The angina monologues

Before you start sending me sympathy cards, let me state at the outset that the title of this post is intended as a joke, a play on words based on a current theatrical production, rather than a statement of my health. I’m fine, and today proved it.

The official first day of summer may be more than a month away yet, but we had ours today. At 5 p.m., it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the back porch in the shade. That’s where we keep the big thermometer to try to actually measure air temperature rather than reflections and so forth. For those of you on the “other” temperature scale, I think that’s nearly 27 degrees Celsius, which I hope you’ll agree is warm enough for anyone and too warm for some of us.

The new issue (May 5-11) of The Economist arrived with the mail just after noon, so I took part of the midday off to read their special report on cities, a topic near and dear to my heart. I love this British magazine. If I had to choose between it and The New Yorker, I’m not sure how I would choose. The NYer is generally more entertaining, but The Big E often talks about things that I really need to know about with a perspective somewhat wider than you usually get in the U.S., even on NPR.

Each issue they include a special report, generally just about 20 pages on some burning topic. This issue noted that sometime this year (if it hasn’t already happened), more than half the world’s population will have migrated to cities for the first time ever (I think I noted this fact in a previous blog post, but I have no idea where). This one was fascinating. And it’s happening so quickly. Bear in mind that by the mid-19th century, 95% of the world’s population still lived in a rural setting.

This issue explored migrant expectations, slums, developing-country issues, downtown city revitalization, suburbs and exurbs, and a host of things. If you can get your hands on a copy, do so. You will be wiser for doing so. One of the things I like best about this magazine is its ability to examine a host of claims critically without taking a noticeably biased position.

I completed an M.F.A. program in writing last year, and I wrote my critical essay on Italo Calvino’s wonderful book Invisible Cities. Sandwiched between a series of imagined dialogues between Marco Polo and the Kubla Khan are Polo’s descriptions of the places he has seen on his travels.

The book is a bit surreal, but it sneaks up on you with a big dope slap along side the head when you realize what’s going on. After a first reading I immediately added Calvino to my list of authors I would give at least part of my teeth to be able to sit down and talk with. Unfortunately, to date they are all dead, so this is more difficult.

But I digress (aren’t you surprised?).

Near the end of the book, the text refers to an atlas that the Khan owns that shows not only all the cities that are but all of the cities that will be. Khan notes rather despondently that new cities will continue to form until the whole world looks like–are you ready?–Los Angeles. This is one of the possibilities that The Economist explores.

By the end of this century, the world’s rural population, including all of those folks who grow the food the rest of us eat, is estimated to be at something like 20% of the total. I’m not sure I would like this world very much.

In other areas, and somewhat responsible for the title of this post, is how I spent today.

I had a rather leisurely but active morning digging up hundreds of bulbs in back of the house that have naturalized themselves over a couple of decades and were frankly choking each other out. I have a good home elsewhere for about 10% of them. The rest will have to be replanted. . .

I watered the garden.

Then I took that long midday break to read the report on cities.

Then I looked at the temperature on the back porch and said, “Oh, no! My seedlings!”

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been sneaking seeds into the garden a few at a time. This is in addition to some bedding plants and to the vegetable starts I described yesterday. One of the things seeds really hate is to dry out while they’re sprouting. Mortality rates skyrocket.

I watered them this morning and complained to Ben that there wasn’t much water pressure in the garden system. So he went up the hill and cleaned the spring out, returning drenched in sweat (this little trip is about a quarter of a mile, mostly straight up, climbing over fallen trees and the like. Lots of pressure.

But when I saw the temperature approaching 80 degrees, I knew my wimp little morning watering was not going to suffice. The cauliflower and lettuce looked forlorn; the seed rows were borderline; the fruit trees and bushes were forming crops and needed lots of moisture.

I got there in time, I know, and after a cooler evening things will look better tomorrow. Heck, I will look better tomorrow. The only reason I’m still vertical is that my wonderful guy showed up halfway through this process with a huge glass of icewater and a hug. Both were revitalizing.

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7 Responses to “The angina monologues”

  1. ombudsben Says:

    Yes, it’s hot down here, too. In fact, it has knocked me witless — but that’s my own blogging fog. (When the fog returns hopefully so will clarity; go figure.)

    Glad to hear you’re taking care of the plants. Keep the little guys going! Yes, I have to switch gears here, too, and begin hitting the garden with a bit more water.

  2. wanderings Says:

    Love the Economist and the NYer. Agree it would be hard to choose one. I admire you for the amount of good reading you do! I might have to break down and spend some $$ to keep up with your fantastic habit – or better yet, break down and make library visits a habit. O jeez, if only time would permit it… 😦 OR if you keep writing about what you read, I can merely keep reading you! There we go! That’s a habit I can keep!

  3. mklekacz Says:

    Well, Ben, it’s cooled down a bit today, and in fact the fog is rolling in as I write. But it was a good wakeup call to get the water system up to snuff again, and the fruit trees loved both the heat and the soaking they got. Now if I can just keep the wild pigeons out of them, I might get some cherries and plums.

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Annie, one of the real plusses of not leaping out of bed to rush to the office is actually finding time to read. I have a rather eclectic subscription list. In the winter it’s fine, but this time of year there’s so much to do it’s hard to keep up with my reading and writing.

    One of the minuses is that I miss our Friday morning conversations. Hope the IBA is still going strong.

  5. Barbara Says:

    It’s been awfully warm here, too. The high where I live was 95 F today, which must be some kind of record. I’ve had enough of the beginning of summer. I want to go back and finish spring. My dog at one point insisted on going outside, and I had the impression he was certain it would be cooler out there, that we were just being a little nutty refusing to open windows. He returned to the back door, panting. We didn’t have the AC on, just good insulation, thank goodness. But it was up to 83 F indoors.

    I don’t do heat well.

    Good weather to sit still and read.

  6. mklekacz Says:

    Barbara, I’m with you. Anything a lot over 65 degrees Fahrenheit is on my list of days not worth repeating.

  7. Sanjay Says:

    enjoy a laugh at jokerpark

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