Monday, August 10, 2009

That damn Mike's Cigars

(I love to fondle my cigars before smoking.  Smokers' foreplay.)

I wish Mike's Cigars would stop sending me email specials about their products. About three times a week I get these enticing offers on samplers of cigars. Usually I can resist, because how many cigars do I need sitting in humidors at any one time? My inventory now is probably 200 cigars. But those sticks are not just for smoking. I love to open the lid of my special humidor containing cigars I have carefully aged at 70 degrees F and 70% humidity and just fondle them. I used to collect coins and stamps, but who wants to fondle stamps or coins?  But a collection of cigars has a special appeal, because you can admire the item in the short term, and then use it at some future date. They have such interesting and beautiful labels, which often become collector's items, and each cigar was carefully hand-rolled by some latino in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, or some other tropical place.

Some day, Cuba will be truly open and their stash of top quality cigars will come flooding back into the U.S. I can hardly wait. I have to think that the U.S. cigar smoker was hurt much more than we ever hurt Cuba by placing an embargo on this product. Would we ever have placed this limitation on Cuba if they had been the world's only producer of zinc, or oranges, or computer chips? Of course not.

But cigar smoking is all about enjoyment. If I get all wrapped up in a political discussion about Cuban cigars, I get tense, and I drool more, and the tip of the cigar I am smoking gets all soggy. That ruins the smoke, because a wet head on a cigar then absorbs more of the chemicals in the tobacco resulting in an acrid flavor. I end up throwing the thing away at that point, and that makes me drool even more. Then the scotch is affected, and the result is dilution.  Therefore, avoid political discussions when smoking a cigar.

So I am studying Mike's email ad of today over and over again, because it is better than usual. To buy or not to buy? To delete or not to delete? The stock market is boring in August, so I have more time than normal to think. I never had time to fret like this when I worked at the university. Let me check that ad one more time.

Spores and insects

(Black knot fungus.  This is the scourge of DrTom's plum trees.  "Out, out, damn spot!")

This is the year of the fungus. We have had double the normal amount of rain this summer, and spore-producing organisms apparently love it. The tomato blight is sweeping through the Northeast, eliminating September caprese salad for many; I even received a special email from Johnny's Seed Company a week ago warning of these infestations and what to do about it. Fortunately, there are only two vegetable gardens within a mile of mine, and they are both down wind. So my tomatoes have been spared, for now.

But I have black knot fungus on both my plum trees, mildew on my Cortland apple tree (completely dead?), and apple blossom rot on the Ida Red apple tree. In addition, Colorado potato beetles are all over my squash plants and Japanese beetles are devouring plum leaves. I spend considerable time squishing these pests between my fingers as I peruse the carnage. I notice that the Japanese beetles also love to spend time on wild raspberry and elderberry plants along the edge of my forest not far from my gardens, so there is an endless supply of new insects to meet the demise of my digits. Often the potato beetles and the Japanese beetles are in copulo when I squish, so I get a twofer in those cases. I'm not sure this squishing helps, but I get great satisfaction from actually doing something.

Of course, there is the possibility that this new rainfall regime will be the new normal. In that case, maybe I should plant water cress. Make lemonade from lemons.