Disposable Culture and Winter Gardening

Trish and I drove up to Redding today. We went to pick up a truck load of leftover building supplies from a company that recently went out of business. The stuff we collected was what remained after the bank auctioned off everything of what I guess they thought of as “value.” There was another couple up there loading a trailer with metal shelves and metal wings from large display units. They planned to take one load; then return with a larger truck and a crew to take everything left. This was nice, because anything that wasn’t taken would simply be tossed into dumpsters and eventually shuttled off to and dumped in the ever-growing landfills.

It is amazing what was going to be dumped; amazing what the bank considered “of no value.” Their only interest, at this point, was to have the space cleaned and cleared so that they could quickly get it sold. I get this, numerically, but the fact that the mortgage or rent is so impressive that it dwarves the thousands of dollars of material being sacrificed for expediency make me agree with the guy who insists that the rent is too damn high.

Space is space, resources are resources. You need both, of course, but space isn’t going anywhere, while resources are dwindling. An economy that allows, or really is based upon, resources being used briefly before being tossed into dumps, strikes me as a system that has a few bad formulas embedded in it somewhere. I should mention though that I am not an economist.

Classic Crime 

I’ve been plowing through Jim Thompson novels. Over the past couple weeks I’ve read The Kill Off, Savage Night, South of Heaven, and now I’m almost through The Alcoholics. Thompson is probably my favorite author; his stripped down, hard-boiled stories of crime and corruption take place in an environment of complete moral decay and ethical ambiguity. His characters are brainless brutes, oversexed hussies, dope fiends, hit men, and violent gangsters. His stories alternate between dark, harrowing and hopeless, too deeply disturbing and strangely humorous. I love his books, but honestly, I think four in a row is probably enough, maybe too many.

Quinoa, the Winter Garden, Death or Glory 

I sowed quinoa seed into a small area in the vegetable patch, and I’m planning on preparing and seeding a much larger area over the course of the next couple weeks. This is sort of an experiment. Quinoa originated in the Andes, in South America, and so prefers a high elevation, cold climate. Here in the United States it reportedly does really well in the mountains of Colorado. I planted quinoa last year in January and the plants matured in the late spring, before the high heat of summer could beat them down. The seed I am sowing this year came from last year’s crop. I haven’t eaten any of it yet.

We have been harvesting lettuce, kale, mustard greens and big black Spanish radishes from the garden. The excavation and construction of the Death or Glory is moving up the priority list and I swear there is a window of time coming up here somewhere.

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.