Take my advice — I’m not using it! Every year at this time I regret that I neglected to nip back the tall garden mums and fall asters in early June. Both are now so tall they have fallen over from the weight of the blossoms. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the asters; I think they are known as New England asters. Most of mine are a deep purple. They look especially nice among a huge amount of baby blue wild asters that I’ve never bothered to weed from my perennial beds.

I’m always amazed at the tiny beds of impatiens in the full sun and surrounded by asphalt between the Tisbury fire station and the Harbor Landing Hotel. Someone takes their watering duties seriously.

I’ve managed to kill another generator. I use it to pump water for my big vegetable garden. I am back to hauling for all the new fall plantings. What a pain, but once again I am humbled by the fact that I can do it all. I think about people (mostly women and children) who must haul for miles everyday on foot for their every need.

The dahlias are at the top of their game. I forgot to stake them and naturally, the hurricane knocked several over. Now, although they are basically growing horizontally, they are blooming famously. Remember, they need to experience a killing frost before they can be lifted for winter storage. I’ve actually had them on the table at Thanksgiving a few times. We sometimes have a very warm fall.

I seeded some tatsoi and radishes just three weeks ago and am already picking radishes for the table. All the lettuce is pickable even though still small. It’s fun to have the fall garden kicking in while still enjoying tomatoes and peppers.

Violet and I were amused recently. We drove past Nip ’n’ Tuck Farm en route to the charter school. A horse was stretching her neck way over the split rail fence to get at that much greener grass. Right next to her a cow was on her knees with the longest tongue-reach under the same fence. We commented that everything has its own method of getting what it wants.

I made a decision last time I went on an off-Island trip. I’ve begun tipping the folks who pump my gas. I hated doing it for myself off-Island regardless of the few cents saved.

I received a message from Phyllis Conway regarding the Juicy Fruit gum method of vole reduction. She was happy to report success after two applications. I noticed no new damage on my potato crop since using the gum. I have my granddaughter and her friends unwrapping and tossing. They enjoy themselves and chew huge mouthfuls in the process.

Laurie Clements dropped off an article from the August 3 Mountain Times. It reiterated the point I made last year about certain plants being photo toxins. As you may recall, I told about my then worker Seniel receiving horrible burns on her arms. She was handling the plant rue (ruta graveolens) in the midday sun. It seems certain plants react to sun and put out a very toxic skin irritant. The article by Dr. Leonard Perry, UVM Extension professor, named several other plants that can behave the same way. Gas plant (Dictamnus albus), mulberry fig (Ficus carica,) Queen Anne’s Lace, celery and limes can all be culprits. Limes are the most common. The juice from the rinds rather than the pulp can cause what is known as (I’m not kidding) “margarita dermatitis.” So be careful enjoying those drinks poolside in the hot sun.

Last Friday evening I attended an art opening at the newly renovated Tashmoo Spring building. What a beautiful space. Kudos to all involved in the huge project. It is worth a trip down to Tashmoo to check it out. It is a great addition to our town.

I watched all three Republican debates. The take-away for me at all three was the mean spiritedness of the audiences. We had cheers and clapping over Rick Perry’s Texas executions. The Ron Paul’s Libertarian comments about not caring for the uninsured. A few folks yelled, “Let em die.” And finally last week, the booing of a gay soldier serving his country in Iraq. What has happened to us? First of all, heckling has never been one of my activities. I’m more a fan of the written word with my name attached to it. I own my opinions and am not an anonymous coward. Secondly, when have we become so self-involved that we actually are angered at the thought of helping, or even tolerating, others? Who raised these people?