Social Networking

Love it!
Hate it!
I could care less.
What’s Facebook?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’re aware of Facebook, the popular and controversial social networking site. Where we used to get our personal news from the town crier, and then Mabel, the gossipy telephone operator, and more recently, the annual Christmas letter, we now have our own giant cyberspace bulletin board. Is there such a thing as TMI? Too Much Information?
Legitimate worries abound: privacy, stuff you post coming back to haunt you in a job search or college application, ads targeted to your spending habits, crooks looking to see when you’re going to be on vacation so they can break in and make off with your plasma TV. And more.
Facebook probably isn’t going to go away any time soon. I don’t know how many gazillion users it has at the moment, but it’s a huge number. I’m one of them.
I like to think I use Facebook sensibly. I limit viewers to those people I invite to be friends, I check in periodically to see who’s doing what, I try not to put anything personal out there, and I’ve pretty much trained myself to ignore any and all web-based advertising. Maybe you’re not a business or need to stay connected with everyone you ever met, but there’s no reason not to use it. And several good reasons why you should.
Few families live around the corner from each other any more. More likely, it’s around the world. I currently have close relatives in Japan and Thailand and at least a quarter of the 50 states. It’s hard to keep up with everyone, and everyone with me. Facebook has been, therefore, like an ongoing family reunion, without Aunt Sally’s famous baked beans and the water balloon tossing event. I can even pass around my photos and see the latest additions to the clan, sometimes only hours after birth. During the recent upheaval in Thailand, my nephew was able to quickly assure everyone that he was okay. I learned when a friend had returned from Paris and it was a lot easier for a wife who was meeting her relatives for the first time because she’d “met” them already on Facebook. During the winter, one of my nephews posted something about Robert Frost’s “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” and several people had fun chiming in with the subsequent lines. There are frequently calls for help in finding things to amuse a sick toddler and I’ve been able to assure a college-age grandkid that we’re praying for him during exams. The older I get, the more these connections mean to me.
Maybe you’re not a computer person. There are plenty of you out there. Rest assured, I’m still going to enjoy getting those hand-written Christmas cards with the yearly family updates.
NOTE: This is not posted on Facebook: My potatoes are doing great, at least as far as the foliage is concerned. It’s pretty frustrating when the only part of the plant I’m interested in is underground.



It’s planting time again and since I added Growing Pumpkins to my “Done That” list last year, I decided it was time to move on to other adventures in agriculture. I’m going to be growing potatoes.
I have to admit that up until a few months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about potatoes, except that you don’t want to toss raw ones in your compost bin and that as French fries, they really dress up a burger. But my master gardener sister gave me one of her Ozette potatoes and I was smitten.
Ozette potatoes, at least the one I had, looked more like a hot dog. It was long and skinny and well, kind of funny-looking, and came complete with a history that captivated me even more than its unusual appearance.
The Ozette Indian tribe of the Pacific Northwest once lived on a little slice of land on the westernmost side of the Olympic Peninsula, which is still only accessible by water. They had quite a culture, including the ability to make wooden boxes out of a flat piece of wood without sawing anything. I saw an example of this at the Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay, Washington. My sister had worked for the US Public Health Service in Neah Bay for several years and was eager to see the new display about the Ozette people when we visited there last October. It seems the tiny coastal village was decimated around 1700 by a mud slide. The survivors paddled up the coast to Neah Bay and were eventually assimilated into the Makah tribe.
The town lay buried and ostensibly forgotten, until it was discovered that tidal erosion was gradually washing what remained of the settlement out into the Pacific. Thus began a massive 11 year project to remove the ancient artifacts. Water was pumped into the site as a means of uncovering the artifacts, as digging and other common means of excavating would have damaged them beyond repair. Some 55,000 objects were retrieved and are on display at the Makah museum. If you ever wander out to what is frequently referred to as the westernmost part of the contiguous United States, be sure to visit the museum. It’s well worth spending a half of a day, and its new Welcome Statues, some 30’ high, are delightful introductions to the small fishing community.
Ozette potatoes were introduced to the Northwest by explorers from Central and South America. There has been renewed interest in the tasty tubers in the Seattle area and elsewhere, so I feel myself honored that perhaps I can introduce them to our area. My sister adds to my collection of one potato by adding several more smaller seed potatoes.
How to grow them, though. I needed to find that out. Potatoes like lots of sun, which is in somewhat short supply on our property. Where can I dig a hole that doesn’t impact the septic system and which is out of the shade? As I mull this over, my sister comes to my rescue once again. There is, she e-mails me, such a thing as a potato bag. I go to the link and find that indeed there is—a large container that appears to be made of perhaps landscape cloth. Fill it with dirt and potatoes and plop in a patch of sunlight, water well, and voila! Spuds for the upcoming winter months. I order two of the bags. I figure I can use the other for either regular potatoes or maybe some squash vines. Although enticed by the availability of special pre-mixed soil, I draw the line. There’s something about paying for shipping dirt that just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
As of this writing, my potato bags have not arrived, but rest assured I’ll be detailing my progress as the summer (if we ever get one) waxes and wanes. Happy growing, all you gardeners!