seem to work, but I wish there were no insecticide service at all, because bees forage over an area of roughly 4 square miles. That’s plenty of room to get nerve damage from neonicotinoids sprayed nearby.

What a cheerful thought.

But, I can’t help it. I researched all this and wrote about in The Bear Guarding the Beehive, which included 3 bee field trips with my camera. The last one was to the Connecticut Apiary Inspector.

It’s a good thing I did that, because a few years ago, the Connecticut Apiary Inspector was almost cut from Connecticut’s state budget. Fortunately, I had this book ready, complete with the law, science, and politics of bees and their problems and benefits to humans and to the ecosystem ready. I gave a copy to the governor and pointed it out to legislators. I also pointed out that I had published a Letter to the Editor in The Hartford Courant, entitled State Bee Inspector Crucial, had written a blog post about this, and the Connecticut Beekeeping Association had a petition to keep the inspector on the budget. In the end, he was put back on the budget…with more pay. That felt good.

Back to the garden while it’s at its most beautiful…

The Victoria Falls Blue iris plant was the first one I put in the garden, several years ago. I buy forced bulbs at the local plant nurseries, dig a hole, put the contents in carefully, and add water.

This method seems to work well.

The pink irises are Beverly Sills ones, according to the notice that came with them. The lavender-to-purple bearded ones – and I always get bearded ones, because of the scent – have no name.

The pink granite bird bath came from Cape Cod, as a lovely surprise from my parents. It’s an abstract heart shape, and I keep a large pink rock in it for the bees to sit on as they drink the water.

It has to be scrubbed out every few days – algae grows, and it accumulates dirt – so I keep an old kitchen scrub brush outside by the hose.

There is also a hummingbird feeder and a birdseed feeder, which has been visited by a red-breasted grosbeak. We call the bird-feeders and windows Cat TV.

That’s the Phantom Menace on the left and Ms. Chief Cherie on the right – in each image.

They love to watch the birds.

They also have to control themselves to some extent – no leaping at the glass! Birds are, after all, little dinosaurs, and they react to movement of any kind.

Just remember Jurassic Park!

The dinosaurs, with the exception of birds, which are the smallest of that species, went extinct when an asteroid hit the Earth.

It wasn’t their fault.

What we humans are doing to our planet, however, is very much our fault.

We use too much plastic. I harangued and harassed my mother and uncle yesterday at a town fair when we bought our lunches to NOT get any straws.

There is a now-infamous video in which a marine veterinarian pulls, with great difficulty, a plastic straw out of a sea turtle’s nostril.

 

There is blood and the turtle is in obvious pain. Straws don’t just go “away” in the recycle bins. They also get washed into the ecosystem and out to sea…and go up the noses of wildlife.

 

I would love to have my family try out the Global Footprint Calculator, just to see what they make of it. I think I will suggest it…why not? Done – I paused while writing this to send it.

Footprint Calculator

I’ll have to wait a while for that. Back to the garden again…

The pastel pinks and blues grew in fabulous clusters, while across the path from them, well under half their height, grows a lavender-hued Dutch iris with variegated leaves.

They all have different scents, all sweet, but the Dutch iris is the sweetest, like fruit punch.

The lighter the hue of a flower, the more intense its scent is.

All this reminds me of the narrator of my Nae-Nee series, Avril. She revels in her garden, and has great fun planning more and more elaborate and eco-friendly systems for it.

The Global Footprint Network is mentioned in these 3 dystopian novels, as are the videos and links shown in this blog post.

The books include pet cats because, well, why not? They are: Spock, the gray Chartreux; Eowyn, the tortie-shelter cat; and Mallory, the British shorthair who is white with black tiger-stripes.

They look out the windows at birds and other wildlife, fascinated but forbidden to go outside.

We had another cat who enjoyed all this, named Scheherazade. We kept her indoors, too.

She was a Kuwaiti calico, and the softest cat I ever petted.

I wrote the story of how she was found and adopted: Scheherazade Cat – The Story of a War Hero.

There is one more story to tell about her, so stay tuned for it.

Meanwhile, my mind keeps returning to bad news.

Trump is bad for the ecosystem, bad for human overpopulation, and bad for the pursuit of any kind of happiness. So is Pence. Well…they have demonstrated their contempt for the U.S. Constitution and for the principles that the Founders of our nation valued – repeatedly.

By all means, annoy Pence by donating to Planned Parenthood and to the National Abortion Rights Action League in his name.

Here is the latest insult to women and to the ecosystem perpetrated by the Trump administration:

Trump’s new Title X plan requires ineffective birth control most women don’t want

This is exactly the point that Avril makes to a forced-birther, anti-abortion gynecologist early on in the Nae-Nee series: that people like to have sex, that many have absolutely no interest in abstinence, and that it is unrealistic to expect anyone to rely on any method that doesn’t guarantee both the ability to have sex AND to not get pregnant while doing so.

But it is common knowledge that Pence is delusional and illogical, and that Trump is a hypocrite who just doesn’t care about the people he took an oath to serve.

Here is a better birth control method than abstinence: tube-tying!

It just doesn’t seem right to reproduce without putting a lot of very deliberate thought into the matter – thought about whether or not the offspring will have ENOUGH of everything:

  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables;
  2. Shelter that includes personal and private space;
  3. Clean air and clean water;
  4. An excellent education;
  5. Interesting and meaningful work.

Without that, reproduction is selfish. Life on any and all terms, regardless of how miserable – is an imposition and unreasonable.

I was used to the concept that politicians are liars, but Trump and Pence – and Mitch McConnell – are beyond that.

I have met and appreciated the sort of politicians who are at least willing to try to help their people, and who accept that they may have to lie a little and compromise a little in order to get the big picture into focus for their people. Those politicians are still in office, and trying to pass laws that protect the ecosystem and maintain women’s reproductive rights – and keep them passed.

They aren’t enough, but I’m glad they’re still out there, not giving up.

I keep interspersing this post with politics and flowers rather than writing exclusively about just flowers, and I make no apology for that.

Last year, when I posted about the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in Hartford, Connecticut, I did so to achieve the same break from the aggravation that is our political mess.

Some tedious person remarked that it was “a shame” that I had to get political.

No, it wasn’t. I meant to get political. I will never not get political! We should not simply relax and enjoy whatever it is that we enjoy without caring about the world.

It’s nice to have the encouragement in mind of Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., the author of The Population Bomb, who wrote to me, “Fight on!”, but I would do so anyway!

Back to the garden – it’s just that inviting that I want to focus on it again and again at this time of year.

The peonies are spectacular, and the pastel pink ones have the most delicious scent.

People are suggesting that I make perfume out of them, eat them in salads, decorate cakes with them, and so on. Somewhere near me is an artisan vodka maker who infuses their product with peonies, which sounds wonderful…and I don’t even drink hard liquor! It’s just the idea of such pretty bottles and the thought that the alcohol might have a floral scent that attracts me.

As with any garden, some blossoms snap over, as I call it, meaning that the stems get heavy with their blossoms and the weight causes them to fall sharply downward, making a crease in the stem. At that point, I cut them neatly and enjoy them indoors in a vase or a glass of water.

This is our peony harvest – our involuntary peony harvest – on top of the refrigerator. Why? The cats won’t leave it alone…especially the Phantom Menace.

Every so often, I look with morbid fascination, just as my character Avril does, at the Worldometers page:

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

As of today, there are 7,628,211,315 humans in existence.

The Earth’s carrying capacity for humans is approximately half a billion.

No wonder we’re in overshoot!

A look at this general number doesn’t satisfy me, however.

I always click on the link that shows how many people live in each country:

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

The next thing I do is I look at the total populations of random nations, comparing the numbers and thinking about why they have those particular totals.

China: 1,415,045,928

India: 1,354,051,854

United States: 326,766,748

Indonesia: 266,794,980

Bangladesh: 166,368,149

Russia: 143,964,709

Canada: 36,953,765

France: 65,233,271

Britain: 66,573,504

Nepal: 29,624,035

Saudi Arabia: 33,554,343

Kuwait: 4,197,128

Oman: 4,829,946

Japan: 127,185,332

Philippines: 106,512,074

Egypt: 99,375,741

Chile: 18,197,209

Guatemala: 17,245,346

Belgium: 11,498,519

Netherlands: 17,084,459

Switzerland: 8,544,034

Denmark: 5,754,356

Israel: 8,452,841

Palestine: 5,052,766

Malta: 432,089

Faeroe Islands: 49,489

Monaco: 38,987

Nauru: 11,312

Vatican: 801

Also, keep in mind that these numbers (with the exception of the Vatican) keep increasing with more births as you read this. There aren’t enough deaths to balance that out.

Meanwhile, the Vatican, with citizens who don’t reproduce, pushes the rest of us to do so. Of course, religion is rarely about logic…I want logic!

I want personal space, quiet, a healthy ecosystem, and control over my own body and future.

I won’t eat or drink poison deliberately, and I will check food labels. I just checked some for my aunt – a green tea that did not check out. It has aspartame for a sweetener, which is a carcinogen.

She won’t be buying or drinking any of that, nor shall I. She will brew green tea from a bag and add natural sweeteners, and chill it in her refrigerator.

Staying healthy means a bit more thought and work, but it’s worth it, and it’s better to do that and move around one’s kitchen (every step is activity/exercise), and to spend time on that rather than watching reality shows and wasting time.

There are so many fascinating books and documentaries to read and watch that I wonder how anyone can be satisfied with anything less.

And then there are gardens and nature…

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