Sunday, September 2, 2012

In and around our house in August

The month of August is already gone and it seems it went faster than usual. I have not written a post in over two weeks - I meant to, however, my real life intruded on my virtual life. We had, and are having, health issues and they are time consuming. I should have written two or three posts during that time, but since I did not, I’ll write about some of our activities during this past month. Because of the heat, we did not do much in the garden apart from looking at some of the flowers. Here is a pretty rose which opened yesterday. It has a sweet rose fragrance. (Please click on the photos to enlarge them as they look so much better.)

Earlier in the season we had planted some thyme in a pot. It died and we left the pot as is. Then a few weeks ago we saw some type of violets that took over the pot – we never planted them, so I don’t know how they started to grow in that pot – could have been some seeds in the thyme dirt?

(Click on collage then on each picture to biggify)

We had bought a succulent and it grew some tiny peach blossoms. The squirrels did not eat the begonia and the dainty dark pink blooms come from an unknown pot – just appeared last week.

We live in west Cobb County which is northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, about 30 miles from downtown Atlanta. We are not in a city, but close to several: 6 miles from Kennesaw, 8 miles from Marietta, 8 miles from Acworth, 9 miles from Powder Springs and 7 miles from Dallas which is in another county – Paulding. So when we go shopping we have choices. We can also shop at a couple of farmers’ markets. Below is the market on the Marietta Square (my husband is near the sign.)

The area farmers and artisan food producers come every Saturday and Sunday mornings to offer their goods.

I like to look at all the beautiful flowers. Sometimes bluegrass musicians entertain us on the side of the market.

But one of my favorite things is getting close to the beautiful Greyhound dogs. There is an adoption agency that brings several of their dogs to the market. I’d love to adopt one – maybe when we don’t travel so much.

We also shop at the smaller farmers’ market in Kennesaw where I found Annie last week and spoke French with her. Her husband bakes the best baguettes and croissants.

Another market, but a flea market, is close by in Acworth. We went there last Sunday – it was very warm. They used to sell more antiques but now it is mostly cheap stuff from China.

Some Mexican vendors offer vegetables and fruits at good prices. I don’t know what is the dry bean type thing on the right hand side of the bottom right-hand photo – do you?

There was a red car for sale – it looked like a vintage model but I am not sure from which car maker. Seating is provided at the flea market – but it is not fancy… (an understatement.)

We ate the fresh vegetables at home but we also went out – ate some Italian food. At Douceur de France I ate a “tartine Corse” (seasoned tomatoes on top of a warm baguette covered with goat cheese) and a chocolate cake. My husband had the Millefeuille which here is called a Napoleon, I believe.

Our fig tree produced many good figs so I made several batches of jam. I showed my fig jam recipe back in 2010 in the post Fresh Figs – Home Grown.

I also made some cherry jam (with Cherry Heering wine from Denmark) and some red plum jam flavored with cardamom spice.

We now have a good variety of jams to eat with our English muffins and café au lait for breakfast.

But when it came time to place the jars in the cabinet – it was already occupied! It is also hard to read the newspaper after breakfast….

While at the library, I saw a picture book on Venice, Italy, then I found a mystery author named Donna Leon who wrote numerous mysteries taking place in Venice. I borrowed several, then several more and ended up reading about 12 or more during the month of August.

So, even if I did not travel overseas, at least I traveled virtually. We did take a small trip to Rome but a town in Georgia and not its namesake in Italy. I’ll have a post on it coming soon. I read another interesting book from the library entitled “Sixty Million Frenchmen can’t be wrong” by Canadian authors Nadeau and Barlow. It shows the wide difference between the US and French cultures.

Quiet Pleasures by Max Stevens, Belgian 1871-1946

I thought my husband would enjoy reading this book and was pleased to find an inexpensive copy online at a British second-hand book site. As I was going to take a picture of the book for this post I placed both books side by side, the library copy and the purchased copy to see which one would look better….

That is only when I realized that the second line of the title of the book was different. I thought that one copy was a newer edition but then I saw that the copy from the library was from the American edition and the purchased copy from the British edition. The American one said “why we love France, but not the French” and the British “what makes the french so french.” I asked my friend Vicki Lane, who is a successful published author, if authors make decisions on the covers of their books. She replied that the marketing department of the publishing companies makes the decision as to what will sell better in their market “taking into account the local preferences/prejudices.” It saddened me that the American publisher would think that the US market would be more likely to purchase the book to reinforce their feeling as to why they did not like the French…but c’est la vie

My daughter called me to tell me that the daycare had advised her that the blanket I had knitted for the youngest grandson was too big. The car blanket I crocheted was too small. So she asked if I could make another one, just right. I did and so I started to watch some TV while making it. I finished it during the last day of the Republican Convention on national television.

Since I had to watch TV, I’ll talk about what I saw. I have read some bloggers saying that if a post mentions politics they just won’t read it and move on – many people are not interested at all. When I became a US citizen I knew that I would have to take some more responsibilities and voting was one of them. To vote I need to find out what the politicians are saying. To me, refusing to take part in the politics of one’s country is like refusing to be involved in one’s children upbringing – you just cannot say you love your children or place flags of your country on your blog and refuse to take part in the process. Below is a vintage postcard of the house of Betsy Ross (1752-1836.)

As I tried to research more on Betsy Ross, I found out that there is no credible historical evidence that she indeed was the seamstress who made the first flag – read it here . There are many myths in history and politicians create myths themselves so it is important to always do some facts checking. I use and . When I came to the USA there were a great variety of television channels and radio stations, but now they have merged and been bought up by large corporations. The conservatives keep saying that the media is liberal, but it is not because it does not check facts thoroughly and does not challenge false statements. How could television chains do otherwise when, for example, NBC is owned by General Electric, ABC is owned by Disney, CBS by Viacom, Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, Cinemax – all of these chains donated millions of dollars to the past Bush re-election campaigns. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are owned by super conservative Rupert Murdoch (who was under indictment in England.)

The copy of the Wall Street Journal above was delivered in our driveway last Friday, August 31st. We are not subscribers so it must have been a wrong delivery, but I was pleased to read this paper to see if the false statements said during the convention would be noted. They had not and instead had been repeated. I feel that the media and the press have a responsibility, in a free country, to understand and report news in a neutral way so that the public can make their decisions based on facts and the truth. Candidates in elections should be called out every time they lie to the public. But they don’t so I spend much time reading the foreign press- in English and in French and checking out facts.

On the little country map on the side of my blog I see that many readers come from other countries such as, today, from Tripoli, Libya, Ukraine, Cairo, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Ganzhou, China, New Zealand, Australia and many points in Europe, and the red dots change all the time. I’ll try to explain, in a very rough way, the two parties in the US. The Republican Party is the Conservative party (party of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Richard Nixon) and the Democratic Party is considered the liberal party (party of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.) But since the 1960s when I originally came to the US, both parties have taken a turn to the right, so that, for example the Republican party would be considered Extreme Right Religious in Europe and the Democratic Party would be Center Right and not liberal at all. There are only two major parties in the USA. Next week the Democratic Convention will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For more information – the population of the US is about 314,275,029 right now. Of the 132,645,504 registered voters about 38.4 percent did not cast a ballot for president in 2008 – that’s roughly 50 million people. This is also the number of Americans (50.3 millions) who, in the 2010 census, were found to have no health insurance. Health insurance is provided by profit making corporations here, apart from the senior population who are insured under the government program called Medicare. For example in Texas 26.3% people do not have health insurance – it is 21.9% in Georgia. So what happens? People die. A new study calculated that more than 26,000 Americans died prematurely in 2010 – that is about 502 preventable deaths a week. Thirty-two of the thirty-three developed nations have universal health care (so far the US is the lone exception.) From what I understood watching the Republican Convention and then checking the facts, the platform would stop Medicare and place it on a voucher system, which would make it go back to the profit making insurance companies. The country is heavily oriented toward money and in general disapproves of the poor. It is such a beautiful country, but it does have some strange politics.

The postcard above shows an example of the beauty of this country – Glacier National Park in Montana. There are some exceptional sites in the US. I did hear the term “American exceptionalism” repeated many times during the Republican Convention so I decided to research to see who invented the term. I found out that it was Joseph Stalin, the Communist leader of the USSR, who said it first, in 1929, while arguing about America. He said “the heresy of American exceptionalism…” while disagreeing with the belief that America is unique and exceptional compared to other countries. So I am surprised now that the Republicans use the same term – they may not know where it comes from! Below is another exceptional landscape – a postcard of the Powell Valley near Norton, Virginia.

There were many deliberate lies, half truths and distortions during the speeches at the Republican Convention. This kept me busy fact checking for a long time. I was quite surprised that even Fox News agreed that there had been many lies – read it here (I like to read both the Conservative and Liberal press.) The easiest one to check was a fact that Mr. Paul Ryan (the vice-presidential candidate) affirmed – he blamed President Obama for the closing of a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. But the plant had been scheduled to close months before Mr. Obama became president (he was sworn in January 20th, 2009) and the last vehicle came out of the assembly line at the end of 2008 during Mr. Bush’s presidency, see photo below (courtesy The United Way.)

Now that the baby blanket is finished I don’t think I’ll watch as much television. I do like to read the speeches online – it makes it easier to fact check. I also found four more mysteries by Donna Leon at the Kennesaw Library…. This is a long post – but it covered the month of August – an eclectic post for a fast moving month.

The Novel Reader by Vincent van Gogh, Dutch 1863-1890


Friko said...

You may not have done any travelling in August but you certainly did not give your mind a rest. You must be an exceptional US citizen, I would say that the majority of the population is the same as here in the UK, complaining a lot but doing very little about anything. And certainly not getting their information from any reliable source.

You should come to the UK for an idea of how foreigners - any foreigners - are seen : always as inferior. The Brits adore going on holiday to France, but, they say, the problem with France is that there are too many French there.

As for Germany, well they're just war-mongers and the current nation wants to achieve domination by commerce and economics. At least that's what I get to hear from people who don't realise that I'm German.

I have grown tired of politics, I don't trust politicians and I don't trust the motives of business either.

I saw a programme on German TV this morning where the US system of healthcare was mentioned very briefly, mainly as an aside on how not to do it. The comment was: "How can anyone NOT want a decent health care system for their population. How can they possibly get away with it?

You have certainly been very busy, what a lot of produce you have produced. That's many breakfasts' worth!

I too have read Donna Leon, not quite as many as that, but the odd one here and there. Some of her books have been turned into TV films.

(PS: I hope no news is good news)

Frances said...

Bravo to you, dear Vagabonde, on your August report.

I send best wishes to you and yours regarding all health issues.

I applaud your keeping the needlecrafting going during the Republican Convention. You reminded me of the crocheting I did during the Watergate Hearings of the Nixon era!

How I wish that there could be a Fact Finding correction scroll running like a subtitle across any tv screen featuring a polititian speaking. It is infuriating to see such fibs being told by folks who know that they are not speaking the truth.

Today, I've seen some of the U.S. Open Tennis matches. When a player challenges a judge's call on where a ball has landed...we get instant or out. Wouldn't it be great to adopt similar technology to challenge broadcast lies?

Best wishes. xo

OldLady Of The Hills said...

What a wondsrful post---so filled with goodies and interesting things that run the gamut! Your Figs look Deeelicious!!! I would love some of your Fig Jam.....! The Farmers Market looked fabulous, too---and that Rose---GORGEOUS. I also love that Succulent---it is such a beautiful shape.
As to the Conventions---I find it very painful to see and hear the lies told as 'facts'. You are incredible that you could stand to watch all that.
I hope the Health Issues are getting under control, my dear....Sending Healing Hugs...
((((((((((HUGS)))))))))) to you both!

Portland Roofing said...

You have an amazing blog! More power to you!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJan said...

I have enjoyed reading this post, all of it, VB. It's true that here in the US you cannot believe anything you see or hear on TV: most is slanted one direction or the other. I get my news online, because I can visit many sites and make up my own mind. I do watch the Newshour on PBS because they present both sides of every issue. Keeping you in my heart, VB.

Rosaria Williams said...

I don't know what I enjoyed more, your visit to the Farmers' Market, or your exposition on the political process here in the USA!

That you had to make an additional blanket for the baby to fit the size needed for the nursery school made me laugh. Yes, everyone has an opinion on what's best!

joyce said...

Hi, I followed you over from Marmalade Gypsy....what a great post filled with summer doings...makes a great memoir for yourself too!

Down by the sea said...

So sorry to hear you are having health issues at the moment, I hope they will soon be resolved. What an interesting month you have had, your farmers markets look delightful . I so glad we have the National Health Service here even though there can be problems with it from time to time.
Sarah x

Kay G. said...

Well, this is one American who LOVES the French!
What a wonderful post, I could spend hours reading and pondering everything that you have here. Hope to meet you on top of Stone Moutain one day! I will be the one with the reddest face! :-)

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful post-- so much to enjoy and so much to deplore -- not you and your opinions but our political situation here is the USA. Politics is unpleasant but I think that one should inform oneself and, if one has an opinion, speak up - politely and civilly, preferably. Some things are to important to ignore.

Marja said...

so much food for thought. The fruit on your photos looks delicious You are quite a kitchen princess. How lovely to have the farmers markets closeby. We have lots of them since the earthquake. I love them. I love markets in general.
Strange these different titles for the same book. I love France and the French. One of the things I miss about Europe is too just drive over to France for a long weekend.

I find it hard to understand that people are left to die. Here in NZ hospital is free for all and you can get an insurance if you want to be helped quickly.
In Holland we paid compulsory insurance. It was taken out of your wages and therefore no costs for dentist, doctor or hospital.

Fennie said...

Very best wishes, Vagabonde to you and your family. Mmm! Much here to feed upon in every sense. How do you manage all that jam? What surprises me about US politics is how the country is split between coastal and inland regions, one being Republican, the other Democrat. I also fear for the time the world stops lending the US money to finance its deficit. For all the homesteading homilies, the US is burdened by even more debt than Europe and one day the buck will stop. Having said that, how a modern nation can call itself civilised without things such as universal healthcare and gun control and the abolition of capital punishment I do not know. So if I have to live in the new World I think I'll choose Canada.

joared said...

No wonder you haven't written any blog posts until now -- you've been busy! I hardly know where to begin you've so many interesting topics here.

The figs and all food looks delish -- enjoyed the cat humor -- aren't you lucky to have so many interesting farmer's markets to visit, as I, too have several in my area. Am delighted you had an opportunity to speak French with someone you met there.

Your description of American politics and attitudes is exceptional. FWIW I don't hear the negative views toward the French here in Southern California, but perhaps some here are more appreciative of those from other nations -- or not, I don't really know or understand otherwise.

I really welcome reading your views and observations about our nation. I've thought for years that it's incredible that so many American citizens take so little interest in our government and don't even vote in our elections -- local and national.

I agree whole-heartedly with the person who commented given technology today, news organizations should be able to expose falsehoods with captions almost as quickly as the lies and distortions are said. I do hope you continue to share your views on all these issues, including the other political party convention in progress now.

I do hope the health issues that have arisen are moderating and/or lessening though I realize life can often be unpredictable. Hugs to you!

CrazyCris said...

Your gorgeous top photos of figs caught my eye today Vagabonde, they're my favourite fruit! Yet even here in Spain where there are fig trees galore they're hard to find in the stores... and they have such a short season. *sigh* Et tu m'as donnée envie avec tes pots de confiture! Il était une fois (adolescente) j'en faisait (de fraise), mais je vivais dans un pays où la matière première était moins cher... :s

I was fascinated by your comments on the US political system and the convention. 4 years ago was the first time I paid close attention to the primaries. First because of Hillary Clinton, then intrigued by Obama and finally scared by Palin. Although the first time I actually started to look into the US electoral system was after the 2000 Bush fiasco, when I had people in my lab in Belgium coming up to ask me (as an "American") how come Bush was president if Gore won?
I hear/read some of the things coming out of the Republican primary and they just scare me... and it scares me more that so many people out there are buying it! You're right, the news media has a DUTY to the population to do the fact checking, but they've all been bought and sold it seems. Sad.

Pat said...

If only all bloggers would give their geographical locatioin my geography would improve by leaps and bounds - so thank you for that.
At least now I have a rough idea of where you are. America is so vast.
Your story of the blanket reminde me of my Scottish MIL who knitted three tea cosies for me to get the perfect size and we still use them.
Thankyou for a large interestibng post.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you for your succinct, but so accurate, summary of politics and the issue of health care here in the United States.

I consider myself a liberal Democrat but I know that I'm more liberal now than many Democrats in Congress. Perhaps in today's climate they feel they can stay in office only if they move more and more to the center. Or they feel that they can get something done only if they keep moving to the right.

What I'd like to see--from all politicians (left, right, center/moderate, conservative, liberal/evangelical, Tea Party/Pro life, pro choice, whatever--is the willingness to listen to the views of others and to be open to change.

Bipartisan compromise is necessary in a Republic. We cannot maintain our democracy without it. So I find myself fearing greatly for my country.

So thank you for your courage and your fact checking. For myself, I, like DJan, watching the PBS Newshour each evening at 6 pm so as to see both sides of the issue. And I try to read various takes on what's happening. So few reporters check their facts. That's another tragedy. The 4th Estate has lost its honor.

Donna Leon is a favorite of min. I encourage you also to read Martin Walker who writes about Bruno, a policeman in a small village in France. I think I mentioned this before, but every time I read one of his books, I think of you. Peace.

Perpetua said...

So sorry you and your husband are having health issues, Vagabonde and hope they can be resolved soon. What an incredibly busy August you have had and what a beautifully illustrated and written account of it you've given us.

I'm glad you've discovered Donna Leon as he books transport me to Venice every time I open one. Oh, and my copy of Sixty Million Frenchmen, is subtitled Wwhat make the French so French.

claude said...

C'est bon des fois de rester un peu à la maison, surtout quand il y des confitures à faire.
Ici je ne vais point au marché, j'ai tout dans mon petit potager.
J'ai fait quelques pot de confitures de tomates cerise mures car mon Chéri a encore mis trop de pieds dans le jardin. Je les ai parfumées à l'eau de vie de cerise. Elle sont délicieuses. Par contre je n'aime pas les figues, même pas en confiture.
Au fait où en est tu avec tes petits torchon ?

Arti said...

You're one amazing lady! Versatile in skills, creative, aesthetic in style and intellectual in mind. What can I say, you've shown it all. Your month of August is what, a year for me. And oh the difference between the south and the north is plenty, you're as fruitful as your land... everything is more colorful, abundant, and profuse. Here we're getting ready for fall, it's getting chilly in the morning and at evening already. But I look forward to fall despite not having much of a summer. Why, fall means film festivals and wonderful films coming up.

One more thing, about virtual getaway to Rome, maybe seeing the Woody Allen movie could bring that City closer to you: To Rome With Love. You might enjoy it. Have a wonderful Autumn. I'm sure you'll have abundant harvests. I look forward to your upcoming posts.

Unknown said...

"Recollections of a Vagabonde" has been included in the Sites To See for this week. I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

Amanda said...

Wonderful post! And also wonderful comments.
(Nadege in Southern California)

rhymeswithplague said...

A very interesting an eclectic post, Vagabonde!

I do want to comment that the term "American exceptionalism" predated Joseph Stalin by an entire century, being found in the writings of de Tocqueville.

I do hope you plan to comment on the lies during the Democratic Convention as well.

Diane said...

Hope the health issues soon disappear, I am having the same problem and my posts are getting further apart!
You sound as if you have been very busy despite the problems. My figs are only just ripening, but they are very small this year. I may get enough to make one batch of fig chutney, I still have jam from last year. Hope you are both well ASAP. Diane

Hilary said...

What a newsy post. I always enjoy visits to the farmers' markets and you made me drool with those jams. I hope your health woes are quickly behind you. Thanks kindly for your visit to my blog.

bayou said...

A great August that was for you in terms of what you have made of it. Sorry to hear, via Pondside en nature, about the health problems. I so hope that it will all be manageable. Love your view about the Americans and (far too many all over the world) people's ignorance about politics.

I always was exactly of your opinion about the right to vote. The Belgians loath it and therefore going to vote is now mandatory and one is prosecuted if not going. Frances has made a good point about the example with tennis or even other sports.

EG is reading right now: 1000 years of Annoying the French --- very funny reading and plenty of perfect research, we are learning a lot from it!

Shall try to get in touch with you via mail. Sending boatloads of good wishes from the bayou.

Ginnie said...

All I want to say is "Amen, sister, preach it!"

Kay said...

I always get so upset when people tell me they don't vote and then complain when the other person wins.

That farmers market looked like so much fun with so much going on.

Jeanie said...

Wow -- what a lot of meat in this post! You touch on several things close to my heart -- farm markets (I was at one yesterday; they never cease to bring joy), gardens (yours is in much better shape than mine) and being creative while doing the tele thing. I watched the conventions but was not a happy camper, and you were wise to fact check! That's odd about the French book and how I loved seeing your orange boy on the paper and in the cupboard. Made me smile again!

BJM said...

Wow! Figs! Lucky you! B.

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