Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Eye Collector

The freezing weather has arrived. It's supposedly 30º F out there now, though I haven't been outside yet so I can't vouch for that. I don't see any snow -- I think that's supposed to come tomorrow.

I went out last night and covered Dave's Chinese banana tree (which is supposedly frost hardy) and the fig tree with fabric cloches, just to give them a little extra protection. I think the leaves of the banana will probably freeze no matter what, but it should come out again in the spring.

This banana is a new experiment -- Dave bought it late last year so we haven't overwintered it before. Its pot is too big to move so there's no bringing it inside. But it's on the patio -- as is the fig -- so it should stay a bit warmer, being in a paved environment and close to the house.

Today I have to lead my first focus group to discuss possible revisions to our school mission statement. Should be fun!

Meanwhile I'm wrestling with "Brexit Blues." The news is all Brexit, all the time, and it's getting me down. The arguing and posturing and endless negotiations -- the government is literally consumed by it at the moment -- and I keep thinking, "For what?!" Why is Britain doing this, endangering our economy and peace in Northern Ireland? What is to be gained, beyond some vague idea of reclaiming sovereignty?

The notion of returning to a previous state of greatness is very seductive but dangerous in politics. And it's impossible. The previous state of greatness -- whether it's the British Empire or post-War industrialized Britain or "Leave it to Beaver" America, to the extent that it ever existed at all -- was dependent on a global political and economic climate that has passed us by, and that largely ignored or exploited many of our own citizens in both countries. Voters who want to go backwards are deluding themselves and, I'm convinced, are more focused on reclaiming an earlier cultural and racial status quo than anything else. What is it that we want back again, exactly?

I wish we could look forward with as much enthusiasm, finding ways to preserve the values we cherish while still embracing an inevitably more integrated, globalized world.

(Photos: A blanket hanging from a balcony in Cricklewood, at the side of an optician's office -- hence the "eye collector" graffiti.)


gz said...

Wrapping the banana tree should work..I have friends in North Eastern USA who wrap theirs in sacking every Winter
Brexit...will be a mess whatever happens, even if by a miracle we stay in

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I wish "The Eye Collector" would collect the eyes of the Tory Brexiteers who led us into this unholy mess. Afterwards, he could take his eye buckets to London Zoo and feed their wobbly contents to the penguins.

Alphie Soup said...

When I read the title I was alarmed and thought your collecting of the strange and unusual had veered off into the grotesque and horrible.
Not so. What a relief!
As for the Brexit questions, you're asking the wrong people.You should address your questions in the first instance to the former PM, David Cameron, who set this debacle on motion. And then move on to the remaining members of his party. They're the people who should have the answers.
I'll not move into the speculative territory of the British psyche. It's a tangled web.


Vivian Swift said...

We're even getting Brexit news here in the US, too, and we NEVER bother with international events. It is totally nuts. To be fair, though, there was a referendum on it and the majority voted for it, so it's all self-inflicted, unlike our debacle with Trump, who "won" the presidency even though he lost the fair vote. To live in a country that is going crazy is very stressful.

Ms. Moon said...

I listened to a podcast yesterday that had the most interesting guest. The podcast was Armchair Expert and the guest was a man named Bret Weinstein. He is a biologist and evolutionary theorist and he had some fascinating takes on life and culture and society. One of the things he talked about was how the American Constitution absolutely needs a complete overhaul. It's just not relevant to today's world and that it's used as a religious document now. He spoke of how we have to quit this pendulum swinging between drastically different attitudes in our governments and find a way to actually deal with problems in an active rather than reactive way. (I am rephrasing like crazy.) But it was time well spent, listening to him.
And I agree- seems like the entire world is on this crazy train right now and we aren't really addressing the problems we face.
Ah well.
I love that blanket. It's so tropical. And speaking of which- my bananas freeze every year. I cut them back and they grow again. I bet yours will be fine. We were supposed to get a hard freeze last night but the chicken water doesn't even have ice on top so maybe not.

ellen abbott said...

banana trees in the ground are hardy and will come back if they freeze as will fig trees. since yours is in a pot it has less protection. the proper way to cover a plant in the ground and I assume in a pot if it can't be brought inside is to water it first then cover it (I use a sheet or cheap blanket first and then plastic and make sure the covering goes all the way to the ground all the way around and anchor it down, essentially making a tent so that the warmer air can't escape. just covering the foliage won't protect it from freezing.

as for these nationalist movements, probably a last gasp before complete globalization. either that or we are just a failed species that just hasn't died from our stupidity yet.

Sharon said...

We are hearing a lot of Brexit news here too! In fact, they spent quite a bit of time on the subject on last night's PBS News Hour. I'm with you....let's march forward and work together to solve some problems instead of blaming others and wishing for the past.

Red said...

How many years will it take to resolve this issue? 10?, 20? What will be left? Certainly not the old days!

Allison said...

I've been waiting for "Make Britain Great Again" hats on the Brexiters. For the life of me I don't understand what makes people do what they do on any given day.

Catalyst said...

Brexit where you live; tyrants in Venezuela, Russia and the Philippines; Trump and his mob cohortsd in the U.S.A. Doesn't really say much for the first part of the 21st Century.

Catalyst said...

(make that "cohorts")

robin andrea said...

There's hardly a place of peace anywhere these days. Although I do have a friend who has been posting photos from Costa Rica and it looks quite fine. I've read that they're even environmentally sane there. I worry about our planet, I really do. These are very strange times indeed.

The Bug said...

Mike is VERY depressed about where humanity is headed as a species. All he can see is fire and destruction. I hope he's wrong, but recent events aren't really making me optimistic about it...

Sabine said...

If the temperatures are dropping any further, I recommend you also make sure the pot is well warpped and try to move it onto a bit of felt or any old thick blanket/coat/sweater/cardboard saucer kind of thing to protect the roots inside the pot.

jenny_o said...

Eye collector? I don't think MY eye doc does that!! (At least I hope he doesn't.)

I thought that one of the driving forces behind Britain's push to leave the EU was that the leadership of the EU was not responsive at all to some countries' issues and there was no way in the foreseeable future that that was going to change. Plus the number of immigrants flooding in around the time of the vote was an issue, not because of their race or religion but because it was straining the health care system and the job market beyond belief. My understanding was that people felt the only practical way to address these issues was to take back control of the running of the country. Were those not issues, or do you (or anyone) know how they could have been handled if Britain had instead decided to stay in the EU? Maybe I'm completely getting it wrong; I find it hard enough to follow US goings on, in addition to my own country's business; trying to read everything I need to about a third country is going to make my brain give up :)

Steve Reed said...

GZ: Such a mess! I'm hoping for a miracle.

YP: Me too! But I wouldn't want to make the penguins sick.

Alphie: It IS a tangled web, and you're right that the Tories are largely responsible by setting the wheels in motion. (Mixed metaphor!) Cameron was making a political gamble that failed.

Vivian: It IS self-inflicted, but like the Trump vote, there's reason to believe there was outside interference. There was certainly "fake news" leading up to the vote. Dave and I often debate whether Brexit is worse than Trump -- I contend it is, because it's permanent. At least Trump will be gone after a few more years.

Ms Moon: I've never heard of that show, but it's an interesting theory. It IS bizarre the reverence with which the US Constitution is treated. People in other countries definitely don't get it. I wouldn't want to scrap it entirely but I think some modernization is needed.

Ellen: Thanks for the plant-covering tips! This is the first winter we've tried to overwinter things without bringing them in, so those tips will come in handy. I hope you're right about the "last gasp." That's an optimistic way to look at it!

Sharon: Ugh! Sorry you're getting deluged with all this news, too!

Red: Well, that's the thing, isn't it? The past is NEVER coming back.

Allison: I think those hats DO exist!

Catalyst: True! But then again, in the '70s we had Vietnam and Nixon and Pinochet in Chile and Israel at war. I guess bad stuff just happens all the time! Brexit is hitting especially close to home for me, obviously.

Robin: Costa Rica DOES sound pretty amazing right about now.

Bug: I hope he's wrong, too! It's hard not to be pessimistic, but maybe as Ellen said this is a transitional phase to a more united planet.

Sabine: Thanks for the hint! I haven't wrapped the pots, but maybe I should.

Jenny-O: I think the responsiveness thing is a bit of a red herring. The EU is run by an elected parliament including British reps. If they get outvoted, well, that's Democracy. What the responsiveness argument really means is, "We don't like being outvoted by Germans." As for immigrants straining resources, I also think that's an easy argument usually leveled by people who are really concerned about ethnicity. We see it in the States with Mexicans and we see it here with Muslims and Africans. There's no doubt that local resources in Britain ARE strained, but that's more because of Tory austerity programs than immigrants. I have no doubt, though, that the fact that the Brexit referendum occurred so soon after the massive influx of seafaring migrants into southern Europe and establishment of the Calais "jungle" that immigration fears were a HUGE factor (the key word being FEARS rather than facts). I would argue that the best way to reform the EU is to do it from within, as a member. Unfortunately, Britain (by electing people like Nigel Farage to the European Parliament) has basically just been giving the EU the finger for years, so not surprisingly, Britain has been unable to lead the way with any effective reforms.