cuc’s and gas prices

It’s getting kind of interesting watching the reaction to ever increasing gas prices and now, rising food prices. I listened to one interview on TV where the person being interviewed was near hysterics and said that she was now having to restrict her grocery shopping to once a week, shopping for the entire week instead of going every day. Another was out of sorts because her kid had to ride the school bus instead of driving her to school every day. Wow, now these are some serious hardships. And having to stay home instead of traveling? Then they show the house – a typical McMansion with a nice pool and yard. Not sure why you’d want to leave it anyway. Or the guy who put up a tent on his lawn so he could still enjoy a night outdoors.

My favorite so far happened yesterday. Nancy was shopping in Publix and I was sitting in the car reading. Publix often hires handicapped people, including mentally challenged people. A great policy I think. I saw this fellow who was probably in his 40’s working the parking lot helping customers unload carts. He came over to help a lady in the car parked next to me and I could hear the conversation as they approached the car. Clearly he was mentally challenged and sounded like someone about 10 years old. He was relating a story about helping another customer who was complaining that she had just paid $4.35 for diesel fuel. The fellow said he really felt sorry for her until they rolled the cart up to a super size Mercedes Benz. He said in such a clear voice – I quit feeling sorry for her when I saw what she was driving. He might be mentally challenged but ……………..

There are some definite plusses from these high prices. Traffic is moving slower on the interstates, particularly those monster 18 wheelers. In the past you were taking your life in your hand if you set the cruise control at the speed limit. Now the traffic just seems to move at that speed except for the occasional jerk. And at the risk of offending some, back in the 60’s and 70’s, flying was an enjoyable experience. It was almost all business travel and the flights were quiet, not jammed, and the stews were friendly and helpful. Of course it was expensive so you just didn’t have the big families, crying, sick kids, and the seats were not jammed together with no knee room. That changed with deregulation and the introduction of low cost airlines. The general public started flying and the whole industry moved to the lowest common denominator – the cattle cars. High fuel prices seem to be reversing these trends. The super low cost guys are being forced out of business and the big guys are cutting capacity. I predict that before too long, we’ll be back to earlier times when most of the travelers were business people and flying was a great experience. And more worker bees will be forced onto mass transit and into carpooling. Why is that good? It will mean that people will have to pay attention to normal working hours and distribute their time more evenly between home and work. It will probably eliminate some of the marginal workers who find it’s more expensive to work than the paycheck justifies. I see that as adding more strength to the family than putting more money into the equation. A return to the 50’s. And way downstream, the current generation will relearn that you can raise a family very nicely, very happily in a 1200-1500 SF home.

So excuse me if the high gas prices don’t give me all that much heartburn. I know quite well that the Europeans have learned to live with expensive energy for 50 years and I have no doubts that we’ll all learn to adjust too. Just a matter of adjusting some priorities and making some life style changes – many of which will be for the better.

Another garden victory. George told me unconditionally that we couldn’t grow green peppers. He had tried and tried and the nematodes would just kill them. On the other hand Nancy was pressuring me to grow peppers because they were so expensive and she uses quite a few. I never had much trouble growing them in Utah so decided to give it a try. I bought half a dozen different varieties and did my usual stagger planting – different times, different locations – to see if I could get something to work. In fact, I planted maybe 5 times as many pepper plants as I would have normally – assuming that if I play a numbers game, I could find something that worked and get enough to quiet Nancy. Not a problem. Suffice it to say that we do have some peppers. Many, many peppers; many many different varieties. Barbara is pickling them; Nancy is making peppered this that and the other thing. Perhaps a nematode or two wouldn’t be all that bad.

The picture is one of the larger cucumbers. This one weighs maybe 3 pounds. The interesting thing is that with this particular variety, even at this size they are great eating. Of course you can only eat so many. Nancy’s bridge club, her quilting group, and all our neighbors are feasting on cucumbers and they just keep coming.

Update – I mentioned earlier that we were close to eating a new variety called Malabar spinach. It’s a vine that’s now taller than 6′ and continuing higher. I just picked a nice load of leaves for Nancy to convert into a big spinach salad today. Very good

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