Paddock Lake in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, seen from patio.

May 25, 2024: Paddock Lake in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, seen from my sister’s patio.

Another Week: Number 74

by | May 26, 2024

For four months now, I have felt like I’m putting things back in order after a tornado. Sure, forty-two years are gone forever — but summer is almost here and there are those two ceramic flower pots in the basement and maybe if I get a couple of New Guinea Impatiens and some Lobelia, my front step will look more civilized.

It’s not as if no one is paying attention. A day after my purchase, Home Depot sent an email asking me to write a review of the bag of potting mix I bought. Maybe I’ll give it some time and see whether the plants live.

Time itself is the puzzle I’m grappling with. I remember Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse-Five and their ability to engage with the whole expanse of time instead of just the present moment. As an earthling, I can’t imagine how that would work. I can only engage with the present and perhaps make theoretical plans for my future — which, in the words of the late Tom Petty, is wide open.

Lawn and garden chores at this time of year are a virtual wrestling match with time. Choices and actions taken over just a few days will determine things for the rest of the growing season. To complicate matters, we have had an especially wet spring, so the grass grows fast and you must seize opportunities to avoid wet mowing and digging in mud. I don’t know how people who don’t work from home can do it.

On Thursday, I planted the Yukon Belle® Pyracantha that had been under consideration for years, ordered a month ago, and picked up at Mileager’s on Tuesday. To give it room and sunlight, I started disassembling a ratty old lilac in the corner of my yard. Eventually, on the damp and sloping ground, I toppled the aluminum ladder I was standing on to trim branches. I was surprisingly unhurt, but the ladder was bent beyond repair and will go to the curb for scrap pickers.

On Friday, I ordered two calendars — one for the hall wall at my back door, and the other for my office.

The back hall spot always held a calendar annually gifted to Amy at Christmas by her sister Karen, and my eyes have been disappointed this year by that empty space. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Gardening Calendar I ordered from Amazon is not a perfect replacement, but it will do for six months.

Upstairs, I have gradually been decluttering and moving back into my office in the small third bedroom. It also lacks a serious wall calendar, so I ordered one to remedy that.

Will I go full Seinfeld on it?  I don’t think so — but just having it there might add some rudder.

This week I walked zero miles.


The Washington Post subscription offer

When newspapers started moving onto the internet, I figured it would be a win for everyone. In the past, newspapers had to be printed on paper in enormous printing plants, then trucked around to delivery teams, coin boxes, and retail outlets all over the place at huge expense. Then people would pay a quarter or 50 cents to read a copy, with much more revenue coming through advertising included in the newspaper.

Seemingly, internet publishing would eliminate all of those physical distribution costs and improve advertising efficiency, so we could read the news for free and the publications could still make plenty of money.

That’s not how it worked out.

Instead, we now have paywalls and subscriptions and clickbait and ads popping up in front of everything you try to read. News on the internet is a mess.

Since quitting Twitter and Facebook, almost all of my phone scrolling is confined to the Google News app on my iPhone. It’s way too crashy and reading individual articles is further messed up by Google’s godawful AMP technology, but at least I get a general sampling of the news without subscription fees — some of it blocked by paywalls.

Scrolling on Wednesday, I noticed a Washington Post story headlined “Washington Post announces new subscription plans in bid to boost revenue.” The subheadline noted that “The company has lost $77 million over the past year.”

Of course, the story itself was paywalled, so I couldn’t read it — but the subscription popup advertised a price of 99 cents every four weeks for a year.

I don’t usually like trial periods because they end — but this was 99 cents every four weeks for a year.


So now I read The Washington Post daily on my iPhone or my Kindle. Both apps offer a smooth reading experience without all the crashing and popup craziness.



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