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Saturday, March 01, 2014

BlueBerries By Candlelight

Following the forty-five minutes I spent tonight in my backyard, hacking away at the ground with a hoe and a trowel, I have much more human sympathy for the "resurrection men" of the nineteenth century.  And I wasn't trying to exhume a deeply-buried bloated corpse, but shallowly plant the blueberry bushes I dug up from Grandmommy's yard and the farm this morning (I didn't want the roots to dry out, and they were too awkwardly shaped to stick in a bucket of water overnight).  There was no one to hold a flashlight for me, so I lit a plateful of pillar candles and set them next to the space I was trying to dig.  You can't angle a candle to focus down, and so I was constantly fumbling to see if I'd gotten the holes deep enough, without hitting any sprinkler-system pipes.  Candles are also dazzling--you look at them, and you can't see anything in the darkness around you.  I ended up holding a flashlight under my chin like a violin while I dug. I got three bushes into the ground and the ones with more regular roots into two large pots on my patio.  I hope I got multiple varieties--I won't be able to tell until they develop leaves and (hopefully) berries.

Grandmommy pasted me twice at Scrabble last night and this morning--by a margin of 69 points and 73 points, respectively.  I was not trying to throw the games--I just got lousy letters (J & Z on the first turn, and then no vowels for two turns; four "I"s), and she kept chipperly remarking, "Why, I didn't know that was going to get that many points!" as she played one multiple-scoring five-letter word after another.  Last night she broke 300, and she came close this morning.  I won the middle game of three...by one point.

Speaking of being overrun, and the nineteenth century, it looks like we might have Crimean War 2.0 on our hands.  One has got to admire, technically, the ongoing Russian "good cop/bad cop" routine in the shape of Medvedev/Putin, but wonder how this "police action" is going to resolve itself, in terms of the independence of Ukraine both as a whole and in part.  From a geographic point of view, a ground war against entrenched Russian troops could be a challenge--those steep cliffs on the southeast and the bowl-shaped Sevastopol harbor are just a couple of challenges.  Remember "The Charge of the Light Brigade"?  The cannons to the left, right and front of the legendary doomed six hundred were firing during the Battle of Balaclava (just gave my nephew one of the namesake headcoverings for his birthday!), and though that charge did achieve at least one of its objectives, and the imperial Russians ended up losing the multinational conflict as a whole, it wasn't exactly a "win" for the nominal victors, who suffered huge casualties and significant political repercussions at home.  Which is not to say that the Ukrainians might not benefit from outside military assistance--from whom, and in what context, is of course, an essential question.  I just can't see Russia giving up its Black Sea fleet now, as it was made to do 160+ years ago.

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