What goes on?

A few moments of personal and professional privilege. As of Monday, I became a free agent.  I've wanted to do this for nearly four decades. It's time. "This" is leading a discussion about policy, politics, and society on my own terms and (yes) monetizing it enough to earn a reasonable living. Micropayment technology (Patreon, Substack, etc.) make the move possible. But I have to deliver the goods and find the people who want it. I hope you decide to become part of "the people." This post also is much longer than I wanted, but reading it costs only your time. So thanks for that investment, if you choose to make it. I'm Rick. I live in Raleigh with my amazing wife Cara, a nurse who works with geriatric, intellectually and developmentally disabled, and dementia clients at an adult day center here. She's made this part of my journey possible by loving me, keeping me sane, and letting us pursue our dreams. We have pets. The ruler of the roost is Baxter, a

Big news coming!

Announcement Tuesday (my birthday). Cash, in large or small amounts, welcome.  Contact me for wire coordinates. Cheers!

Straw bale gardening!

I'm either a sucker for anything trendy related to gardening, or I continue my quest to grow vegetables  tomatoes at our home. I would hope that the latter is closer to the truth, but we've experimented with topsy-turvy upside-down planters, square-foot gardening, container-only gardening, and plant-in-the-dang-dirt-and-hope-something grows gardening. (Note: Topsy-turvys worked very well when we lived in an apartment and had a balcony that got lots of light. Everything else has been meh.) So this year, it's straw bales! As Joel Karsten, the main evangelist for straw bale gardening puts it, vegetables and flowers need good soil , and weekend gardeners want to minimize the amount of time and maintenance needed to keep a garden healthy. This method of gardening works very well from areas inside the Arctic Circle, to the heat of the Caribbean.  If you can find bales of straw, or similar bales of tightly compressed organic material, you can garden this way. Simply rep

Cactus moving day

I'm not sure how you spent the early part of your Super Bowl Sunday, but I spent mine moving our Eastern prickly pear cactus. It began its journey with us in an unassuming, 8-inch pot. After languishing more than a year in our front yard, I built a scree (desert garden area) and transplanted it there, along with other succulents. I must have found the perfect growing medium, because after three years, it was trying to crowd out everything else in it. What happened was that every winter, when the plant went dormant, it shot new roots from the pads and expanded its footprint, as it were. Then when the weather warmed, the new, wider plant grew even more. How much more? I learned today. When the weather turned cold, I decided to divide it and move it to several spots in the yard. The first was a small raised bed where we had (unsucessfully) tried to grow leafy greens. The first bit to go was a pad that had broken off of the original plant and taken on a life of its own.

The political parties aren't ... quite dead

If you accept the notion that money has too much influence in politics, consider GOP strategist Karl Rove, who had visions of creating a "permanent Republican majority." Turns out that the all-powerful Rove was incapable of buying a few Senate seats. The two independent political groups he spearheaded, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, spent somewhere between $176 million and $300 million backing Mitt Romney and a targeted group of Senate and House candidates. What did he and his donors get for their money? Not much. We know Romney lost. But so did 10 of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House contenders the Rove groups backed. Bloomberg News reported . Which brings me to John Hood's column today reviewing (among other things) the tenor of the presidential campaign. It included this gem: Because the Republicans relied heavily on independent expenditures to make up for President Obama’s advantage in hard money, they we

Disjointed election ruminations and various catching up

It seems like I come back here every six or seven months, whether or not I need to. Since my last post, we've lost a beloved family member, Mandy (who left us at about age 110), gained a beloved family member (Grover, who's a genuine hoot, sweetheart, and the king of the daily walks) and appear to be on the verge of losing another beloved family member (the wonderful Nano, who's about as broken-down as Mandy was when she passed on). We've also traveled and gardened and rearranged furniture and I've enjoyed covering an election cycle in a role much like that of the metro editor of a capital daily. ( Carolina Journal 's election coverage is here .) Which brings me to today's post. I'm still stunned about the outcome of the election, not because I thought Mitt Romney was destined for greatness, but because I spent too much time being absorbed with politics and not enough time enjoying life. I mistakenly thought that because North Caroli

Gardening, 2012

We're entering the third full year in our house, and we learn something new about gardening here every season. Last year we tried growing most of our vegetables in large containers and put up a Topsy Turvy tree. That didn't work well, requiring lots of water and producing very little we could eat. This time, we're going more traditional, planting in our 12-by-12 and 3-by-3 raised beds (with a few exceptions). We're also using a modified version of square-foot gardening , a system Cara has used before with success. We started largely with a blank slate -- a few Columbines and two large chive plants, plus peas I planted a few weeks ago. Then, I used a garden fork to turn the soil. To set up a vertical space for the plants to grow, I stole an idea from one of our neighbors: install six-foot fenceposts and hang fencing on them. And after hanging the fencing, we put in a small drip irrigation hookup. Finally, we planted a dozen tomatoes, five peppers, four e