R*E*S*P*E*C*T

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Remember the Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin song? Remember Rodney Dangerfield? Like the song and the actor, respect can engender pathos and comedy. But respect for others has the potential to solve a lot of ‘human condition’ problems.

Giving (and getting) respect allows folks to hold onto their dignity. It’s a precursor to empathy. It creates a barrier against all the inhumane things people do to other people.

Last week, I did something again that I early-on promised to never do. I responded to a post from one of my Face Book friends who asked the simple question: what do you want? I replied that I wanted people to learn to treat other people with respect. And inevitably, someone added a comment, saying that as long as single moms received subsidies, children wouldn’t learn respect.

Huh?

For starters, I believe that sweeping generalizations – statements that characterize all members of a certain group – lack respect. Respect, like trust, is about individuals. Respect means that people can see the individual as potentially different from the group they belong to. Stereotypes occur all along the slippery slope of contempt.

And why single moms? Last time I looked, about 25 percent of the children in this country are being raised in single parent families. And how does receiving a subsidy reduce the possibility of learning respect for others?

In the nicest way possible and with respect, I tried to argue.

Nope. He wasn’t having any.

Back in the late 1980’s, John Lee published a book called “The Flying Boy.” My take-away from that book was the impossibility of having an intimate relationship without mutual respect. Minus respect, love turns to dislike or hate and then, finally, indifference. Like the song says: “Respect [me] When you come home, Or you might walk in, And find out I’m gone.”

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life? Escape the field. Walk away. Avoid pointless conflict.

So with respect, maybe my 2016 New Year’s Resolution needs to be: Avoid making possibly contentious comments on Face Book. And it looks like even the most vanilla comment will elicit a ‘nay’ from someone out there. Maybe I’ll give up Face Book for Lent…

Looking Back, Moving Forward

What a busy fall it has been, beginning with the run-up to the Miami County garden tour and culminating in garden and home fall clean-up. I planned to begin this Blog with a statement like: “Where did September go?” But in point of fact, where is October going? Today, November is just one week and two days away!

So. Garden catch-up. Here is glimpse at my fall garden, consisting of Sedum Autumn Joy and ‘Profusion’ zinnias bought at a Summer Solstice Sale.

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Melons and big tomatoes did not do well this year. We picked each melon when all the indicators said ‘ripe’ but ended up with green nastiness. Tomatoes just rotted on the vine without ever ripening. That is, except for the grape tomatoes, which were plump and tasty!

And a new experiment for next year – row covers or, as they say in the horticulture biz, low tunnels. Metal piping hand-made at low (okay, lower) cost by my clever Jim. To be covered by 10 x 25 foot spun polypropylene covers that arrived Monday, compliments of Amazon. I plan to try and extend the lettuce season and plant spinach and beets for spring.

Will it work? That remains to be seen. I had high hopes last year for my cover crop experiment. It failed, I believe, due to our unusually wet spring, making a swamp in our garden plot, which led us to add more raised beds.

The row covers will work best if we have a mild winter so, of course, I anticipate temperatures running below zero Fahrenheit on a regular basis.

And that – meaning my pessimistic outlook – brings me to the title of this Blog.

Facing retirement in 2013, I decided to write a gardening Blog because first, I planned to do a lot of gardening and second, I really knew very little about it. At the time, I thought this would be a splendid way to learn how to garden while keeping my writing hand in practice.

As time went on, I found that telling stories about gardening was more rewarding for me as a writer – and I hope for you as a reader – than adding to the amazing number of how-to articles on the web. Looking for how-to? Look no further than your local extension office or do a web search of the extension .edu (university) sites. You’ll get great, research-based information.

Then, as these things go, serendipity took a hand. In 2002 I began writing daily ‘tips’ for clients of a former employer. I had a great time writing them – ten years’ worth! When I announced my retirement, my employer switched to a tip writing service. But suddenly, it seems, they are recycling my old tips.

Since I hadn’t discontinued the service, I had a chance to reread my own tips. It reminded me of all the things I could be writing about. So here’s another experiment – one outside the garden.

I’ll still write about gardening and sometimes about food. In addition, I also plan to write about some other things, issues that touch me day to day and make me think.

Now that my garden is winter-ready and my house organized, I promise to write more faithfully. My hope is that you will continue to read and react!