What older folks worry about

When I was younger and lived in Florida, I was amazed with the condition of the lawns. They were virtually perfect. Early each morning the sprinkler systems on timers would erupt and the neighborhood became a cacophony of zip-zip-zip and whiz-whiz-whiz.

I know many of the lawns were probably Zoysia grass, which I also had in my lawn in Honolulu.  I sank up to my ankles if the grass remained unmowed for any length of time, which it did because it always looks tidy, even if you forget to mow it. When it gets long it is like velvet, although how one mows velvet boggles the mind. 

When I lived in California,  it was so dry, I had a yard composed of some kind of Sedum or purslane (like Portulaca or Moss Rose which I think might be banned in CA these days). The plant was beautiful but apparently unwanted, although you can eat it.

I was young then, and I wondered why folks had concerns about lawns, but now I understand. When you are retired you can literally watch the grass grow.


The photos below show our little patch of grass this spring (Left) and now (Right). Obviously, we needed rain.

A gentle rain fell all night, so our patch of lawn should be rejuvenated.  Joy told me all the grass in the north pasture at her farm was dead.  I hope the rains bring it back to life.  Supposedly, this is the worst drought since the 1950s, which I remember well because Dad was still working for the Agriculture Dept in those days.

The latest New Yorker magazine has a lead article on corn and its temperament. Our local weather guy says if they don’t get rain out on the Eastern Shore soon, the Silver Queen corn will be in trouble. That’s the lovely white corn humans like, not the yellow horse corn that grows in the Midwest farmers feed livestock.  (Joy says they are feeding their livestock hay and corn to tide them over during the drought.)

Weather…everyone talks about it, but no one can do much about it.

My granddaughter Amelia who understands these things as she has now earned a degree in Climate Science, says the climate change we are experiencing is the result of a combination of things.  Burning fossil fuels remains an issue for humans for many health reasons, but is not the sole or perhaps even the major cause of climate change. As a historian, I know the climate has changed over and over through the millenia and affected the outcome of many historical events.

Humans across the globe need to change the their energy usage because we may be making the climate worse than it would be otherwise. Sadly, folks in Japan are protesting the reopening of the nuclear plants while the Germans have closed their plants. But nuclear energy and natural gas may offer hope. 

Here’s a thought: clean natural gas, while not perfect, has been around for a long time, and is much cleaner to extract and use than other fossil fuels. And many gas reserves exist all over the world according to the Economist magazine.

A recent issue (a “strongman” Uncle Sam on the cover) includes a feature article on fracking, the process of extracting gas from rock. Very interesting piece, and I recommend it, as it should put many fears about fracking to rest. 

When I was growing up, my family depended on liquid gas for cooking.  Everywhere we moved, we hauled a gas tank shaped like a hippo.  It was a somewhat larger version of the propane tanks you see today, although it rested on its side and did not stand upright.  Our tank was about 2-3 feet high and about as wide.  We had it filled from time to time and I recall the tank was very cold when it was filled.  I liked to lay over the top of it on a hot day.

I learned to cook on natural gas and if I had access to it today, I would use it.   This is wonderful stuff.  I also think if Climate Change raises our year round temperatures to Florida levels we may see more Zoysia.   



14 thoughts on “What older folks worry about

    • I read extensively on this subject and will check out your blog. So far, all the claims about the dangers have been dismissed as nothing but rumor. Some people get very excited without checking out the facts I think. Ditto the nuclear stuff.

      The sad thing is I really liked Al Gore at one time.


      • I have never liked the man. I remember remarking to my wife as he and Clinton were climbing the steps for their first inauguration “I think that Clinton guy could be alright but I don’t trust that guy behind him.”

        His whole life had been on the government dole with the expectation that the presidency was his political “right”. His hubris during his own campaign cost him an election that was his to lose.

        Not content to be out of the spotlight, he chose a “hot button” issue to ride to more fame. It worked. Unfortunately, we will probably all soon be paying the price for this man’s ego with carbon credits and energy rationing. This from a man who uses 10 times the energy of the average American. With the way the government is starting to take over our lives, it would not surprise me to see “excessive” energy use criminalized someday.

        Sorry for the rant, but I think he is one of the most dangerous men in America.


  1. “When you are retired you can literally watch the grass grow.” I enjoy the way you toss a bit of dry humor into your posts then move on to hot topics wrapped in personal experiences, always an engaging and informative read.


  2. We have an automatic lawn sprinkler, but it doesn’t spray every corner of our lawn, hence there are brown patches here and there. We also have 2 propane tanks in the shed and garage closet that we use for our 2 grills, but no gas stove inside the house. The grills come in handy when there is a power outage and we can’t use our electric stove. I guess our air conditioners are culprits as far as pollution is concerned, but they are a necessity in humid Hawaii, so what recourse do we have???


    • When you live in a tropical or subtropical region, which includes Chicago these days, you do what you have to. The truth is we humans will never completely be free of using energy in some form. This means we must find rational ways to produce it. I vote for natural gas to fuel generators until we can find more ways to use wind and solar. I am also not afraid of nuclear energy if it is modernized. The plant in Japan affected by the recent tidal wave, was very old. We need to keep them updated with the latest technology.

      I know you have solar panels and so do we to run our attic fans, but solar will never fill the gap. Nor will windmills, although you might get much energy from them in Hawaii.


  3. Doubt the article could convince me fracking is a good thing. I have several friends with cracked foundations from the local earthquakes fracking caused. Funny how the earthquakes stopped when the fracking was put on hold.
    I agree, we need to reduce all consumption.
    Sure hope your grass recovers though it should. Mine was brown and cracking underfoot but a few rains and all is green again and the mower is back in use.


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