Do Moles Eat Zucchini?

September 30, 2007

Although I am not a person of tact or particularly good manners (as my wife frequently reminds me), once in a while I try to warn people of something to avoid on my blog.

They seem to pay no attention. For example, I warned Rhiannon not to read about my bunny-slaying activities. Does she pay sensible attention to my caution? No, she reads and then chastises me for not eating the bunnies!

In this case, Kyle, I have a least one more zucchini post I am compelled to share. I presume you, also, will feel compelled to read it anyway, and then lament about a surfeit of zucchini. Well, Mr. Zucchini, surfeit is your middle name, and Renaissance Man, my dear reader, you should not read any further, but probably you will.

Everything in the following post is true.

After I told my wife about how much my Bulgarian co-worker, Zlatina, loves zucchini and eagerly adopts all the fruit I bring to work and intends to grow some Seeds of Change zucchini next year, she said, “We have more seeds than we need. I was going to give the Friendly Neighbors some seeds, but perhaps we have enough to share with Zlatina as well.”

The next morning I headed for the ferry to begin my journey to work.

Although I observed no dark-clad Coast Guard Special Forces personnel on the ferry, I observed a small, swift Coast Guard patrol boat nearing the ferry as we prepared to begin our journey. The boat displayed small blue running lights, and a strange black device at the bow, something like a radar unit, but odd-looking. Was it an alien seed detector? I wondered.

At first, I was puzzled, and then I remembered I had a small, carefully sealed packet of zucchini seeds in my backpack.

As the ferry departed from the dock, the CG patrol boat turned around and followed beside us at a discreet distance. It accompanied us all the way to the mainland, but as we came within a mile or so of the dock, the patrol boat accelerated and arrived a few minutes before us. Were they gathering a SWAT team that would greet me as I disembarked the ferry and search me for alien seeds?

However, I drove up the ferry landing without incident and began driving toward work. Out of curiosity, I took an alternative route, one I seldom take, a route that takes me past a large airplane manufacturer and its adjoining airport.

As I was driving, I noticed, on a side street, a state patrol car positioned so it could observe all the passing traffic.

I had to concentrate for the next few minutes as this route has several lanes that diverge. Unless I carefully select the correct lane, I will end up driving many miles in the wrong direction. As I carefully navigated the correct path, I noticed a sinister-looking black car approaching me rapidly from the rear. It swerved around me, and continued to rush forward at a high speed. I estimated that it was doing at least 90 miles an hour as it shot forward onto the freeway ahead of me.

However, I continued on my long journey to work, noticing no other untoward vehicles except a large trailer truck with no visible markings whatsoever that drove alongside me for much of the way.

When I got to work, I observed that Zlatina (who only works part time), was at her desk. “I brought you a present,” I informed her. I handed her the packet of zucchini seeds.

She thanked me effusively. That was a few days ago. I haven’t seen Zlatina since.

I am wondering, was I merely an oblivious courier, part of some gigantic sting operation, helping to bring down a world-wide (if not galaxy-wide) zucchini conspiracy?

MASSAPEQUA PARK, New York (AP) — Animal rights activists are hopping mad because they can’t find the wascals who’ve been dumping domestic wabbits all over the place.

Long Island can be a dangerous place for wandering rabbits, experts say.

People have been dropping the furry creatures on roadways, in parks and near school grounds on Long Island’s South Shore with increasing regularity in recent months, animal control experts said.

Earlier this month, a man was seen dumping 20 rabbits in a box at a train station and driving away, said Nancy Schreiber, a Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group volunteer.

“It sounds like someone is raising rabbits and trying to get out of the business,” said Gerry McBride, who handles criminal complaints for the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The SPCA is trying to figure out who is responsible for dumping the cuddly critters, and the Rabbit Rescue Group is offering a $5,000 reward.

The rabbits often can’t fend for themselves in the wild and end up starving to death or being killed by raccoons or diseases.

Many of the rabbits found by the rescue group have been infested with fleas or ticks. They’ve been treated, fed, cleaned and put up for adoption.

Trivial Grumbles #2

September 26, 2007

A commenter on one of David Rochester’s posts asked if he had considered whether or not he is an alien (because his reactions to life are so different from many other people.) I commented that the issue comes up frequently in discussions with my wife.

For example, she generally does not subscribe the “more is better” attitude so typical of American life. The “voluntary simplicity” movement is rather fashionable in certain quarters; my wife was volunteering to be simple before most of these faddish people were ostentatiously driving around in their new Prius hybrid cars.

When we first bought a CD player (at a very agreeable but very yuppie stereo dealer) the pleasant sales person offered her a player that holds multiple CDs. My wife was (politely) outraged and disgusted. “Why would anyone want to put more than one CD in a player?” she asked me when we got home, with a CD player that held one CD. “Am I going to listen to five CDs, all day? Do I know in advance exactly which five CDs I am going to want to listen to over the coming week?” she went on as she warmed to her theme.

(As I’ve mentioned, my wife’s improvises diatribes on a theme of discontent like jazz musician Miles Davis’ improvised riffs on jazz themes in his classic Kind of Blue jazz album.)

Unfortunately, the evil electricity demons murdered her simple CD player, and when we went to replace it, the stereo salesman informed her it was no longer possible to buy a player that only held one CD. We took home a five-CD player. With not entirely good grace she used it for several years.

Recently, the CD player committed suicide. My wife often listens to books on tape from the library, only now, they are books on CD. (My wife begins her riff with a complaint about CDs compared to tapes.) The CD player refused to open the CD door. (Now the CD is overdue at the library. The CD player has made my wife, a person who would no more keep a library item overdue then she would run over a child’s toy left in the street, a scofflaw.) My wife called the service department of the stereo store. They informed her it would cost more to repair CD player than to replace it. (Miles Davis was a gifted jazz musician with a notably bad temper

From his Playboy Interview:

Playboy: Linked with your musical renown is your reputation for bad temper and rudeness to your audiences. Would you comment?

Davis: Why is it that people just have to have so much to say about me? It bugs me because I’m not that important. Some critic that didn’t have nothing else to do started this crap about I don’t announce numbers, I don’t look at the audience, I don’t bow or talk to people, I walk off the stage, and all that.

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?

Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.

Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.

And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.

The words are not exactly the same, and the topic is not exactly the same, but the music is similar to my wife on the theme of the multiple CD player, as she describes the irritating noises it made as it rotated the five platters before it would get around to playing the one CD she had put it in …

The stereo dealer told my wife they are once again selling single disc CD players. She bought one and brought it home. We set it up and played her “Gold Watch and Chain” CD.

However, the old, broken CD player is still holding the library CD captive.

“I can probably take it to a little fix-it shop I know” and get them to open the door without charging as much,” I helpfully said.

“Never mind,” she said darkly. “They told me it’s worthless. I will take great pleasure in smashing my way into the *@!# CD player to remove the library disk.”

As far as I know, Miles Davis never smashed a trumpet. But there’s always the famous British rock band, The Who:

In September 1964, at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone, England, Pete Townshend smashed his first guitar. Playing on a high stage, Townshend’s physical style of performance resulted in him accidentally breaking off the head of his guitar when it collided with the ceiling. Angered by snickers from the audience, he proceeded to smash the instrument to pieces on the stage. He then picked up a Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar and continued the concert. A large crowd attended their next concert, but Townshend declined to smash another guitar. Instead, Keith Moon wrecked his drumkit. Instrument destruction became a staple of The Who’s live shows for the next several years. The incident at the Railway Tavern is one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll”.




September 25, 2007

Word Press tells me that people used the following search terms to come across my blog. I don’t know who is stranger–me, or the people searching.

shortage rhymes

martha stewart fire cupcake

sissified milked mother

romantic says about being together

what can you shoot with a air rifle

engaged to be married, shock

whipping with nettle

get up bunny we’are wasting time

hunting air rifles

Husband shoots wife’s lover in the face

I think I’ll redirect them to David’s blog.

Trivial Grumbles #1

September 22, 2007

When I log into my account at, the sign-in message asks:

Are you hip?

I have not yet figured out to how to simultaneously type No and log into my account.

On repeated occasions I smuggled “Seeds of Change” zucchini from the island to the mainland. The state patrol dogs that sniffed my car did not bark in alarm. The Coast Guard “Men in Black” (or maybe blue) did not draw their side arms and order me to halt.

Sometimes I took zucchini with me to locations where I taught classes. I said to my students, “Normally, these classes are free. However, today there is a charge. You must accept one of my zucchini and take it home with you.”

Perhaps they thought, My instructor is a dangerous maniac. I better do as he says. In any case, some of them accepted zucchini and even smiled at me and uttered words of gratitude and appreciation. Very sensible of them, I thought.

Sometimes I took zucchini with me to my employer’s headquarters building. Sometimes I put them into the staff lunch/break room and left a note that said These zucchini escaped from the island. Please take them home with you and eat them before they attack again.

When I returned to the staff lunch/break room several hours later, the zucchini were gone. Perhaps there had been hurried, whispered discussions: Better do as he says! You take that one. I’ll take this one. Maybe that will satisfy him for today. Maybe he will let us leave the building tonight if we take zucchini with us.

Sometimes I offered them to people in my department. Some of them said, “No, thank you.” They looked at me nervously as they refused. However, I just went on to ask other people in my department. I am a serial zucchini inflictor.

There are several Susans in my department. Susan #1 used to sit directly behind me. Recently, another worker named Jean retired. Jean’s cubicle became open. Susan moved into Jean’s cubicle, thus moving her into a different row of cubicles. I thought that she moved away from our row with suspicious alacrity. She indicated as she swiftly moved her cubicle furnishings that she had always thought that Jean’s cubicle (which is bigger and nicer, and in the area where the more senior employees sit) should have been hers all along.

This may be true. Or it may be that Susan #1 wanted to sit further away from me. Not to mention my zucchini. I didn’t offer Susan #1 any zucchini.

Susan #3 now sits behind me. We get along well. (Susan #3 and Mary are the two employees who are most like me in having a serious “bad attitude” at work.) I asked Susan #3 if she would accept a zucchini.

She said, “I would love to. I will make chocolate-chip zucchini bread. May I take three of your zucchini?”

Please don’t throw me in that briar patch Brer Rabbit said to Brer Fox. No, you can’t take three zucchini I thought as I handed three zucchini to Susan #3.

Susan #2 sits next to Susan #3

Susan #2 is a vegan. Whenever we have a department pot luck or meet at a restaurant for a department occasion, Susan is concerned whether there will be something that she can eat. My chances are good I thought as I approached Susan #2’s cubicle to offer her organic zucchini. Indeed, she also took three zucchini.

The next day, she indicated that the zucchini were very good. “However, my dogs didn’t like the zucchini,” she added. She explained that she fed her two dogs vegetarian diets. She described many vegetables that her dogs happily eat. (The dogs were not present to express their opinion of the diet Susan #2 provides them.) However, the dogs drew the line at the organic zucchini, she told me. She did not tell me if the dogs barked at the zucchini, or snarled at the zucchini, or cowered in the corner at the sight of the zucchini.

Zlatina, another person in my department, speaks English well, but with a pleasant, lilting accent. When I first met her, I asked her, “Do you come from somewhere outside the United States?” (I used to worry about offending people with such questions, but so far nobody has been offended as far as I can tell, and as I have gotten old, I no longer worry as much about offending. That’s just Random, I imagine people saying to each other. Don’t mind him, he has no manners.

“I was born in Bulgaria,” she told me.

When I offered her some zucchini, she responded with enthusiasm and delight. “I love zucchini!” she exclaimed as she eagerly accepted all the zucchini I had that day.

Perhaps zucchini were not allowed to travel through the Iron Curtain in the bad old days before it fell, I thought.

Or perhaps they had lots of zucchini in Bulgaria, I thought. Perhaps instead of being an interstellar conspiracy, spreading zucchini is a Communist plot. In fact, a Google search revealed that Tikvichki is a popular dish of courgettes and yoghurt in Bulgaria. (Apparently, zucchini are known as courgettes in Europe. The deviousness of this conspiracy is infinite, I imagine, though I guess infinitely devious conspiracy is an oxymoron. Next week I will tell you about the fruit of the oxymoron plant.)

For example, after World War II ended:

World War II did not neatly end with Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945. At its height the Japanese Empire was more than 20 million square miles of land and sea. Soldiers in isolated regions fought on for years after the surrender some unaware the war had ended, other refusing to believe. Some hid in the jungles alone, others fought in groups and continued to make attacks and conduct guerilla warfare. These men were called Japanese Holdouts, or Stragglers and their stories are some of the most fascinating human interest stories of the 20th Century.

By the same token, perhaps some Communist cells continue to exist and function after the Cold War ended. Perhaps Would you like some zucchini is a secret password. I had already told Zlatina that my ancestors had been Ukranian, and as everyone reading this is aware, the Ukraine is not that far from Bulgaria.

On the other hand, she may not be sure of me yet, so she feels she has to play along to test me by taking all the zucchini I offer her. In fact, she said she likes my zucchini so much she told me she wants to grow some zucchini of her own, and asked me about where I got the seeds. I printed out the Seeds of Change web page for her and left it in her mail box at work. If she is an international conspirator, she does not break her cover casually or carelessly.

So now I am quite muddled. Are my zucchini part of an interstellar conspiracy to invade the earth, or part of a Communist conspiracy from a Bulgarian Communist cell that refuses to believe the Cold War is over and fights on in the jungle, or part of an Interstellar Communist conspiracy?

It may be that I am completely muddled. Is muddle a dish they serve at Hogwarts? Are there courgettes in it?

By the way, when wikipedia decides to be pedantic, nobody can out pedantic them. (Pedantry is another splendid dish at Hogwarts.)

The Future of Zucchini

September 19, 2007

Mrs. and Mr. Random had the following conversation.

Mrs.: “The plant breeders keep breeding zucchini plants that produce more and more zucchini fruit. Why don’t they turn their attention to creating plants that produce few and fewer fruit?”

Mr.: “Dear, as usual, you are completely out of step with everyone else in our society. Everyone else wants—more, more, more—no matter what it is, it has to be more.”

Mrs.: “Hmph!”

Mr.: “You want to get one of those ‘Four in one’ apple trees like the Friendly Neighbors have, where four different types of apples are grated on to one root stock. I don’t know why the same principle could not be applied to vegetables. We could have a zucchini stock that also grows cucumbers, and pumpkins, and crookneck squash as well as zucchini.”

Mrs.: “The other fruit would not have a chance. I would go out and find the other fruit lying on the ground after the zucchini had strangled them.”

 Mimes a throttled cucumber.

2AB Is That All There Is?

September 19, 2007

The weekend before last, the fire station near where my granddaughter lives had an “Open House.” RG went to the open house in her fire hat, fire coat, and fire boots, but I had not heard any reports on the experience.


I was working late last night, so I missed a phone call from my daughter. My wife tells me that RG seemed to regard her trip to the fire station as an OK experience but not really a top notch experience.


There were two long lines of children waiting to get on the fire truck. One line led to the driver’s compartment and steering wheel; the other line went to the section in the back of the ladders where another fireman steers the rear of the fire truck.


RG chose the line at the rear. RG had a good time, but was not wildly thrilled. Apparently her idea of a really first rate fire truck experience would be to ride the fire engine as it is races wildly down the street, sirens blaring, bells ringing, and flames shooting into the sky in view.


Three years old and already a bit jaded. Maybe I’ll talk to her one of these days about boys and dating.

Men in Black

September 17, 2007


Cars waiting to board our state ferries are frequently sniffed by dogs trained to detect explosives. However, as far as I know, these dogs are not trained zucchini-sniffing canines.

As I have noted, over the last few weeks I have observed Men in Black wearing sidearms boarding and patrolling state ferries, carefully watching cars as they boarded. The Men in Black (and in one case a Woman in Black) bore the small insignia United States Coast Guard on their outfits, and most people assumed their presence was inspired by a ferry crew observation and photograph of two men of Middle Eastern appearance spotted riding and photographing various ferries, and an effort to prevent a terror attack on a ferry.

However, I overheard a walkie-talkie carried by one of the purported Guardsman receive a transmission that went something like, “Zztt-crackle-pop…ini detector..zztt-crackle-pop.” In fact, I suspect that their Coast Guard insignia provide plausible deniability for their real role as Men in Black.

A search of the web tells me that the CG uniform is supposed to be “dark blue.” Maybe it was the evening dusk as I returned home, but the “uniforms” I saw sure looked black to me.

In any case, my car is a mess, full of books, papers, left over crumbs from lunch, and computer equipment, much to the disgust of my wife, whose truck is always impeccably neat and immaculate.

In fact, on casual inspection, a sentry might be excused for thinking that my car may only be the vehicle of somebody innocent, such as a garden-variety Middle Eastern terrorist. The sentry might be excused for overlooking the bag of zucchinis hidden underneath all the other litter as I headed for work.

Because I was able to board the ferry, travel on the ferry, and disembark the ferry entirely unimpeded as I set off with “baggies” of zucchini.


September 14, 2007

David Rochester used to write blog posts I called Rochesterisms. He doesn’t so much any more, perhaps because he is breaking on through to the other side.

I used to write imitation Rochesterisms. There may not be much to imitate any more, but little details such as that don’t stop me.

Wednesday morning (after I had come home late Tuesday night and noticed the plumbing not working), my wife told me the plumbing was not working. After a visit from the plumber we learned that the pressure tank was not working. The good news was that he could slip into town and pick one up and install it that day. The other good news (for him) was that we had enough money in our checking account to cover the $900 to replace the old pressure tank (which had one-year warranty) in our still pretty new (two years old) house.

I will write the pressure tank company a fan letter with copies to our general contractor and installation plumbing contractor. I’m don’t expect anything to happen. I’m just getting my yahyahs out.

Yesterday, I was teaching a computer class and writing something profound on the white board in front of the computers. It was so profound (though I no longer remember what it was) that I chose to use a red white board pen for emphasis instead of my usual black white board pen. After I wrote it, and later thought of something more urgent (if less profound) to write, and started to erase the red white board writing, I realized that a very alert and intelligent person had left a permanent red marker on the tray under the white board. Whatever it was, it was not so profound it needed to be on the white board permanently.